Naruto: The Broken Bond

NB! I advise you to read the top part of this post, as I use personal terms to describe some things in this review.

Naruto: The Broken Bond“, which was released in mid-november this year, picks up right where its predecessor, “Naruto: Rise of a Ninja“, left off. In terms of storyline, it corresponds with episodes 81-135 of the anime, which means it begins with the semi-destruction of Konohagure by the hands of Orochimaru and ends with the conclusion of the Sasuke Retrieval arc. It does not follow the anime to a tee though, as many meetings (such as the one with Tsunade) have been changed, characters have been left out completely, and other plot elements have been altered as well, most likely to make the storyline simpler and because game-wise, they would much too time consuming to do anyway and not have enough game elements in them to be worth making.

Having played the first game as well, I was pleasently surprised about some of the improvements Ubisoft made in this game. In story mode, instead of playing as only Naruto, you play as Naruto and two companions that you can choose to take with you (except in missions where they are selected for you). To progress in the storyline, you will have to use the characters’ special techniques to move on, such as Shikamaru’s Kagemane no jutsu to pull out-of-reach levers, Neji’s Byakugan to see otherwise invisible bomb tags, Sasuke’s Raikiri to break through specific walls, etc. And just like in the anime episodes, Sakura serves no purpose whatsoever, and doesn’t even have a kunai to stand around with. The only time I ever used her was when I was forced to. Anywho, you can tag in the characters you bring with you during the fights against enemy ninja, which kind of adds to the fun (this function is carried over in VS mode, so you can play tag battles). But the story mode works great, although the tree jumping sequences become a real pain real fast. Anywho, moving away from the story mode and on to the VS modes.

With the first game, I was greatly annoyed by the lack of a training mode, since that meant you couldn’t try out any of the moves that any of the characters had, unless you went into VS mode and had to use them in an actual fight. This sucked miserably, but this was luckily one of the things that were fixed in the new game.

Another thing that was ‘somewhat’ fixed was character balancing. In the first game, some of the characters were grossely over-powered. This has been somewhat fixed, though as in any other Naruto fighting game where he appears, Uchiha Itachi is over-powered, but the reast are very decently balanced out, while still having their respective strong and weak points, e.g. Rock Lee has a relatively high speed and is an extremely good poker, but has no freebies and his killer moves have extremely limited range and seemingly no longer trace the opponent.

Yet another noteworthy change is in how the jutsu work during fights. You can no longer just whip out any jutsu at any time. The overdrive bar (called the Rage bar in the first game) now controls what jutsu you can use. The bar has 3 stages, so now, you no longer need to have enough jutsu to charge the technique, but also have filled the overdrive bar high enough. In essences, this works pretty well actually, since if you activate rage when the overdrive bar is full, it will gradually deplete and you will lose the ability to use jutsu until you have filled it up again, so it adds a sense of strategy to the game.

The achievements are a bit sad though, since none of them really focus on skill, but rather patience, since all achievement can be gotten as long as you have enough time on your hands, almost completely regardless of skill. The first game was however a bit over the top on this, since you’d have to master all characters to get the last few acheivements. Now they just have to find that golden middle-road and they’ll be… er… golden :/

All in all, it’s a decent game, but with no real replay value in terms of story mode. Luckily, the online versus mode more than makes up for this, despite every 4 out of 5 players playing Itachi, Sasuke, or Kyuubi Naruto, which can be a hassle. It’s good for a buy if you like simple 3D fighting games or just want to score a quick 500-ish Achievement Points (the rest take +10 hours to get).

Sum-up of…

…changes from Rise of a Ninja

•You can now play with a party of 3 (Naruto+2) in story mode, instead of playing only as Naruto. You are supposed to used the particular jutsu of the respective characters in order to proceed in the storyline.
•Missions are pretty much the same, but each mission is now performed by a different character instead of Naruto, e.g. Kiba does races, Shikamaru does delivery, Neji does hide and seek, etc.
•Unlike the first game, when you complete story mode in NTBB, all coins you didn’t collect become visible on your map making the coin collection achievements that much easier.
•The characters have been balanced out decently well, though a few are rather overpowered still.
•Online play has changed in the sense when you get a certain amount of points, you qualify for an exam, and when you pass that, you get a new rank (e.g. chuunin) and the achievement that goes with it. Points are gathered by winning ranked matches, and the amount of points depends on the rank of your opponent compared to yours.
•Chakra has been leveled out so all characters have the exact same amount when they start. This also means that everyone can substitute the same amount of times.
•Zooming has been SEVERELY down-graded (execution time is long), substituting made slightly harder, and side stepping and back dashing has been made a greater part of game play (since the execution time of zooming is now too long for it to be used to escape stringed attacks).

… new additions to The Broken Bond

•Introduction of the tag-in system, allowing you to tag in a partner during a fight with the press of a button.
•A dojo (training mode) has been added.
•More characters have been added to the game (a total of 30 characters, though only like… 9 are available in story mode).
•More moves have been given to the characters from the previous game.
•New minigames have been added, though they aren’t all that fun to play…

Not bad actually.
Achivement points gotten # of Achivements gotten Game “status”
870 Points 40 out of 46 Played frequently.

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