Most of you will have played at least one of System 3's Last Ninja games, either on the 8-bits or the newer 16-bit versions. So undoubtedly a large majority of you will already have a pretty good understanding of how the previous part of the plot went. For those of you who haven't, here's a very short summary. You're the Last Ninja because all the others have been killed by this not particularly nice guy called Kunitoki - and that's it basically.
Now, on to more immediate matters like Ninja 3's story line. Even though you are the Last Ninja. Kunitoki is not foolish enough to think that he is unthreatened, and although a great deal of minions lie between you and him the almighty tyrant is determined to end the existence of the Ninja forever. To achieve this, he has entered the various temples of Tibet and stolen the five ancient scrolls that describe how the Ninja get their power. With these ancient artefacts gone, no one else can become a true Ninja. That's the plight, and it's up to you, the Last Ninja, to retrieve these sacred scrolls and return them to the temples. This task has been made hard due to Kunitoki scattering the scrolls over the five Elemental planes. But wait! There's only four Elemental planes I hear you say. That's where you're wrong! As well as Earth, Wind, Fire and Water in Ninjitsu there is also the Void - a bit of a mysterious one. Anyhow, that's where he's put the scrolls, if they're all still intact.
As per usual you start off with no weapons to aid you but that doesn't stop you from picking them up on the way. But unlike the previous Ninja games this isn't going to be so easy. Rather than all the items just lying around waiting for you to bump into them, some objects have to be made. An example of this is the Nun-chakus. In the first level, with a little bit of searching, you can find two branches near two separate trees. Collect these objects and then find a piece of chain and voila! The three objects become one in the form of a rather deadly weapon. This process is used throughout the game, so prepare to work out what items match with which. You'll find that all the objects that you come across will be pivotal to the outcome of the game so you'll need to collect them all if you're to succeed. Fortunately, the objects aren't hidden away and each time you go near one a prayer wheel in the top right will bring up a picture of the object to indicate that it is in the vicinity.
All you have to do then is pick the object up, if it's possible at that point in time. This wheel will also tell you when one of the opposing baddies is a master at a certain weapon, indicating that you're going to be in for a hard time. But this isn't the only thing you're going to have to do in the game to succeed. There are plenty of baddies to encounter and fight and each time you kill one of these evil chaps you will gain Bushido power. A lot of this Bushido power will be needed to defeat the guardian at the end of the level and if you haven't got enough power you'll just have to go back and increase it. As well as having to gain this Bushido power on each level you'll also have to collect one of the five scrolls. There's only one in each level so you'll have to make sure you get it, because if you don't then it will be impossible to leave that particular elemental plane even if you do kick seven bells out of the huge guardian.
However, the best thing about Ninja 3 is that it isn't just another 8-bit port or crappy game that hasn't had a lot of work put into it. Ninja 3 has had a lot of points improved on its journey from the 8-bit game. For a start the intro sequence is far better and there have been two extra levels incorporated. In many isometric games, when you move from one screen to the next the game pauses slightly. This is not the case with Ninja 3. Although it takes a while to load, once the action starts it keeps on going without interruption with the screen appearing instantaneously each time you enter them.
On top of this there are 10 enemies to fight against. OK, 10 doesn't sound a lot but when you see them animated you realise that they are more than adequate. But by far and away the best improvements are the clicky bits that weren't ironed out of the original Ninja when it appeared on the Amiga. Admittedly it wasn't as bad as Activision's Ninja 2 (can anything be?), but there was still room for improvement. One of these was the pick up option which was a bit fiddly. But now it's all as easy as pie. How nice!
Third episode of the greatest Ninja game ever released! It was a huge hit on the Commodore 64, but Amiga version is not as good as the original. By the way, you should try.
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