Published by Image Works in 1991, First Samurai is a decent side-scrolling platform/action game that first came out on the Amiga and Atari ST, before being converted to others systems later.
Programmed by Raffaele Cecco, co-designed by Vivid Image and Mr. Cecco, with graphics by Teoman Irmak and sound by Nick Jones, it is a sterling effort.
First Samurai begins with a good intro with atmospheric music and clever graphical tricks that tell a fairly simple but dramatic story: one of vengeance, for your master’s death.
Once the game starts proper it’s then you finally get into side-scrolling, jumping, sword-swinging territory, and must find your way into the game.
You don’t start with a sword, you have to build up and retain your sword power by killing enemies. Enemies vary and require somewhat different strategies to deal with. Some you must duck to swipe at, others you’re best just jumping over and running past. Your samurai can also punch and do high kicks, which are also effective.
On occasion you can bet attacked from all angles, and it’s these situations that you need to avoid. If overwhelmed, run away! 🙂
What’s the aim of the First Samurai? To collect four magical items to open the way to the final boss. To do that you have to use bells to open the way when it’s blocked; to keep the relentless onslaught of attackers at bay with your sword; and to level up your samurai as you progress. Collecting food replenishes life energy (which is weird represented as an… arm?)
Sound effects are very “Amiga-ery”, as the sampled, choiral “hallelujah!” – when you pick up a power-up – demonstrates.
First Samurai has quite a few secrets (found by slashing your sword at them), and a few humorous touches too, like the “Eat Me!” signs that pop up when you crack open a picnic hamper. “I beg your pardon?!” you say. Yes: “Eat Me.” 😀
The Commodore 64 version is pretty good too. In fact: all the conversions are. There was even a Super Nintendo version. First Samurai is an easily pick-up-and-playable game that you have to eke away at to make progress through the game’s three different stages – forest, towns, then dungeons.
iPhone and iPad versions of First Samurai were re-released in 2011. I don’t know if they’re still available or not and I haven’t played them yet.