People often rip on Madden for coming out every year with nothing but minor tweaks. Well, we feel inclined to mention that the first Clash of Ninja was released in March...of this year. It was an exceptionally energetic anime scrapper that looked just like the cartoon on which it's based upon and offered enough action for all styles of fighting fans. And here we have Ninja 2, essentially the same game with just a handful of enhancements. And you know what? They're more than enough.
First off, you're getting an updated roster of 20-plus fighters that mirrors the current slate of episodes on Cartoon Network. Ino, Gaara and Shikamaru are just three of the top-tier ninja-kids who you can control, plus bushy-browed Rock Lee, previously only available as an unlockable character in the first Ninja.
Then there are the multiplayer face-offs. The fleshed-out story mode in Ninja 2 recreates key moments from the series, and as any fan can attest, many of those moments involve several students teaming up on one unlucky aggressor. So, you get three-against-one fights (and all the different variations on this setup) in single-player and multiplayer modes. The Z button switches your current target, letting you hop from one person to the next or pound the same one until they're out.
Considering how crazy the fights can get just one-on-one, getting used to four characters flinging around in all directions can take some time.
Similarly, the two-against-you fights, while accurate to the cartoon, do get pretty pissy. And fighting Gaara like five times in a row is too much.
We can forgive the overt similarities, though. The easy-to-get fisticuffs make for some of the most slap-happy scraps we've seen in a 3D fighter. Attacking and blocking fill up a meter that, when charged half way, gives you the ability to teleport out of danger and sucker-punch the other guy from behind. This leads to some lightning-quick flurries that even seasoned gamers will watch in awe. Fill the meter all the way and you unleash a life-ending mega move that can change the course of a battle in mere seconds.
The best part is, the fighting system is not Soul Calibur. It's designed to be dead simple yet versatile enough to give vets a chance to cut loose. Counter attacks, parrying and teleport moves keep everything moving, always - you will never be bored at any point in Ninja 2, there's just no time to even think about anything else.
Of course, we could say the same thing about the first game. We're talking same graphics, same levels and the same music from March. Think of this as a director's cut - there are plenty of tantalizing additions, but essentially you're buying the same thing. This means the same problems (like characters frequently facing the wrong direction and button-mashy fighting) exist as well. We're still able to look away from the screen, pound on the A and B buttons and win a surprising number of fights.
Unlike Madden, this updated roster and team change isn't going to set you back $50. You're getting the same far-reaching anime fighter that impressed us six months ago, now loaded with sprinkles of new content and a pretty hot multiplayer mode. If only the presentation was up to par with the fighting (enough with the talking heads), we'd be looking at a complete package. Well, a refurbished package that we already had, but loved so much the first time we're gonna tell you to buy it again.