Catching Up With 2009: Naruto Shippuden: Legends: Akatsuki Rising

It was about two years ago that Naruto Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2: The Phantom Fortress showed up in Alex’s mailbox and he asked us who wanted to cover it. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I volunteered. I was never a fan of Naruto. I usually can’t watch anime, and I stuck my nose up at Naruto in any of its mediums. I guess I just wanted a new PSP game to play.

Anyways, I felt it prudent to at least watch some of the show before I passed judgment on the game. I tried the American version and couldn’t stand it. On a whim, I found the Japanese version and got almost immediately hooked. Then, I discovered that I was enjoying the hell out of the game. In fact, it made my top ten games of that year. Suddenly, I was a Naruto fanatic.

It goes to show you one thing above all else. You should never turn your nose up to something without trying. You never know when you’ll find something great.

Anyways, since then I’ve reviewed several Naruto games, watched hours upon hours of the show, and read even further in the Manga. Still, none of the games I’ve played matched the fun I had with that first Naruto game. Apart from it, all of the other games I’ve played had one thing in common. They were for the Nintendo DS. Now, I love the little system, but it can’t seem to produce a new Naruto game.

So, last year, when Naruto Shippuden: Legends: Akatsuki Rising was announced, there was no way I was going to miss it.

It just took a while for me to get it.

Let’s Catch Up!

What’s The Game?

This week’s game is Naruto Shippuden: Legends: Akatsuki Rising, a 3D brawler for the Sony PSP.

Who Made It?

Like all of the PSP Naruto games, this was developed by CyberConnect 2 and published by Namco Bandai.

When Did It Come Out?

Akatsuki Rising was released on October 6, 2009.

Where’s The Review?

I was unable to review this game last year, so I’m making up for that here!

Why Didn’t You Play It In 2009?

I was really psyched for this game when it was announced. Then, I found out it wasn’t a fighting game and the forty dollar price tag didn’t seem quite worth it. I was hoping it would drop in price rather quickly, but I had to wait until late March before I could finally afford it.

Being the Naruto fan that I am, you might wonder why I didn’t feel like the price tag was worth it. Well, it again falls on the low quality of the DS games. There was a part of me that was convinced that only the fighting games were worthwhile. (Apart from maybe the two games on the 360, which I haven’t gotten to try.) I also had several other games in the months before and after that I needed to focus on. There was Kingdom Hearts, WWE Smackdown, and Tekken 6 to name a few. There just wasn’t room for this game. Then came Christmas, my mom’s birthday, and before I knew it, it was spring.

Oh well. At least I have it now.

So What Did You Think?

This game (hereto-after referred to as AR) covers the Gaara retrieval arc, meaning the first season of Naruto Shippuden. It manages to be the best retelling of that story for any game I’ve played. The characters are full of personality, aren’t afraid to have conversations, and you’ll find yourself chuckling along when characters such as Guy or Naruto get up to their shenanigans. More to the point, characters like Lady Chiyo and Deidara are far more interesting in this game because they actually have lines. The game covers a lot of material and does it well.

The Scenario Campaign lasts for ten missions that will take you around ten hours to complete, but it isn’t the only thing the game has to offer. Rather quickly, you unlock Mission Mode and Survival Mode. Mission Mode is full of ranked missions that offer up rare scrolls and cash for rewards. They also house some of the game’s toughest challenges. The only catch is that you can only use the Leaf Ninja in this mode, but since there’s about seven of them, it isn’t a big problem. They also serve up some amusing story sequences at the end of each mission. Survival Mode allows you to use the three Sand Ninja as well. This mode tasks you with fighting large groups of enemies in waves or fighting two of the main characters at once. You won’t get to use support characters, so you’re stuck on your own for these fights.

If these three modes aren’t enough, you also unlock a mode that allows you to complete a story mode as the Akatsuki. The story isn’t up to snuff, mostly because you fight the same people over and over again. Still, you can feel the power of the Akatsuki when you play as them, and it is a ton of fun. You also have Battle mode, which lets you pit either your custom characters or game generated characters in one on one battles. There’s even an Ad-Hoc mode to let you team up with a friend. Add on managing your equipment, combining scrolls, and leveling up your characters, and this game has some serious mileage for you to trek across. I’ve gotten more play time out of this game then I did out of all of the DS Naruto games I have.

