Remembering The Great, Last Ninja

Today, we're looking at The Last Ninja. The first "badass" game I ever played, and still one of my all-time favourites.

The Last Ninja was first released in 1987 on the Commodore 64, and was developed by Hungarian outfit SoftView and legendary 80's studio System 3. It was, and remains to this day, one of the finest action/adventure games of all time.

The first game in an eventual trilogy, players took the role of Armakuni, the last surviving ninja in Japan after an evil Shogun has all the others wiped out. Seeking revenge, you infiltrate his fortress island where you have to navigate tricky platforming sections and face off against his evil henchmen.

It's tough knowing where to start when talking about this game. Do I start with the iconic box art? The amazing soundtrack? The pioneering graphics, the innovative combat system?

While the game itself ensured that The Last Ninja would go down as a classic (it's sold millions worldwide, a rare feat for a Commodore 64 title), it's remembered these days as much for its soundtrack as its combat, Ben Dalglish's synthesised interpretation of classical Japanese music making it a favourite of chiptune and electronic artists the world over (you can see Dalglish's own remix of the original to your left).

The Last Ninja's commercial and critical success led to two sequels, The Last Ninja 2 (set in New York City) and The Last Ninja 3. By the time the series wound up in 1991, it had appeared on not just the Commodore 64, but the Apple IIGS, BBC Micro, PC, Atari ST, Amiga, Acorn Archimedes, Apple II, ZX Spectrum, NES and even the Amiga CD32. Most recently, the trilogy has also been re-released on the Wii's Virtual Console, though the third game has since been pulled after a bug meant the game couldn't be completed.

Amazingly, having opened in 1982, System 3 are still in business today, a rare achievement for an independent games studio. Their last game was WIlliams Pinball Hall of Fame on the PS3.

Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.


Comments

    Haha I remember playing this! You must be an old geezer like me! :)

    Holy shit, I remember playing this when I was like... 6!

    Yeah, I remember with fond nostalgia, many a thrown joystick over the damn swap crossing platforms as a kid.

    Oooh man I LOVED The Last Ninja. Amazing graphics considering the hardware it was running on. And yes, that music.

    System 3 were gods back in the C64 days with stuff like The Last Ninja games, International Karate and IK+ etc.

    Best. Game. Ever.

    One of the only C64 games I ever managed to actually finish!

    I remember playing this as a kid, and like all C64 games we had at the time, we only got to see a handful of screens because we weren't very good at it. I only learnt Ghostbusters had more than one level in it about 2 years ago!

    God yes this was good.... I remember playing it to death.... I also vaguely remember something about a modern remake? Did it ever come out?

      Here: http://lastninja.lemon64.com/ln4.php

      Fondest Last Ninja memories: my painting of it in kindergarten; trying to play it again recently and being incredibly frustrated at its difficulty; and jamming to the "Central Park" music from the 2nd game (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoGFV_xxR64) with my drummer 14 years ago.

    I remember completing this. I also remember going back to it with an emulator years later and thinking I must have had some serious gaming skills when I was in primary school. Or a lot more patience than I do today. Probably a little of both. Some of those pixel perfect jumps you were required to make were insane.

    Wow, I was like 7 or 8 when this first came out. Best game I ever played.

    Daglish, not Dalglish.

    What a blast from the past. I loved this game. My neighbour and I played it to death. Waiting for the C64 tape to load was painful back in those days!

    A lot of those oldskool games had to be hardcore cause they couldn't be very long.

    Just look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impossible_Mission

    Brilliant Game loved it.

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