Video Game: Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja

An RPG big enough for a man—but you get to play it as a hot chick!
—A line from a magazine ad for the game.

Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja is a roguelike RPG for the Nintendo DS developed by Success and published in the US by Atlus. A young ninja named Izuna is looking for a place to find home after her clan's old master fired them, believing ninja no longer have a place in the modern world. They eventually settle on an out-of-the-way village, when Izuna's "Grandboss", Gen-An, wanders away from the village and into the realm of the gods. In the process of rescuing him, she manages to make several gods very angry, and has to retrieve several magical orbs to help the now-cursed natives from various afflictions and bring them back to normal.

A sequel, entitled Izuna 2: The Unemployed Ninja Returns, was released in 2007 in Japan and 2008 in the US. Shino, Izuna's friend, disappears in the midst of a wedding, so Izuna goes on a quest to find her. Izuna finds her, only to discover that Shino was looking for her sister, Shizune, so Izuna and her group decide to help search for Shizune. But by looking for Shizune, Izuna angers a group of foreign gods, who attempt to prevent her from reuniting with Shizune.

The Izuna games contain examples of:

  • Animal Motifs: Five of the gods in the first game. Shuuchi's a snake, Fuuka a bird, Kagen a bear, Suiren a fish, and Utsuho a frog. It's implied that Takushiki used to be something; he won't say what, but invites you to guess.
    Takushiki: "It's likely you'll figure it out. Although, it's just as likely you won't."
  • Bare Your Midriff: Shino, surprisingly, in some of the official art for the first game. Apparently the purple undershirt was a late addition to her outfit. Utsuho also has a lot of midriff hanging out, though it's not obvious from the in-game art.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: Ichika, who wants a husband who is stronger than she is. The only problem is that she's way too strong. She does marry in the end, though.
  • Bishōnen: Utsuho and Hiyoshimaru. The second game gives us Abyss, as well as Mitsumoto, once his mask comes off.
  • Blow You Away: The Tengu can use wind attacks to transport you to a random part of the dungeon floor. The Reppu talisman also utilizes wind power, but it only blows enemies into walls. Naturally, Fuuka has these powers as well, since she's the wind goddess.
  • Breakable Weapons: Anything you find can be broken if used too much. Luckily, there's the Fukugen talisman to fix up weapons in dungeons, and the Blacksmith's shop outside of dungeons.
  • The Chew Toy: Mitsumoto, who gets on the receiving end of a lot of Izuna's teasing. Gen-An, too, no thanks to Izuna's meddling.
  • The Chosen One: In the second game, both Izuna and Shizune are revealed to be the only human beings capable of allowing gods to leave the areas where they are enshrined.
  • Combination Attack: A major addition to gameplay in Izuna 2. Certain combinations of characters can pull off unique and more powerful ones.
  • Continuing Is Painful: As expected of a roguelike, but much more forgiving than is traditional for the genre. Dying will only cost you your on-hand inventory and money—unless you stuck a Kikan talisman to equipment, which simply deposits the items in the Storehouse—not your experience.
  • Cool Big Sis: Shino to Izuna, and to Shizune in the second game. Corona in the second game is a Hot-Blooded Big Sis bordering on Mama Bear when she finds out that you "bullied" her younger siblings Stella and Alte. Izuna also describes Fuuka this way in the second game's manual.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Grimla in the second game is the goddess of death, but isn't particularly a bad person. Abyss is the god of darkness, but he's more of a Jerkass than outright evil.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: After Izuna beats the six Eastern gods in the first game, she is able to make them her party members in the second.
  • Degraded Boss: Sprite swaps of the six gods turn up as random encounters down in the Path of Trials. Way, way down.
  • Expy
    • Take one look at Baldur from the second game and try not to confuse him with Major Armstrong.
    • Shino's costume is somewhat reminiscent of Sheena's, but altered to play down her lack of breasts and focus on other features.
    • Izuna resembles Haruko Haruhara. She has the red suit, goggles, yellow scarf and personality.
  • Flunky Boss: All of them.
  • Genki Girl: Izuna, Shizune, and Suzume.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: Izuna wears a set of bizarre, triangular goggles, solely for the fact that Gen-An gave them to her, which make her look like some sort of ninja Cat Girl. She describes them to Kagen as "limited-edition Dutch glasses".
  • Gonk: Lord Mugen in the second game.
  • Gratuitous English: Shizune in the second game. Justified in that she spent many years in an (presumably) English-speaking country.
  • Heel-Face Turn: The Six Gods from the original game, though only one truly counted as a villain.
  • Heel Realization: After being defeated in the first game, Takushiki realizes how much of an asshole he's been.
  • Hero Antagonist/Punch Clock Villain: The five Gods under Takushiki in the first game, who go along with his Disproportionate Retribution plan only because they have to obey him.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: The Priest.
  • Hidden Eyes: Mitsumoto. However, a hidden event in Izuna 2 ends with his hood coming off. Shino does this a bit in the second game.
  • Highly Visible Ninja: Every ninja in these games.
  • Hot-Blooded: Kagen, the God of Fire (naturally). Izuna is a little bit Hot-Blooded herself.
  • Hot Springs Sequence: Hidden in the second game.
  • Idiot Hair: Several characters sport these. Tsubaki and Himiko are the most dramatic, but Sayuri has one too, and even Ina, who had normal hair in the first game, has picked up an ahoge in the second.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: Ume. In the second game, there are at least three elderly innkeepers in the various towns, all of whom share the name Ume and look and sound exactly alike.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: From the first game:
