The Legend of Kage is a 1985 side-scrolling hack-and-slash arcade game developed and published by Taito. The game was released in Japan first and then Europe. In 1986, The Legend of Kage also got an American release. Originally, the game was released as an arcade game, but after the initial success of the coin-operated arcade machines, Taito decided to explore a home release as well. Over the years, The Legend of Kage has been ported to consoles like the Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Famicom/NES, MSX, X1, and ZX Spectrum. Re-releases of The Legend of Kage have popped up on various consoles over the years too. A PlayStation Portable remake collection also came out in 2006.
Despite the game’s age, gamers can still find The Legend of Kage easily. The Nintendo eShop has a re-released version of the game available for the Nintendo Switch for $7.99. It’s no surprise that there’s a Switch version of the game. Nintendo has ported this arcade classic to several of their consoles, including the Wii, the Wii U, and the Nintendo 3DS. For players who want a chance to play the game without paying for it, they can find it online. Just Googling the game will give players several options. For example, gamers can find The Legend of Kage on Retrogames.cz, a website built for classic games. Players can play any of Retrogames’ games right on their browser without a download. Retrogames is a great source for all sorts of classic games like Thexder and Cool Spot.
As an arcade unit, The Legend of Kage did well. Unfortunately, at the time of home release, The Legend of Kage didn’t receive many positive reviews. The home release was heavily criticized for being too similar to Konami’s Shao-lin’s Road, which came out earlier the same year. It also received criticism for being too expensive, bad gameplay handling, and poor graphics and sound quality. Today’s publications haven’t been much nicer to the game. IGN rates The Legend of Kage a 2 out of 10 and calls it painful. Modern gamers seem to take much better to this classic hack-and-slash game, though. 95% of Google users who rated the game claim to like it.
The Legend of Kage Premise
In The Legend of Kage, players get to play the title character, Kage, an Iga ninja also known as “Shadow”. Kage undergoes a quest to save Princess Kiri, the Shogun’s daughter. Princess Kiri has been kidnapped and detained by a warlord named Yoshi and his partner, an evil samurai named Yuki. Kage’s quest forces him to rescue the princess multiple times depending on which version of the game the player has. Originally, Kage has to save her twice, but in the FC/NES version, he has to save her three times.
Unlike some other arcade games of the time, which had little or no plot at all, The Legend of Kage put in a little bit of effort to have an ongoing story. The plot is a simple hero sets off on a journey to save a kidnapped princess story, but it still has one. That said, most of The Legend of Kage still emphasizes the gameplay over the story and character development. Kage fights with a Kodachi shortsword and he also has an infinite supply of shuriken.
Kage’s journey takes him through a forest and into a secret passageway. When he emerges from the passage, he needs to scale up the fortress wall and finally enter the castle itself. In the castle, he’ll be able to save Princess Kiri. Kage will have to do this two or three times to win the game. Every time he rescues the princess, the season will change. They cycle between summer, autumn, and winter.
Players can level up by collecting crystal balls. Every time they take a crystal ball, Kage’s clothes will change color to indicate that he’s received a power-up. These power-ups provide a speed boost or bigger shuriken. This will result in Kage’s red clothes turning either green or orange to indicate which power-up he has. If Kage takes a hit while green or orange, he won’t die, but he will lose the power-up and revert to his red outfit. This sort of power-down mechanic is famously implemented in the Super Mario Bros. franchise.
The Legend of Kage Main Characters
Many games of the mid to late 1980s didn’t feature characters. In Gradius, for example, the player doesn’t play as a person, they only control a spaceship called the Vic Viper. For the time, this was a common trend. Games were entirely focused on the gameplay aspect of gaming and hadn’t quite developed main protagonists and detailed stories yet. In this way, The Legend of Kage is a bit of a standout. Not only does it feature the title character as the main protagonist, but it also features several supporting characters as well.
