With most anime licences being turned into turgid or impregnable beat-'em-ups, its good to see a developer go down a different road once in a while in an effort to keep things fresh. Kudos, then, to Cavia, because Uzumaki Chronicles does just that. It is, in essence, an extremely gentle action-RPG, with the emphasis very much on the action side of things. And while the pummelling might not be up to the dizzying standards set by the likes of Ninja Gaiden or Devil May Cry 3, it's still surprisingly robust, especially for a game with such a young demographic.
There's a decent amount of stock combos to throw out and by mixing these with ranged weapons and special jutsu attacks, you can string together some rather impressive patterns once you get a feel for the controls. There's even a 'parry' in the form of the substitution jutsu, allowing you to cut damage and teleport behind a foe with a well-timed tap of the jump button - this certainly adds an air of finesse to battles, especially once you start avoiding most attacks thrown at you in this way.
This brings us nicely to a sore point, however, in that the game's AI is pretty much awful. Some enemies just mill around while others attack relentlessly regardless of what you're doing. It's hardly proper ninja behaviour either way. Still, in many other ways, Naruto's first proper adventure appears to borrow heavily from the Kingdom Hearts games, simplifying things a little further (with no real stats to worry about besides the odd bonus here and there) and opening the door to an audience that wouldn't necessarily know what an action RPG even was, let alone play one.