Last Ninja Reviews

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Scans of reviews:

LN1 Spectrum: Preview (unknown mag)
LN1 Spectrum: Crash
LN3 C64: Commodore Format 1 2
LN Remix C64: Commodore Format 1 2

Last Ninja C64 Reviews

Reviewed by Juan:

The Last Ninja

This game, released by System 3 in 1987, made one of the most important revolutions in the history of computer entertainment: an adventure - arcade - beat' em up game with 3D isometric perspective and high - detailed sprites. Technically impressive it showed even astonishing music composed by Ben Daglish and Antony Lees while the graphics was without predecessors too.
An evil shogun, known as Kunitoki, killed the white ninja of Lin Fen to take possession of their powers and you, the last ninja, who survived the catastrophe by chance, are called by arcane gods to defeat this enemy.
The history take place through six levels in the same island of Lin Fen: the wastelands, the wilderness, the palace gardens, the dungeons, the palace, the inner sanctum. In other words you must go through the whole island till you don't get the shogun and kill it. The levels are very big and their puzzles aren't very easy to be solved; moreover, in order to make your task more difficult, the shogun placed his guards along your way and they'll always try to kill you. Then the history and the background of the game were really interesting by itself!
The ninja could make a lot of actions: kick, punch, pick up, jump and combine a lot of objects among themselves. Besides he could use five different weapons! Yes really amazing if we remember that the year was 1987. The moves of the sprites were fluent enough and there were even some nice animations: birds, fountains, waterfalls. The game really offered a great longevity (for that times) and it was so hard finishing it that a real ninja would have been needed for it!
The control of the ninja was exact enough so that a lot of obstacles (like the mud or the rivers) where a real funny challenge for players! The music offered various and nice themes and the tunes in game are quite better than the loader's ones (Daglish - Lees 1 - 0). The only disappointing point should be the lack of fx effect, but we might ignore it if we consider the whole game was a complete revolution. [The SID only had three channels so with FX the music wouldn't have been that good - Kai]
Even the quality of the sound was quite good though sometimes the sounds were to acute and rude (hear the loader of level 5 and 6). The more you go further in the game the stronger your enemies become (the shogun is a maniac!) and there are many: dragons, evil ninja of the shogun, skeletons (be careful! they're possessed! If they hit you one time you can prepare your soul to die!)

So we can give our marks now...

The history is really fascinating and full of mystery: it makes you feel a real ninja! Even its cover, which showed the eyes of the ninja, was really suggestive

Yeah! It was difficult to realise a comfortable gameplay in a new perspective such as the 3D isometric, but System 3 performed the task! The speed of the ninja, his moves and each actions are so fluent that controlling him is easier and allows you to face the puzzles. The levels are well structured (we'd make a map of them) and big. No bugs.

If someone compares Last Ninja's graphics with the third episode he realises the graphic is a bit poor. But I realise also that four years of difference dived the first game from the last. So I prefer to consider the graphics for what it appeared to the players of 1987. It's coloured, presents some textures and supported by a great engine.

I know the music of this episode was really appreciated by almost all the players. Yes, the tunes give the right at-mosphere and bring your mind to the game. I admit the tunes of Ben Daglish are better than Antony Lee's, who did-n't made masterpieces (only fine themes...) . No sound effects: where is the sound of kicks, punches ???

How could such a game work on a C64?

I obviously didn't make a mathematical media, and I decided to reward the revolution that this game offered: it truly opened a second era of the C64 that was ruled by the last ninja trilogy. A milestone. Astonishing. A masterpiece.

