Not having any solid foundation within the Naruto universe, as I've had my fill of over-the-top, long-winded animes with the entire Dragon Ball franchise, I found myself worrying that I would be lost amongst the series' expansive lore. Yet this proved to be beneficial, providing me with an unbiased outlook on the game. Let's face it, if you're not really into Naruto then Dragon Blade Chronicles probably isn't even an afterthought on your radar. And to be honest, it should be nothing more.
Naruto Shippuden: Dragon Blade Chronicles throws you headfirst into the action - with not so much as an introduction to the characters - where the Earth Genryu, or sacred dragon, is terrorizing Naruto's village. After disposing of the dragon, Naruto and the rest of the ninja clan learn that Kuroma, a descendent of the ancient dragon guardians, is planning to release the rest of the five genryu to begin his plot for revenge to, predictably, destroy the world. Naruto and the supporting cast pursue Kuroma to Mount Koryu where, conveniently, a ninja's chakra is hard to control, disabling all of Naruto and company's more powerful moves until they become "more practiced" with the mountain's energy (read: as the game progresses).
While the plot is loosely based on the Hunt for Itachi arc from the anime, it's mostly an original side story with some elements from the series, and it definitely appeals more to those not exactly up to par with their Naruto knowledge. With the vast amount of quality voice acting from the anime series' cast, Dragon Blade Chronicles spins an interesting and entertaining tale that gives series enthusiasts a refreshing burst of originality. However, as you'll quickly find out, the story is quite possibly the game's only highpoint, even with its overly drawn out cutscenes that will have the controller resting in your lap more often than you may expect.
Though, this may not necessarily be a bad thing. NS:DBC plays like most other 3rd person action games, only simplified to accommodate the Wii's controls. You have your basic combo attacks that you'll abuse thoroughly, skills that get progressively more powerful and new ones that unlock as Naruto becomes "more comfortable" with Mount Koryu's energy, and the ability to unleash a special attack from the cast of supporting characters to help you clean house. Skills are a bunch of fun to use, as are the supporting characters' attacks, but it's not enough to rectify one of the game's biggest problems; severe repetition. Though you get to play as Sasuke about halfway through the 8 or 9 hour adventure, it does very little - to nothing at all - to relieve the tedium of combat. By the time you've felled the one hundredth monster using the same 3-hit combo in the first hour or so, you'll be begging for a cutscene just to break up the monotony.
Yet, if the repetition wasn't enough to deter you from jumping into Dragon Blade Chronicles, I'm sure the slow-down will do the trick. Naruto and company suffer severely from consistent and lengthy moments where the game moves at half speed, making it close to unplayable. And if you thought you could handle the repetitive gameplay, think again. Once you mix in excessive amounts of slow-down, the only aspect of NS:DBC that's enjoyable is the story, and at this point, you're better off just watching the series to spare yourself from the horrid experience. It just feels like an archaic mess, especially since a very basic, carbon-copy of the Clash of Ninja series is utilized as a versus mode to pit Naruto and Sasuke against each other, though it's less than an afterthought, as only two combatants and slowdown completely negates its purpose.
I wish I could say Dragon Blade Chronicles had some redeeming qualities, but with outdated, rehashed visuals from previous games, and a lackluster, uninteresting soundtrack, it's hard to even lie about this Naruto being anything other than mediocre fan-service. The cell-shaded look, while pretty five or six years ago, contains jagged lines and just looks and feels like it was lifted straight from a PS2 game. It doesn't hold the same anime flare that more polished cell-shaded games do. Although, with flashier visuals, the game would ultimately be completely unplayable due to the increased slow-down that would likely accompany it.
There's not much else I can discuss in terms of Naruto Shippuden: Dragon Blade Chronicles. If you're a huge Naruto fanboy, then I'm confident you could look past the egregious amount of flaws and possibly have a mildly entertaining time with it, especially since it'll be over in less than 10 hours. Yet the sheer amount of slow-down mixed with an annoying soundtrack and equally boring visuals, means I can't recommend spending any money to own this game.