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.