Saturday, December 19, 2009

Naruto Shippuden Legends: Akatsuki Rising Impression

Naruto Shippuden: Akatsuki Rising on PSP
Naruto is hot, no denying that and as the anime shifts into the proper storyline, the Shippuden storyline as seen in the manga the video games have followed along with the first main story arc. Naruto Shippuden Legends: Akatsuki Rising has been out for a few weeks now and it’s the first Shippuden title to appear on the PSP. As mentioned if follows the first story arc, that of the recovery of Gaara from the Akatsuki right as Naruto returns from 2-1/2 years of training. While Naruto has grown how as the Legends line of games grown on the PSP, lets take a look.

Gameplay – Most of the Naruto Sony based titles have either been full fighting game or a mesh of fighting/adventure gaming and it’s the second category that Akatsuki Rising falls under. Gamers take on the role of Naruto and get started with his return to the village and subsequent search for the kidnapped Kakekage. The gameplay is 3D where gamers run around, lock onto enemies and unleash their attacks in an environment reminiscent of Kingdom Hearts with it’s free roaming feel. The lock-on is a lifesaver as enemies can get a bit lost. There is also the option to pick from a decent cast of characters, all updated for Shippuden, and fight with friends or the computer, but it’s the story based missions which received much of the attention. Also similar is the Tekken 6 story/adventure mode which meshes fighting game with adventure game.

Graphics – Blocky at times, but overall all the ninja look really good on the PSP. Environments are pulled right from the anime and even the cookie cutter bad guys feel pulled from the series. Jutsu attacks are fun to watch and even the menu and interface feels pulled from Naruto. This franchise has been done well going back to the PS2 and it shows in how well put forth the game is on Sony’s handheld. That being said it still does not match the level of detail shown in a Dissidia or even Tekken 6, but it serves fans well for a franchise we won’t see the end of for quite a while.

Sound – Some decent, if not recycled tracks, from previous games and the anime are here as are some bland forgettable ones. The voice work is spot on as it enlists the anime’s cast but there are only so many phrases a gamer can take, even a true Naruto fan. The sound won’t win any awards but it gets the job done.

Design – With all the characters and settings already outlined the game does a decent job of creating environments that feel familiar but look new compared to the anime. The source material really eliminates this category as everything is accounted for minus the predictable forest and city settings. Its Naruto folks, fans know what to expect.

Miscellaneous – For a game that is pretty much set, cast in it’s way by the manga and anime, the one thing Akatsuki Rising does well is spins the story with the Akatsuki mode. Such a simple thing really works well as being bad is sometimes so good.

Overall, Akatsuki Rising is a great addition to any Naruto fans game collection. Knowing how the story plays out does not take away anything from the addition that is Naruto from leveling up to filling in missing pieces of the story, journeys to different lands and of course the enemy’s perspective. AR stays true to what it is, a continuation of the Naruto story put to a formula established on the PS2 to great success. Fans need apply, PSP owners looking for a new gaming adventure, give it a rent, all others wait for the next Naruto for a more (hopefully) refined game.