Title: Naruto Shippuden: Dragon Blade Chronicles
Release Date: November 16, 2010
Publisher (Developer): Atlus (Takara Tomy)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone 10+” for Cartoon Violence and Language
Pros: Interesting original story, event segments have nice looking cel-shaded characters, English actors from the anime voice their characters, easy to pull off jutsus and attacks, can call support characters to assist in battles and can play as Naruto and Sasuke.
Cons: Awkward camera angles can be difficult and disorienting, no Japanese voice acting option, only three kinds of general enemies (with the same AI), lag shows up in the oddest places, doesn’t really explain how to save in game, characters look better in events than they do in battle, no reason to replay it once finished and the Versus mode is laughable.
Overall Score:One thumb sideways and one thumb down, 67/100, D+, * 1/2 out of 5
Do you love Naruto? I mean really love Naruto? Because you’re going to cling to that devotion if you want to make it through Naruto Shippuden: Dragon Blade Chronicles.
While this Wii beat’em up has a really awesome story with cool original characters and a good script, it also has one of the worst fixed cameras I’ve ever encountered in a game and offensive lags when Naruto or Sasuke walk into a room with too many enemies or objects. And by too many, I mean more than two. But even if the camera and lag were fixed, the lack of variety when it comes to enemies and environments would still hold Naruto Shippuden: Dragon Blade Chronicles back.
Naruto and Kakashi are doing some training, pushing some empty crates around, when all of a sudden an earthquake hits the Leaf Village. Kakashi senses that it isn’t any normal earthquake, so he and Naruto rush to the source. On the way, they’re attacked by some strange, golem-like enemies which only seem to die when Naruto uses his Rasengan against them. They meet a strange girl in a kerchief carrying a bundle on the way, and eventually find themselves at the center of all the activity – a giant, rocky dragon! The girl reveals that the only way to defeat the Genryu is with the dragon blade she’s carrying. Naruto takes it and beats the dragon down, acquiring an orb fragment that can be used in the dragon blade.
The girl reveals herself to be Akari, one of the last surviving members of the Tatsushiro Clan. The Tatsushiro were tasked with watching over the powerful Genryu dragons, but the other ninja clans feared, and thus destroyed them. Remaining members are nomadic outcasts, because all Tatsushiro clan members have horns growing from their heads. (Hence Akari’s kerchief.) Akari’s older brother Kuroma has decided to take revenge on the other ninja clans and the world for how they treated him, and has set out to wake all the Genryu and take their power for his own, destroying the world in the process. Naruto, Sakura, Sai, Yamato and Kakashi head to Mount Koryu to find Shikamaru, Neji and Lee, the lost scouting team, and stop Kuroma.
But they aren’t the only ones heading to Mount Koryu. The Akatsuki sensed the power of the Genryu and are converging on their dens to try and claim their powers for their own. And Sasuke and his Hebi team are following close behind, so Sasuke can get his revenge on his older brother, the Akatsuki member Itachi.
Mindless hacking-and-slashing with a Versus mode chaser.
Naruto Shippuden: Dragon Blade Chronicles is a mindless hack-and-slash kind of game. You’ll be fighting waves of Mugonhei golems, which will look like little flying ghosts, spear or arrow-wielding men or slightly larger-than-average men. You’re supposed to use the titular dragon blade and jutsus to dispatch them, but you can usually get by with just mindless slashing. At the end of the area you’ll face a boss battle, which is normally a dragon or another ninja. Once that’s done, you head to another area, rinse and repeat. Some platforming is mixed in, requiring Naruto or Sasuke to use special jutsu skills to proceed, but it’s mainly about eternal and endless attacking in the rather bland lands surrounding Mount Koryu.
That wouldn’t be all that bad, if it weren’t for two things, the camera and the lag. The camera is fixed, which probably would be forgivable if it gave you a good view of the battlefield and surrounding area and didn’t shift every few steps. Boss battles can have between one and three camera angles, which may not suit your needs. (Have fun trying to keep Sasuke on the platforms when facing Deidara!) You have to watch your character’s shadow more often than your character, to make sure he’ll land where you want him to. It’s even possible to get discombobulated by the constantly shifting camera angles on the way to boss fights since everything looks the same.
While you’re running to get your bearings or a good view, the game will occasionally slow to a crawl. At first I thought this was only happening when Naruto or Sasuke were in a room with a few Mugonhei, but no! Sometimes this inexplicable lag will show up if you happen to be in an especially large area with a number of decorative rocks, chests or other accoutrements. There’s one scene early on where Naruto is running down a collapsing corridor filled with obstacles. It’s supposed to be a real gripping, heart pounding moment. Thanks to the incredible, extraordinary lag, it’s as exciting as being chased by a 22 year old dachshund with cataracts.
Then there’s the Versus mode, a half-hearted feature tossed in for good measure. People are used to Naruto games being fighting games, or having a fighting game feature thrown in. So to make Dragon Blade Chronicles conform, Takara Tomy tossed in a Versus mode that lets people fight against each other. But, you can only fight as Naruto and Sasuke. Guess they couldn’t toss a few more character models in there. That’s okay though, because the Naruto and Sasuke fight is pretty pointless, and odds are you’ll try it once, then never use it again.
Falters as a game, but would have made a great movie.
Naruto Shippuden: Dragon Blade Chronicle‘s saving grace is its story. Atlus did a wonderful job with the localization and translation and all the English anime voice actors reprise their character roles. It’s probably the reason most people will try and power their way through Dragon Blade Chronicles. But it’s going to be a long journey to find out if Kuroma can be stopped and what will happen when Naruto and Sasuke meet again, since the atrocious camera, frequent lag and bland gameplay tend to muck things up. If you’re a huge Naruto fan, it might be worth enduring.
I’d advise not getting Naruto Shippuden: Dragon Blade Chronicles for children under 12. It isn’t that it’s graphic or offensive in any way, but younger children may not have the patience to put up with sudden slowdowns or wonky camera. I could see many getting frustrated by Sasuke’s first boss battle and giving up because they couldn’t time the jumps correctly.