The Legend of Kage 2 review

Two decades later, a hardcore retro ninja adventure returns

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Your character “levels up” when you earn enough points, unlocking even more handy and cool moves like combos, slide attacks, and even upgrading your jumping to ridiculous heights. There are also colored orbs to collect, usually hidden away in secluded corners, which provide your magic. Equipping magic, or “ninjutsu” is a much more involved process than simply selecting a spell. It’s actually a puzzle minigame where you arrange the colored orbs within a grid of slots. Orbs touching in a triangle formation create a new spell. Part of the fun is fiddling with the orbs and discovering a new spell, while intelligent management of the grid allows for the use of more spells. You can even “view” each spell, which tosses you into a test area with enemies in it so you can try out each spell and see exactly what it does and how long it lasts. It’s a smart feature that makes us wonder why more games don’t use it.

Visually Kage 2 is serviceable – the art is crisp and vivid, although there could have been more detail in the environments. The game makes clever use of the dual screens – instead of displaying a map or other non-essential information, the top screen actually shows what is above you in the playing field. So you can see high-up ledges or sneaky ninjas dropping bombs on you. Once your jump gets powerful enough, you can also easily spring way up into areas the top screen reveals.

The controls work mostly well, although there are some hang-ups with jumping higher than you want, accidentally sticking to walls/ceilings, and the biggest annoyance: being unable to jump immediately after attacking, which leads to frustrations during boss fights. Still, these issues can be compensated for, and don’t hinder the experience too much. With the bounty of acrobatics at your disposal, Legend of Kage 2 should fill your ninja-fix. That is, if you can handle being bitch-slapped by the difficulty.

Oct 7, 2008

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DescriptionAfter more than 2 decades since the first game graced arcades, this cult favorite at last has a second chapter. Slice with your sword, toss ninja stars and super-jump literally hundreds of feet into trees and onto rooftops. Kage offers a satisfying ninja-fix, if you can handle the difficulty.
US censor rating"Everyone 10+"
UK censor rating"Rating Pending"
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)
Matthew Keast
My new approach to play all games on Hard mode straight off the bat has proven satisfying. Sure there is some frustration, but I've decided it's the lesser of two evils when weighed against the boredom of easiness that Normal difficulty has become in the era of casual gaming.