One or two C64 magazines at the time rated this game 100% which was certainly the first time that had happened to my knowledge, but at the time the C64's popularity was declining and the Ninja games had become something of a flagship. Ninja 3 with its incredible graphics, sound & lengthy Intro (almost unheard of on the C64) massively impressed many people. I can't deny, I was totally impressed at first. The graphics were in a different style to the earlier games with an obvious look of effort about them, arguably the best graphics to grace any C64 title. With 5 large levels, an intro and an outro, all multiload, this was one massive game by anyone's standards. Unfortunately the programmer was not up to the job and the game introduced a couple of relatively new features to the series, bugs and slowdown which, unfortunately, were severe enough to reduce the quality of gameplay.
If you're unfamiliar with the visual format of the Ninja games, they are viewed in an isometric perspective with room around the bottom and right of the main screen to show your stats etc.
The design itself doesn't hang together as well as the earlier games. The journey is less recognisable and as such the game starts to feel less like a quest and more like a series of increasingly difficult level one's, if you know what I mean. This is probably due to the fact that the levels are based less on a journey and more on elemental themes. Earth, Wind, Water, Fire, Limbo & Void. For example, the game has an Intro, much the same as the C64, Ninja walks from the distance, scales the castle wall and breaks the neck of a guard. We now know the Ninja has dramatically penetrated the castle. Odd, because, well, there is no such castle in the game, we start in the mountains, we finish in space and we have one level based inside a factory of sorts. Odd eh, see what I mean?
The change in emphasis from gameplay to graphics transferred successfully to the Amiga version. They are much improved and look 16-bit with plenty of colour, plenty of detail, clearly defined objects, enemies and scenery. Each level now has a nicely drawn end of level guardian, much bigger than our Ninja and usually rather more violent than one would like. Each has to be killed using a certain weapon from the Ninjas standard array. Forgetting to collect a weapon will make finishing the game impossible so be sure to collect everything. The puzzles in Ninja 3 are a lot tougher than the earlier games, often requiring a combination of 3 or 4 items to solve. One or two of these puzzles I would say were not really very fair at all. The music is very good too. For the first time, you may choose sound effects instead of music, I wouldn't recommend this though, the sound effects are a bit naff. An addition, unique to Ninja 3, is the Bushido dragon energy meter. This is basically mystical energy gained or lost in relation to bravery or cowardice. Fighting an unarmed enemy with a samurai sword is not deemed particularly courageous and as such, loses you plenty of bushido power. Conversely fighting a mean dude armed to the teeth with your bare hands raises it. I'm not entirely sure what the benefits of having the power high are, it only seems to matter at the end when a full bushido is needed, this can be obtained however on the last level by beating up a couple of guards with a few kicks & punches. Therefore you might as well tear through the game slashing indiscriminately and saving a few of your lives. This game is let down in the gameplay department. Firstly, the movement of the characters is different than in all the other games/versions. Now they move in straight lines in one of four directions including the main character. That's right, gone is the excellent control system that made the others feel so good and move so well, gone are the days of drifting gently up the screen whilst walking from left to right. These nice and unique subtleties have been replaced by a rather amusing plodding style of movement and when the Ninja stops & stands still, he just stops and resets to his standard standing posture. Gone is the ability to gracefully stop mid step and elegantly rotate. Plod plod plod goes our Ninja 3 hero.
In conclusion this is a tough game that's, at times, a little unfair, the stepping stone jumping that will have annoyed some people in Ninja Remix is back with a vengeance in Ninja 3 more annoying than ever before, though only on one screen thankfully. I have to say that, apart from the bugs, Ninja 3 on the C64 pushed the machine to its limits, maybe a little beyond. It doesn't do the same on the Amiga.
The graphics have improved a lot on Ninja Remix, the sound is also very good but everything else has gone varying distances in the other direction. The Amiga CD 32's abillities were unused. The first flop on the Amiga CD 32. Shame.