Well to start this off I should tell everyone reading that I’m a bit of an anime nerd (just in case you haven’t figured it out). That being said, of course I’m always excited to play the newest games based off of my favorite animes. There is a small problem with this though. I usually expect games based off of animes (or movies or anything else for that matter) to be a little below my average expectations bar. I always hope that my fanboy love will lead me to overlook the gameplay and other bad features, but sadly this couldn’t be done this time. See, Naruto Shippuden Kizuna Drive is sadly one of many horrible anime games. There are quite a few reasons as to why, so let’s get right to it.
How about the gameplay for example? Well it’s riddled with horrible and clunky battles that are more repetitive than the instructions on a bottle of mouthwash. Pick your favorite character, now smash this button, now build chakra, and now use a finishing move. That’s one enemy down, only 200 more identical looking thugs to go. To quote one of my favorite characters Shikamaru "What a drag."
But I know what you’re thinking "This game has four characters in battle at once instead of just one. So surely that makes the game more fun to play." You might be onto something there, except that the AI feels like it runs off of a single string of code. Allies will sit around and watch as you take on all 5 of the baddies by yourself. Maybe if you are lucky one of them might join in for a combo or two, but don’t get your hopes up.
So now you ask the question, "Well what if you and three friends get together and play it?" I have to admit that I didn’t actually play this game with any friends so I wouldn’t know. Let me ask a question though. If you shoot yourself in the foot and then decide to shoot three of your other friends in the foot as well, does it really make your pain more enjoyable? Or are you and your friends now just writhing in agony?
I think I got my point across on the gameplay so let us move onto something else, for example the story.
Well the story is a bit of a double edged blade. On one side you have a story that is completely original to the game. Not very often do we see this happen so it’s kind of cool. On the other hand though, the quality of the story is at the same level of just about every filler arc (nerd term, filler arcs are when the anime is catching up on the manga so the TV series has "extra content" added to give the manga more time to get ahead), which means that the story sucks.
I will applaud the effort that was put into this and the originality of the idea though. I also realize it was probably done because they didn’t want to ruin the anime for the fans who don’t read the manga (Spoiler!!! They haven’t killed Sauske yet. Sucks don’t it?), but it really just waste your time in the end.
Now, not everything is wrong with the game. Granted this is because some things are almost impossible to screw up. I’m talking about the graphics and sound.
The graphics look nice. All the characters look how you would expect them to. All of the animations look…well they’re good enough. One of the majorly cool things about this game though is the anime cutscenes. I told you that the game has an all original story, and to help it go that extra mile it actually has fresh new animations. It’s something nice that didn’t have to be done, so kudos to Kizuna Drive for that at least.
Now we should talk about the sound in the game, and let’s start off with the voice acting. All characters are voiced by their original voice actors so there aren’t any worries there. The again if you aren’t deaf then you probably realize that Naruto and Sakura have some of the most annoying voices to ever exist in anime. There is a solution though. Kizuna Drive allows you to switch the audio of the game over to the original Japanese dialog. This is a real blessing to my ears, so yet again kudos to Kizuna Drive for easing my suffering.
All in all you get the idea here. This game isn’t good, which isn’t surprising since it is part of the Uzumaki Chronicles series of Naruto games after all. This isn’t to say that there aren’t good Naruto games out there. In fact I can already tell you that the two series of Naruto fighting games, Clash of Ninja and Ultimate Ninja are good solid games. Kizuna Drive isn’t though. So ignore your fanboy/girl urges to buy this game in hopes that one day they will stop making the Uzumaki Chronicles series (or at least revolutionize it).