Reviewed: April 12, 2011
Released: March 22, 2011
Ah, Naruto. The blood haired, ramen loving ninja with a penchant to get in trouble has returned in a whole new show though a little bit more mature this time. This of course means that there will be no shortage of video games based upon the nine-tail infused young man with one of the most known catch phrases in history, including the newly released Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive for the PSP.|
Iím no stranger to the show, either of them, though I will admit that I am terrible with the character names especially those out side of the main characterís clan. I also like this new older version of Naruto as the character is already well established. Kizuna Drive is the same way as it is better than previous released though it does have a few short comings. Iíll touch on those later.
Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive features an original storyline instead of borrowing from the show. In this 3D action fighter, Naruto and his friends must find out who is responsible for the kidnapping of several of their clanís ninjas. At the same time they must stay one step ahead of a different clan that is blaming Naruto for the attack on their village.
Players can experience this new story in the Scenario Mission portion of this offering as they work their way though level after level fighting enemies, avoiding traps and taking on the various bosses strewn within. Unlike previous titles, Kizuna Drive, presents a team based atmosphere which was apparent from the get go. Instead of fighting alone as Naruto you will have at least 3 other ninjas that will aid you combat.
There are times when you wonít be in control of him but of other ninjas instead. The only downside is that once I got used to Narutoís attack styles it was harder to play as anyone else. But this is done for a reason as each character has his or her own strengths within their given role, such as Support or Attack. For example Naruto is an Attack class while pink haired Sakura is a Recovery type. Each character has its own special abilities such as Narutoís Nine-Tail power.
Attacking your opponents is done by simply using only the Circle button, but to use advanced skills such as Team Assist or Team Attack you utilize the Triangle Button or both if necessary. Just like in the show you have to build up charka to perform the more advanced attack. Some use up you chakra bar faster then others so you often times have to find a safe place to recharge when you can or you canít perform any special abilities.
The only issue I really had with Kizuna Drive is that it is somewhat difficult to keep an eye on your opponents as there is a noticeable lack of a lock on feature. This makes landing hits or special attacks a nightmare sometimes. There is a manual camera control that helps you keep track though.
The fun doesnít stop with the story mode thanks to the Free Mission mode as well as the Customize menu. In Free Missions, players can choose to complete Drills or Rank Missions. Drills act as the tutorial or practice mode for Kizuna Drive and Rank Missions allow you to use any unlocked characters in challenging missions to test you skills. This is a great way to earn Kizuna Points, the core mechanism, which allows you to collect more scrolls that will aid you in your quest. If thatís not enough for you, you can team up with 3 other people and take on missions from the game in true multiplayer coop. The only catch is that you must have up to 4 PSPs and a copy of Kizuna for each to play Multi-Play.
Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive features a pretty good visual front across the board. The menus are clean and feature nice artwork as well. The opening video is awesome and plays out just like an opening from the show. The story in between missions is presented in a motion comic style that was pretty cool and a nice way to transition from mission to mission.
The level designs are interesting though while they vary you will see a lot of forests and deserts and the like. It almost gets repetitive like the gameplay some times. I do like that the character designs that captures the showís look and feel and they did a nice job at recreating our favorite jutsu attacks. I really liked seeing Saiís drawing techniques creatures jumping out of his scrolls. Itís a pretty cool effect really.
The sound department of Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive really shines as it sounds like all the major players come to the table to reprise their TV roles here. The conversations between missions are classic Naruto so it made this experience a whole lot more enjoyable. It was really funny when you get to hear the chat between a student and his teacher about Narutoís Ultimate Sexy Jutsu. The sound effects are also pretty good such as when you charge up you chakra, which is constantly, and your AI teammates are really good about giving you hints about the tougher bosses. Well most of the time that it.
After playing Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive, I found that I like the game despite its few flaws. Itís a definite improvement from the previous titles though a lock on feature would have made the experience a whole lot better. It looks really good and the theme song and voice acting is top notch as they should be. Itís definitely worth a shot if your Naruto fan, and even if your not itís a satisfactory brawler.