Thursday, 5 September 2013

Review: Naruto Powerful Shippuden (3DS)

Every once in a while a game comes along that takes every opportunity to slap the player in the face. In a nutshell, that's Naruto Powerful Shippuden, a game that constantly hits below the belt with utterly arbitrary challenges that encourage hair-pulling frustration and grinding levels to earn experience points (XP) to upgrade skills and unlock more skills.

Pair that with a story that I can't discern if it's supposed to ride a line between serious and funny. Maybe it's because my experience with the overall Naruto "experience" is restricted to a few of the fighting titles where the story elements played second fiddle to the combat, that I didn't get it. Why do they all look like Muppet Babies? Why is that guy wearing a tutu with a curving dildo strapped to the front? Okay, wait, why's one of his power moves a sudden change into a bikini? Or maybe I'm old and just can't understand what's happening.

The story alternates between Naruto and Rock Lee as they, I have no idea, do something. After reading the extremely wordy exchanges at the beginning I stopped caring. Each of the characters has a pre-plotted map that slowly rolls out, with each circle on the map noting a challenge of some kind. Upon completion, there's another wordy exchange then on to the next challenge.

To overcome those challenges, there are plenty of upgradeable moves, etc., which then go out the window at the whim of the developers. Yes, Rock Lee is powered-up to Level 50, with life bars coming out the ying-yang, and most of the moves unlocked, but STOP EVERYTHING! Now he can't attack, use his chakra (magic), call in allies, and he has only a couple of life bars, and has to survive two minutes against a mixed group of enemies. Is it for a story reason? None as far as I can tell.

The randomness of the conditions are just so random that after a while it grates on a person's nerves and that the slick action/fighting that Naruto Powerful Shippuden presents is forgotten. It's just an exercise in irritation.

Powerful Shippuden takes a page from Kid Icarus: Uprising by offering the chance to essentially wager on the outcome of each challenge. Incredibly, it actually serves to make most of the challenges more irritating because success can be made that much more elusive. The wagers are XP multipliers but I never found myself scrounging for XP in any serious way. I always had some to spend and if I didn't, I'd pick an easy level to ride through a couple of times to pad my supply.

No matter the cool look of the game, the animation, the overall mechanics of how the actual fighting happens, the freakin' randomness of the challenges is a Dodge Charger covered in mustard.

- D.D. Nunavut

The Good:
- Animation
- Fighting and combat is actually good

The Bad:
- Irritating, frustrating and arbitrary challenges that neuter any sense of progression and renders the grinding and upgrading completely pointless

Score: 6.0 / 10