At a Glance: This week we take a look at Legend of Kage for the NES, a user suggestion that deserves its place in 'da Pit for being a repetitive loop of ninja. Remember how there were different kinds of foot soldiers in the ninja turtle games? There were the blue ones that had a katana, the tan ones that threw pies, the camo ones that rode little dune buggies with "Tailgate me and I'll flick a booger on your windshield" bumper stickers. These ninjas are all highly specialized and require years of training to hone those booger-flinging skills. Here you fight the most grandpappy basic form of ninja, the leaping red or blue kind. I've never been bored of a ninja game until this one.
Platform: NES (Download Emulator here)
Download: Download ROM here
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Don't bother noticing, just head back to the castle. Story: Ninjas have traditionally not been boring. They are the cowboys of Japan, wandering into ancient Tokyo saloons with ten galloon katanas in hopes of bar fights and ladies. And like cowboys, ninjas have always been a very popular item with audiences aged 5 to 25. Sometimes happy accidents happen when terrible games are covered with the moldy blanket of "include pajama men that kick". Oh how I wishy wish wished this happened with this game. Instead we have an even more boring princess saving mission stuck on a loop.
And why is our hero deciding to even bother? As the manual explains, "Toward the end of the EDO period, Japan was attacked by a group of mystical villains. The beautiful Princess Kiri was kidnapped. Many Samurai warriors were sent to rescue her. None ever returned." Translation: Neither Samurai or incredibly short sentences have helped bring the Princess back to safety. Perhaps you, short pants ninja, can bring her back.
Gameplay: Or perhaps not. I have never heard of a game that could possibly be beaten by just running straight through it. The tactic is successful in both dating and track, but never usually successful in games. A solid minute passed before I even used my tiny daggers to rend some ninjaflesh®. It appears the majority of this game can be defined by the phrase "run away!"
Oh, also "jumping".
The Legend of Kage is probably the best straight forward jumping simulator I've ever played. The ninjas are just window dressing. Just like how the burger making in Burgertime is a subtle message to influence the masses that communism is an acceptable substitute for your children's proper American education.
Once you've managed to plow your way through ninjas and jump a lot you will find the princess in her natural state: bondage. It is only when you are escaping with the princess in hand do you encounter the game's most frustrating element: a ninja swoops in kidnaps the princess again, forcing you to repeat the entire process over again. You do this once for every season, with no rhyme or no reason. Is it treason that there is no seizing a reason?
Graphics: With some people there is no pleasing. And I can only guess that an ugly committee came together and couldn't decide on how to ruin this game best. The game play is awful, the story is worthless, but the graphics seem to have a special emphasis of "we don't care about you." No one even has mouths in this game, which is good because I'm already complaining enough about how terrible this game looks. I don't want to end up having to listen to a ninja and a magic monk start telling me they need a facelift. Wait, this sounds like a sitcom&
"I" really "enjoyed" starting the game over again after this.
Enemies: He's a blue ninja that tosses throwing stars for fun. He's a fire-breathing monk with a staff. Can they get along?
Yes, but only when they are dead. All the enemies can be stabbed and all of them jump around. Sometimes it takes two stabs to kill them, sometimes it takes ten. The variety in your foes pretty much halts right here. Sometimes the ninjas will pop out and kill you with a ninja star, but this is easily remedied by jamming on the attack button nonstop so you deflect all the little pointy objects. Or you can be like me and use save states, the bane of any 8-bit enemy.
Fun: Finishing a game quickly and easily by cheating my brains out does give me a certain satisfaction, but an empty feeling in my gut that no amount of bleach can erase. I'm not going to try and act like a video game reviewer and babble on about what this game "could have been". What this game could have done to have been better is not be made. Putting a little hat on an ugly dog does not magically make it pretty. But, there was one good thing about this game.
Defining Moment: I finally having a comeback to all those people who told me stabbing butterflies would never come in handy.
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Oh, you idiot. Don't do this. It's the worst idea anyone has ever had. Have you forgotten what an ordeal it was the last time you moved?
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The Rom Pit is dedicated to reviewing the most bizarre and screwed up classic console games from the 1980's, the ones that made you wonder what kind of illegal substances the programmers were smoking when they worked on them. Strangely enough, the same illegal substances are often necessary to enjoy or make sense of most of these titles. No horrible Nintendo game is safe from the justice of the ROM Pit.