Flashback 1987: Taito steals its way onto NES

The arcade giant makes a stealthy, and somewhat janky, Nintendo debut in the U.S.

It didn't occur to me until after I had completed this week's video, but there's a common thread that links Taito's first two NES games beyond the obvious emphasis on verticality: The stars of both these games are silent assassins who will steal your stuff and kill you dead.

That's not really the theme of Legend of Kage, but the hero is meant to be a ninja — even if he dresses in a sexy summer short robe year-round rather than traditional black pajamas. He tosses shuriken, swings a short blade, and can use magical bug-zapper scrolls. He's presented in the "language" of pop culture ninja, which is to say a guy who leaps around slaughter enemies in broad daylight, but in truth ninja tended to be operatives who spent more time observing from the shadows and killing silently by night. He's a spy, in other words.

And so, too, is the hero of the second game here: Elevator Action. There's no ambiguity about Agent Otto's nature, though. He's definitely a modern take on the Cold War spy with his natty attire and deadly accuracy with a service sidearm.

Of course, the other thread linking these games is that they're a bit on the "meh" side by comparison to other 1987 NES releases. But, hey, it's a start. By the end of Taito's U.S. run, they'd be delivering incredible games like Little Samson and Power Blade 2. Not that it does you any good to know about those games now. Have you seen how much they sell for? They cost literally 100 times as much as Elevator Action and Legend of Kage. These games may not be amazing, but they're definitely more than 1% as good as Power Blade 2. So bless these old arcade conversions for offering a much better buy for your money.