Naruto video game history has been like water and oil, when it comes to handhelds and home consoles. Handheld releases having a dissapointing habbit to be bad, on the other hand consoles have gotten very good; enjoyable titles such as Rise of the Ninja for the Xbox 360 or Ninja Storm for the Playstation 3.
Naruto Shippuden Shinobi Rumble for the Nintendo DS seems to carry the curse from handhelds and is not exactly Orochimaru’s cursed seal.
The game follows the story from the anime and takes off right after Naruto and the rest beat 2 members from Akatsuki; the Hidan and Kakuzu arc, and keep going from there, up to Jiraiya’s death and the fight between Sasuke and Itachi.
Unless you don’t mind spoilers, i’d suggest you wait to watch these episodes before you play the game, as minor spoilers and events will be revealed between fights.
The gameplay is similar to Jump Superstars offering battles between 2 to 4 characters on screen, as story mode goes on you team up with AI controled characters to defeat your rivals, it’s especially fun when there’s four characters on screen fighting.
You have 3 different jutsu at your dispposal; depending where you’re at in the story is the kind of jutsu you can use, in the case of Naruto you have attacks like Rasengan, Odama Rasengan, Shadow Clone Jutsu and one Demon Fox attack which by far is my favorite, this last attack is available around the second part of the story mode.
The game offers four different modes including story mode, vs mode, personal battles and missions.
Story Mode: this was my first choice to get a feel of the game and it’s nothing but a compact version of one of the arc, it feels extremely short and graphics between fights could have been better, few images with events and nothing more, a few animated sequences would have been welcomed.
Versus Mode: more fun than story mode, self explanatory, you can fight against the computer or against friends via wi-fi.
Personal Battles: this mode is not bad at all and is challenging, unlike the bland and sometimes dull AI from story mode here you get a run for your money, facing from 1 to 3 characters fighting against you. It’s not as easy as jutsu spamming like in story mode. You go for 10 fights in a row, one after another.
Missions: this mode lets you go in to missions where you earn a seal in your bingo book after you defeat your enemy. The more you get lets you use new jutsu with the different characters. Certainly the most enjoyable mode of the game offering a diverse variety of objectives.
As i said before Story Mode feels extremely short, 40 minutes tops and you are done with it, for me was truly disappointing. Graphics and animations of the characters are not bad but honestly; there’s room for improvement, same goes for the backgrounds in the different stages, the lack of details is just bad and they are repetitive, making it quite boring to look the exact same background throughout the different stages. Especially bad is the background used when Jiraiya fights Pain, honestly it’s poor and lacks the inspiration compared to the scenery of the same fight in the anime.
AI can be odd at least in story mode, i had Sai standing there doing absolutely nothing while i was fighting Sakura and Kakashi, something to improve in future games.
Controls are not enterely horrible but you can’t turn fast, something important in a fighting game like this, sometimes you end up casting a jutsu or hitting the air thinking you did turn in the opposite direction when you didnt, while the cpu hits you in the back.
Decent graphics, with a few exceptions not so great music tracks and an ok gameplay. This title is not the best fighting game for this handheld and certainly not the greatest in the many Naruto games available for the Nintendo DS.
Naruto Shippuden Shinobi Rumble is not a game to appeal the masses, may be attractive only for the die hard Naruto fans. With a bit more care into developing the game could have been something truly attractive for a broader audience.
We give the game a 6.5 out of 10