Naruto: Ninja Destiny Preview
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-02-02 Nintendo DS Fighting T (Teen) D3P / Tomy

While there has been no shortage of fighting games released on the consoles over the past few years, the handhelds have not been so fortunate. That, however, is all set to change with the release of Naruto: Ninja Destiny on the Nintendo DS. During a conference call with Tomy's Laura Yoshioka, Nobby Matsuo and Glenn Stotz, I was able to learn more about what makes Ninja Destiny so special.

With the Japanese release earning huge success, it's no surprise that the people at Tomy are bringing this sure-to-be-a-hit title to US shores. Naruto: Ninja Destiny will feature characters, scenes and even storylines from the first 140 episodes of the hugely popular SHONEN JUMP? NARUTO television series, but the game is not a simple clone of the Japanese version.

Click to launch video

Click to launch video (6.3 MB)

The US release of Ninja Destiny will contain three new characters: Tsunade, Jiraiya, and Orochimaru, bringing the total to 16 playable characters in all. Even though each character is set in his or her own play style, with so many to choose from, it would be shocking if someone couldn?t find a style they really liked.

Another improvement in the US version is a better frame rate, meaning more fluidity during each battle.

Speaking of battles, Ninja Destiny marks the first time a Naruto fighting game will be playable on the DS in 3D, a fact that should excite many long-time fans of the series. Battles will take place on the top screen, using button combos, while power-ups like extra health and defense or special attacks will be located on the touch screen. In order to add more simplicity to the gameplay, these power-ups come in the form of huge buttons on the touch screen, allowing them to be hit easily during intense battles.

Like one would expect, the game focuses heavily on attack combos, with certain button combos leading into various cinematic animations. And even though there is no voice acting during cutscenes, players can look forward to hearing character voices during battle.

The gameplay is set throughout eight environments, in an arena 1-on-1 style of fighting, with one environment being unique to the US version of the game. Overall, representatives from Tomy said that while the game is similar to console versions of Naruto, the big draw here is the portability factor.

Not only will players be able to take their favorite Naruto characters with them wherever they go, they will also be able to fight against friends and strangers alike through local wireless multiplayer, where each player is required to own the game. In this and this alone is the game's only potential fault that I can see, as fighting against players all over the world would have had much more of a draw. But still, any multiplayer is better than no multiplayer.

And if you don?t have a friend locally to play the game with, the game's other two modes will surely be enough to tide you over. First is the obvious story mode, which may be a bit difficult for complete newcomers to the series, who are not familiar with previous storylines, and second is the basic play-against-the-computer quick mode in which players can face either chosen or random opponents. Even though the story mode was created with fans of the series in mind, I was assured that it was in no way impossible to jump into.

With so much in such a little package, it'll be interesting to see how fans of the Naruto franchise react to Naruto: Ninja Destiny when it releases in late February of this year. Be sure to check back here for a review of the game after its release.

For even more info about the newest game in the Naruto lineup, I was privileged enough to attend a second call about the game, this time with voice actors from the show Brian Donovan, Yuri Lowenthal, Maile Flanagan, and Kate Higgins, who were willing to share their experiences in recording the audio for the game. In short, it was hard work, but a lot of fun. But don't take my word for it ? check out the complete MP3 of the call for yourself!