Release Date: October 21, 2008
I find just about every Naruto title to be surprisingly fun, even if each version isn't significantly different from the last. I missed out on the first Clash of Ninja Revolution on the Wii, but Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution 2 already feels really similar to the titles I've played, like the two that released on the GameCube a couple of years ago. The fighting even bears a resemblance to the Sony system games, but thankfully without the awkward city-hopping aspects. While Revolution 2 feels like a bit more of the same from the franchise, it holds up as a decent fighter and marks the most fully fleshed-out version of the game series so far, one that I doubt fans will want to miss.
The story of Clash of Ninja Revolution 2 is apparently new and crafted strictly for the game. It also introduces the Anbu to the character roster, and there are plenty of familiar faces on the roster for people who aren't as invested in the series as the hardcore fans, so I imagine that everyone will easily find a favorite or two to play as.
The controls on the Wii offer a decent amount of flexibility, so you're not stuck with using the default Wiimote and Nunchuk setup. You can go with a Classic Controller or a standard GameCube pad; I opted for the latter after testing out the Wii-specific control scheme. The Wii controls aren't necessarily horrible, but they never feel precise enough. Having to shake the controller to pull off your basic attacks just means that you're spamming a virtual button over and over again, and it doesn't allow for smaller combos or spamming out the biggest combo you possibly can until there's no need to shake anymore. A lot of the other moves ? such as dodging, special movies, projectiles, basic movement and so on ? are mapped to buttons, so using the Wii-specific setup isn't completely going to wear out your arm if you don't have access to the other two options. The GameCube support makes the game play in a near identical fashion to the GameCube Naruto titles with which I was already familiar, so I felt right at home with that control scheme. I imagine the Classic Controller setup is pretty similar as well, so either mode should provide you with the flexibility and control you'll need to pull off every move for each character.
Other additions for this entry into the Naruto fighting franchise comes in the form of 480p support and a widescreen option, both of which you can put into play if you have an HDTV. Even with 480p turned on, the game engine that they've been using for a few years is certainly going to show its age, and while the cel-shaded animation style holds up well enough, it's hard to go back to this title after seeing what's being done on other current-gen systems. Sure, the Wii might not have the horsepower to pull off the more impressive visuals on the PS3 or Xbox 360, but I think it can still do a bit better than this. The animations are still fluid, but with the game displayed on a larger TV, the black lines that outline each character a little choppy, and the environments you get to play in really look a bit too plain and lack detail.
Like the previous title, Revolution 2 features four-player support in matches either through two-man teams or a battle royale between four people. The story mode makes use of both modes pretty often to help familiarize you with how they work, and the title is definitely fun if you can get a small group of players together. It's not quite competition-ready, as there are still some balance issues with a few of the unlockable characters and a couple of the ultra-powerful transformations, but if you enjoy something on the scale of Marvel vs. Capcom or Powerstone, then I think you'll find something to enjoy with the multiplayer aspects of Revolution 2.
The additions to the character roster really fill out the selection, and while I wasn't too familiar with the Anbu characters that were added, I still enjoyed playing as most of them. I was disappointed to see that most of the returning characters still carry over the same moves, animations and special chakra moves that they've had since the GameCube titles. It would be nice to see some of these switched up a bit more now that we're up to our fourth title in the U.S., but that doesn't happen with this entry. The new characters, seven in total, are pretty well-balanced additions, and four of them are completely new entries for this title. There's been a little bit of subtle tweaking to damage outputs for the returning characters, and you'll notice that things are a bit more balanced when it comes to the basic attack combos. It's nothing that casual fans will pay much attention to, but the hardcore will definitely notice it.
Stages in Revolution 2 have two tiered areas, which you can access in a similar fashion to titles like Soul Calibur or Dead or Alive, by tossing a character over a railing or through a wall, breaking into the new section. It's not much of a change in the gameplay outside of style or playing area, but it does add a new visual dynamic to the fighting that's fun to see. There's also the addition of obstacles or objects that you can duck behind to lessen the impact of an attack or dodge it completely. I didn't find much use for these objects, and thankfully, you can opt to just turn them off in the game options if they don't do much for you.
The single-player campaign also offers up a decent amount of variety outside of your standard fights, but it stays true to its fighting roots. While most stages consist of just pummeling your opponent until his life runs out, other fights have special requirements to finish them, such as using a particular move, defeating a certain number of random ninja, or trying to keep a secondary character alive. It's still a fighting game, but these small variations keep the single-player mode interesting, which isn't particularly long, but if you want to unlock everything that the game has to offer, it'll keep you busy for some time.
I definitely enjoyed Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution 2, but at the same time, I didn't come away impressed with the small amount of changes and additions. The lack of an online mode at this point really hurts the series, especially considering the emphasis it puts on four-player combat. If you've enjoyed the games up to this point, there's no reason to expect that this one will disappoint you, but if you' want a bit more from the series, then this title won't do much for you. However, if you've never played a Naruto title before, then give Revolution 2 a shot; it's surprisingly fun, if a bit light on depth, and well worth checking out.