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Originally an arcade game, Taito released The Legend of Kage on the NES is 1986. Since then it has been called one of the worst NES games ever to have stunk up the beloved console. While I'm not saying it's a good game (because it really isn't that good) I think other gamers have really missed the point. The Legend of Kage has some interesting aspects to it gameplay wise that can't simply be deemed stupid by this reviewer.
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So, this part of The Legend of Kage is kind of stupid. Princess Kiri gets kidnapped by an evil Shogun, and you, Kage, must rescue her. In fact, you must rescue her three different times from the same feudal Japanese castle! I'm not sure why the first time wasn't enough, maybe Kage is just really bad at rescuing people.
While this is incredibly cliché, on the upside, Kage is a ninja. Ninja are cool, right? And he isn't wearing a dress. He's wearing traditional Japanese clothing common to the period. Although, it does kind of look like a dress.
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The Legend of Kage is a platformer, but instead of running right you must go left. See? Innovative gameplay smacks you right in the face from the get go! As you run, Kage throws shuriken and swings his knives (by pressing the 1 and 2 buttons). He can also jump incredible distances and climb trees, both of which are pretty cool.
In order to rescue Princess Kiri, Kage must run through a forest, and infiltrate the castle, both of which are surrounded by other ninja, fire-breathing monks and some other enemies that I'm really not sure of. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the re-spawning enemies, so it is best to just keep moving at all times. However, sometimes you must stop and fight all the enemies in a given area in order to move on.
Kage has more than just his knives and shuriken. You can pick up glowing orbs that change the color of his robe and give him different abilities. This is only really handy in that it prevents him from dying with one hit. If hit with the orb activated, he will only lose the orb's power but stay alive.
One good point is you don't have to start the level over again if you die. You only have to start from where you fell. I have to give the developers props for that.
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Graphics and Sound
Yeah, the graphics are not so good. They really look like something from the days of Atari when the NES was capable of so much more. The backgrounds aren't even that impressive, which is disappointing. Since you get to see the same scenery in three different seasons it would have been nice it the graphics where good enough to enjoy it. The season changes are cool (Princess Kiri is kidnapped only once per season, I get it now!) but the graphics make it hard to appreciate properly.
Sound wise, The Legend of Kage isn't setting any records, but I've heard worse music and sound effects. It gets some points in my book simply because it is Japanese inspired. It is a game about ninja, they might as well have traditional sounding music accompanying them.
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The game is too short to really have any fun with. It can be beat easily within thirty minutes, and less if you are lucky and don't die too many times. If The Legend of Kage had a great deal of replay value that wouldn't be such a bad thing, but it really doesn't. If you ever beat the game, you probably wouldn't want to play it again.
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I know The Legend of Kage is not a good game, but it's not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. I would not recommend it for purchase on the Wii Virtual Console since there are better ways to spend $5, but it does have some cool aspects. Unfortunately, they aren't cool enough to make it any better.