The original Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles was a good example of how not to make an Action RPG; it featured repetitive missions, a simple over-world map with over-done random battles and the dreaded escort levels, which were near impossible to complete. Judging by Naruto’s first piece of dialog - “Glad that mission is over” - it’s a safe bet he hated the original Uzumaki Chronicles, too. Now we have a sequel, Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles 2, that reuses both good and bad elements from the original.
Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles 2’s paper-thin story tying the action together tells of the (previously thought to be extinct) Shirogane ‘Cursed Puppet’ clan which has come back out of the shadows and is seeking out the spirit orbs. Along the way the Shirogane manage to set fire to Leaf village in their efforts to locate one of the orbs; as a result the Leaf Ninjas set out to stop them. The first mission merely involves putting out the fire and setting up a base of operations in the newly watered down Leaf Village. After this first mission, Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles 2 sinks back into the repetition of fighting bandits and possessed puppets.
Fortunately, while the game has retained many of the original’s flaws, the good aspects have been enhanced and some of the bad have been cut completely. The only big cuts are that they have removed the escort missions completely and cut down on the amount of random battles on the map. That said, if you had the misfortune of buying the original you’ll be in familiar territory on the world map as it still comes down to selecting the mission location, fighting a few random battles on the way, a few more battles in town and repeat – for every mission.
Also returning are the intuitive controls from the original, so special attacks and combos are as easy as ever, characters can be rotated at the push of a button and you get the better characters - such as Sakura and Kakashi - earlier on. Small control issues such as the jump button doubling as a dash button with two taps will more often than not find you jumping when you meant to dash which could pose a problem in heated boss battles.
Once again, each character has their unique special moves, such as Naruto's Rasengan and Shadow Clone Jutsu - the latter is also useful in locating secret rooms. Each one can be pulled off with R1 and R2 when locked onto an opponent. In boss fights they’re useful as you can switch between characters to make use of each of their special moves and each one uses their own SP, making it easier to pull off everyone’s moves and win the battle.
The briefing screen has been enhanced, too. Whereas in the original players were simply greeted with a menu, this time around we get a meeting room with the well-endowed “Grandma” Tsunade handing out the missions and Sakura to rip on Naruto at every opportunity. Unfortunately, the lip-synching is off most of the time and the character models’ expressions rarely match the character images or subtitles. The Japanese voice track is also available at the starting screen should players choose the original voices.
In the end Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles 2 simply repeats a lot of the mistakes of its predecessor and proves that it wasn’t just the escort missions holding Uzumaki Chronicles back: it was an overall flawed design. That said, if you liked Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles, you will probably like this.