Naruto: Path of the Ninja
Reviewed by Edwin Kee, June 2008
I don't know how many of you folks are anime fans, but there must be quite a substantial fan base for the Naruto series to spawn game title after game title. Naruto: Path of the Ninja is the latest in a long line of Naruto games, and we have seen this little ninja warrior take on different genres in the past including beat 'em ups, fighting games and now, Naruto faces the Role Playing Game (RPG) test. Naruto: Path of the Ninja follows the game mechanics of a traditional RPG (albeit in an electronic form factor) while throwing gamers into the Naruto universe right from the start. I suppose there are good and bad points to all this - you will be able to pick up the story very easily if you're a long time Naruto fan, but if you happen to be new to the anime series, I'd suggest you get your RPG fix elsewhere.
The authenticity level for Naruto: Path of the Ninja is average, since the game does borrow a fair number of lines from the anime script in order to get you immersed in the game. This is a double-edged sword since it proves the old adage, "familiarity breeds contempt". Story-wise, this Naruto RPG title won’t reach the classical status that the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series have achieved. There are only so many elements within the Naruto universe where the game developers can play around. Interestingly enough, Naruto: Path of the Ninja started off as a GBA game in Japan, and the team has decided to "upgrade" this game and release it on the DS platform as well. Sounds pretty familiar, and the work that was put in certainly goes a whole lot further compared to the fifth case in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney when it was ported over to the DS from the GBA. While the game's core remains pretty much the same compared to the GBA title some years back, you get revamped graphics (let's face it - an excellent story alone isn't enough to make a game great, let alone a mediocre story) to keep gamers interested and reworked audio. For folks who are touch screen purists, you'd be happy to know that Naruto: Path of the Ninja boasts full touch support, allowing the entire game to be played using the stylus.
The game involves players traversing from one section to another with an overall world map to make navigation a snap. A solitary avatar acts as a representative of your party, and battles are random to prevent the game from getting stale too fast. As with any other similar RPGs, you start off as a pretty weak character, but once you have gone through hours and hours of just pure level grinding, you will be able to dispatch off your enemies with impunity. Thankfully, there is some level of personal control as you can choose your party member and the equipment they carry. You have a party of three ninjas to help you complete the game, so make sure you choose wisely what weapons they will use. The traditional RPG fans will be surprised to find that they don’t play as warriors, wizards, rangers or thieves; but the Naruto fans will be right at with RPG ninja characters. Quests are reasonably complicated and will require some effort to complete.
Since this was a GBA game originally, its age shows. This isn't a scarlet mistress that you'd be proud to show off to your mates – instead, you would rather keep this title to yourself as Naruto: Path of the Ninja definitely isn't a graphics maven. Character animation isn't too hot and the environments look simple. One saving grace is the cutscenes: they are original and very well drawn and animated.
Just like the graphics, the sound suffers the same fate as a GBA-turned-NDS-game. The sound palette didn’t expand in range or selection. For a NDS RPG title, gamers will expect more than Path of the Ninja currently offers.
The Final Fantasy fans won’t jump ship to Naruto series because of the Path of the Ninja, but the Naruto series fans will like this game just fine. Though you can only milking a cow for so long, the RPG form does bring a breath of fresh air into the long standing fighting series. While many GBA games haven’t improved after making appearances on the NDS, Path of the Ninja had its moment especially in cutscenes. For Naruto devotees, this game is a buy; but for everyone else it’s a rental.
Tips & Tricks
1. Collect all these the following scrolls to obtain Kyuubi's Power.
− Ripped Scroll 1 Storage
− Ripped Scroll 2 Land Of Fire Plains
− Ripped Scroll 3 Fire Calender (Hokage Basement)
− Ripped Scroll 4 Forest Of Death
− Ripped Scroll 5 Gaara Pursuit
2. In order to unlock the mini-game, at the main menu, just finish the game through once and you're good to go.
3. In order to unlock Nine-Tailed Fox's charka for Naruto, you've got to discover all the "Ripped Scrolls" as mentioned above and head towards Hokage's Basement.