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C64 game from 1987
Composer: Ben Daglish, Matt Gray et al.

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Last Ninja for Commodore 64 (C64) was a game I played with pleasure created by Marc Cale in 1987, who also founded the game company System 3 five years earlier. Last Ninja on C64 and Last Ninja 2 on Amiga was one of the few games I managed to complete. I remember playing Last Ninja 3 on Amiga too but do not think I ever completed it. The graphics were really good at the time, and the isometric perspective felt original. Although there are no sound effects it is underlined by a really ingenious soundtrack, which was not bad at all because then all three SID channels could be devoted purely for the music. Today the game series is classed as one of the absolute classics of the era.

Last Ninja was first released on Commodore 64 in 1987. The sequel Last Ninja 2 was released the year after and Last Ninja 3 in the year 1991. Amiga had its first version in 1990 with the titel Ninja Remix. It was a worthy version with better graphics and music which is to be expected for a game that is released three years later on a more powerful computer. In the same year (1990) Last Ninja Remix was also released on C64 with a bit better graphics and remixed music from the sequel, Last Ninja 2. Last Ninja 3 was the first to be released simultaneously on both platforms in the same year in 1991.

One downside with the game was the gamecontrol as it was sometimes difficult to make the ninja jump where you wanted and strike blows instead of picking up ojects in the middle of the fight. Unfortunately it wasn´t improve on the other platforms, infact, it became even worse, even so on the Amiga.
Below in the video playlist, you can see the game series on both platforms, and do not miss the last two in the list about two different Kickstarter projects, one with Matt Gray himself who composed the original Last Ninja 2 and the other project where a group named Fastloaders are making a really professional Ninja Musicology of 4 discs as well as live performance.


Neither Ninja Remix or Last Ninja 2 on the Amiga have a loader soundtrack between the levels as there are on the C64. The music sounds more modern with better quality on the Amiga which is not surprising, thanks to great composers of the newer and better sound chip Paula on Amiga but Jochen Hippels version of the Central Park sounds quite lame, allthough the others and, above all, The Palace and Inner Sanctum, he made it well which actually sounds more pleasant to listen to than Ben Daglish and Anthony Lee's version of the C64. However, in Last Ninja 2 it sounds quite similiar between the two platforms , both which have a raw feeling to the music.
But for the love of God, do not miss out the Dolby stereo versions using stereo headphones which you can find almost at the end in the above video playlist.

In the previous paragraph you could read three different composers, but the whole Last Ninja game series got a mixed bag of no less than six different composers on both platforms. Last Ninja on the C64 had two composers strangely enough who made about half of the soundtracks each. For Last Ninja 3 there is one composer to both platforms, but it was first before this article I realized that the music on the C64 is completely different which sounds much more comfortable compared on Amiga. As you would notice by now it is totally asymmetric with the soundtracks in this game series aswell on the both platforms.

Last Ninja has kind of an oriental feeling in some of the soundtracks, as well as in Last Ninja 3 while the 2nd has a more raw and tougher style mixed with annoying and scary sounds on other levels. Although there are a lot of really great soundtracks throughout the game series, there are also some really annoying ones, especially in the 2nd of the series. The most popular soundtracks have to be The Wastelands in Last Ninja and Central Park in Last Ninja 2. The music on other platforms like Apple II (GS) and the NES was so substandard that it is not worth going into details.

Below I have selected the best soundtracks from the Last Ninja game series. The composer appears during playback of each song, except on Last Ninja 3.

Last Ninja (1987)

Last Ninja 2 (1988)

Last Ninja 3 (1991) (Reyn Ouwehand)

Enjoy my selected favorite remixes below, several remakes and electronic trance style but also heavy metal electric guitar is popular as well as other styles to add a little contrast.

- Remixar

Which remix do you like the best?
Don't forget that you can vote for almost any remix by clicking the green arrow visible during playback. (Registration required, free of course)

Interesting quick facts:

Several soundtracks in Last Ninja was inspired from other music. Reyn Ouwehand had one while Matt Gray had as many as four, or three...
(1990) Last Ninja Remix The Sewers is taken from the movie Merry Christmas Mr.Lawrence (2:00) (1983)
(1990) Last Ninja 2 The Sewers is allegedly from the game Kentilla Main Theme by Ron Hubbard, but I have difficulties spotting any similarities ...
The Office Loader is somewhat similiar from the song Beat Dis by Bomb The Bass (1988).
The Office is taken from the song Midnight in Tula by Tangerine Dream (1982).
The Mansion is inspired from the beginning of the song Alchemy of The Heart (0:30) by Tangerine Dream (1987)

The whole release history of the Last Ninja series and cancelled versions and to which platforms:

Why the porting to other platforms were not successful is not so strange when game companies did not receive any source data to work with and had to be reconstructed entirely from scratch

A fourth part of the Last Ninja was under development and would be released in 2004. The game was pretty much similiar to Ninja Gaiden, which was also under development. A new attempt in 2007 was on the go but Marc Cale boycotted it because he thought there were no WOW factor to it.» Read more

The program was originally being developed for System 3 in Hungary for more than a year by a team called SoftView but the finance for the work was refunded and the Hungarian team was uncredited for their work. The game was being written in Forth which was too slow and the team had been unable to get an animated sprite working. The code was taken back to London by Cale, and the engine was rewritten by John Twiddy.
Cale claims however the whole idea and concept was basically his, like the isometric adventure which he was very passionate about. A fully 3D game was preferred but the machines back then wasn´t powerful enough. Source: wiki

More info, news and other fun stuff can be read at Last Ninja Archives