This month in Link’s Burden, Link comes across a bombastic opportunity. Namely, a quick gander at Atlus’s recent addition to the gaming world Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja for Nintendo’s DS.
As our hero returns from his latest victory in Goron City, red outfit blowing in the fresh air, shieldless because of one of those squiggly, blobby thingies, he comes across a small crack in one of the gentle meadows of Hyrule Field. Being a former mercenary/terrorist for hire for the Gorons, he has no problem coming up with a delightful homemade bomb on the spot to deal with the crack, though he often wonders why he and the Gorons haven’t blown up Ganon’s Castle yet and foregone the gauntlet of fire, darkness, and betrayal that is inevitably set up for his arrival when he finally gets bored enough to go rescue that pest Zelda. But he’s Link…nothing comes easy.
*Magical fairy appears on Link’s shoulder. She sways unsteadily around his face.*
NAVI (drunk): *hic hiccup*! See that hole *hic*! You can go down there and get stuff or something.
LINK: Out late last night, Navi?
NAVI: Whaddya talking about night? *Hiccup*! Check that *hic* Ocarina of yours…it’s turned to the night setting!
(Note: My unintentional plagiarism of Birdy from Conquer’s Bad Fur Day has been noted. In fact, I’m noting it right here with the hopes Rare will not only sue me, but also put me out of my misery by giving me a free DS light.)
LINK (aside): Geez, I hate angry drunks.
NAVI: Hello?! HULLO! Do you know who you’re talking to here? I can have all the sages, even your little forest girlfriend, go gangster style on your ass!
LINK: Fine. I’ll blow up the hole and go down and see what weirdo is hanging out inside. But I swear if there is another scrub thug with some ripoff black market offer…I will never blow up a hole again.
NAVI: Just blow up the hole.
**Link takes out a special bombchu and hold his ears as the hole busts right open with his impeccable timing of attack. NAVI follows him down the hole in an uneven path. In the hole below, its empty but for a little patch of grass, despite the iridescent glowing entrance, God does Link hate going down a hole!**
LINK: Great, another scrub thug. That’s it. I’m leaving.
**The deku scrubling kid emerges. He’s a weird orange color and spits out multiple bullets. Link dodges them in a simple roll, effortlessly, like he was born to break dance. (It’s just an idea, like Transformers break dancing is an idea.)**
LINK: Ahh crap! I don’t have my shield! I guess someone’s getting a first class sword whipping!
*Link leaps forward deftly into the air and, with one fell swoop, strikes the deku scrubling. Scrubkins gives Link an ugly look and turns bright red.
DEKU SCRUB KID: OH! I was gonna let you buy this Nintendo DS for just ten rupees, but clearly you’re too busy assaulting innocent scrub kids to care about such things.
WHAT WILL LINK DO>? YOU DECIDE GAMECOLA READER!
>Tell the scrub kid you still want the DS.
>Tell him to go suck an egg.
>Get on to the game review already you pretentious procrastinating author!
Or> Recognize you have no choice. You must buy that DS, even if you still can’t find the one you just bought and it had Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja inside of it. (ARGHH!! OH and it is so damn true for this author!!)
YOU TOLD HIM YOU STILL WANT THE DS. GOOD CHOICE! J
This writer is not writing multiple adventures for you all. Besides, it’s a gaming review!
DEKU SCRUB KID: Yeah, it’s got Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja in it. I found it in the lost and found in some other nether dimension.
LINK: I heard that game sucks hardcore.
DEKU SCRUB KID: Give it a chance, geez….
LINK: Well, if you know so much tell me about it, loser who dwelleth in a cave. Sorry, it’s in my contract to use one ancient pseudo-mythical term per tenth conversation of my quests.
DEKU SCRUB KID: Dude, it is cool. Just hand over the rupees.
LINK: Is the game really worth it?
DEKU SCRUB KID: You can come back and buy more games.
LINK: For ten rupees?
DEKU SCRUB KID: Of course not! Damn Hyrulians. So cheap!
LINK: Well, tell me about the game.
Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja also must be a loose Japanese translation for “pre-teen wannabe Naruto loser,” but Izuna is far too cute and sassy a redhead for her own good. And in traditional Atlus publishing style, we are looking at an anime style game meeting the once again hungry needs of a marginalized market here in America. Generally, I fell in love with the Thousand Arms RPG years ago and being an anime aficionado in general I find Atlus is a company I can trust to put out a decent anime gaming product. But when I first started playing Izuna, I was startled at how initially unhappy I was with the game.
