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
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
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
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.