tacobot's The Legend of Kage (Nintendo Entertainment System) review

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The Legend of Kage

The Legend of Kage is a one to two players alternating, side scrolling action game 
 from TAITO for the Nintendo Entertainment System
It’s story and gameplay are in a wuxia style, think something like a Crouching Tiger 
 Hidden Dragon but in a feudal Japanese setting where you take control of Kage     
 leaping through the air almost weightless fighting ninja's and Magic Monks to save
 princess Kiri.
It’s an old story but this simplicity still works well to keep the action fast paced and  
 uninterrupted as the player fights and jumps from stage to stage.

Gameplay consist of your standard platforming action the directional pad is used 
 for your running and jumping needs, the "A" and "B" buttons are used for attacks. 
The controls are tight and responsive as jumping and controlling the height your  
 jumps actually works well with the directional pad unlike some games that try and 
 use this method of jump control.
The diagonal and vertical height on jumps is based on how long you hold down in   
 the desired direction. But as stated before, The Legend of Kage uses a Chinese 
 fantasy style where your jumps are almost  weightless and arching as high as the 
 tree tops.
This can be fun but with no control once you're in the air it can also be quite 
 dangerous, with every  jump you take the chance of running straight into enemy 
 attacks, as they randomly pop on screen or you might just get to watch as you and 
 a throwing star make way on a collision course, i understand that changing
 momentum after you have left the ground is unrealistic, but this concept
 is pretty standard in most games, and in The Legend of Kage's fantasy setting it 
 doesn't seem like it would be to inappropriate, at the least the ability to slow your
 momentum to for a chance at avoiding those date's with a seemingly predestined
 death would have been nice.
It's not all just about gracefully flying through the air of course, Kage's arsenal 
 includes his trusty sword  and an endless supply of throwing stars.
The sword takes on the double duty of not only cutting down your enemies, but it
 can also block incoming throwing stars and sword strikes.
 Throwing stars in Kage's initial state can be thrown in eight directions while in the 
 air, or just horizontally while on foot and it can only take down one enemy, it can 
 also be blocked.
But upgrade orbs that randomly drop from slain enemies will grant Kage with the 
 ability to run faster, a larger throwing star that can't be blocked and can go through 
 multiple enemies he can also take one hit from an enemy sword or throwing star
 that will down grade him back to his initial state.

The game from beginning to end looks good, and you can see the hard work put 
 forth in the amount of detail put into each stage.
From the start of the game the forest looks great from the foliage on the forest floor 
 to the detailed trees in the foreground and the trees in the background set against
 a dark blue night gives a slight sense of depth  and looks kind of neat and also 
 makes the characters really stand out.
And in the second stage, a moat with a white brick wall set above the water and this
 white background makes it near impossible to see the enemies throwing stars, 
 and this may seem like bad design but once you figure out what to do it actually
 feels more like this design choice is about directing the player to stay
 in the water where you can safely avoid all the enemy throwing stars by just
 ducking under the water and popping up to cut down enemies with your sword.
Every stage that follows also has its own theme that takes the player a logical step  
 toward the climax and shows off the various game mechanics.

All the characters are well drawn and are a good size as they don’t take up to much 
 of the screen but you still get a good amount of detail. Kage's design looks great 
 and really stands out from his long black ponytail to his robe that changes colors
 when the player grabs an upgrade orb down to his shoes with they're bindings that 
 go up his leg a little and princess Kiri looks good for how briefly see her with
 her kimono with its long flowing sleeves.
The list of enemies is pretty short with Ninja's, Magic Monks and a few bosses as
 the only things that stand in your way.
While the Ninja's just kind of look like guys in red and blue pajamas, the red one's
 being faster and more aggressive than the blue Ninja and along with the standard 
 sword and throwing star combo they also have an added unblockable powder 
 bomb attack.
I think the game can be forgiven for their lack of detail as most of the Ninja i have
 seen in person tend to look like guys in pajamas.
The "Magic Monks" have a bit more detail, but again only a red/blue palette swap to  
 signify how aggressive they'll be other than that their dark pointed straw hats 
 covering their faces and white trimmed robes they look really good as they hop
 around shooting fireballs which are an unblockable one hit kill that can pretty
 frustrating when every so often they'll fire it right at you the second they come on
 screen giving you no chance of avoiding it.

The audio department in The Legend of Kage is just average, the sound effects
 and  music are all appropriate but nothing special.
There are effects for jumping, attacking and status changes all the things you would
 expect and they're fine, but the music or the lack of variety is a little disappointing.
There are short tracks that cap off the beginning and the end of the game other than
 that, every stage uses the same piece of music and it's not a bad tune it fits the fast
 paced action quite well with an upbeat  tempo and the melody is reminiscent of 
 traditional Japanese music.It just would have been nice if they could have mixed it
 up a little.

Even with the limited variety in enemies and my slight disappointment with the
 music when it all comes together with the tight controls and fast paced action in 
 some great looking environments you get something more and in my opinion what
 you get is a fun, great looking and focused experience that from the beginning
 knows exactly where it wants to take the player and doesn't waste any time with a
 long setup, from the word "Game Start" you're knee deep in ninja's on your way to
 save a princess. And sometimes that’s all you need to have good time.

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