The player controls an Iga ninja named Kage, and he has to rescue a princess named Kiri from an evil shinobi clan. Kage is armed with a kodachi shortsword and an unlimited supply of shurikens, and can also jump ridiculously high. Kage must fight his way through a forest, a waterfront, and a temple to defeat the villains and rescue Kiri, and then do it all over again with faster enemies and a new color palette to reflect the changing of the seasons.
More than two decades later, in 2008, Taito and Lancarse released The Legend of Kage 2 for the Nintendo DS, published by Taito's new parent company, Square Enix, outside of Japan. The basic plot of Kage 2 is mostly the same as in the first game - Kage is still fighting to rescue Kiri (now called "Kirihime") from the villains Yoshi ("Yoshiro") and Yuki ("Yukinosuke") - but now Kage has a new ally in the kusarigama-wielding Chihiro.
Compare and contrast Mirai Ninja, yet another ninja-themed arcade game with similar gameplay.
Tropes applicable to both games:
The first game provides examples of:
- Damsel in Distress: Princess Kiri, who gets captured a total of four times.
- Dual Wielding: Kage wields a pair of short blades, only one of which he ever attacks with.
- Highly-Visible Ninja: All of them.
- Kung Fu-Proof Mook: Red ninjas are immune to swords, and fire wizards are immune to stars.
- One-Hit-Point Wonder: Get hit once by a stray shuriken, sword or fireball, and you die.
- Parrying Bullets: Your sword has a pitifully short range, so it's much more useful for blocking enemy shurikens than trying to fight them up close.
- Playing with Fire: Fire wizards throw fireballs.
- Smart Bomb: The scrolls
- Spiritual Successor: Demon Sword for the NES.
The second game provides examples of:
- Action Girl: Chihiro.
- The Battle Didn't Count: You can take no damage and wreck him in under a minute, but you will still be shown as being exhausted and Yukinosuke smugly fine after your first battle with him.
- Berserk Button: Ayame does not like to be interrupted.
- Big Bad: Yoshiro.
- Blade Below the Shoulder: Hanzo.
- Damsel in Distress: Princess Kiri, again.
- Dark Action Girl: Kaede is a straight-up version, while her sisters provide with variations such as the bomb-throwing Koume and the magic orb using Ayame.
- Doppelgänger Attack: You are capable of doing this, as is Yoshiro.
- The Dragon: Yukinosuke, who is also... The Rival for both Chihiro and Kage.
- Dual Wielding: Except this time, it's Yukinosuke that's doing it, not Kage.
- Evil Counterpart: Not so much for Chihiro, Yukinosuke is this for Kage.
- Evil Old Folks: Yojubo.
- Flaming Sword: Kage - Yukinosuke gets the version with a Faux Flame.
- Happily Adopted: None of them are related by blood, but that does not matter one bit to them.
- The Heartless: Yoshiro's demonic powers were born from the restless and resentful spirits of the innocent people that were killed during the chaos of the Sengoku Period.
- Highly-Visible Ninja: All of them, just like in the first game.
- Impossibly-Low Neckline: Justified - you can actually see straps that tie Ayame's kimono's neckline to a choker on her neck to keep it from falling all the way.
- Large Ham: Hanzo at the end, which is especially hilarious in Chihiro's route, since he's clearly just hamming it up jost for the sake of being hammy.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: Realizing their master Yoshiro is depending on them to hold the player off as much as possible, the Three Sisters become a lot more serious in their triple team battle.
- Lighter and Softer: Chihiro's story is noticeably more light-hearted than Kage's. For example: the Three Sisters survive; Princess Kiri is able to bluff Hanzo into not killing her, in contrast to Kage being forced to strike him down in his story and go on the run with her; and there are just generally more comedic moments between Chihiro and the Three Sisters.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Chihiro is actually Princess Kiri's younger sister, who was left with the Iga Ninjas to raise, but only the latter remembers this at first.
- Miko: Kaede dresses in a hakama similar to that of a miko, barring the short shorts.
- Mind over Matter: Yoshiro fights with bronze swords launched using telekinesis.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Yoshiro.
- Paper Master: Kaede uses traditional Japanese paper talisman/familiars called shikigami in battle.
- Plucky Girl: Chihiro never gives up in her quest to rescue Princess Kiri, even when way over her head against an army of demonic goons on what is her first real mission as a kunoichi.
- Physical God: Princess Kiri, although she doesn't seem to be very good at defending herself from kidnappers.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Three Sisters - Ayame, Kaede, and Koume.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Not in terms of personality, really, but Yukinosuke and Kage provide the visual equivalent with ice powers and blue color theme for the former, fire powers and red color theme for the latter, and otherwise identical designs.
- The Unfought: Despite his cool design and antagonistic nature revealed later on, you never fight Hanzo.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Both Kage and Yukinosuke.
- Walking the Earth: After finding out that the Tokugawa Shogunate intends on having Princess Kiri killed, Kage renounces his loyalty to them and goes on the run with the princess.
- Worthy Opponent: What Yukinosuke and the player character deem each other to be after their first fight.
- Zigzag Paper Tassel: Kaede uses this to command her shikigami.