Review by Hsieh

Reviewed: 02/13/04

The White Wolf shall live on...

I have been a long-time fan of all Arcade games, and although I have not been to the arcade in a while [due to many in my area closing down], I recently had a chance to play some very old coin-ops. One of them was Tsukikage : The Legend of the White Wolf, or Ninja Spirit, as it is called outside of Japan. Not having heard of, or even played this arcade game I was quite interested in it.
It’s unfortunate that I could not play this game more. I would have liked to see what else it had in store for me – compared to other arcade games, it’s a good game.

Graphics: 9/10

The graphics for Tsukikage : The Legend of the White Wolf are not at all bad, for the 1988 period in which it was released. The graphics look very well-made. The backgrounds showing countless trees and mountains, blue skies and white storms look very good, and not quite so distracting as other arcade backgrounds. Game sprites are not as good, but they still are excellent for the 1988 era.

Music and Sound: 7/10

The tunes in this game are in amplified mono, which is basically just one-channel – but that doesn’t quite explain the quality of this music. Most of the game’s music is interesting Japanese-style hymns and things like that. The problem is, you play and play the game, and then all of a sudden the music just goes out. This isn’t the machine’s problem, this is the game’s problem [I’ve played it on more than one machine, interestingly enough]. Afterwards, all you hear is your ninja character shouting “HYAH!” and the battle/death cries of your enemies, which wouldn’t be so annoying with the background music on, but since the music abruptly stops, it’ll make your head spin.

That said, though, the music really isn’t that bad.

Gameplay and Control: 7/10

The gameplay of Tsukikage : The Legend of the White Wolf is quite simple – it’s a fighter/platformer, very similar to that of Gauntlet or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In fact, Tsukikage could also be compared to such games as Double Dragon or Altered Beast. The game is fairly linear, like other platformers [with the exception of Metroid, which doesn’t really count as a platformer anyway], but there are certain “puzzles” that are fairly easy to solve [hey, at least there are puzzles] – you need to figure out how to get to various sections of the game by using various items and weapons, somewhat like Monkey Island, but nowhere near as difficult. My complaint is that other parts of the game besides puzzles are VERY difficult. When I say difficult in this review, do not take my meaning to be “Ocarina of Time’s Water Temple Difficult” – take my meaning to be “Mega Man Network Transmission” or “Metroid Prime” difficult. Heck, take my meaning to be “Halo’s Last Mission” difficult for all I care. The only way I ever got to Tsukikage’s fourth stage was to play on “NO-DIE MODE”.
It is rather simple for me to judge Tsukikage : The Legend of the White Wolf’s control, because it’s just an [above] average platformer – the controls are basically the same. Some parts of the controls aren’t very innovative, such as the way you control your ninjas [you can have up to three, and they all move the same way you control your own ninja, somewhat like Ice Climbers in Super Smash Bros. Melee]. Other aspects of the game’s control are just average.

Overall 8/10:

I will repeat myself.

If only this game had been less difficult, if only the game had been longer, if only the puzzles had been tougher, if only the music had been better…this game could have very well surpassed all other arcade games, and not fade into obscurity like it did. Indeed, it might have even joined Gauntlet, Pac-Man and the Marvel vs. Capcom series as one of my favorite arcade games of all time. However, iRem [the game’s producer] did not lower Tsukikage’s difficulty, did not make Tsukikage longer, did not make the puzzles tougher, and did not check up on the music to see if it would be cut off. It’s a worthy game to be in the arcade – it’s just not good enough to compare to all the other arcade games.

However, as it is, Tsukikage : The Legend of the White Wolf stands to me as a solid, good effort to created the ultimate arcade game – but a slightly disappointing one. It leaves me wanting more video games to play, but not games quite like this one.

It is unfortunate that this game did not make my list of all-time favorite arcade games. Hopefully, one day some company will create another arcade game…and surpass my expectations, creating a game that surpasses even my favorite games of all time.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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