Naruto: Ninja Council 3
Check out our preview writing jutsu with Naruto: Ninja Council 3!
It's a shame anime games have such a terrible reputation. They carry the same burden that other licensed properties face, and sometimes an even heavier one considering they're making an effort to appeal to the hardcore gamer, where many licenses from Disney and Nickelodeon simply don't. The anime fan and the gamer are often one in the same, so it makes sense that the two worlds combine, and they do, often. The less than stellar results that we see frequently aren't necessarily the only results though; take, for example, the Naruto: Ninja Council series.
Naruto is a phenomenon in the anime world, and as a license its appeal for video game properties is astounding. For that reason alone the property has been directed towards nearly every console and handheld, in one way or another. The Naruto: Ninja Council series is a shining example of what a company, in this case TOMY, can do when given the opportunity to explore an anime license in more than the requisite fighting game fashion. That's not to suggest Naruto: Ninja Council 3 isn't a fighting game, it is, but it's also quite a lot more.
Now in the series' third reincarnation, Ninja Council will be making the generation leap for the first time, from the Game Boy Advance to the Nintendo DS, with all the bells and whistles that come along with such a leap. Among those new inclusions are things like touchscreen based jutsu, or ninja spells, for summoning beasts, and blowing into the microphone to increase the power of fire jutsu. Using the touchscreen specifically for spells has met some resistance in similar instances such as Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin and blowing into the microphone is often looked upon with discontent by many gamers as a feature they'd rather not explore. If nothing else, it will be interesting to see whether they are a welcome feature, or detracting to the gameplay.
This all occurs in the brawler-style gameplay that has been a staple of the Ninja Council series. Often likened to Super Smash Bros. , or the import only game Jump Super Stars, also featuring Naruto, the Ninja Council series explores fighting on a 2D plane with 2D platformer and action elements included. This is going to set players in missions where they need to not only face numerous normal enemies, but also puzzle elements like carrying boulders, and the occasional boss fight, which will be more akin to the fighting game aspect of the series, against popular antagonists such as Orochimaru. There are over 60 missions in the game, all taking place in various locales from the anime.
The fighting is fast-paced, and players are able to explore more than just the battle from the side of Naruto. There are 27 playable characters within the game, including popular favorites such as Naruto, Sasuke, Kakashi, Gaara, and my personal favorite, Rock Lee. In an attempt to make the game even more complex and interesting, players also have the option of interchanging the attack abilities of characters for battle. This should make things particularly varied as friends face each other in the games 4-player wireless battles.
The wireless support for Naruto: Ninja Council 3 includes three modes, a timed mode, a collection mode, and the standard versus mode.
The visuals of the game are still locked in the GBA era, and with the US behind Japan in the Naruto anime and manga, there are still two more games, with similar visuals and style, to be released before we'll even have the opportunity to see something beyond the relatively simple sprites in Ninja Council so far. Things don't look terrible though, and even the quaint remembrance of the last era of handhelds doesn't change that the gameplay here is terribly fun and promising.
Ninja Council has a long road ahead of it, as most anime games do, but it has already succeeded in building a franchise with a focus on solid gameplay and not just in appealing to the sales that a licensed property will surely find itself receiving.