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Harry Milonas
31 Jul, 2007

Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles Review

PS2 Review | Naruto and fro.
The blonde-haired lad in the orange ninja pyjamas has had a storied relationship with the videogame adaptations of his namesake’s franchise. Arguably hitting the same morning anime heights of Dragon Ball Z, the Naruto franchise possesses a similar history of middling and repetitive fighting games and import only eccentricities. The domestically delayed Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles, in essence, continues the former trend, albeit with a concentration on the single-player side of things; but that’s not to say there isn’t some guilty beat 'em up pleasure to be eeked out by fans and brave non-fans alike.

Where Ultimate Ninja and Clash of the Ninja both took a typical modular one-on-one approach to a 3D fighting game, Uzumaki Chronicles takes a Final Fight inspired take-on-all-comers essence to the proceedings. Instead of level by level progress through the game’s story mode, Uzumaki Chronicles provides an almost free-roaming 3D environment in which to test Mr. Uzumaki’s mettle against a range of mook-like infantry. Progress is handled by an overworld map at the start of every mission, with choices of which area and objective to tackle next entirely up to the player. After selecting routes, a further sense of RPGness is delivered through the random battles that await in-between major areas. Coupled with the typical mailman-like RPG tasks a fair few objectives in areas request, the hybrid gameplay provides a slight welcome break from the non-stop fighting; even if it quickly becomes a shallowly contrived exercise in itself.

Let me guess... it's from Professor Oak and/or Goku, right?

Let me guess... it's from Professor Oak and/or Goku, right?
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The fighting system is naturally what most of the gameplay in Uzumaki Chronicles revolves around, and while it’s faithful to the source material, it nevertheless gives off a sense of oversimplification and repetitiveness. The moves available are what Naruto and ninja fans alike would expect, with shuriken and high jumps galore at one's disposal. The most interesting moves however are those which harbour Naruto’s jutsu techniques straight out of the manga and anime series. For example, Shadow Clones allow multiple autonomous attacks against those foolish curious types, while Naruto’s infamous Sexy Technique is true to its hilariously distracting origins. Naturally enough, Naruto’s ability to channel chakra from the demon fox is also up for grabs.

While the eye candy of battles in Uzumaki Chronicles is all well and good, the problem lies in how tired and "samey" the fighting quickly gets. Apart from a surprisingly deep and intriguing stat and skill upgrading system involving the collection and combination of orbs dropped by fallen enemies, there’s not much in the way of customisation available for players. No matter how many on-field weapons are taken advantage of, or which character from the anime series tags along to help out with a set mission, the battles eventually all blur into an indistinct methodology; either bashing the buttons for your hand-to-hand combat skills; taking advantage of any readily charged up jutsu techniques; or simply letting your partner/Shadow Clones take care of the rest. It could be argued that Namco Bandai and developer Cavia Inc. are simply targeting an easy difficulty and depth ideal for the pre-teen fan of the Naruto franchise with Uzumaki Chronicles; but then again, even the youth friendly Pokémon Diamond and Pearl have their challenging hair-tearing moments.

Metal Gear Solid 5: Sons of Orange Pyjamas

Metal Gear Solid 5: Sons of Orange Pyjamas
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In terms of story and presentation, Uzumaki Chronicles may be too much of a fan service to those unfamiliar with the franchise. The 'chronicles' spoken of in the game’s title refer to the titular hero defending his hometown of Leaf Village from an impending threat of invaders. However, from the menu screens to the cutscenes, it’s readily apparent that some assumed knowledge has been taken upon developers Cavia Inc. when designing the superficial and narrative aspects of the game; with hardly a scrap of background information on characters and settings available to those who have never seen the anime series, let alone heard of it. Of course, one would instantly assume that those purchasing a Naruto game are fans to begin with, but it would have been a nice token to provide some clarity and understanding for the confused parents/wrinkly sorts out there.

While the character art and FMV in Uzumaki Chronicles does its hardest at instilling the charisma of the anime series, the game certainly won’t be winning any awards for best-looking title of the year. The tiny environments and arenas give off a sense of a rushed melding together on the developer’s part, with their lifeless detail seemingly a means to an end. The worst realisation is that variety in these settings are few and far between, as there are a set amount of arena types to be fought in, decided by the vague environment types missions are set within. However, where Uzumaki Chronicles is saved presentation-wise is certainly in the audio department. The anime styled musical pieces sound straight out of an episode of Naruto, while the series’ English dub voice actors provide their distinct tones to any and all plot exposition. It’s just a shame such attention to detail wasn’t paid to other aspects of the game’s overall presentation.

Sexy or otherwise, I'm not sure where that trail of white wind is emanating from.

Sexy or otherwise, I'm not sure where that trail of white wind is emanating from.
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While commendable for trying to offer a bit more than simple one-on-one fighting, Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles does not necessarily improve on any of the previous videogame adaptations of the franchise. With a repetitive battle system and RPG traits that become an insipid chore, it definitely doesn’t break any barriers in innovation in the beat 'em up genre. But without falling into a clichéd recommendation for "fans only", it goes without saying that Uzumaki Chronicles' inherent qualities will most likely only be visible to the rabid.
The Score
The "fans only" moniker is an awfully clichéd one, but players of Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles should not experience it any other way. 6
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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3 Comments
6 years ago
Yep, the game is certainly looking very dated now, considering it was released in 2005. Why it took them almost 2 years to get it released here remains a bit of a mystery, but I guess that just comes with the whole PAL region thing.

The sequel was released late last year and is much more impressive, and is due to be released in September in the U.S.

As far as Naruto games go, I highly recommend the Ultimate Ninja series (the third game has been released in Japan for some time, but never saw a U.S release). I've played it (it's very good) and there is a translation guide available on gamefaqs which helps immensely. You also get the great Japanese voices with that version, I hate the dub ones.

The other two games in the series are out now in the U.S, and first one is also released in Australia. There is also a Shippuuden version of the game (Naruto Shippuuden: Narultimate Accel) which was just released in Japan, by the same developers as the the Ultimate Ninja games, and will hopefully get a U.S release at some point in the future.

As was mentioned in the review, it's a one on one fighting series where you play through the story of Naruto. It has a great battle system, and the special moves are very nicely/accurately done.
6 years ago
The reason why i think this took 2 years to come was because naruto wasn't out here back when it was released. I so agree with this review this game really blows i hate the cart missions seriously it's that hard to protect it. icon_smile.gif good review btw icon_smile.gif That is why i am warried about Ultimate ninja 3 and 4 if they will come to the usa icon_sad.gif i really hope they do because there amazing games. I got admeister on to number 3 i think icon_smile.gif
6 years ago
Sylar wrote
I got admeister on to number 3 i think icon_smile.gif
You did indeed, which prompted me to grab 1 and 2 as well. 2 is my favourite in the series because of the multi-special attacks (which I think are awesome), 3 only has singular ones but you can choose which one you want to have on. Better not go on too much more though, this is a review of Uzumaki Chronicles after all, and I don't have too much to say about that particular game.
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| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  15/06/2007 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $69.95 AU
Publisher:
  Atari
Genre:
  Fighting
Year Made:
  2007
Players:
  4

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