Version tested: Retro
The atmosphere of early games on the Commodore 64 was somewhat 'enhanced' by crude beeps and bops, complimenting the action on screen. It wasn't until the arrival of the likes of Rob Hubbard and David Whittaker that musical scores became part of the overall package when buying a new game on the beige machine. By the time Last Ninja 2 was released in1988, a score of superbly released anthems and musical scores had been composed for a myriad of games, often helping sales of the title on their own merit. A select few continually appeared in Zzap! 64's Top 10 SID tune list on a rolling monthly basis.
The arrival of Mat Gray's orchestral piece in Last Ninja 2, entitled "Central Park", plays along through the first level of the game and has since been voted the best example of SID music on the C64 in many ensuing polls within the Commodore scene. It's this track that literally took the 'musical bar' on the '64 to the next level, making the game worth loading up on an emulator just to listen to the music alone.
But what we have here is also a game that allows every teenage boy to play out their fantastical dream of becoming a ninja warrior. Films such as American Ninja fuelled interest in this far eastern art form and to help you on your way to becoming a 10th Dan fanatical fighting machine, a rubber shuriken and ninja mask were provided with the game. Sitting at your desk with your joystick in one hand, shuriken in the other whilst doing your best Sho Kosugi impression, you took on the enemy ninja in the stunningly realised 3D isometric streets and parks of New York city.
System 3 had done the impossible and improved all aspects of the original Last Ninja game in every way feasible - more locations, enhanced detailed sprite animation, fantastic graphical backdrops and an increased number of location puzzles that maintained a continuing high level of interest in a game whose oriental overtones shone through. Oh, did I mention the music was quite good as well!
9 / 10