Naruto is a mixed bag when it comes to video game translations. The Clash of Ninja games on the GameCube were great for four players, and Naruto: Rise of a Ninja on Xbox 360 was enjoyable (and gorgeous to boot) as well. Unfortunately, for every one good Naruto game there are three of four mediocre ones, and Naruto Shippuden: Legends: Akatsuki Rising for the PSP is one of the latter.
Story will be unimportant to all those who don’t follow the anime, but it is standard beat-em-up fare anyhow. Naruto returns home after a two-year training session with Lord Jiraiya to find that trouble is waiting for him. Friends need rescuing and the town needs all members of the Akatsuki ninja clan removed from the streets. Levels follow a normal beat-em-up style: beat up thugs, move a little, beat up some more thugs, move a little more, beat up a boss, do it all again on the next level. In addition to these linear scenario missions, players can take part in ranked side missions in mission mode. Side missions play just like scenario missions, but the benefit lies in keeping your upgrades from mission mode upon returning to scenario mode. Akatsuki Rising also features a multiplayer battle mode, but ad-hoc multiplayer is all that is supported so finding willing combatants isn’t really worth the effort.
The glut of available modes is a little bittersweet because most beat-em-ups, even good ones, are severely lacking in the replay department. If Akatsuki Rising had satisfying or challenging combat this would be a great PSP title for fans of Streets of Rage 2 and its ilk from console generations past. Sadly, Akatsuki Rising is not that game.
Akatsuki’s visuals and sound effects are crisp and exceedingly close to what is presented in the anime. This is a big plus for fans of the show, which is good as they are the only ones out there who will likely enjoy the title.
Pros: Good number of play modes, visuals and sounds faithful to source material
Cons: Unsatisfying combat
Plays Like: Streets of Rage 2, Naruto: Rise of a Ninja
ESRB: T for cartoon violence, mild suggestive themes