Hiruko/Sasori

        So last time, I told you all about Deidara and the complete absurdity of his boss fight. However, I certainly didn’t mean to say the game itself is flawed for that one misstep. Yes, it has issues, as anything does, one of the biggest in my opinion being the brevity of the plot- It goes from Naruto’s return to the Leaf Village to his ‘fight’ with Deidara, and, despite the game having characters from later in the timeline, they do not include any events from where they appeared. In a way I can understand that- it allows the game to wrap up on a closing note.
        But regardless, what it does show it usually does very well, a certain villain notwithstanding. A good example of that is our other antagonist, Sasori. Both have the same goal, but directly conflicting ideologies. They’re both murderous artists, but Deidara has the philosophy that art is at its most beautiful when it is destroyed. That is, it looks fine on it’s own, but seeing that work of art obliterated lets it transcend into something more beautiful by virtue of the fleeting nature of explosions.
        Sasori, on the other hand, holds the somewhat more traditional view that art is meant to last- eternally, in fact. Art cannot be appreciated once it is gone, and thus he tries to create immortal art through his puppetry. However, this doesn’t mean art is ever completed- rather, it is an ever evolving, ever improving force, meaning he doesn’t approve of traditional art either. He is another of the Sand Village’s puppet masters, and in fact is the greatest of them, able to accomplish feats previously thought impossible, such as using one hundred puppets at once, or converting humans into more puppets.
        For instance, most people never see his face when they fight him, because he hides inside his Hiruko puppet, completely negating the usual weakness that one can disable the puppet by striking the master- since he is in the puppet, they have to face it directly. In fact, he uses Hiruko constantly, making it effectively his face to the world, even going so far as to serve as a completely different character in the game.
        Hiruko appears to be a giant Akatsuki cloak with no limbs other than a large metallic scorpion tail protruding over him, and his face visible in front. All of his normal attacks involve said tail, striking quickly and making combos pretty easy to pull off. His projectile attacks, as befitting a puppet, are much more varied than most characters.
        He can ‘spit’ a shotgun blast of kunai for his normal projectile, while forward A has him fire out some kind of bullet from his hidden ‘arm’, which, when it goes out far enough, will shoot out further bullets in all directions a shot distance. Down A has him spin and fore kunai in a circular fashion, Up A has him jump and fires out a spread shot. If he is already in the air, however, he will float a short distance, firing at everything below him.
        All of this makes Hiruko a fairly well-rounded character in my opinion, good at long range and close range, and perfect for chaining one kind of attack into the other. His Secret Techniques are also impressive, the cinematic one having him grab the enemy in his tail and smash them into the ground repeatedly, before blasting them with his ‘arm’, hitting with both with projectiles and poison gas, which lingers and damages the enemy should they survive the attack itself. His second Secret Technique is the spin and cover the surrounding area in gas. Less powerful, but still quite useful.
Hiruko’s only real weakness is that he lacks a counter and his walking speed is quite slow- but his dashing speed is certainly quick enough to compensate. Everything else is a solid and useful character. Now, let’s move onto his controller.
        Sasori is also a separate character, and you cannot change from one to the other in battle. However, if it is a two on two battle, you can pick Hiruko and Sasori, which… results in you just playing as Hiruko. Why? Because Sasori’s inside him. If Hiruko is beaten, there will be a short cutscene where Sasori reveals himself, and you change to controlling him.
        As for how he fights, he is still slow, and his melee is, in my opinion, a bit less impressive than Hiruko’s, but you can’t exactly compare to a giant stinger tail, can you? However, looking at Sasori you can obviously tell he’s not organic- he had converted his own body into a puppet, allowing him to be immortal himself. One of the modifications he made is two ‘wings’ on his back that serve as extra arm/blades to strike enemies with, allowing his normally average combos to become that much more powerful, switching in and out of ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ combos.
        As for actual projectiles, he can fire out a blade on a rope, shooting through his enemies. This will damage and stun the enemy hit, and the rope will quickly pull the blade back to strike again. Sasori can also use this time to get in other hits while they are dazed. Up and A will cause the rope to flail in front of him to strike multiple times. Down and A, one of my favorites, has him shoot flames out of a compartment in his hands. Short range, but useful for stopping a foe from getting closer, and very satisfying. However, this trick does use up energy, and can be kept in effect for as long as he has energy to spare.
        As for his Secret Techniques, both involve summon his Third Kazekage human puppet, which has the power of Iron Sand. His second move has him summon the puppet, and, after a short delay, fire out quick iron projectiles at the foe. The cinematic one, on the other hand, has the puppet crush his foe under an iron cylinder, then the sand morphs into rods that smash into the foe on the ground.
        All in all, Sasori is also an impressive character, though I still prefer his puppet to himself. Also, a neat side note, both characters when low on health will poison their foes with normal attacks, since Sasori is a poison expert as well. Now, onto the story. As I said, Sasori stayed at their base to take care of Sakura and Granny Chiyo, two of the protagonists.
        First, naturally, he faces them as Hiruko. This being a two on one battle, you have the advantage here. It is also a battle where you have to use the Secret Technique to win, but unlike with Naruto and Deidara, here you have help and the enemy isn’t enhanced abnormally. I should note though, that you have to switch between your two characters, which will come in handy, because if you lose Sakura the battle cannot be won. Switch to Chiyo if she’s in a pinch.
        Sakura is a close range fighter, perhaps even more so than Naruto, whereas Chiyo uses two puppets to battle, one for her normal strike and another uses a long whip to strike at more of an range. Since her own body does not attack, she either needs to keep her puppets close at hand or keep them close to the enemy. Switch as needed, and you should come out alright, but do not underestimate him.
        When we cut back to our two heroines, naturally, they face his true form. This time you start as Chiyo, and there is no special requirements- you just have to win. This time Sasori has slight Super Armor, but anything more than a single hit will get him to flinch, mercifully.
        Finally, we reach the end. Both Chiyo and Sakura have been afflicted with Sasori’s poison, and there is only enough antidote for one of them. Chiyo uses it on Sakura and takes the fight to Sasori herself. So for this final battle, it’s Chiyo vs. Sasori, one on one. You have to hit him with a Secret technique, which is a bit hard with Chiyo- she strikes then with her own body rather than her puppets, necessitating her being close. Secondly, she is still poisoned, so her life will decrease over time. Sasori is also a bit stronger than usual, but not so much as to make the battle impossible. Ultimately he does have the advantage precisely because of the puppet master’s usual weakness- he is his puppet, whereas Chiyo herself is open to attack while she uses hers. It makes for a challenging and satisfying battle.
        After the battle, Chiyo destroys Sasori’s core, the only human part of him left, and in doing so, dooming him to die. She revives Sakura with a life transferring jutsu, luckily not killing herself since she wasn’t dead yet. As for Sasori, he does die from his wounds, but not before telling Sakura some information that would help the protagonists later. Why? “Think of it as a reward… for defeating me.” Well, whatever you want to say about him, at least he is a graceful loser.

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