The Last Ninja II

The success of last ninja was so big around the world that just after a year System 3 release the second episode: Last Ninja 2 - back with a vengeance. What could the programmers improve of the first episode after only 12 months? Almost all! Sound, graphics and gameplay were godlike, much better than its predecessor. Incredible!
this time the gods sent the ninja in the modern Manatthan, where the shougun Kunitoki hides himself. Trough the famous central park, the streets, the sewers, the basement, the offices and the mansion the ninja must fight again against strong and evil enemies. The game concept is the same of the first episode: am adventure - arcade - beat 'em up game. The sprites of the ninja and the enemies (cops, women, a ninja, masters of kung fu etc) are really im-proved (more various...) and more fluent. The precision, speed and quality of the animations are better and make the game more frenzied. The graphics was improved even in the backgrounds were the textures find a large use in order to make them less void. There're more particulars and more variety again. For example in the first level of the last ninja the scenario was ruled by green grass, rocks, trees and rivers. In the central park we have animated boats, benches, a ruined building (where you pick up the stuff) a small theatre, gates, loos, and even an island in a small lake! Superb! Then the conception of the first level (which is absolutely the best) is great: its rooms are logi-cally linked so that we can draw a map of it!
Matt Gray did an excellent work: his alternative rock tunes suits perfectly every situation of the game (the music in game of the mansion is a masterpiece) and the background of New York. Even the quality of the sound is slightly better but some instruments are still to acute and bare. Then we must add he used, in 13 different tunes, always the same instruments so that sometimes the music sounds a bit monotone and repetitive.
Gameplay is perfect: you have a perfect control of the ninja whose actions and weapons are still the same (a little difference: to pick up objects it crouch completely, while to avoid hits he crouch less).
The game presents also scenes with a great spectacular impact: see the fights you do in the fifth level on a place ledge!! You can die in several manners: knocked down, poisoned by drugs, burnt by electric lines, eaten by savage animals... Yeah...yeah...very funny!!

The sequel of the last ninja... in the original box for C64 there were a mask of ninja and a shuriken. The cover, with the sight of Armakuni pictured in the sky over New York is ineffable. Must I add anything else?

I don't know if we'd have asked something better. It's even much superior to last ninja's one.

Hugh Riley made really a superb work. More object, a better distribution of colour, the textures are well realised and used (but not everywhere). The high resolution of sprites is a jewel. You really get the idea to by in a park or in a sewer!

I admit the sound is quite improved but System 3 failed another time in the fx effects. Why didn't they put even them? Matt Gray music is quite good (even if it depends on the being you ask...). Sometimes the tunes, though great in themselves, are repetitive.

If System 3 was able to make last ninja work in a C64 how did they make work even this episode?

What should I say? It's better than a masterpiece. System 3 improved the perfection? Maybe. I think this game, for what concerns C64 era, is unbeaten. Great. Unrepeatable.

The Last Ninja III

The third game of System 3 should have been the bast, but it was that only in several aspects, while in others it rep-resented a step backwards. This time the shogun, who was successful in avoiding eternal death twice, tries to corrupt the ninjas' temples in Tibet. And once again you are the only being who can prevent him to regain supreme power.
For the first time (if we ignore last ninja remix) we have an intro and end sequences while the levels are only five and we don't know what they represents exactly (I think they represents the 5 elements: land, air, water, fire, void) and they don't seem to be necessarily linked (as in the first two episodes). but the worst surprise of this game is the fact that the rooms of each level are confused in space. I mean two rooms could be linked twice: how could it be possible? We have not a clear map and this is bad for gameplay rating. We understood in the first level we had to climb a slope in order to make the rock fall and pick up the scroll...but the place where to climb was not in the room next to the rock or near there....?!?
The graphics of Robin Levy is perfect: textures, colours and object are everywhere well realised and placed: they're quite better than its predecessor. I think it was better if the object you have to pick were be shown on the screen (as usual) and not in scroll of prayer placed in the interface. The music uses good sounds but the themes were not ap-preciated by ninja as in the first games. The game concept is still the same. We may consider last ninja III a better last ninja but not a better last ninja II though graphically and technically superior

Just the sequel of the greatest game of ever. In the box just the manual and the disks (or tape), registration card and an advertising on Turbo Charge. The cover, similar to the second episode's one (eyes of the ninja in the sky over the environment of the game), is less suggestive. Beautiful intro and end sequences anyway.

The control of the ninja is not so exact and comfortable (this is the only episode in which I fall from ravines!) and some moves change the speed rating (for example the jump is very fast and not so fluent and elegant as the run-ning or the jump of the second last ninja). Moreover the rooms of the levels aren't logically linked and consequently we can not draw a map of each level: it seems they're put by at random. Horrible, I just give 920 only because I'm a ninja fan.

No doubt. It's impressive. The best graphic of ever in a C64. it's even much better than his predecessor. The tex-tures, which are really amazing, are everywhere so that there is not a blank space in the whole game. The sprites of the enemies are still various and high detailed. Look the textures of the rocks... are we sure we're playing in a C64. The interface is more coloured and full of objects. Look the energy level of the ninja and of the enemy...WOW!

