CRASH - The Online Edition
— Issue 59 Contents|
• Ninja muggers in Central Park!
Long ago, in 12th Century Japan, mystical warriors called Ninja were almost wiped out during a purge by the evil Shogun, Kunitoki. A single ninja master, Armakuni, survived to continue the teaching however. Yet, strangely, during one of his subsequent training sessions a pulsating light enveloped him and magically transported to him to a strange new place. And so he must resume his battle with his ancient enemy, Kunitoki, in present-day New York, amid the strange surroundings of ‘gigantic shapes covered with mirrors’ (skyscrapers).
And so the adventure begins in the odd setting of a bandstand in Central Park, with beautifully detailed drums and music stands lying around the place. Armakuni starts out without any weapons whatsoever to help him. Yet even in this weird, new environment, he is safe in the knowledge that his ninja skills will see him through. Indeed, Central Park soon turns out to be littered with martial arts weapons such as shuriken stars, a staff and a sword.
Combat is controlled in the usual beat-em-up style with combinations of directions and fire accessing a variety of moves. When unarmed, Armakuni can only kick or punch his opponent, but holding a weapon allows him to stab and slash them.
Apart from simple fighting, Armakuni must solve logical puzzles to progress further through six multiloaded levels (even on the 128K) at the end of which he will finally get to meet his arch-enemy, face to face.
20,000 special limited editions (worldwide) of Last Ninja 2 come in a huge (A5-ish) box, complete with a soft plastic shuriken throwing star (even that proved almost lethal to the office cat! — get well soon, Tiddles) and a black ninja mask (which Lloyd has taken to wearing instead of his usual paper bag.)
All this flashy packaging doesn’t automatically mean that the game is great but thankfully Last Ninja 2 lives up to the hype. It contains some of the most beautiful isometric graphics ever seen on a Spectrum. This creates a wonderful environment in which the puzzling action can take place. And puzzling it certainly is; especially at first, when even getting off the first screen is a problem.
But perseverance reveals a truly awe-inspiring game with great attention to detail in both graphics and gameplay. My only niggle is that the control system is rather awkward (especially if you haven’t got a joystick), but even this fails to spoil this oriental masterpiece.
PHIL ... 91%
Producer: System 3
MARK ... 91%
NICK ... 87%
Graphics: an intricately-detailed isometric landscape with well-animated ninja sprites
Sound: an ear-wrenching oriental title tune plus a few ingame effects
Options: choose between three joystick/movement modes
General rating: not just a beautiful graphics demonstration but an excellent, playable arcade adventure/beat-’em-up