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Of princesses and ninjas

tech reviews Updated: Mar 03, 2009 20:34 IST

Some of you old school gamers might recall the arcade action-platformer called The Legend of Kage, where you played a pixellated ninja that jumped from tree to tree beating bad guys with his faithful Katana and an endless stream of shurikens. The game was remade for the Nintendo DS with a deeper combat system, and following its success, a sequel was released.

The Legend of Kage 2 for the Nintendo DS allows you to play as the ninja “Kage”, the Kunoichi (female ninja) “Chihiro”, each with a unique style, different main weapons (a Katana or a Kasuri-gama), different projectile weapons and different Ninjutsu skills. After you pick one of the two, you’re treated to a cutscene introducing you to an old guy named “Elder”, who requests you to escort a special guest. The special guest ends up being a princess who gets kidnapped. Your goal is to rescue her.

In-depth combat
The controls of the game are simple — you move around using the navigation pad, and there’s a key assigned to ranged attack, melee attack and jump. In spite of just two attack buttons, the game manages to add depth into combat using a level up system that works in unison with a basic combo system, that allows you to unlock multiple hit combos and special moves as you progress.

What really gets you hooked on to the combat is the scoring system, which keeps track of the streak of hits you’ve pulled off, and awards you points accordingly. The system’s a lot like we’ve seen in the Devil May Cry series, where long streaks award you with high scores, which show up at the end of a mission. Each aspect of your performance is rated A, B, C and so on. This feature adds replay value to the missions.

Simple level design
The level design and mission structure are simple yet effective. Like in the original, the levels extend both horizontally and vertically.

The many trees and cliffs you come across allow you to scale the map vertically to overcome obstacles, as you make your way to the end of the level.

At the end of each level, you encounter a boss fight. As you progress, the difficulty of both — the levels as well as the boss fights — goes from easy to challenging to close to impossible.

With an easy-to-understand yet deep combat system, pleasant visuals, and a fast-paced, replayable campaign, The Legend of Kage 2 is certainly worth a buy for side-scrolling action game fans. The game is quite difficult though.