The sound quality is rather better than the other episodes but Reyn Ohwehand, though nice, are quite worse than Ben Daglish's and Grey's ones. I admit the song of the third level is fantastic (even the one of the fourth and the in-tro are nice) but the tunes of second and fifth level are completely wrong. However it depends on people: some likes other doesn't like. No fx effects obviously. If System 3 would have put at least the worst fx of all time i'd give 960!

Graphics and sound are really amazing. The best I've ever seen in a C64. And for another time System 3 made it with only 64K!!!!!!

If the game would have had the same gameplay of last ninja 2 (an easy thing to do) and it'd have used best tunes or put some sound effects I'd give it 999. No importance for the presentation since it doesn't make the quality of the game but just an impression. What a pity! System 3 had the chance to do a monument that could have beaten the time but they lost the chance when they lost John Twiddy. If this game 's have been released in 1987 it'd have taken a fantastic 990 but we're in 1991 and he must pick up the heavy inheritance of the first two episodes.

LN review from Commodore Computing International, Sept. 1987

Transcribed by Elf - thanks a lot!!

The Last Ninja

Ninja may come and ninja may go, but to this day, and probably a long time to come, none have had so much time and effort spent on them as System 3's The Last Ninja. After so many unoriginal karate clones, it's a real pleasure to play such a different game as this. Whereas Melbourne House took the theme of Exploding Fist and turned it into an arcade adventure by adding a lot of wandering around, System 3 have created a very classy arcade adventure and added a bit of hack and slash here and there.

The story goes like this...
After two hundred years of Fujiwara Clan rule, the farmers and peasants decided they'd hade enough and set up their own colony in the Tokakure mountains. After a few centuries, this colony known as the Ninjutsu, had become the most feared warriors of their time. Every decade , the Ninjutsu had to travel to the island of Lin Fen to pay homage to the White Ninja. Taking advatage of this, Kunitoki, the leader of their arch-enemies, summoned the spirits of the underworld who proeceeded to kill the whole of the Ninjutsu. All apart from one who had to stay behind to hold the fort. It is now up to you, as the last ninja to travel to the island, find the scroll, and take your revenge on the evil shogun.

The Last Ninja is played over six levels that load separately. Each level must be completed by solving problems, finding weapons, using objects and beating up the guards.

You start the game in the wilderness (he means the wastelands -Elf-). Most of the scenery here is made up of rocks, bushes, trees, river and swamps. A maze of paths lead around the wilderness, and the ninja cannot leave these apart from jumping across stepping stoes to cross a swamp or river. As you explore you will find shrines with a larger than life statue of Buddha. Kneeling at one of these shrines will give you some help by telling you what to collect next. As you enter a location, any objects will glow for a second. These objects can be picked up by crouching and reaching out so your hand touches it. This can be rather fiddly at times. At the end of the level is a dragon that creeps out of his cave and toasts you with his fiery breath if you attempt to pass him.

Level two is the wastelands (he swapped the names, like most reviewers did -Elf-), wich has similar scenery and a small mountain range to cross. At the end of this level are two smaller stone dragons, the second of wich will give you the flame grilling treatment again. This dragon must be dealt with in a different way to the first.

The third level is the palace gardens. In this level there are shrines and beautifully drawn, animated fountains wich can give you some help. Wandering around the gardens you will see brilliantly coloured flowerbeds, and a rather prickly rose - ouch! There is a yellow statue that must be passed at the end of this level.

On completion of level three, you start outside the palace. As you run towards it you sink through the ground and finish up in the dungeons. Your object here is merely to find a way out. This is very hard as you find yourself going round in circles in the maze of paths. The graphics here are excellent, with severed heads, skeletons slumped against the wall, a torture champer complete with a corpse on a rack, and ghosts that float about, waving their hands. As well as the usual samurai guards, there are skeletons that jump to life and attack you. I particularly like the ghost carrying his head under his arm and the rats that scurry about.

If you manage to escape the dungeons, you arrive at the outside of the palace once more. The first problems is how to get through the door and in to the palace. Once inside, there are two more tricky problems to overcome before you get to the final level - the innter sanctum.

