By Spencer . January 9, 2007 . 11:46am
After our interview with Nich Maragos, I spent some more time playing Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja. Four bosses later I’ve got a hang of how Izuna works. I’ve mentioned the rogue-like mechanics before where the entire game is played on a matrix. Once you make a move all of the enemies make theirs. The dungeons of Izuna are randomly generated, but they always have a generous selection of talismans and items to keep you going. Once you use a talisman it’s gone so having plenty around you makes dungeons easier to get through. The ashikase talisman is useful if you’ve got a healthy supply of kunai or shuriken. When you use that you have a chance to anchor enemies to the ground, which is perfect if you’re planning to use your ranged weapons. Gouka is one of the best attack talismans, when you use this you unleash a blast of fire that hits the whole screen. Gouka easily does four times Izuna’s unarmed attack damage, which makes it a necessity against bosses. The fukugen talisman repairs your weapon or armor from breaking and can save you lots of money instead of going to repair a weapon. However, the most useful talisman is probably the fukusei one, which lets you replicate another talisman in your inventory. Save these to make more kikan talismans so you can teleport from dungeons or reppu talismans to push enemies away with a blast of wind.
Talismans also have another purpose you can attach them to your weapon. Each weapon or armor can affix a certain number of talismans, but you can’t just stick anything on your sword. You’re limited by the amount of SP your equipment has. If you add talismans that are over you’re weapons SP capacity your weapon will break. Early on customization is limited since your weapons don’t have a lot of SP. You can only affix defense or attack boosts until you start hording talismans that boost your weapons maximum SP. Later on you can add status effects like paralysis, knockback and teleportation where you switch places with an enemy. There are two weapons types of weapons I’ve found so far swords and claws. Swords only have three talismans slots, but you can equip an armguard with ten slots for defense. The other option is choosing a claw, which has ten talisman slots, but you can’t equip an armguard. Some claws have built in special abilities that make sacrificing the armguard worthwhile. The baki claw can make enemies fall asleep, the sword defender lowers sword damage and the dragon claw unleashes a blast of flame if you’re at full HP.
Something I haven’t touched on too much is the story. Izuna is in a rural village where her crew angers the gods. You’re on a quest to get orbs to save Shino-sis from acting cold, her Grandboss’s health and Mitsumoto (the girl crazy ninja) from freaking out. Besides being longer each dungeon has new challenges. The third dungeon is a fire level and it introduces traps. If Izuna steps into one of these you could end up surrounding if you trip a demon trap or get an attack boost if you step into an excite trap. If you want to avoid traps Izuna can take a light pill, which temporarily grants her the ability to fly. The next dungeon after that is an ice dungeon where Izuna has limited vision. Even though Izuna doesn’t use touch controls, the dual screen system works out perfectly for the game. The top screen has important map information, which leaves the bottom screen for gameplay. You’re going to have to pay attention to the map a lot since enemies that you might not see can appear on the map. If you catch them early you can start throwing shuriken or plan an escape route. So far Izuna is still fun to play, even though it’s repetitive. It’s fun like how Diablo was fun, you’re always closer to making your ultimate weapon and the random dungeons mean each time you replay a level you’re getting a different experience.