The Xbox Live Indie Marketplace is a treasure trove of enjoyable and overlooked games. The Indie games have been lost in a difficult to navigate interface and lack of marketing. To be completely honest, I would never have played Akane the Kunoichi if we hadn’t received a review code and it would have been my loss.
Akane the Kunoichi is a throwback to the days when platformers were king. The game opens with a scene reminiscent of Double Dragon. Akane is attacked by ninjas while her lover is kidnapped, thus beginning her rescue mission.
The game controls are simple with the left thumbstick handling movement, A for jump, X for throwing Kunai, and Y for unleashing one of three super attacks. Left and Right Bumpers toggle through the three super attack options. Throughout each level, you’ll find hearts to regain health, three kimono collectibles, scrolls to replenish super attacks and POW blocks that upgrade Akane’s attack from a single Kunoichi to three, then five in a spread pattern. Another staple of platformers from the 8-bit era is present, with Akane’s attack suffering a downgrade if she is hit.
Akane can also wall-jump, presenting the only problem I had with the controls. Much like in the original Ninja Gaiden games on NES, our hero can stick to walls, slowly sliding down until she jumps off or hits the ground. There are times throughout the game, where Akane is pursued or needs to dodge a projectile. Accidentally grabbing a wall can lead to damage or death and, in this game, you do not want to die. Losing all of your hearts means a complete restart of the levels. While each of the 15 stages aren’t terribly long, it’s still annoying to have to replay areas due to the stickiness.
The bosses in the game are impressive and fun. The patterns aren’t difficult to figure out, but there is challenge to be found, nonetheless.
Visuals and sounds are exactly what you’d expect from a game emulating the 8-bit era. If Akane the Kunoichi had been released on the NES or Sega Master System, it would have found success and, perhaps, spawned a franchise of its own. The menu screens and the shot of Akane that appears when triggering a super attack are anime inspired and the sprite simply doesn’t do justice to Akane’s… assets.
If you are in the mood for a trip back to the 8-bit era, Akane the Kunoichi is worth your time and money.
Review copy provided by publisher.