Yeah...I couldn't think of a name for this that sounded witty, sorry. Anyway, I'm going to be liveblogging Naruto: Path of the Ninja 2, also known as Naruto RPG 3: Reiju vs. Konoha Shotai in Japan. It was made for the original DS in both countries, and I'll be playing it on a 3DS, in case you were wondering if I had an emulator running. Why am I playing this particular one in the RPG series if I'm clearly skipping the first and second games? I actually did have the first one a long time ago -cough2007cough- and I beat it, but I really disliked it compared to this one.
The first game◊ in this series, Naruto: Path of the Ninja (or Naruto RPG), came out in 2007 in North America on the DS (2004 on the GBA in Japan) and covered around the first 80 episodes of the anime, from beginning to the final fight with Shukaku. It only let you use around 6 characters (Naruto, Sakura, Sasuke, Shikamaru, Neji, and Lee, plus unlockable Jiraya), and the team arrangements were more restricted because the storyline required some battles to be fought by certain people. And then it just skipped or summarized fights that didn't involve Naruto's team much. It just kind of bored me with the same old story I've already seem (Now with cute little sprites!), to be honest.
The actual second game◊, Naruto RPG 2: Chidori vs Rasengan, was made in 2005 but never left Japan.
The third game◊ however, is an original story arc (Pre-Shippudden but post-Sasuke Retrieval arc) with some all new areas to serves as dungeons, new recurring villains, expanded game mechanics with more touch screen and mic involvement, amusing dialogue, and lots of characters at your disposal. Naruto POTN 2's main gimmick was letting you make a 4 man squad and customizing them to your heart's content. You can shove any 4 characters together and then give them different armor and weapons, and then further customize them with the Ninja Tag system, increasing their jutsu library and giving them buffs in battles. You were occasionally forced to use a certain character for certain fights, but the game either makes them very easy to win, or at least fair to you. I'll go into details on combat and stats later, but you can get a lot of variety from all the combinations available. And of course, there's the Wifi battles, where you can pit your custom squad against someone else's for fun and profit. It gets all sorts of strategic there, meta-game included. Nintendo's going to disable that feature on DS games soon, but it was definitely fun while it lasted.
Next installment, I'll be starting up the game and getting through the prologue, explaining the battle, stats, and customization systems too.