Onore no Shinzuru Michi wo Yuke
PlayStation Portable

Published in 2009 by From Software, having been developed by Silicon Studio, Onore no Shinzuru Michi wo Yuke is in fact a massively updated PSP version of a Flash game called Cursor*10, developed in 2008 by Yoshio Ishii. For convenience we’ll refer to the update as Shadow Ninja, which isn’t really a translation of the Japanese title, but would probably make a decent localized name, if any North American or European publisher had decided to publish this outside of Japan (they haven’t). The title actually translates to something like “Go the hell the way you believe in!”, or something like that – it’s a rather impolite and direct command. With Shadow Ninja being steeped in Japanese culture, containing heavy emphasis on Ukiyo-e artwork and similarly appropriate music, its release in the West never happened. Even so it is an ingenious concept backed by some beautiful aesthetics and, despite some fairly major flaws later on, is still worth looking at alongside its Flash originator.

The concept of Onore (and its Flash precursor) is simple: you are given 10 ninjas (lives) and need to traverse 16 floors, each connected by stairs and filled with various objects to increase points, traps to steal lives, plus switches, keys and other hotspots used to activate the next set of stairs. Think of each floor as an individual puzzle, which sometimes interacts with another floor through use of switches or a key which needs shlepping to a lock three floors up. Each ninja though only has roughly 60 seconds to do his thing, before that “session” ends and you take control of a fresh ninja. As the sessions increase up until the final 10th, all the previously used ninjas will continuously replay their lives – and here lies the puzzle element, since some ninjas’ sole purpose will be to stand on a switch thereby allowing those that follow to access whatever’s now unlocked. Others will need to disable traps by impaling themselves on spikes, kamikaze style. In this way it joins the small genre of temporal-themed puzzle games, alongside Echoshift and TimeSlip.


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