taito's the legend of kage is one of the most perfect videogames i have ever played. it's certainly the fastest. it is this speed, however, that causes new and unprepared players to become frustrated. this game, like the ninja, is swift and merciless.
we open with the abduction of princess kirihime by a band of ninja, who are swiftly pursued by kage ("shadow"), our hero, who will chase them through four scenes and four seasons. he will be set upon relentlessly by enemy ninja, armed with shuriken and katana blades (and bombs starting in the second season), as well as the occasional fire-breathing monk.
controls are straightforward, even effortless: tilting the joystick left moves kage left, tilting it right moves kage right, tilting it up sends kage into the air (it would be a disservice to sully this graceful manuever with the pedestrian name of "jump"). tilting it down drops kage to a lower level, if there is one. button one swings kage's blade - used to dispatch close enemies and to deflect swords and enemy shuriken. (it also serves one other crucial purpose, mentioned below.) button two flings a shuriken (in any direction) to disable enemies.
the scenes that kage soars through are like quintessential ideals of videogame stages, some stretching endlessly left and right as enemy ninja bleed over the edges of the screen. each stage has a distinctive thrust and a distinctive goal, these being:
the legend of kage is one of the games that will be there at the close of the universe, when all have been reduced to their archetype and essence. there will be one ninja game, and it will be kage.