Review by Punjoke

"One lone ninja vs. infinite evil ninjas. Makings of a classic? I think so."

Well what can I say that hasn't already been said? Kage's ladyfriend is wandering through the woods one day when she falls prey to a kidnapping army of villainous ninjas. It's up to you to save her... but more importantly, to kill about a million ninjas on the way.

Graphics - 6/10

This was a pretty early title, and the graphics reflect it. They're pretty blocky, and there's no detail on the actual characters, but I actually like the simplistic look. Most of the enemies are just recolored sprites, each one slightly tougher than the last. There are also only four different levels, recycled (with changed colors to reflect different seasons) again and again. There's no eye-candy, but that's a good thing. You're going to have a lot of ninjas and shuriken flying at you, and the last thing you need is something pretty to distract you.

Control - 9/10

The controls are extremely responsive, which is a good thing, because you're going to need good reflexes to make it very far. As our hero Kage, you can do three things.

The first is swing your sword. This will kill just about anything close to you, but equally importantly, will deflect shuriken or parry enemy blows. Here's where those reflexes come in... when that ninja right in front of you throws a shuriken from three yards away, you'd better be fast on the draw, but luckily all you need to do is quickly tap the button and you'll live. You'll be swinging your sword for defense just as much as for offense, if not more so.

Second, you can throw some shuriken of your own. This is an excellent way to score a lot of ninja kills, so be liberal with them! The downside is that your enemy can deflect them to, and some of the later enemies are very good at doing so. It's also possible to power your shuriken up, making them stronger, and eventually unblockable.

Third, you can jump. Boy can you jump. Depending on how long you press the jump button for, the further you'll go. Tap it for a smaller jump, or hold it down to fly through the trees and sail above them - literally. If you're so inclined you can spend the whole first level jumping from tree-top to tree-top in huge leaps Superman would be proud of. Also, the third level has you scaling the walls of a fortress, so be ready to do a lot of upward acrobatics. Just watch out for stray shuriken!

Sound - 7/10

The sound is as simple as the graphics. The music is good, albeit a short little melody repeated over and over for much of the game. Everything else sounds basically as it should. Swish for the sword, clink for deflecting a shuriken, etc. Nothing special, but nothing horrible.

Gameplay - 10/10

Run, or jump. Kill ninjas. Deflect shuriken. Kill more ninjas. Then kill a dozen more. That's what the gameplay consists of, and it does it well.

It does bear to mention that this game can be very overwhelming at first. The inexperienced player will likely die every ten seconds or so, leading to some frustration. Others will pass the game off as based purely on luck rather than skill. I can assure you this is not the case. I can consistently play this game, beating all four levels in each season, two or three times in a row, and usually build up quite a surplus of one-ups in the easier levels. This game takes practice and reflexes. Deflecting shuriken is a must, and keep your distance from those fireball throwing monks. If you're good enough, this very simple game will keep you entertained for quite a while!

Overall - 9/10

I consider this game a class, and it's one of my favorites. Once you get good at it it's great for a quick playthrough now-and-then. Just don't be surprised if your first game lasts about 5 seconds before you get a Game Over - the learning curve can be steep.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/29/04

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