There are literally dozens of classic games from the 80s that people are desperate to see sequels and remakes for. I am confident that not many people have the 1984 game The Legend of Kage on their radar. Despite this, Taito has made a sequel to that game for the Nintendo DS.
The Legend of Kage 2 has you assuming the role of either the titular Kage or the femme fatale Chihiro. Once you have chosen your character the game then thrusts you into a thin story of ninja intrigue and your village in peril.
From here the game is all action. Your character is a trained ninja and has many skills and abilities to tackle the hordes of enemy ninjas. From the start you can wall run, jump incredible heights, throw shurikens, and launch simple combos as you progress through the levels. The game utilizes the dual screens of the Nintendo DS by showing you enemies on upper platforms and allowing your jumps to span the screens.
As you progress you can collect colored orbs and combine them in a touch screen mini-game to create customized special abilities. Completing levels also grades you and increases your base skills (jump higher, longer combos, etc…).
The main gameplay involves you literally tearing through hordes of colored ninjas (each type has different attacks), jumping up levels, and reaching the end of the path. Every so often you are stopped by a boss character and the real fight is on. The best thing, I felt, about The Legend of Kage 2 is the bosses and their designs. They are at times huge, while other times absurd, but always interesting.
The boss battles are the points in the games where you actually have to try something different and use your special abilities. The battles are challenging and always something you can accomplish if you think through it. There are no cheap attacks or instant death situations. These battles are the highlight of the game and I found myself eagerly awaiting the next boss encounter.
The graphics in The Legend of Kage 2 are bright, colorful and serviceable but nothing compared to the best you can find on the Nintendo DS. The game almost looks like it was designed for an older platform and ported with dual screen additions. The art style is quite striking though and galleries are unlocked for achieving milestones in the game.
Audio is again serviceable with proper swishing, grunts, and attack noises sounding authentic. The music is minimal and again is competent throughout the game. It would be nice to see some high quality voice work or really great sounds, but at heart this is a straightforward action game and the audio is secondary.
The Legend of Kage 2 could have been a lot more, but since we had no idea this game was coming what could we expect really? It is straightforward, fairly short at around 4-5 hours, and generally simply an average action game.
The Legend of Kage 2 is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence and Mild Language.