The story takes place in these ancient Japanese days of myth and yore, or is that lore? Anyhow, the wars that all ninjas would favor are mainly over and Izuna’s old wizen master has decided a nice quiet mountain retreat for his ninja followers, despite the fact they all look younger than twenty, would be just the thing they need. Izuna isn’t so impressed with neither the town nor her compatriot’s subservience and her carefree attitude of natural ninja moxie is quickly miffed. The group splits up in the village and Izuna being the smartest of the bunch decides stealing a large shiny jewel in a strange town, alien to her cultural understanding, will be the best way to win over the town. I guess she should have read that sign next to the jewel that says, “Don’t touch this or bad things will happen to everybody by the hands of the Gods.”
And thus, we are propelled forth into the hell that is Izuna’s unemployment. Endless dungeons of the same annoying creatures, items randomly generated which when placed on your weapons as power ups break often, items that suck up your generally low magical points rather quickly. For Izuna, the spunky ninja girl who uses Dragon claws, ki-yas, powers up, and poison pills runs into anime mini-bosses who make Jesse and James from Pokemon feel menacing. Yet it is done for the sake of breaking the curse of the Gods on her ragtag group of ninja brethren; for her it’s somehow worth it.
The voice talent, all in Japanese I might add for you language snobs like myself, is probably the best part of the game coupled with the nice English thought balloons and anime style art. And the little side conversations Izuna can engage in with the townspeople, the one town it seems you stay in for the duration of the game, though I couldn’t say for sure since I wouldn’t be THAT interested in playing past the second dungeon and seeing if they ever leave the mountain town, can be mildly entertaining.
One encounter is particularly funny with the only innkeeper in town, a bitchy old lady who decides charging you three hundred times the rate for lodgings is proper punishment for cursing the town with your thoughtless blasphemy. Izuna appeals to the old lady good side, which only leads to the young ninja feeling guilty and taking a gun to her head. I honestly was hoping Izuna would pull the trigger and it would let me out of the hell of the format of the game, but it isn’t a mature rated game, but I can dream. (Not to mention I am wondering how they even have the technology of owning a gun in such ancient times.)
My biggest gripe, being accustomed to the forgiveness in dying for every other RPG ever made, was losing all your money AND items if you died in a dungeon encounter. Sure you could save everything with the weird girl in town after the first dungeon, but frankly, the items you need the most, like the one to summon you out of a dungeon back into town, is very uncommon. And it can be very frustrating if you come into an area where seven creatures are attacking you and you know you can’t make the battle, but you have no choice but to face it since you just couldn’t find that ONE item.
I pride myself on being accepting of a game with a tough learning curve and true it was advertised as an “old school RPG” on the back of the box, but this game really truly frustrated me. But, the ironic thing is…I would miss the challenge of the game play after putting it down for a few hours. It didn’t seem complicated enough for me to conquer it easily but when I least expected, the game would bite me on the ass. I tried for the longest time to figure out what the heck it was about this game that kept me coming back for more. For all its flaws, it maintains a high replay value. And nowadays, this is becoming harder and harder to come across with these days of FMV glory and interactive story playing, instead of good old fashioned, “Can I make it this time?” gaming.
So Izuna, comes in as a good staple for dungeon crawler lovers and though I would never say it was a must have for the DS, I can’t say it isn’t at least a respectable addition to anyone’s DS collection of games.
**Link mulls over the DS.**
LINK: Yeah, yeah, yeah, let me have the game. But what other titles do you have?
DEKU SCRUB KID: You can buy Tetris for 500 rupees.
LINK: Just give me the system. I’ll find some other place to buy my DS games from, scrub thug.
DEKU SCRUB KID: Suit yourself. But I guarantee you won’t find another dealer in Hyrule cheaper than that price.
LINK: Come on Navi. I got to buy a shield.
DEKU SCRUB KID: I’ve got a shield for 50 rupees and a red potion you can just have since I have so many of them.
LINK: Now, you’re talking! Free red potion. Hand it over.
DEKU SCRUB KID: Cheap…ugh.
**The scrubling hands over the red potion and Link is on his way with a drunk Navi in tow.**
NAVI: Hiccup! Thanks again. Hic!
This game received the rating of 1 (one) fairy potion.