The Last Ninja

Possibly the best 8bit game never to appear on the ZX Spectum. I was gutted as this was amazing on the Commodore 64 and I was quite envious of my friend Rick who had it. The soundtrack was jaw dropping and with the stunning graphics really helped to set the theme of the game.

The Game

After two hundred years of Fujiwara clan rule, whose lifestyle was the most extravagant of any shogunate, the farmers and common men decided to leave their homes and travel to the Togakure mountains where they established the ninja, a group of mystic shadow warriors. Four centuries later, the ninja had become the most feared warriors of their day, feared by even the powerful samurai. Their mastery of weapon craft and mind control ensured swift and complete victory over their enemies from the years of arduous training that forged mind and body into a death-dealing machine.

Kunitoki, the evil shogun of the Ashikaga clan, has long envied the powers of the ninja brotherhood and would do anything to acquire their knowledge. To this end, he has sworn an oath to their total destruction. Once every decade, all ninja must travel to the island of Lin Fen where the receive further teachings from the Koga Scrolls.

Seizing the opportunity, Kunitoki summoned forth all the spirits from the depths of the Nether World and flung their full force against the amassed ninja. None escaped the wrath of Kunitoki. Nothing stood in the way of the shogun achieving his ultimate goal, the knowledge of the ninja. He set sail for the island of Lin Fen with an elite force of his palace guards and samurai officers to begin the arduous training of his troops and thereby creating a new era of ninja under his control.

Unknown to Kunitoki, Armakuni (the last ninja) had escaped his wrath. When all his brethren had left for the pilgrimage he had been ordered to stay and guard the Bunjinkan Shrine. This tradition had existed since the dawn of the ninja as a safeguard should any natural disaster befall the brotherhood when it amassed at Lin Fen. Armakuni was not pleased he had been left alone for he was to be granted the next level of honour at the reading of the scrolls; now he would have to wait.

Word soon reached Armakuni of the unnatural disaster that had slain his brothers and gathering all his courage he swore to wreak a terrible and bloody revenge on the shogun and all his followers.

The island of Lin Fen is a natural fortress with unassailable cliffs surrounding its coast. Having visited the island when he was a young acolyte he knew the secret passage that would lead him to the palace of Lin Fen. Armakuni’s confidence was short lived as he discovered the pathways were not as he remembered them; what unforeseen hazards lay in wait for him?

Critical Reaction

Zzap loved it, awarding a Zzap Sizzler and a rating of 94%;

What most impressed me was the main characters movement – being some of the most realistic I’ve ever seen… The Last Ninja is one of those rare games which offers hours of consistent puzzling and enjoyable gameplay… The precision needed to coordinate all of this movement proves challenging rather than frustrating and it really feels as you are controlling a living being, not merely a bunch of sprites.

My Thoughts

I really was stunned by the quality of this game. The music is amazing and the game is, once you get to grips with the controls, a delight to play. A diverse range of areas with vibrant graphics really made this game stand out from anything that had come before. System 3 raised the quality bar very high with The Last Ninja. I never completed it as I was never around my friends house for long enough. Brilliant game with some fantastic sequels!!

Before presenting to you one of the great musical pieces from the game I would like to suggest visiting The Last Ninja Archives a rather nifty site dedicated just to this great game series.

The Music

Commodore C64

About Phendrena

Father, Retro Gamer, PC Gamer.

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