Naruto Powerful Shippuden is kind of bizarre. Despite its name, it is only loosely based on the Naruto Shippuden series, and instead acts more like a parody of itself. This is because it's actually based on the spin-off series Rock Lee & His Ninja Pals. So that's a thing.
Powerful Shippuden is a 2D beat-em-up with some platforming elements. Both Naruto and Rock Lee are playable in their own separate story lines. Both characters use the same controls, but still play very differently, adding some variety as you switch between stories. Each story consists of a series of sequestered missions based on events in the two manga. These are broken up perfectly for portable play. Both stories often come across sections which can only be unlocked if you've reached a similar point in the other campaign, meaning you'll have to play through both stories simultaneously. So I'm not really sure why they're separated, but that's only a minor annoyance.
The story starts at the beginning of Naruto Shippuden, with Naruto returning from training with super-ninja-master Jiraya. I expected the playfully crude and over-the-top humor the series is known for… (Naruto's nickname for Jiraya is "Pervy Sage" . . . with good reason) …but I was not counting on this tidal wave of nails-on-chalkboard cringe-worthy jokes. The story is told through static, talking-head scenes that attempt to pull off nonstop humor. Unfortunately, that humor is very hit-and-miss. There are a lot of visual gags which just don't fit the talking-head style, and you'll be saying "WTF" more you'll be laughing. Still, humor is subjective, and Powerful Shippuden does its best to amp up the style of comedy found in the main series. If you like Naruto, you're sure to enjoy most of the wacky jokes. Like this:
Yep. Actually, if you find cross-dressing absolutely hilarious, this is your game for sure. It seems every running gag gets all the men in drag at some point.
Story aside, the gameplay is simple, yet extensive. You begin with the most basic combos and attacks possible. As you progress you'll unlock new techniques, and the simple combat quickly opens up to plenty of experimentation. New combos can be created through trial and error, and you can use up to 14 other Naruto characters as assists that build up over time. For example, Sakura will smash foes while healing you a bit, and Kakashi uses lightning to clear the screen of enemies. It's a lot of fun beating on bad guys with all sorts of attacks, and the incomplex control layout on the 3DS works very well despite how many different attacks you can do. Like Rock Lee throwing his eyebrows as shurikens. This game just gets weirder and weirder…
While your special attacks and assists are listed on the 3DS's bottom screen, they are used with a combination of two buttons. So you will rarely need to actually use the touch screen, which is good, as you'll want to be more focused on the frenzied combat in the top screen. The design choice of large, bright sprites in front of dimmer 3D background works very well with the 3D effect. Heck, the sprites already pop off the screen even without the 3D on!
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