Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2: review

A few weeks ago in our preview of Naruto Shippuden – Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 (here) we pointed out that, while the Storm series from CyberConnect2 is a credible addition to the beat-em-up genre, due to being so heavily based on a Japanese manga it would only appeal to people interested in the source material and would be overlooked by most other people for that reason alone (well, that, and the fact that the West is doing its best to fool everyone into thinking that just because something is a cartoon that it must be meant for children). With that in mind this review will focus more on whether a fan would be satisfied with what this game has to offer rather than a newcomer.

It may seem unfair to judge the game in that way, until you play the opening moments of the game’s Ultimate Adventure (story mode). The plot picks up at the start of the Shippuden time-line and in a single paragraph tries to summarise roughly 250 episodes/manga issues that preceded it in the original series. This is as detailed as the game gets in trying to explain exactly what is going on; who Naruto is, who Sasuke is and why one cares so much about the other despite the apparent hatred. It doesn’t even attempt to explain tailed-beasts, Akatsuki or the ninja world the story is based in to any great degree.

Whether this is a point to be frowned upon is hard to judge; as this is a game clearly meant for fans, looked at from that angle cutting out long recaps of a story already well known to them could be seen as a wise choice.

Combat is fluid and extremely easy to pick up thanks to combos being linked to a single button and modified by directional presses or pauses. The complexity of battles goes no further than trying to time defends so that you appear behind your opponent and when to use jutsu (abilities) or ultimate jutsu (special finishers) and items linked to the d-pad.

Although we are focusing strongly on the story mode (which will last you at least 15 hours and covers up to the finale of the ‘Pain’ arc) there are also the usual suspects for a beat-em-up in the form of team or singles VS matches and for the first time in the series; online battles. Attached to the latter game mode is also a customizable ‘ninja info card’ that the people you fight against online will see.

Unlike in the first game the story mode features fixed cameras most of the time in order to present beautifully captured animé quality backdrops. Characters do stick out a little bit too much in comparison, but it’s one part of a combination of clever graphical tricks that gives the player the experience of living inside an animé. The visual standards across all game modes are high but none higher than the cinematic boss battles in the story mode, which also feature QTEs and mini-games.

For discerning audiophiles (they really need to find a better name for that) both the Japanese and English dubs are available – which is just as well since the English one is one of the worst dubs going, despite featuring some class-A talent like Quinton Flynn and Nolan North. The soundtrack feels like an extension to what you would expect to hear in the animé and does a solid job.

Even from a fan perspective there are some faults to point out. The first is that even with a roster of over 40 characters your favourite may be missing. You might also uncontrollably yell out the likes of “Ino?! Why waste a space with her instead of <character>?” when you see the completed list – which also features a guest appearance from Lars of Tekken.

The second annoyance is that the translation from Japanese to English is all over the place. The severity of the bad language is about as inconsistent as an Alzheimers patient’s recollection of their family. One word in particular is translated into everything from “Dang-it!” to “Bastard!”.

The reason for this is probably the attempt to find a middle ground between manga and animé. Blood is largely airbrushed and don’t expect to see any of the more violent deaths, stabbings, sexual innuendo, skewering and the like in any kind of detail.

When measuring up this game it depends very much on the angle you look at it from. As a fan that has also played other Naruto themed games on offer today for numerous consoles, then without question Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 is the best of them. If viewed from the perspective of a beat-em-up player then this would probably lack the depth others in the genre have and from the perspective of your average gamer…they’ll still be questioning why ninjas apparently wear such bright clothes and have yet to see the other end of puberty.

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Written by Ian D

Misanthropic git.

Dislikes: Most things.

Likes: Obscure references.

17 comments

  1. Fanboi /

    ….Sasukes in the game? Im sold. Game deserves a 10….chump

  2. Orobourous /

    “The plot picks up at the start of the Shippuden time-line and in a single paragraph tries to summarise roughly 250 episodes/manga issues that preceded it in the original series.”

