Naruto Shippuden: Legends: Akatsuki Rising, the latest in the series, is yet another sub-par brawler that seems to re-tread the same ground with similarly pedestrian results.
Akatsuki Rising is essentially a free-roaming brawler that follows the Shippuden story arc from the Naruto manga/anime. The arc picks up several years later in the Naruto timeline after everyone’s favorite group of ninja friends have grown up a bit. Players select a character and dash through fairly linear environments to rescue Sand Village Kazekage Gaara from the dangerous Akatsuki.
The Akatsuki pie’s most significant slice comes in Scenario Mode, which is into several chapters. Here, you’ll battle bandits, bears, bees, and all sorts of other things that start with “b” to reach the end of a set of linear environments. Players can also try their hand at Survival Mode, Battle Mode, and Mission Mode. You unlock ranked missions in Mission Mode as you play, and completing them rewards you with money and other goodies. Several of these modes can also be tackled with a friend via Ad Hoc play.
While this might sound like plenty of fun for the whole family, it’s not. The Scenario Mode and all the other main modes are just iterations of the same bland, clunky battle system. This is my main issue with Akatsuki Rising because the combat engine is a very unusual mix of “being too easy” and “being too hard.” What makes the system “easy” is that all combos can be executed by mashing away at the Square button. Or, just tap the R trigger to perform a powerful Jutsu technique. This simplicity spreads into the game’s defense maneuvers. As you can hit any button when an opponent’s strike hits your character to perform a counter. This includes the Square button. So while you’re mashing away at Square, bandits left and right, you’re also automatically countering and teleporting about, which is lame.