Naruto: Clash of Ninja EX [import] review

  • Unique take on multi-person combat
  • Surprisingly slick graphics
  • Naruto series on Wii
  • Hardly any innovation
  • Wiimote moves are silly
  • Could be a deeper fighter

Beyond the quick buck that's to be made from its obsessive fans, there's really no reason for Naruto to exist on Wii at all. Its "new" control scheme is better served by the old-fashioned Classic controller than by remote and nunchuk, which achieve little beyond making you look like an idiot while playing.

Aside from the bells and whistles common to all Naruto fighters - the special abilities, charge attacks, etc. - it really is just a standard joypad game in motion-sensitive disguise. In place of button taps it asks for brisk directional swipes of the remote, which as far as gestures go feel less like throwing punches than slapping someone passionately about the face with a frozen salmon. Then there are the gestural special moves, triggered with a button press and built up with waggle and window-washing motions. Do they actually add anything? Do they resolve some longstanding genre annoyance? Or are they just the latest wafer-thin excuse to dip into people's wallets?

If you've played your share of tournament fighters, especially those catering to the ever-lucrative Shonen anime market, then you're probably going to know the answer to this already. Throughout its umpteen installments, Naruto's always dealt exclusively in minor changes, which is a shame as it encourages us to speak ill of a series that's otherwise potentially rather good. Reminiscent of Rival Schools, it's captured the cartoon look almost perfectly over the years, to the point of becoming every bit the faster-than-light extravaganza that TV audiences have come to expect.

Inheriting more or less everything from the previous Clash of Ninja 4, the Wii version certainly isn't a step backwards. But its trio of motion-controlled minigames and redundant "innovations" hardly seem a step forward either. The series' future may well be on Wii, but by the looks of things it'll never stop being a GameCube game.

More Info

Available Platforms: Wii
Genre: Fighting


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