Ninjas, Rabbids Heat Up Games
Byline: Joseph Szadkowski, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Here are a couple of the latest video games boasting animated fun. Naruto: Rise of a Ninja (Ubisoft, for Xbox 360, rated T for teen, $59.99). Pint-size Ninja Naruto Uzumaki has become a pop-culture sensation through his multimedia appearances and adventures on his Cartoon Network show, "Naruto."
In his latest virtual outing, developers have delivered the definitive melding of cartoon and video game through incredible cel-shaded character models, three-dimensional environments and narration from the American voice-over cast. They also made a pretty fun role-playing fighter accessible for the younger fan.
As Naruto, in the eclectic story mode, a player explores the village of Konoha and surrounding forests. He talks to villagers, races among the trees, collects coins, trains against sensei and fights bad guys in more than 100 missions and tasks.
First, just as in the cartoon, the spoiled brat Naruto is nearly shunned by all townsfolk. One of the player's first tasks is to get the villagers on his side. The goal is to change a sourpuss green emoticon over their heads to a yellow smiley face. He may need to deliver Raman, return stolen scrolls or turn into a female to enchant some of the males (yes, a tad weird, but true to the cartoon).
Once a villager has the yellow icon, when Naruto talks to that villager, he gets directions to help him navigate.
The next highlight is the delivery of jutsu moves. In the show, these dynamic skills (a ninja's superpowers) require a complex sequence of finger movements. In the game, it is brilliantly re-created as the player uses a combination of analog sticks, trigger and even a few buttons.
I can't blather on enough about the presentation. It looks so colorful and crisp, especially on a high-def screen, that it made the cut scenes tossed in from the animated program look washed out and antiquated.
The game also has a more traditional multiplayer versus fighting mode (both on- and off-line) with 11 available characters from which to choose eventually. …