    Soubei: (on Izuna trying to flirt with him) "All I see is a snot-nosed brat!"
    Izuna: "I'm not snot-nosed!"
  • Item Crafting: Careful use of talismans and the Burn-In Flame/Equipment Shop will allow you to power up your weapons and armor to crazy levels. If you try to overload them, though, they'll break.
  • Jerkass
  • Joke Character: Mitsumoto. In the second game, his tag attacks are like Dan Hibiki took the Otoko Michi Up to Eleven.
  • Lampshade Hanging: One of the Izuna 2 comics—One too many questions—is an hilarious lampshading of world map-related RPG clichés.
  • Lethal Lava Land
  • Light Is Not Good: In the second game, half of the Western gods are associated with light (Baldur with light in general, Alte with moonlight, Stella with starlight, and Corona with sunlight), and yet not a one of them is the kind of person you could say is particularly "good". Baldur is something of a Brute, Alte and Stella are a pair of Jerkass Tricksters, and Corona has an overwhelming temper and is not likely to forgive a slight, especially if it involves her younger siblings.
  • Lost Forever: Certain photos in the second game, though fewer than you might think. An easy one to miss is Tsuki, the mysterious girl in Tsukikaze Village; you have only a short window to get her picture before you find out who she really is.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Mitsumoto and Lord Mugen.
  • Marathon Level: The Very Definitely Final Dungeon in the first game—the Singularity—is 40 floors deep, double more than that of the previous dungeon, culminating in a very tough battle with possessed Gen-An. And if that's not enough for you, each game also has a 99-floor bonus dungeon—which in true roguelike tradition kicks you back to level 1, with no weapons or items, every time you enter.
  • Meido: Shizune in the second game. Once she joins the party, she becomes something of a Ninja Maid, using the same tools as everybody else.
  • Miko: Tsubaki, who apparently is only a shrine maiden "on the side" (her main job is running the storage booth), but still wears her miko outfit all the time. At one point she asks Izuna to help with a ceremony, but Izuna quite understandably doesn't want to worship these particular gods.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Izuna finding and stealing the Sacred Gem from the shrine, at the start of the game, is what kicks off the whole plot. Though it turns out it was more than just her stealing the gem.
  • Ninja: Obviously.
  • Nintendo Hard: Easier than PC Roguelikes, but still harder than anything like Pokemon Mystery Dungeon. This was addressed in the second game with a number of additional features, the most prominent of which was allowing two player-characters to enter a dungeon at one time.
  • No Fourth Wall: Someone had lots of fun while writing this game.
    • Lampshaded in the online comics for the second game: see here, click on Boredom, and just go through the comic. Said comic also includes Mitsumoto *playing* Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja. Despite being in it. Ow.
  • Older Than They Look: All of the gods and goddesses in the series; but especially Suiren, the Goddess of Water in the first game, who looks like a child.
  • Palette Swap: All enemies have three "levels", each being a different colour and a different name, and higher levels being stronger than the lower ones. An enemy levels up when it defeats another enemy (a rare but not impossible event). Some of the three-level enemies even have double the speed of other enemies!
  • Punch Clock Villain: In both games, all the other bosses are just following the final one's orders.
  • Really 700 Years Old: All the gods.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Shino and Shizune, though they're both generally nice people.
  • Ronin: Ninja variant, hence the title of the series.
  • Rush Boss: The bosses in this series will kill you fast, so you'd better be ready to do the same to them. Use your items right and it won't be a problem.
  • Scary Scarecrows: They can even cause Curse status, which lowers the amount of experience you receive.
  • Shout-Out: There is an enemy, called Chibi Marimo, which upgrades into a Super Marimo if it defeats a mushroom enemy. The Super Marimo can do this again to further power up into a Rainbow Marimo. The first few times you encounter Chibi and Super Marimos, allowing them to power up will likely result in your death.
  • Underground Monkey: See Palette Swap.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss
    • Fuuka in the first game, since her special attack will put Izuna into the "confused" status if you get near her. Unless you've properly prepared items to take her on, she easily becomes That One Boss.
      • And if Fuuka doesn't wake you up, Kagen will. His special attack is a tremendous flurry of claw-swipes that you'll be very lucky to survive.
    • In the second game, the twins Alte and Stella are often cited, as is Corona.
  • We Buy Anything: Any store you walk into will happily accept anything you sell, no questions asked (other than the one to confirm the transaction).
  • Weapon of Choice: One of the major differences between characters in the second game is what they can work with from choices of swords, bracers, claws, bows, boots, throwing weapons, and dolls.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Ironically, the person closest to this is Anima, the Western goddess of life.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: In the first game, you'd think you've won after defeating Takushiki, as everyone in the village whose curses you fix congratulates you for saving them. However, there's still one path in Kamiari Village that has yet to be explored after that, which leads to the final storyline dungeon.

Alternative Title(s):

Izuna Legend Of The Unemployed Ninja, Izuna