The sequel to the classic The Last Ninja was first released by System 3 in 1988 – one year after the original game.
It was designed by the same team as made the first game, except this time they had on board the highly-respected John Twiddy as writer/coder, and Matt Gray doing music.
Graphically, The Last Ninja 2 is arguably better than its predecessor, with more colour and variety in the environments, and some of the gameplay niggles from the first game have thankfully been addressed too. In particular: it is now easier to pick things up!
Story-wise: this time the ninja Armakuni has been transported to 20th century New York, and he must defeat the evil Kunitoki to return to his own time.
Combat-wise… The Last Ninja 2 is just as archaic on that front as the first game. There are definitely ways of winning battles, and thrashing the joystick around maniacally isn’t one of them… You have to get into position as soon as you see a bad guy and get your punches and kicks in quickly, as well as remembering to block their attacks. And – just like in the first game – the combat becomes easier when you eventually find a weapon.
Not that The Last Ninja 2 ever becomes easy. It’s hard avoiding the knife-throwing jugglers, killer bees, spiders, water traps, guards, and many, many other hostiles as you make your way through the maze, but it is possible.
Again, like the first game: there are little touches that make The Last Ninja 2 enjoyable to play, like the working traffic lights (try crossing the road on a red light and see what happens…). And there are also subtle differences too, like the fact that enemies are only knocked out when you floor them; they get back up for more after a certain amount of time.
The Last Ninja 2 is marginally more playable than the first game. There are fewer annoying ‘jumping over river’ sections, and there’s more more emphasis on exploration and combat. It makes for a more enjoyable experience overall.
See also: The Last Ninja 3