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Naruto: Clash of Ninja 2 - hands on

Right now you'd be hard pressed to find a cartoon, upcoming toy line and series of video games that makes the kiddies salivate more than Naruto. We just saw the first ninja-on-ninja brawler hit in March, and Clash of Ninja 2 isn't even letting us take a breath - it's landing in September with twice as many playable characters and all-new, four-player matches.

In our extensive hands-on time, we noticed the overall fighting feels identical to the first game - that's a good thing. Clash of Ninja 2 keeps the combos simple so anyone can hop in and start mopping the floor with mouthy, pre-teen ninja kids, yet offers enough depth in the way of counters and counter-counters to keep the tech-happy fighters swinging. Just as in the first Ninja, powering up your chakra meter lets you teleport out of harm's way and deliver a devastating counterstrike, or you can max it out and unleash your character's super-jutsu megamove.

The major addition to this sequel is the four-player multiplayer mode. You'll be able to go free-for-all (everyone against everyone) or create teams to gang up on the other players in an all-out schoolyard battle. Because Ninja 2 uses the same one-on-one fighting mechanics as the first game, toggling between multiple targets felt kind of clumsy. You're always restricted to the 2D plane your target is on, so it's not like you can run around the arenas as in Power Stone. Not a crippling problem, but the four-way tussles do take some time to adjust to.

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