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Blue Shadow

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Released: 1991

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: NES/Famicom

Publisher: Taito

Developer: Natsume

Submitted by: Steven Ronald Jackson

It is no secret that when a game becomes a success, it is soon going to have a clone made of it, to capitalise on the original game's success. Most of the times the clones are inferior to the game they are based on, but sometimes the clone can be just as fun (if not better) than the game it has been cloned from. One such example is the great Blue Shadow for the NES.

Blue Shadow is a clone of the highly successful Ninja Gaiden which was also released for the NES (after it had been ported from the arcades) made my Natsume. In Blue Shadow, you take on the role of either Lord Hayate or Lady Kaede (who are said to be the first male and female team in video-game history) to take down the evil Emperor Garuda who is trying to take over the USA. The gameplay has you progressing through five levels (with sixteen stages) and past a variety of enemies while gaining power-ups (as well as extra weapons) to help guide you on your quest to take down the evil Garuda.

While the plot is typically simple, the gameplay is not. Blue Shadow (much like Ninja Gaiden) is extremely difficult to complete. The game gives you a life-bar but only five lives overall and no continues once you have used them all up. It is a game of trial and error which after a while (much like Ninja Gaiden) can get very tiresome and frustrating. The difficulty is not helped by the very tough enemies which can make the game appear cheap at times, especially when compared to the bosses which can be pretty easy to beat compared to the enemies in the game. The game can be played as either a one player or two player co-op experience helping to make the difficulty somewhat less challenging but it is still a hard game to conquer both alone and with a friend.

In terms of the controls, they are very fluid, fast and responsive. Hayate and Kaede can run, jump, crouch, as well as hang onto and jump up overhangs. The controls really do make you feel like a real ninja strangely, which is only heightened by the lightning quick reflexes you need to dodge and attack enemies. The charcters also have special moves they can perform on enemies but this comes at the cost of losing part of your life meter so be strategic and only use it when you really need it.

The graphics and sound in the game are brilliant. The graphics are very colourful, atmospheric and responsive (when lots of enemies are on the screen) while the music and sound effects in the game are of high and classic 8-bit quality, helping create a great overall experience for the NES.

To conclude, Blue Shadow might be a clone of the highly successful Ninja Gaiden, but that doesn't mean it should be overlooked. With great gameplay, graphics, sound, controls plus having the option of either single or co-op play really does make this game a must have in anyone's NES collection. The game has been ported to the Wii's Virtual Console at a price of 600 Wii Points (under its USA name Shadow of the Ninja) meaning everyone can play this great game once more.