    Valid point…for a blind person. Do you see that thing in the title that looks like a little duck? Yep, that’s a number two which means it’s a sequel. Now can you add 2 and 2 and make 4? Yep, you guessed it, number one of the game explained the previous 250 episodes. It seems a weak moan as almost all sequels tend to require you atleast to already know how the first game went with at best playing it.
    I can understand this getting poor reveiws as I’ve yet to see an anime game reveiwed by someone outside of Japan that actually liked it but if you’re going to find a fault then please find an actual fault.

    • Your argument – that CC2’s business plan was to try and hit as large a percentage of who bought their first game only – is exceptionally flawed for many, many reasons.

      The one I’ll chose to point out is that why then is this on a console which never saw the first game released? CC2 may have wanted to be kind to fans by keeping recaps at a minimum (as I pointed out), but they were clearly also wanting new players to give them a go and despite this made it hard for them.

      • MrWoks /

        You have infact played the game havn’t you? There are crystal capsules dotted, “Bonus scenes” when you get enough stars in the battle QTE’s and various flashbacks throught the game that do quite a good job of explaining backstory…

        • The Secret Factor in boss fights do nothing to explain anything. The Memory Crystals you pick up in the story mode are not found in chronological order and must be actively hunted across the whole of it.

      • Oni-Samurai /

        “The one I’ll chose to point out is that why then is this on a console which never saw the first game released?”
        If you a referring to the 360 then you’re right, but the ps3 has the first naruto ultimate ninja storm.

        I don’t think not knowing the plot of naruto before shippudden will hurt newcomers as I played dragonballz budokai 2 & 3 without having seen the anime and enjoyed the game thoroughly (I was aware of the anime but due to work couldn’t watch it at the time) although once I had seen the anime, I appreciated the games even more and tried to mimick the events of the anime in versus and story modes.

        The trouble with naruto is you can’t watch it on sky anymore, I missed it. again. However I’ve watched it twice online and will definitely be getting this.
        Overall your review was good btb

  3. FIRST!!! Good review, are just still going to post your videos on youtube?

  4. yokis12345 /

    the gameplay is actually pretty good and it looks like it follows the series pretty good. i think it deserves an 8-9

  5. “The second annoyance is that the translation from Japanese to English is all over the place. The severity of the bad language is about as inconsistent as an Alzheimers patient’s recollection of their family. One word in particular is translated into everything from “Dang-it!” to “Bastard!”.”

    This is a really bad example of this. Being a Japanese speaker myself, I can guarantee that this isn’t a “bad” translation, or “inconsistencies.” Japanese does not have a lot of specific curse words like English does, and even a word like “kuso” (shit) can vary in meaning and intensity depending on who is saying it. It can mean actual feces, it can “fuck!” (as an expletive), it can mean “crap” “damn” “shit” “dang” and any other similar expressions, just depending on context, and how one feels like translating them, because all of those words in English are expressed with that one Japanese word. To put it into perspective, kids can say “Kuso” and not have it be a big deal, whereas small children who say “shit” in English will probably get a lecture.

    • Depending on how the translator felt is exactly why it is inconsistant. No effort was made to match the personality of the person speaking.

      The example I gave was of the same character speaking at different times. Perhaps I didn’t make that clear enough.

      • You made it perfectly clear and I still completely disagree with you. As I already flat out said the meaning of the word wildly varies. I can say the same word in one context and it’ll mean something completely different in another context. If I stub my toe, and yell “Kuso!” I may as well be saying “crap!” or “Damn!” If I realized I left something super important at home and yell “kuso,” I might be saying something closer to “Fuck!” If I’m playing cards and someone else wins and I say “Kuso” I could be saying “dang.”

        This is something anyone who speaks Japanese at an intermediate level or higher would be able to tell you. Those bad words don’t really work in Japanese the way you seem to want them to…

        • Sorry for multiple posting, but to be a little clearer, you said it yourself–it’s the same person, but they’re speaking at different times. So it makes complete sense that the words aren’t always going to be translated the same–the context is different.

