The Nintendo DS is simply loaded with games based on Naruto. Whether it's the continuation of the platforming-based entries from the Game Boy Advance or a detour into the Japanese RPG format, the series is more prolific on this system than on any other — even more than the entire Sony systems lineup combined. For this, you can thank the development team at Tomy and their English counterpart team. The English team, however, as it is quick to explain and demonstrate, doesn't just translate and release the games, but they also take time to run cleanup and add things for the U.S. release. Thus, they demonstrated Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Destiny 2, the sequel to the DS' 3-D take on fighting in the Naruto universe.
Fans of the original's exceptionally fast-paced fighting — strongly reminiscent of the GameCube (and now Wii) Clash of Ninja series — will find quite a bit to like here. Controls still center around the face buttons and d-pad, with items on the touch-screen being handy for rapid use. The biggest new element that they demonstrated was, naturally, the characters. The switch from the original Naruto series to the Shippuden lineage requires redrawing everyone, and combat is even faster than before, in keeping with the new series' more furious tone.
Having not played too much of the original Ninja Destiny, I didn't know whether this was new, but the title demonstrated some traditional JRPG elements, having Naruto explore environments in a fashion that I found highly reminiscent of Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, complete with random battles against an array of generic opponent ninja types. The Tomy representatives indicated that about half of the game's characters would be like this, although none were likely to be made playable for even multiplayer modes.
The game looked solid and moved very quickly, feeling like a 60-frames-per-second game even if it probably wasn't close to that figure. When different 2-D and 3-D effects came into play, no slowdown appeared in the main battle whatsoever. Sounds were typical Naruto noise sets, really, though the music stood out a little. It managed to stay in my head for about a dozen booths before I was distracted by Ignition's booth (again), a feat that few E3 booths would come close to attaining.Naruto fans have been rather blessed with plentiful (if inconsistent) decent-to-excellent games based on the franchise since its origins in the U.S., in part thanks to the three series producers. Tomy definitely started its demo set with proof that it's among the best.
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