Sinclair User20th August 1992
Published in Sinclair User #130
The Sword Of The Samurai
Curse those ninjas, they just won't leave decent, innocent people alone. One day, while walking around some tasty graphic backdrops, a busload of Zeppelin sprites got kidnapped by a group of fiendish martial arts experts. And at this very moment they're being held hostage until Zeppelin return to a policy of producing more martial arts games and of those blasted sports sims.
As usual, it's the task of a samurai warrior to rescue the hostages. Somewhat stumpy and armed with a cheap version of Strider's sword this samurai also has several dozen shurikens, which, unfortunately aren't very powerful (it takes several hits to have any effect). Fortunately, though, once he's rescued two hostages, someone gives him a sackload of cut-throat knives which are much more useful... Yes, the samurai warrior is an awesome force, but you must be careful not to underestimate your opponents!
There are loads of ninja patrols out to halt the rescue attempt and any sort of contact with these baddies will sump sam' off. Some are easy to defeat and don't really fight back, but others come well equipped with hand-to-hand combat weapons, guns or shurikens.
Each hostage is protected by an armed guard whom you must defeat in hand to hand combat. The fire button will only activate your sword when you are close to an enemy, otherwise you will fire shurikens or knives., Unfortunately neither of these are any use against the hostage guardians so you need to judge the distance very carefully to defeat them.
The kidnappers have set a deadline for their demands to be met - so you have 100 seconds to rescue the three hostages on each level! If you don't rescue them within that time, your failure will have brought such disgrace on the Samurai name that you lose your life (and, even worse, have to start all over again).
There is a magic crystal which the samurai can drop by pulling down on flat ground. Having done this, if he is then killed he will return to that spot in his next life. However it is essential to remember where you leave the crystal as you may start again in a very dangerous place! Each game starts with four lives in store.
Although the general standard of the graphics isn't bad by any means, it can be very difficult to make out the sprites against some backgrounds, especially on the second level. Overall this game is rather dates in concept and look, and it's not too difficult either. Younger or newer players might enjoy it but hardened ninja specialists should stay away.
Sword Of The Samurai is the kind of game you get good at very quickly, after playing it five or six times you'll get to know how and when to make all the moves and it becomes a bit mechanical. Won't last very long.