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Arcade: Gang beat-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
SpeedLock 7

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Garth Sumpter
Chris Bourne

Pull on your Ninja Balaclavas, and boogie on down to the latest sounds... Eh? Oh, yes hang on minute - this looks awfully like Last ninja as released by System 3 over 18 months ago - so how can they justify the new price tag of 9.99. Well, I don't think that they really can. With brand new software on the market that is all singing, all dancing product, it's a shame that companies feel they can (slightly) jazz up an old game and flog it to unsuspecting punters but as I took some two years out of the software market (while I rebuilt the Cavalier) I can review the game without prejudice. (Which no-one else could eh kids?)

Armakuni, the master of the Ninjas, has struggled to assemble his followers and regain some of the prestige the clan had before they were wiped out by the Evil Shogun, Kunitoki. However, during a training session Armakuni begins to feel odd, and notices that his followers have frozen in their places! Then Armakuni blacks out... When he finally opens his eyes, he finds himself in a strange place, surrounded by unknown objects. Only his Ninja skills will enable him to fight his way out and defeat the forces of Kunitoki!

The hero is initially unarmed, but soon comes across weapons and useful items in his travels that he can pick up and wield to great effect. By punching and kicking, the Ninja also operates buttons and switches, the effects of which are not always that obvious - for example, a switch may open a trapdoor in another room. Split over six levels, the game takes place in a variety of exotic locations, such as sewers, opium factories and mugger-infested parks.

Last Ninja has some of the prettiest graphics I've ever seen on the Speccy, but unfortunately they are not enough to rescue this game. The playability is haphazard and irritating - it can be hard to see which way the Ninja is facing, which means you punch the wall instead of the baddie; and when the hero is trapped in a corner, it's nigh on impossible to escape. Add to this the difficulty of the control method (half the time he decides to somersault instead of punch), and the game becomes lethal - you'll soon kill someone in frustration. A shame, but if a little more effort had been put in the play rather than the graphics and {REVIEW MISSING}

Label: System 3
Price: £9.99/£14.99
Reviewer: Garth Sumpter

Looks good, sounds good, but golly, why didn't they update the archaic joystick control?