It is a good thing then, that the gameplay is decent enough to keep your entertained. At heart, it is a simple 3D brawler with a JRPG style leveling and equipment system. Your traverse through 3D locales with the goal of moving on to the next section, or in the case of Mission Mode, defeating a certain number of enemies or finding items. There are usually no shortage of enemies to contend with. The combat seems overly simple at first, but grows on you. You can attack with the square button and mash it to launch into combos. Triangle allows you to throw weapons or access your item panel, x let’s you jump, and circle allows you to use a teleportation move that is useful for dodging or catching up with distant enemies. The depth of the combat is discovered when it comes to using jutsu attacks. These consume chakra, which regenerates over time, and often require a little bit of a charge time. Each character has their own sets and they all play differently. Naruto uses his clones to distract enemies so he can land a Rasengan. Gaara uses his sand jutsu to keep foes at a distance so he bombard them with strong moves. Kisame can imprison a foe so he can use a devastating water jutsu that normally has a tough time landing. These attacks are available when you’ve equipped the corresponding scrolls. You also have scrolls to increase stats, absorb hp, or even use less chakra for your moves. You can only equip a certain amount of scrolls, and even then you have to equip within your potential. Potential is a numerical limit that each scroll takes up. If you don’t have enough to equip a scroll, you can’t use it. You can combine scrolls to get better effects, though this usually results in raising the potential cost as well. (Although I did find that it could lower them.)

The equipment system and jutsu attacks go a long way to break up the monotony you would otherwise feel when playing the game. Also, the large number for projectiles you can equip add another layer of strategy. On top of that, you can use supporting characters to gain bonus effects. This grants them some of your experience, but it can do things like greatly increase your stats, raise the experience earned, or increase the item drop rate. It can be very helpful. Throw in the various enemy types and moments where only a sound strategy will lead you to victory, and this game avoids the typical problems of a 3D brawler on the PSP.

As far as presentation goes, the game fairs pretty well. The graphics aren’t all that much, but the cell shaded characters animate fairly well and the effects are nice to look at. The music is full of high tempo beats with a strong Japanese flare, and the game features a ton of voice acting. You get both the English and Japanese voice tracks, so you can have which ever you prefer. Me? I wouldn’t touch the English voice cast unless I had to, as they way they pronounce words like “chakra” drive me nuts. It’s a decent package overall.

The game certainly isn’t going to break the mold, but I got a lot of quality time out of it.

What Score Would You Have Given It?

As we don’t have a review for this game up on the site, here are the official scores.

Story/Modes: Good
Graphics: Decent
Audio: Enjoyable
Gameplay: Enjoyable
Replayability: Very Good
Balance: Above Average
Originality: Poor
Addictiveness: Above Average
Appeal Factor: Enjoyable
Miscellaneous: Good
Final Score: Above Average Game!

Would It Have Made Your Top Ten List?

It would probably sit somewhere just out of the top fifteen, especially with the list having been expanded by the games I’ve played for this column. While I certainly enjoyed the game, it just can’t compete with the best of 2009.

How Much Does It Go For, In Case I Want It?

You can probably find this new for about twenty bucks now, though I’m not sure if that price is reflected outside of Gamestop.

Final Thoughts?

CyberConnect2 is proving to be adept at bringing over the Naruto franchise to the PSP, which makes me happy, as they’re the developers of the soon to be released Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3. As far as this game goes, it isn’t going to blow you away, but Naruto fans will easily get their monies worth. As I can count myself among the throng, I enjoyed the hell out of this game.

Next Time: I tackle a detective game for the DS. That wouldn’t be so odd, as I do that a lot, but this one is different. It’s from a series I had pretty much sworn off of, but am now giving a second chance. Tune in next time to see how it panned out!


One response to “Catching Up With 2009: Naruto Shippuden: Legends: Akatsuki Rising”

  1. […] Ultimate Ninja series, Impact is not a fighting game. This also had me interested. Though I enjoyed Akatsuki Rising, I was still skeptical. Add on the fact that on its face, Impact looked like a Dynasty Warriors […]

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