The graphics are on this and all the other levels, beautifully drawn and very colourful. You must now find the scroll to complete your quest.

Some may find The Last Ninja a little frustrating at first due to the slightly strange control method, but with practice, jumping rivers and beating up guards becomes easier.
There is some excellent music by Ben Daglish and Anthony Lees - one for each level, and another six pieces when the levels load. They really create an exciting atmosphere and drive you on.

The backgrounds are superbly drawn and very detailed, and the sprites are also very well designed and animated.

When playing the Last Ninja it is obvious that no part of it has come about without a great deal of time and effort. There seems to be just the right amount of detail and variety in the graphics, for example, to leave enough memory for a sufficient amount of locations and decent music. The multi-load that can really degrade tape based software at times, doesn't seem to matter as the game flows logically and the player is entertained with some sutiable music which includes some original 'instruments'.

Thankfully, The Last Ninja has lived up to my expectations, something games rarely do after such a long wait. System 3 who programmed this don't bring out many games but when they do - like International Karate - they have tremendous impact. Mark Cale has struck again with this one.

Last NInja has an excellent blend of beat'em up and aracde adventure and is a real value at 9.95 pounds.

I have no hesitation in recommending this brilliant game to anyone, play it and you'll never forget it. (Ain't that the truth :) -Elf-)

Price 9.95 (c) 14.94 (d)
Graphics: *****
Sound: ****
Playability: *****
Rating: Awesome

LN review from Commodore User, Aug. 1988

Transcribed by Elf - thanks a lot!!

Having put paid to the evil Shogun Kunitoki, the Last Ninja finds himself transported through time to modern day Manhattan where an even more depsicable re-incarnation of the Shogun is controlling a massive drugs ring. Only the Last Ninja, made as he is from yer actual oriental ninja magic, can stop the Shogun once and for all. Well, provided he can fight'n'fump'n'fink his way through six action-laden loads first....

Almost a year in the making, System 3's stupendous sequel to their smash of'87 is almost upon us. On the 29th of August you too can experience the thrills and spills of the game wich is currently sending the CU Crew crazy with delight. Once again programmer John Twiddy is in the driving seat, with aimiable artistic assistance from that binary Botticelli Hugh Riley and super sonics courtesy of ex-Compunet maestro Matt Gray. And what a crucial combination! As unbelievable as i may sound this talented trio has actually managed to improve on the basic theme of the original in every aspect; the graphics are impressively colourful and incredibly detailed - more so than before, while the gameplay is far more involved, with loads of puzzles and plenty of boss fighting fun to keep you at it for many many months to come [try years to come :) -Elf-].

But there's MORE! Honestly. If you were wondering about the price tag, wonder no longer... for the extra dosh doesn't just cover the cost of a brill game, oh no. Ninja II is exquisietly packaged with a highly readable 30-page instruction booklet, an authentic ninja scroll, a well-nifty ninja mask made from durable ninja cotton (so you can act out your favourite ninja fantasies) PLUS a supa-swish (not to mention safe) soft rubber shuriken star wich just happens to double for a posey place mat. When you buy Ninja II you're buying more than just another ninja game. It'sa a landmark in computer entertainment.

Ninja's mission beings on a band stand in Central Park. Slipping behind the curtain at the back of the stage he finds his first assailant - a mugger spoiling for a post of fistcuffs. Not to worry, and experienced ninja such as yourself can soon make small change of this foolish fellow. But wait! What's this? He's getting back up on his feet! Yes, this time around your oppononets don't stay down, it takes three thorough trouncings to put them out for good wich makes the fighting side all the more entertaining.

With the thug out of the way, ninja notices a suspicious-looking panel protruding from the wall. And being endowed with more brawn than brain, decides to punch it - only to see it disappear into the wall. Coo. Returning to the stand ninja notoces a large hole - a trapdoor has opened. A-ha! Quick as a flash he descends and the adventure begins proper... But how does he cross the wide stream to access the second load? And how does he get past the knife-wielding juggler? Then there's the swarms of bent policemen, muggers and killer bees to contend with, along with precarious gaps to leap and rivers to cross. But what about a weapon? Nunchukas always come in handy - provided to can find a pair ... or at least make a pair.

