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Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive Review

Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive Review

Naruto games can be pretty bad, it's almost a staple expectation save for the hits coming out of developer CyberConnect2, but alas Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive is no such hit. Yet another portable Naruto game from Namco Bandai, Kizuna Drive tackles some interesting gameplay mechanics and a whole new story arc outside of the main Naruto canon, but ultimately just fails to impress on a very basic level. This is one mission that Naruto and Team 7 will not look back upon with great enthusiasm, or any fan of the series for that matter.

Kizuna Drive takes Naruto and his friends in a whole new direction when it comes to the story. The main canon isn't really touched on here, which is a good thing as almost every Naruto Shippuden game since the inception of the new canon has ever only used that one story. Instead, it's much more reminiscent of the infamous filler arcs from the anime series. The adventure kicks off with the Hidden Village of Dreams getting devastated by the Nine-Tailed Beast. Now therein lies the conundrum and premise of the entire plot, isn't Naruto the Jinchuuriki for the Nine-Tailed Beast? Why, yes he is. Of course, surviving ninja of the Hidden Dream are now hunting down Naruto for revenge and, as per usual, Naruto and the Hidden Leaf have absolutely no clue as to what's going on and it's your job to find out.

The story itself isn't bad, it's pretty interesting and fun if you're a fan of the series. It has your archetypal setup and acts as a catalyst to get things going in the game. Unfortunately, this is also its downfall. One wouldn't really expect anything game-changing from a Naruto story, but is it so hard to ask for one where Naruto isn't the key target of some ninja hellbent on revenge? It's really not a far cry from the saying, "if you've played one Naruto game, you've played them all."

The game doesn't get any better. While the plot is your typical cut-and-paste tale of revenge, the gameplay is probably even worse. Props to Namco Bandai and Premium Agency for trying out a very cool concept based around teamwork and multiplayer. However, concepts can only go so far. The execution is poor at best and frustratingly repetitive. Missions are tackled with teams of four and these teams are usually already preset in the story mode; however, you can pick and choose your allies in the Free Battle mode. You've got your standard button-mashing combo that will vary depending on how many times you hit the attack and skill buttons, but in general, there aren't a lot of combos to use. You can call on your teammates for help by hitting the Square button and select which character to call for by hitting up or down on the D-pad. Holding the Square button will charge your chakra, but you will not be able to move until the charge is complete. Hitting left and right on the D-pad will change up your ninjutsu.

In addition, prior to every mission, players will get the chance to set up their teams with abilities and scrolls appropriate for the forthcoming mission. Scrolls are collected at the end of very mission and the amount will depend on the amount of Kizuna points gained. Kizuna points play a pretty big role in the battle system and are earned by working with your team. Unlike other Naruto games, your teammates actually battle alongside you instead of being restricted to a tag-team system. It doesn't help that the team AI is utterly retarded and will every only do something right if the assist button is used. If your teammates fall in battle, you can expend Kizuna points to revive them.

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