- Kage: Kage is the title character of The Legend of Kage and the main playable protagonist. Kage is an Iga ninja equipped with a Kodachi shortsword and an unlimited supply of shuriken. The entire story focuses on Kage’s journey as he fights through multiple environments to save Princess Kiri from her kidnappers. Players don’t know much else about Kage, or any of the characters, for that matter. While The Legend of Kage does include several prominent characters, there is next to no character development for any of them.
- Princess Kiri: Princess Kiri is the Shogun’s daughter and she’s kidnapped by the warlord Yoshi and his accomplice, Yuki. Kage’s sole purpose is to find and save Princess Kiri. To beat the game, Kage has to save her two or three times depending on the version of the game.
- Yoshi: Yoshi is an evil warlord who players can assume opposes the Shogun and wishes to usurp him. Yoshi, along with his accomplice, Yuki, kidnaps the Shogun’s daughter, Princess Kiri. Yoshi is one of the two main antagonists of the game.
- Yuki: Yuki is the second Legend of Kage antagonist and he’s an evil ninja. He’s both a parallel and a foil to Kage himself. Yuki helps Yoshi kidnap Princess Kiri and hold her hostage as they plot the downfall of the Shogun together.
The Legend of Kage Titles in the Series
The Legend of Kage didn’t spawn much of a franchise, unlike some of the other classic arcade games of the time. Although the game has been remade and re-released multiple times, it only has one sequel. Over the years, some bundles and compilations included the game, like Taito Legends 2.
- The Legend of Kage (1985)
- Taito Legends Power Up (2006) – A PlayStation Portable bundle that includes the original game and a 3D remake of The Legend of Kage.
- The Legend of Kage 2 (2008)
- Arcade Archives THE LEGEND OF KAGE (2019) – A re-release for the Nintendo Switch.
The Legend of Kage Cheats & Cheat Codes
In the 1980s and ’90s, developers built in-game cheats, cheat codes, and exploits into their games. This was such a common practice likely due to how hard some of these games could be. Most games didn’t have a way to save, so players needed to finish the game in a single sitting. If a player ran out of lives, they’d have to start all over. Many games had cheats to jump to specific levels as a starting point. There were also cheats for immortality, infinite lives, and various other power-ups to help players complete various games.
The Legend of Kage does have a few cheats, but not to the extent that some of the other games of the time do. Please keep in mind that this game came out in 1985. After almost 40 years, there’s a chance that these cheats won’t always work on modern consoles.
Cheats for The Legend of Kage (Commodore 64 Version)
- Enable Cheat Mode: Hold G + A + E and press V
- Unlimited lives: Load or reset the game and use this BASIC command
- Enter: POKE 13611,96 SYS 2344
Cheats for The Legend of Kage (NES Version)
- On Controller 1: Hold A + B + SELECT + START
- On Controller 2: Hold A + B
- Hit Reset
- When the title screen starts scrolling, let go of the buttons
- Press A on Controller I and press B on Controller II at the same time
- This should grant the player 10 lives if done correctly
- Stay in the moat water
- Kill 7 ninjas with Kage’s sword
- A blue creature will spawn and fly across the screen
- Chase the creature and catch it
- This will reward the player with a 1-Up
- Players can do this at every moat scene
The Legend of Kage Cheats FAQ
When Googling “The Legend of Kage cheats”, most of the related FAQs ask about the anime and manga series, Naruto, which is completely unrelated. Searching “The Legend of Kage” offers a few relevant questions, though.
How many levels are in The Legend of Kage?
The Legend of Kage is a pretty short game that only has four levels. The levels are the forest area, the hidden passageway, scaling the fortress’ walls, and the castle. Players will keep playing through these levels in different seasons. The game keeps going until the player loses all of their lives.
How do you play The Legend of Kage?
- LEFT and RIGHT Arrows: Move back and forth
- UP Arrow: Jump and climb up climbable items like trees and poles
- DOWN Arrow: Duck and climb down climbable items like trees and poles
- A: Use Kage’s sword
- B: Throw Kage’s shuriken
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Back to the Retro Games / Taito.