          Besides, honestly, when it comes to Japanese, you learn more about the character’s personality from the way their verbs are conjugated, the way they’re pronouncing their words (ie accent, deliberate slurring, deliberate attempts to sound cute, etc) and by the pronouns they use than you do from the actual words themselves.

  6. “The plot picks up at the start of the Shippuden time-line and in a single paragraph tries to summarise roughly 250 episodes/manga issues that preceded it in the original series. This is as detailed as the game gets in trying to explain exactly what is going on; who Naruto is, who Sasuke is and why one cares so much about the other despite the apparent hatred. It doesn’t even attempt to explain tailed-beasts, Akatsuki or the ninja world the story is based in to any great degree.”

    I somewhat disagree here too. If you press the A/X right away when the opening story pops up, yes, all you get is one line about Naruto being a ninja. However, if you wait (though in all fairness, there’s nothing to tell you there’s more story) it tells you all you need to know. A good portion of those anime episodes you missed were filler with no effect on the plot. And let’s face it, even though the Chunin exams were a fairly large story arc in the first season, do you really need to know anything about it in order to understand what comes later? I don’t think so. All you really need to know is that Naruto is a ninja with a demon fox in him–his former friend Sasuke ran off with the bad guy 3 years ago, Naruto has been away training to bring him back, and there’s an organization that wants to get Naruto and anyone else with tailed beasts inside them. Deidara and Sasori talk about how they’re after the Jinchuriki, and how Jinchuriki is the name for a person with a tailed beast inside of them.

    Also, aside from the fact that knowledge most of the first season is completely unnecessary to understand/enjoy the game, Almost every other Naruto game has gone over that same exact storyline. I mean, even Ultimate Ninja 3 on the PS2, which came out several years ago started from the beginning and went up to right before where this game starts. Even without that, there were two other Naruto games on Xbox previously that covered that same storyline. And let’s face it, if there are new people coming to this game that aren’t Naruto fans, they probably got it because they saw it or heard about it from a friend, in which case, their friend can answer any of those irrelevant questions. I mean, the Konoha ninja’s identities aren’t important as long as you know they’re the good guys, and almost all of the bad guys are introduced after the start of the game anyway.

    I just think you’re being too hard on that aspect.

  7. “Even from a fan perspective there are some faults to point out. The first is that even with a roster of over 40 characters your favourite may be missing. You might also uncontrollably yell out the likes of “Ino?! Why waste a space with her instead of ?” when you see the completed list – which also features a guest appearance from Lars of Tekken.”

    I do agree with this point, but to be fair, the included cast of characters makes sense. Of course Zabusa or Haku aren’t in this game–they’re dead long before the start of this game. Kurenai’s pregnant, so she can’t be in it. Things of that nature. I do miss Kurenai, but I understand why she’s not in it.

    Though I must say that Ino is actually surprisingly good–at least more than you would expect given that she does nothing of note at any point in the series! Her normal jutsu is fast moving, tracks and has high priority, while the start up to her Ougi (which can be kind of difficult to hit with sometimes) can be used to dodge incoming attacks/other Ougi’s, if timed correctly. Her jutsu inflict poison, and her throw is VERY fast (though it SUCKS when you miss and she falls on the floor for a few seconds anyway–though that was a nice touch). Anyway, she’s decent.

    Tenten, on the other hand…

  8. Now THIS is a game I don’t mind sinking my teeth into.
    Unlike Dragon Ball Z, I don’t feel as if I am playing the same game 10 times.
    You must admit, the cinematics in this game are quite amazing.

  9. The quick time events in this game are amongst the best I have ever seen. They really are so good that I can forgive the utter tedium of running from point a to point b over and over again with nothing to do other than rummage around in some flowers to find a nut.

    For a while, at least. But when you add the pain of doing this for hours on end with the maddening amount of loads UNS2 has, 7/10 is a realistic score for me.

    You can argue fan points back and forth, from where I’m standing, no interest in Naruto or anime in general, this game is enjoyable but does have some large faults – doesn’t matter what game it is, if it makes you say things like “oh come on, for *biological act between two or more same species animals* sake” it’s got some problems.

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