Kiddie game? Think again. Last year’s Naruto: Rise of a Ninja was startlingly strong. Buoyed by the positive response, Ubisoft’s Montreal brigade have gone back to the drawing board and crafted a sequel that builds a little sandcastle on top of the original and decorates it with Christmas lights before plonking a fairy on top. It’s hardly even a surprise anymore when we tell you that The Broken Bond is ace.
As a direct continuation of Rise of a Ninja, this Naruto demands a certain level of social correctness with the murder-and-sexual-innuendo-laced ‘toon. Coolly, though, and in keeping with our bushy-tailed hero’s newfound fame, you’ll now get access to some sweet abilities straight off the bat. Expect from the start to sail across the tree line, run up walls, sprint over lakes and punch through walls…
There’s also a new comrades system, so as our whiskered hero runs into show stalwarts like Sasuke, Shikamaru and Choji, they’ll join his merry band. This not only allows access to character-unique Jutsus, but affords more elaborate puzzles than the game’s predecessor – though we still found ourselves faced with rather more spiked fences, pressure pads and fetch-this quests than we’d have liked. In a neat twist, team-mates can also be tagged into battles, adding to the already extraordinarily capable fighting engine. There, the very same Jutsus that helped you navigate obstacles in the free-roaming bits are suddenly reborn as powerful attacks. To top it all, the game’s a real looker – easily trumping stablemate Prince of Persia in the cel-shaded swishness stakes.
Spread the good word: Naruto is about as good as kids games get. Actually, scrap that – it’s a disservice. Chances are you’ll fall hard for Naruto even if you don’t give a fox’s ass about the cartoon... Blimey, we can’t believe we just wrote that.
Nov 18, 2008