One of the most well-executed action games of all time, The Last Ninja was a great start to a great series that was a huge hit on the Commodore 64. This PC port was excellent, but unfortunately was not commercially successful.
The Last Ninja deserves notice not only as a thoroughly addictive action game, but also for the many innovations it brought to the genre. For starters, the game was one of the first isometric games on the market. Despite relatively primitive (EGA) graphics, characters move convincingly, and backgrounds are well-drawn to create a good illusion of a 3D landscape. Also, while other action games at the time offered only one type of combat, The Last Ninja featured a mixture of hand-to-hand and ranged combat, with a variety of authentic ninja weapons. Another nifty innovation was the fact that the game's terrain was not merely the non-interactive pretty scenery as in most other games: it meant obstacles that had to be be overcome. This was where the game could discourage action newbies from completing it. Not only did you have to deal with hordes of enemies constantly, but also the fatal terrain hazards. One of the most fatal was the *water* – while your ninja could execute a staggering number of movements and attacks, he could not swim. Thus, the game became incredibly frustrating as you moved your Ninja pixel by pixel across the swamp and river terrains, trying to get that EXACT placement for the EXACT right jump from boulder to boulder.
Despite this gimmick, though, The Last Ninja was outstanding in every respect. Too bad the great music in the Commodore 64 version is not present in the PC port (due to PC speakers limitations), but otherwise it's an excellent version. Definitely a must-have for all action fans, although anyone who found Prince of Persia difficult should think twice about approaching this one – this is a much harder game by far. Recommended!
Note: The Last Ninja archives (retrieved from Archive.org) is an excellent source of information for these games and the downloads available (for many different versions of the games) have also been preserved.Reviewed by: Underdogs