The second load has ninja walking through the maze-like streets of Manhattan, occupied by more muggers and policemen, winos, deadly ninja flower pot throwers and speed-crazy bikers. Find a useful object or two, open a manhole and descend to the sewer network beneath the streets, and the third load. Rats alligatas and zombies (workmen mutated by the bizarre mix of chemicals found in the water) attack the ninja at every available opportunity. But he finds an exit and our intrepid hero appears in the Shogun's opium production plant, guarded by a vicious panther and a hord of his henchmen. A lift provides the means to escape and access to Load Five - above the warehouse. Hey, there's the Shougn, about to make his escape in his private chopper. Quick! Catch a ride to his mansion, the final load.

The ninja leaps from the chopper onto the roof of the mansion, and having gained access discovers an intricate security system to outwit, along with armed guards aplenty. Using his noddle and plenty of ninja violence he enters the Shogun's room and a confrontation from wich there can be only one survivor...

There's so much more than before on offer, and with a score and a timer to use for reference you can come back again and again and atempt to beat your previous best.

A bonus for disk owners is a save game option, and the fact that the disk version costs little more than the cassette makes Ninja II a definite cut above the rest - and that includes it's illustrous predecessor. System 3 seem to have the immensly popular ninja market well and truly sewn up and it's difficult to see how they're going to top this one. Hearty congratulations are in order for what has to be the most professional and entertaining software package yet seen. Well done to all involved.

Gary Penn.

Commodore User Superstar
Video: 10
Audio: 8
Toughness: 9
Endurance: 9
Value for money: 9
Overall rating: 9

[Elf's notes: It's obvious that Gary Penn has reviewed a preview copy. First of all, there was no save game option for disk owners when the game was released almost two months after the announced date. The fact that you have to fight the thugs three times is only true on Level 2 (the enemies have to be fought one more time than the value of the number of the level you're on, exceptions are the very first thug wich has to be fought only once and the last thug wich is revived forever). The Ninja mask and shuriken was only included in the first edition of the game (I've got them! :) ). One of the biggest chains in Britain refused to stock the game if those items weren't removed. The pictures that accompany the review also have minor changes made to them in the final release.]

The review also includes six screen shots:

1) A picture of the Armakuni fighting the thug on the street outside the Ninja's shop. The text reads: "Groin-busting giggles in downtown Manhattan."

2) A picture of the first boat-screen in Central Park. Amrakuni is on the upper side and we see that the boat has just appeared in the picture. The text reads: "Use the boat as a stepping stone."

3) A picture of Armakuni picking up the map. The text reads: "Ninja's found a useful object"

4) A picture of the first screen in the Office. The text reads: "Explore the plush interior of the Shogun's offices."

5) A picture of Armakuni punching the panel behind the stage. The text reads: "Punch this..."

6) A picture of Armakuni on the stage running towards the hole. The text reads: " open this!"

Last Ninja Amiga Reviews

reviewed by Jan Zottmann


Last Ninja 2 was the first part of the LN series to be converted for the Commodore AMIGA. I don't know whether the conversion was done by System 3 programmers ?
However, as a fan of the C64 original I felt this one was a far cry from the original game. The graphics were simply below AMIGA standards and the gameplay was terrible. In fact, I was never able to make it through the game because of the "basement box jumping scene" - one simply couldn't tell which direction the AMIGA-Ninja was going to jump! The soundtrack featured decent rearranged versions from the original LN2 score as well as some new average compositions...


Last Ninja Remix was converted by a German programmer group called "Eclipse" ("Lethal Xcess"). The game had nothing to do with the C64 Remix but was in fact the conversion of the first "Last Ninja" game. It truly felt like a 16 bit program with cool improved graphics and a gameplay very close to the C64 original. The famous Benn Daglish score was carefully rearranged by legendary AMIGA composer Jochen Hippel. The only part of the series on the AMIGA to come close to the C64 original!


Done by the System 3 programmers the latest installment of the LN games made its way to the AMIGA systems. The intro sequence was improved and is a bit longer than the C64 opening. The game itself looked really nice, but again the gameplay lacked something of the original. In addition to that it was the most difficult of the LN games yet - thanks to some unfair enemy actions and the flabby control of the Ninja character... Besides, it was the only conversion to feature a whole new music score done by Reyn Ouwehand who had also written the C64 soundtrack for LN3.

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