Naruto - Ninja Council Review by: EirinnDefinitely worth a shot
Welcome to the world of Naruto. In this game, you assume the role of either Naruto Uzumaki or Sasuke Uchiha, students of Sensei Kakashi Hatake. On your journey, you will learn how to use close combat fighting techniques, ranged weapons, and various types of Jutsu. You will fight your way through several foes who employ various fighting styles, from close quarters, to ranged, to a mix of both. At the end of each level you will also find a Boss fight awaiting you. From Ino and Choji, to Rock Lee and Shino. There's plenty of ninja action to be had here, along with a little platforming, and laughter. Add to that the fact that the controls are super easy to learn (A button jumps, pressing the B button attacks, while holding the B button unleashes one of three special attacks, pressing the R button throws projectiles, and holding the R button allows you to use special Jutsu attacks), and you have a surefire recipe for GBA fun.
Wow, is this really GBA? Yeah, that's pretty much indicative of the quality here, or at least I think so. Oddly I find that not everyone feels that these graphics are impressive. I'll just say that in my limited experience with GBA games, this one has some of the best graphics I've seen. So where does Naruto Ninja Council stand out to me visually? A better question would be, "Where does it not stand out visually?". I'll start with the level designs, since they are one of the least impressive shows of graphics contained in the game. While the level designs aren't anything groundbreaking, they do a good job utilizing the hardware that the GBA offered them, and came out with that perfect blend of game world and realism, with the game world being the dominant of the two traits. With mostly earthy tones, the color scheme for the levels are realistic and manage to keep the game's feet on the ground, when it could easily become carried away with the light anime style graphics, flashy cinematic attack sequences, and bright colors. They could have done better, but they did pretty good as it is, I'd say. The sprites are all pretty well done, but they're all far too small, and a bit too childish in animation style. That's my only real complaint in the graphics department. The sprites do have some very good animations though. It isn't often that I say this, but I love the animations here. They're smooth for a GBA title, and they successfully capture the spirit of classic anime action; It actually feels like you're playing an anime. Then there are the backgrounds: they aren't mind blowing, but they are nice, especially the first level's background. And last but not least, the cinematic attack sequences: As I've already said, each character comes with three special attacks. When you perform these attacks, the action on the screen freezes while a letterbox cinema of your character's eyes appears, and a bright color pattern replaces the background as the action unfreezes, and your character launches their powered up blast of concentrated power. These graphics aren't perfect, but compared to other GBA titles I've seen, I think that this is a fair rating.
Yet another game with great sound. The music is really good for a GBA title, and we are offered a variety of tracks. You probably won't be downloading the OST anytime soon, but you won't be disappointed with the music here. What really makes this game's audio great, is the voice overs. There is a surprising amount of voice overs in the game, given the system limitations, and it's also good quality. My personal favorite is hearing Naruto shout "Na-ru-to Uza-maki Barrage!!" when unleashing his overpowered special attack, which incedentally is largely responsible for my taking note of the voice over quality. Each special attack (when properly executed) has it's own voice over. From Naruto's "Believe it!", to Sasuke's "Feel the power", to Sakura's simple "Cha!!", all of the voice acting is very high quality, and well executed in the game, and I couldn't get enough of it. Hands down, this has the best audio I've found in a GBA game.
This is the lowest I have ever given a game for story, but sadly, Naruto Ninja council deserves it. I hate to see such a miserable shotcoming in any game, but even more so in a game that shows this much promise. The game offers no reason for why you're doing most of what you're doing, until you reach the last few levels, and even then, it's so incredibly vague that you have to be a fan of Naruto to know what's going on, and even Naruto fans will have to make a good amount of assumptions to piece it together. Aside from knowing the characters and who's who, there really isn't much that even being a fan of the show can do to help you understand what's going on. So for those who are Naruto fans, this story gets a two. For the rest of us, a one is far more fitting. They would have done better to just leave the story out altogether, than to throw us a tiny portion of an underdeveloped story, and expect us to be satisfied with having to piece it together. It's kind of like trying to to put a thousand piece puzzle together, with only five hundred pieces. I'm not a Naruto fan, so I'm still not sure what's going on with the story, and I've beaten the game three times. After finishing the third round (which was my first playthrough with the secret character), I began to grasp an ever so small bit of a story that seemed to be buried in there somewhere, but even then it wasn't enough to fill me in on what was happening. Thankfully, this is the only place that Naruto Ninja Council falls so miserably short in the quality department.
At first glance, it doesn't seem like this game has much to offer by way of depth. After all, it only offers two modes, two characters, straight forward beat 'em up action, and an extremely short story mode, which is hardly amazing or innovative. However, as you play through on your second run (assuming you use a different character), you begin to see the extra little details that work together to add to the replay value. Each character has different dialogue with the NPCs, which, despite being a small detail, is just enough to push you to the point of wanting to play all the way through this short little game again. And after you finish your first run with both characters, you'll get a surprise that, if you enjoy the game, makes your efforts worthwhile. I'll leave it up to you figure out what that surprise is though. Add to the mix the fact that you have at least three unlockable goodies (a secret character and an extra feature being two of them), that even the secret character has their own dialogue (altered cut-scenes), and the side quest of collecting all of the leaf symbols, as well as a hidden Special attack that's hidden somewhere in the game that varries for each character, and you have quiet a bit of depth, especially considering that it's a beat 'em up and a GBA title. This one will keep you coming back for a while if you plan to do everything that there is to be done.
Well, I sat through this game three times without breaking to play another game. Everytime I picked up a game, it was Naruto Ninja Council. Why? It's fun, it's simple, it's short, and it has plenty of hidden features to offer for a game of it's kind, so everytime you finish it, it gives you a new reason to play through it again. While this probably won't be a go-to game for me permanently, it is one of the better beat 'em up games I've found, and I'll be putting in more play time on it soon. If you enjoy beat 'em ups, you'll likely find yourself addicted to this one for a while.
While most of the levels are easily traveresed, and no enemies outside of the bosses are ever a challenge (unless you try to run through the levels at top speed and ignore them), Naruto Ninja Council is not entirely without challenge. Some of the bosses can be challenging, with attacks that drain nearly two thirds of your health, and the annoying button-spamming type strategy that the final boss employs, you just might find yourself slamming your hands down on the table in frustration. But never fear, none of the bosses are as invincible as they might seem, and you will never be overloaded with foes as in most beat 'em ups. In fact, almost all of them can be taken down quickly and all but effortlessly. Still, those few bosses that present an issue are more than enough to keep me from calling this game a breeze.
I don't think a score could be much more accurate on this game than this overall score is. Naruto Ninja Council is a fun game, but like any game, it has it's ups and downs; and while it isn't perfect, it does manage to stand tall amongst it's peers. With great graphics, incredible sound quality, addictive gameplay, and plenty of depth, this one is more than capable of keeping gamers entertained for a decent amount of time.
All things considered, Naruto Ninja Council delivers more than enough action and fun to pull you in and keep you there for a while. And despite the glaring flaw that is it's miserable attempt at a story, it manages to turn out to be quiet a good little game. I would most definitely recommend Naruto Ninja Council to all fans of beat 'em ups or adventure/platformers, as well as fans of Naruto. For the rest of you? It could be worth a shot. It managed to impress me, despite beat 'em ups and adventure/platformer not exactly being one of my preferred genres. This game lives up to all expectations, and then some. If you haven't played this one before, then I suggest checking it out soon.