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The Legend of Kage

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The Legend of Kage
Arcade flyer
Imagine Studios (CPC/C64)
  • EU: Imagine Studios (CPC/C64)
Composer(s)Hisayoshi Ogura
SeriesThe Legend of Kage
Platform(s)Arcade, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Famicom/NES, MSX, X1, ZX Spectrum
August 10, 1985
  • Arcade
    Family Computer/NES
    • JP: April 18, 1986
    • NA: August 1987
    Commodore 64
    Amstrad CPC
beat 'em up[4]

The Legend of Kage (影の伝説, Kage no Densetsu) is a side-scrolling hack-and-slash game developed and published by Taito in 1985. In this game, the player controls the ninja Kage, with the objective being to get through five stages in order to save the princess Kirihime. These stages are littered with enemies, but Kage has various skills and weapons on his hands in order to get through them.

The arcade release was considered a success for Taito, and exceeded sales expectations at the time of its release. It has been ported to a variety of home systems, has had sequels and spinoffs, and has been featured on various Taito compilations.


Arcade screenshot

The player takes the role of a young Iga ninja named Kage ("Shadow"), on a mission to rescue Princess Kiri (hime) - the Shogun's daughter - from the villainous warlord Yoshi (ro Kuyigusa) and fellow evil samurai Yuki (nosuke Riko). The player is armed with a kodachi shortsword and an unlimited number of shuriken.[6] Kage must fight his way through a forest, along a secret passageway, up a fortress wall, and through a castle, rescuing her twice (three times in the FC/NES version) in order to win the game.[6] Each time the princess is rescued, the seasons change from summer to fall to winter and back to summer.[6][7]

In home versions, grabbing a crystal ball causes the player's clothes to change to the next level in color and thereby attain certain powers (bigger shuriken or faster speed).[7] If Kage is hit in a home version while in green or orange clothes, he does not die but reverts to his normal red clothes.[7]

Cycles repeat after five levels are completed, and play continues until all lives are gone, which ends the game.[6][7]

Development and release[edit]

The Legend of Kage was released by Taito in Japan in 1985, with a European release later in the year, and an American release in January 1986.[6][7][8]

According to Hisayoshi Ogura, the game's composer, development came after a fast-paced period of game development within Taito, where it eased up around this game.[9] Ogura specifically gave the game's music a distinct Japanese feeling in order for it to fit in better with the setting of the game, and he felt it was a worthy challenge for him to be able to adapt it to the sound hardware.[9] Earlier versions of the game used a sound board based around the MSM5232, the same chip found on synths such as the Korg Poly-800,[9] but an FM version of the soundtrack was also produced given Ogura's experimentation with FM sound at the time.[9] This proved to be helpful as the final version of the game used an FM sound board.[9] The game was almost shelved, but after it was placed in a game show, it was highly praised and Taito decided to give the game a full release due to the positive reception.[9]


Game Machine of Japan listed The Legend of Kage on their November 15, 1985 issue as being the most-successful table arcade unit of the month.[8] According to Ogura, there were around 6,000 kits of the game sold, and this was considered a success within the company.[9]

The Commodore 64 port received a mixed review from Commodore User magazine, criticizing the graphics, sound, controls and price, scoring it 5 out of 10. The magazine also said Legend of Kage was heavily influenced by Konami's beat 'em up game Shao-lin's Road, released earlier the same year.[4] The NES/Famicom port of the game received negative feedback.[citation needed]



Screenshot from the PSP remake

The Famicom/NES version was re-released on the Wii Virtual Console in Japan on December 19, 2006, and in the United States on February 19, 2007.[10][11] It was also released for the 3DS Virtual Console and Wii U Virtual Console in Japan.[12][13] The arcade version also appears in the compilation title Taito Legends 2.

A 3D remake of the arcade game along with the original arcade version is included in the 2006 compilation Taito Legends Power Up for the PlayStation Portable. The game is still side-scrolling.

The Revised Legend of Kage was included in the Taito Nostalgia 1 release along with the original game. It features two new playable characters, Ayame and Ganin. Ayame is a ninja who can throw bombs similar to the red ninja in the game and has an unlimited supply of throwing knives. Ganin is a dog who can breathe fire similar to the monks in the game and can perform a spin attack that does not have much range but leaves him invulnerable for an instant and kills any enemy that touches him. There is also a new final boss that all the characters face which is a giant green cobra that slithers on the ground back and forth on the screen at the end of each second run through the levels. It is the only enemy that does not jump into the air.


A follow-up game was developed by Lancarse for the Nintendo DS, and published by Taito in 2008. Taito's parent company, Square Enix, published a North American localization of the game later that year.[14]

See also[edit]

  • Ninja Hayate (Taito, 1984) follows a young ninja (who even looks like Kage) attempting to rescue a kidnapped princess.
  • Demon Sword (Taito, 1989) has similar gameplay to The Legend of Kage.


  1. ^ "Video Game Flyers: Legend of Kage (EU)". The Arcade Flyer Archive. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  2. ^ "Legend of Kage (Registration Number PA0000275892)". United States Copyright Office. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  3. ^ Akagi, Masumi (13 October 2006). アーケードTVゲームリスト国内•海外編(1971-2005) [Arcade TV Game List: Domestic • Overseas Edition (1971-2005)] (in Japanese). Japan: Amusement News Agency. pp. 136–7. ISBN 978-4990251215.
  4. ^ a b c "Legend of Kage". Commodore User. No. 40 (January 1987). 20 December 1986. pp. 4, 29.
  5. ^ "First Samurai". Computer and Video Games. No. 121 (December 1991). 15 November 1991. pp. 28–30.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Legend of Kage, The – Hardcore Gaming 101". Retrieved 2021-10-17.
  7. ^ a b c d e M. Thomas, Lucas (21 February 2007), The Legend of Kage VC Review - IGN, retrieved 2021-10-17
  8. ^ a b "Game Machine's Best Hit Games 25 - テーブル型TVゲーム機 (Table Videos)" (PDF). Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 272. Amusement Press, Inc. 15 November 1985. p. 21.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g "初のFM音源を使った『影の伝説』で自由に手腕を発揮! 小倉久佳音画制作所×安藤武博対談【サウンドコンポーザーに訊く!/連載第9回・前編】". シシララTV (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 4 October 2022. Retrieved 4 September 2023.
  10. ^ "VC影の伝説".
  11. ^ "Legend of Kage, The at Nintendo :: Games". www.nintendo.com. Archived from the original on 2010-11-22.
  12. ^ "影の伝説 | ニンテンドー3DS | 任天堂".
  13. ^ "影の伝説 | Wii U | 任天堂".
  14. ^ Harris, Craig (20 October 2008), Legend of Kage 2 Review - IGN (published 2009-10-20), retrieved 2021-10-18

External links[edit]