I've always had a love/hate relationship with the Naruto franchise. The plucky, jumpsuit-clad ninja has dragged me through
more anime episodes and manga chapters than I care to admit, has made me spend my hard-earned cash on more pieces of merchandise
than I want to remember, and driven me through several games of varying degrees of quality. There always comes a period,
though, where a bad game or horrid story arc makes me fall out for a few months, if not a year. Unfortunately, Dragon Blade
Chronicles now serves as a catalyst for my growing disinterest in the franchise. Naruto faithful be warned, because this may
be one of the worst parts of the franchise you ever spend money on.
A villain who wants to destroy the world. His younger sibling who wants to stop him. Naruto being told to kill, but not doing
so because he sympathizes with said villain. We've seen this before, and it now feels like a cold dish of ramen instead of
just a dish of leftovers. Every character is predictable, except for one group: the Akatsuki. Now cheerful and buddy-buddy,
every ounce of menace and evil in them has been drained for the purpose of telling this mediocre story. Even Sasuke now
just seems like a lovable grouch instead of the psycho he's become in the anime and manga. I know this is a side-story,
but it sure as heck wouldn't hurt for the characters to at least be themselves. These characters have become like
family to me over the years, but this feels like some "Twilight Zone"-esque alternate universe where the characters are
empty husks of themselves. And to top it all off, there's a groan-inducing explanation for why Naruto and the gang can't just
use their powers to overcome the antagonist.
Remember the awkward camera angles that plagued PS1 and early PS2 games? The lifeless controls? The awkward jumps that don't
get you exactly where you want to go? Yeah, it's that bad, if not a little worse. Even when running at full-tilt, Naruto
controls like a limp noodle. To make matters worse, the game lags brutally when there are more than a few enemies on the
screen. It often feels like a Bullet Time sequence in "Max Payne", but it's supposed to be quick-paced ninja action. This
was obviously a rush job. And for those fans thinking it would be cool if Naruto used a sword: trust me, it's not. It's
a mark of shame on the character's resume, and another reason Masashi Kishimoto should be in charge of stories that aren't
I'm trying to be nice, but there's no beating around the bush: aside from the beautiful opening cutscene (done by Naruto's
Studio Pierrot), these are some of the most pathetic graphics I've seen in ANY game, making most other Wii games look beautiful
by comparison. Characters only look OKAY up close, and even then, they look stiffer than the animation cels in a filler episode
of "Dragon Ball Z." But the real horror begins when the camera backs up a foot or two in-game, and the characters begin to
morph into terrifying messes of pixels that move with all the energy of a zombie. Even cool-looking armor for the characters
can't save this pathetic attempt at rendering these characters. Oh, and as an aside, the backdrops look like a kindergartener's
attempt at using watercolors with their fingers.
The voice-acting is uncharacteristically awful, even if you're a die-hard fan of the English dub. Not that I can blame them;
the dialogue is pathetic at best, and will often have you skipping cutscenes to progress to more of the mediocre game. The
only moderately decent part of this game is the music, which is full of upbeat synths and pop-rock guitars. It's often the
only thing keeping you in a good mood for the duration of this crap.
How this got released in it's current state, I'll never know. This game is a harsh reminder that companies will put out anything
to sate fans of a franchise, and reminds me of the early Dragon Ball games, except quite a bit worse. If you truly love Naruto,
you can do so much better, even on the Wii. As somebody who's been following Naruto since he was a kid, take it from me: pass
on this sorry excuse for a game, and find something better to play.