Last Ninja 3 (Ninja 3)


Title		Last Ninja 3 (Ninja 3)
Game Type	Action Adventure
Compatibility	ECS, Tested upto 060 via HD patches.
Publisher	System 3
HD Installable	Patches available
Players		1
Submission	Glen Lambert

Review
One or two C64 magazines at the time rated this game 100% which was
certainly the first time that had happened to my knowledge, but at the
time the C64's popularity was declining and the Ninja games had become
something of a flagship. Ninja 3 with its incredible graphics, sound &
lengthy Intro (almost unheard of on the C64) massively impressed many
people. I can't deny, I was totally impressed at first. The graphics were
in a different style to the earlier games with an obvious look of effort
about them, arguably the best graphics to grace any C64 title. With 5
large levels, an intro and an outro, all multiload, this was one massive
game by anyone's standards. Unfortunately the programmer was not up to the
job and the game introduced a couple of relatively new features to the
series, bugs and slowdown which, unfortunately, were severe enough to
reduce the quality of gameplay. The magazines overlooked these flaws and
awarded top marks across the board anyway, the lowest score I remember
seeing was a shocking 95% from one magazine.

If you're unfamiliar with the visual format of the Ninja games, they are
viewed in an isometric perspective with room around the bottom and right
of the main screen to show your stats etc.

The design itself doesn't hang together as well as the earlier games. The
journey is less recognisable and as such the game starts to feel less like
a quest and more like a series of increasingly difficult level one's, if
you know what I mean. This is probably due to the fact that the levels are
based less on a journey and more on elemental themes. Earth, Wind, Water,
Fire, Limbo & Void. For example, the game has an Intro, much the same as
the C64, Ninja walks from the distance, scales the castle wall and breaks
the neck of a guard. We now know the Ninja has dramatically penetrated the
castle. Odd, because, well, there is no such castle in the game, we start
in the mountains, we finish in space and we have one level based inside a
factory of sorts. Odd eh, see what I mean?

The change in emphasis from gameplay to graphics transferred successfully
to the Amiga version. They are much improved and look 16-bit with plenty
of colour, plenty of detail, clearly defined objects, enemies and scenery.
Each level now has a nicely drawn end of level guardian, much bigger than
our Ninja and usually rather more violent than one would like. Each has to
be killed using a certain weapon from the Ninjas standard array.
Forgetting to collect a weapon will make finishing the game impossible so
be sure to collect everything. The puzzles in Ninja 3 are a lot tougher
than the earlier games, often requiring a combination of 3 or 4 items to
solve. One or two of these puzzles I would say were not really very fair
at all.

The music is very good too but, the intro theme on the C64 version, which
was exceptionally good, for some reason was not reproduced on the Amiga.
This is a real shame actually as it was originally, probably, the best
piece of music in the game. For the first time too, you may choose sound
effects instead of music, I wouldn't recommend this though, the sound
effects are a bit naff.

An addition, unique to Ninja 3, is the Bushido dragon energy meter. This is
basically mystical energy gained or lost in relation to bravery or
cowardice. Fighting an unarmed enemy with a samurai sword is not deemed
particularly courageous and as such, loses you plenty of bushido power.
Conversely fighting a mean dude armed to the teeth with your bare hands
raises it. I'm not entirely sure what the benefits of having the power
high are, it only seems to matter at the end when a full bushido is
needed, this can be obtained however on the last level by beating up a
couple of guards with a few kicks & punches. Therefore you might as well
tear through the game slashing indiscriminately and saving a few of your
lives.

This game is let down in the gameplay department. Firstly, the movement of
the characters is different than in all the other games/versions. Now they
move in straight lines in one of four directions including the main
character. That's right, gone is the excellent control system that made
the others feel so good and move so well, gone are the days of drifting
gently up the screen whilst walking from left to right. These nice and
unique subtleties have been replaced by a rather amusing plodding style of
movement and when the Ninja stops & stands still, he just stops and resets
to his standard standing posture. Gone is the ability to gracefully stop
mid step and elegantly rotate. Plod plod plod goes our Ninja 3 hero. The
save game option is gone too, replaced by a rather simple four-letter
password system.

Another annoyance is that the game wants 1MB to run properly. However,
this needs to be half chip, half fast. Consequently running the game on a
2MB A1200 will invoke a message telling you that you should upgrade your
machine to avoid having to load in each opponent when a new screen is
entered. I can't help but blame lazy programming and lack of forethought.
Amigas these days generally have at least 8MB of fast RAM so it shouldn't
be a problem anymore. At the time I was most irritated I must say.

In conclusion this is a tough game that's, at times, a little unfair, the
stepping stone jumping that will have annoyed some people in Ninja Remix
is back with a vengeance in Ninja 3 more annoying than ever before, though
only on one screen thankfully. I have to say that, apart from the bugs,
Ninja 3 on the C64 pushed the machine to its limits, maybe a little
beyond. It doesn't do the same on the Amiga.

6.5/10 - The graphics have improved a lot on Ninja Remix, the sound is
also very good but everything else has gone varying distances in the other
direction. Shame.


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