As with Clash 2, EX offers up a few minor changes to the formula. For one, you can now kick, punch or blast people out of the arena and pick up the fight somewhere else. Smashing someone through a gate, followed by a hit that sends them hurtling towards the ground is a great addition that really amps up the intensity. Wii-specific movements for the jutsu attacks are blech-fests though, that don't add much to the experience. Some of the moves are fun to act out, but having to constantly flick the remote to punch is extremely tiring. Imagine playing Street Fighter and every time you hit an attack button you had to swat the remote instead. How about no? Luckily, EX supports both the GameCube controller and the Classic Controller.
Other than those few additions and the new-to-the-US characters, there's not much more to say about EX that staunch Naruto fans don't already know about. Story mode, multiplayer, all that's still here, but it's the severe lack of characters that's giving this game a tarnished rep in Japan. Sure they're fresh from the Shippuden series, but there are only 14 playable characters. The last Japanese Naruto game, Clash of Ninja 4, had nearly 40. It's pretty hard to swallow such a significant loss of playability, even if it does somewhat stick to the plot.
Clash 2 introduced four-player mashes to the series, and EX gets in on the action as well, but it really starts to chug and grind when there are that many people on screen at once. This wasn't the case in Clash 2 or Japan's Clash 4, so fans have been understandably upset. A lack in overall upgrades has also made EX seem like a stopgap game than a true sequel.
Developer 8ing is aware of these problems and hopes to address them with MVZ. Whether that means slicker gameplay or a roster on par with Japan's Clash 3 or 4 is unclear. We do know there won't be 40-ish playable characters in MVZ, but word is the initial number of 14 is supposed to increase.
So we won't be seeing EX in its current state, but we will enjoy its nuts and bolts when MVZ hits this fall. We've already spent quite a few hours with the game and all the fans' criticism are correct, so we're quite relieved the game is getting a once-over before hitting our retail space. Still, we didn't want to leave the play session empty handed, so we crafted together a custom movie highlighting all the best jutsu moves and new characters to the series. Just head to next page or hit the Movies tab to check it out.