This is a game that I’ve owned for quite a while at this point. It’s had to sit in my backlog for years, which tells you just how many games I’m juggling at the moment. After all, why else would an anime game ever stay on the shelf? This game is part of the Uzumaki Chronicles series so the gameplay is in that style. Unfortunately, the gameplay has significantly regressed, but it’s still a pretty fun game to check out, it just keeps it from getting a good ole 8. (Most 3D fighting anime video games do end up with 8s, which is why that is pretty notable)
The game covers the first arc of Naruto Shippuden. Naruto has returned to the village after a long time training abroad. He discovers that the Kazekage has been kidnapped by an evil organization known as the Akatsuki! Naruto won’t stand for this so he heads out with a few of his comrades to pursue the villains. Another squad is also dispatched to assist Naruto. They will need to hurry since the villains intend to destroy the Kazekage after their operation is a success.
The gameplay is the biggest factor here so let’s talk about that first. You’re placed in a 3D environment and you typically have to reach the end of an area that is filled with minions. The other type of area is a “defeat the enemies to advance” section which is self explanatory. On the normal areas, you don’t have to actually fight anyone as you run to the goal. I wouldn’t recommend that due to how tricky the leveling up system is. You can teleport with the O button and attacking uses the square button. You can use your ninjutsu like a Rasengan or a Shadow Clone to try and defeat the enemies a little quicker.
The gameplay sounds pretty solid right? It actually sounds great like that since a 3D fighting game is what we all want. Unfortunately, it’s not as clear cut as it sounds. The teleporting option is really what wrecked the gameplay because it doesn’t take up any meter. You can teleport forever and ever if you want too. Your opponent can go one step further as they can teleport through your attacks infinitely. This gets old very quickly as you can try to hit them for minutes without much success. It’s the biggest flaw imaginable since it makes fighting with hand to hand skills virtually impossible. The enemies will just keep on punishing you if you dare to use such a tactic.
The best way to counter this is to just focus on Naruto’s Shadow Clone Jutsu and get it to at least level 5 so you can use the whirlwind combo. After that, just spam it for every single boss along with regular shadow clones. It’s the best way to win, but it’s not a very fun way. Once in a while, you can try to get up close and personal to take on a boss, but then you’ll just watch as they teleport away and hit you with a powerful jutsu that takes away 70% of your health. A single combo was enough to beat me several times so you have to keep your distance. I’m thinking that the developers just didn’t realize that the A.I. would exploit the teleporting so well. I’m hoping that this is fixed for Kizuna Drive since that would make the gameplay so much more enjoyable. Technically, the actual gameplay style is still great, but you really can’t get past the teleporting angle. Who wants to use the same jutsu over and over again for the entire game right?
One thing that could also have made the experience better would be to rehaul the leveling up system. Most games just give you EXP for defeating opponents, but this game added a new spin to it by giving you EXP for good combos as well. This means that defeating normal enemies gives you almost no EXP at all so you need to either keep facing bosses or racking up those combos. Getting a good combo is tough considering how often the opponents teleport so replaying levels to face the bosses is your best bet. Even then, leveling up isn’t very quick and the power upgrade is very slight so you need quite a few level ups to really feel it. I ended the game at level 44, which actually isn’t that bad. I only had to grind for level ups once, but that was before I learned that the Shadow Clone jutsu was the best in the game so it’s hard to tell just how necessary it was. I barely squeaked by one of the final boss fights though so it’s safe to say that it may have ultimately saved me. I think that it should be easier to see how much EXP you need to level up instead of going into the menu that leaves you vurlnable.
Speaking of which…you should be able to pause the game. There is no way to do that in the game, which is pretty sad. You just have to find a quiet spot and camp out t here while you open the menu to look at items and your status. Why the game doesn’t stop while you do that is beyond me. It provides a bit of a challenge in terms of health I suppose, but you should still be able to pause when you’re not in the middle of battle at the very least. (Pausing during battle should still be okay) Nobody wants to keep putting their PSP to sleep when they need to quickly go somewhere. It’s a smaller gripe than the others, but it’s definitely worth mentioning.
The graphics look pretty good. They’re not downright amazing and they certainly get outshined by other PSP games like Birth By Sleep, but it’s good enough. The gameplay graphics are pretty bright and sharp, which allow you to take in everything easily. The cutscenes can definitely be a little blocky, but everything is still clear. I definitely give the game a thumbs up in this area. The soundtrack is decent, but I’m a little more critical of it. There are only a few themes in the game. I’d say that at least half of them are pretty good and there are one or two really good ones. I think they should have had more themes though since just about every boss shares the same one. So, it’s a pretty fun game to listen too, but you should be prepared to hear the same tunes a lot. It’s not as bad as it could have been if the themes were not good of course.
The actual story mode is 10 levels long. Each level is pretty short in terms of gameplay..or at least technically. As mentioned earlier, the boss fights can be quite long and difficult at times so that actually helps to stretch the game out along with the cutscenes. 10 levels is my minimum for a game and my play time was a little over 7 hours so I’m pretty satisfied with the length. There is certainly a lot of replay value to be found here as well. You can try leveling everyone up to level 99 for starters. Then you’ve got Survival Mode and Mission Mode, which have a lot of challenges to complete. You’ve even got an Akatsuki Mode where you effectively play story mode again from the villain’s point of view. A pretty nice touch wouldn’t you say? If you’re really grasping, you can also try to complete each mission with a star, but I’m not sure what you unlock for doing that.
Overall, Naruto Shippuden Legends Akatsuki Rising is a good game, but it’s one that could have been much better. The leveling up system needs a little work since the bosses are typically a little too strong without some extra level ups. The teleporting trick also gets old pretty quickly since the bosses can abuse it while you just watch in awe. The actual story mode is very engaging so it’ll keep you glued to the screen and I still love the concept of a 3D Naruto adventure game. I definitely recommend it to Naruto fans and especially to gamers who want a challenge. Whether intentional or not, this is certainly one of the toughest Naruto games out there! I plan on starting Kizuna Drive soon after I get back to a few other video games so then I should have a review for it up soon. It has more levels than this game and it’s the sequel so we’ll see if they fixed the teleporting issue. I sure hope they did!