The Last Ninja (series)
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The Last Ninja was one of the most successful games ever for the C64, with over 2 million copies sold worldwide for all formats. In 1988, System 3 released Last Ninja 2, and in 1991 the third game in the series, Last Ninja 3.
In 1990, Last Ninja Remix was released for 8-bit systems. This was Last Ninja 2 with new music, a new introductory sequence, slightly changed graphics (most notably the screen border) and fixed bugs. Confusingly, the 16-bit versions of the original The Last Ninja game were also released in 1990 as Ninja Remix.
Generally the games had been made with Commodore 64 as the lead platform, with other platforms getting less attention (sometimes the porters didn't even receive the C64 version's data, and had to reconstruct the entire game from scratch). Versions of The Last Ninja for the BBC Micro, Acorn Electron and Acorn Archimedes/RISC OS computers were published by Superior Software, while Activision published it for the Apple IIGS.
The Commodore 64 version of Last Ninja Remix appeared as a cartridge for the C64GS, but the existence of Last Ninja 3 has yet to be confirmed.
Gameplay[edit | edit source]
The protagonist of The Last Ninja series is Armakuni, the sole survivor of a ninjutsu clan that was destroyed by Kunitoki, an evil shogun. This struggle leads our hero to island of Lin Fen (in The Last Ninja) to modern day New York City (in The Last Ninja 2) and to the mystical Buddhist temple in Tibet (in The Last Ninja 3). In each of the games, Kunitoki is the final adversary and every time eludes death after a somewhat decisive victory from Armakuni.
Each game is divided into a number of self contained locations, with the original game containing six such 'levels'. Each level is loaded separately, in sequence as the game progresses. Game over takes the player back to the start of the current level. One novel feature on the C64 version was the use of very distinctive oriental music in loading and in-game music for each level. These original music pieces on the first Last Ninja were composed by respected C64 musician Ben Daglish doing five tunes and Anthony Lees doing six tunes. In the sequel, Last Ninja 2, Matt Gray composed all the tunes. What separated The Last Ninja series from most other games was that in c64 version all three SID sound channels were dedicated to music playback, meaning that there were no in-game sounds. Reyn Ouwehand provided the new music used in the Commodore 64 version of Last Ninja Remix.
Each location was presented as a map of static isometric screens, with the player's character restricted to predefined paths (the scenery was inaccessible). By 8 bit standards the graphics were very detailed, and on many platforms the screen would take a second or so to draw itself when entered.
The gameplay generally consisted of fighting, exploration, and puzzle-solving. Movement and fighting was done on the joystick, and the keyboard was used to select items and weapons that the player had to acquire. The player could select one active weapon and one item at any given time. Many map screens contained opponents which the ninja could avoid (by exiting a screen before they caught him) or fight using his selected weapon. (In later Last Ninja games defeated enemies would revive after a certain amount of time.)
Items would flash briefly when a screen was first entered, and could be picked up when standing close to them, usually triggering a crouching animation. A crouching animation was also often employed when using the object. Most of the puzzles were of the item-finding or precision-jumping variety.
The levels in the series[edit | edit source]
The Last Ninja / Ninja Remix (Amiga/ST)[edit | edit source]
- The Wastelands
- The Wilderness
- Palace Gardens
- The Dungeons
- The Palace
- The Inner Sanctum
Last Ninja 2 / Last Ninja Remix (C64/ZX/CPC)[edit | edit source]
- Central Park
- The Streets
- The Sewers
- The Basement
- The Office
- The Mansion
- The Final Battle
Last Ninja 3[edit | edit source]
- Limbo (Amiga/Atari ST)
Last Ninja 4[edit | edit source]
In 1993, John Wells created a series of previews, music and a map for one level of a fourth game which he tried to convince System 3 to make. System 3 turned him down.
Many years later, probably around 1999, the idea was rekindled. Originally set for an early 2004 release, the game was shown at the E3 2003 Expo in Los Angeles, but has since been delayed. Released screenshots showed a game looking very similar to Tecmo's Ninja Gaiden, also in development at the time (released in early 2004).
The game has also been said to be cancelled at least twice, only to return to development, however in an interview with System 3 CEO, Mark Cale, in Australian "Nintendo Gamer", he said they were planning Last Ninja 4 for PS2 and Xbox but it was scrapped it because it "simply wasn't good enough".
In the same interview, he also stated that Last Ninja would be returning in the form of a remade trilogy for Nintendo DS and Wii.  An interview with Retro Gamer magazine also included screenshots from a proposed PSP version.
Series history[edit | edit source]
- The Last Ninja: Commodore 64 (1987), DOS (1988), Apple IIGS (1988), Apple II (1989), Acorn Electron (1989), BBC Micro (1989), Acorn Archimedes (1992) Virtual Console (2008)
- Ninja Remix: Amiga (1990), Atari ST (1990)
- Last Ninja 2: Commodore 64 (1988), ZX Spectrum (1988), Amstrad CPC (1988), Amiga (1990), Atari ST (1990), DOS (1990), NES (1990, as The Last Ninja), Acorn Electron (1990), BBC Micro, (1990) Virtual Console (2008)
- Last Ninja Remix: Commodore 64 (1990), ZX Spectrum (1990), Amstrad CPC (1990)
- Last Ninja 3: Commodore 64 (1991), Amiga (1991), Atari ST (1991), Amiga CD32 (1993), Virtual Console (2008)[Note 1]
- Last Ninja 4: PlayStation 2, Xbox and Nintendo GameCube (cancelled), planned but uncertain: Nintendo DS, Wii
- Last Ninja 3 was discontinued on the Virtual Console in Europe on February 23, 2010 due to a bug in the game that was unable to be fixed, which resulted in the game to freeze after the first level. Users that downloaded that game was given a refund of 500 Wii points.
DragonForce is known to use the Last Ninja 2 theme as an introtape to their concerts.
[edit | edit source]
- 'Last Ninja series at MobyGames
- Last Ninja Archives
- Puffy64: Last Ninja 2 Tribute CD
- Last Ninja 1 '87 Video Tribute