The Last Ninja: uncovering details about the demo

If you head over to the GTW page on LN1, you will be able to read the following statement about the non-playable demo that was circulating in the 80s:

Recently in 2021, we have added the Zzap Sampler tape […] (thanks to The Last Ninja archives) to the downloads, as it contains a non-playable preview of The Last Ninja that features a number of sprites and backgrounds which never featured in the final game. There is also a slightly different game panel too. I wonder if there is any way of making the demo playable, so other screens could be uncovered?

Let’s cover the above two points:

  • There are a few sprites that don’t occur in the game, specifically an additional frame in kicking animations, albeit the demo doesn’t make use of them. As per locations they are almost the same as the game’s. As an example, the one with the dragon is missing a few rocks and the one where nunchaku are picked up has a different design behind the body lying on the ground.
  • One doesn’t need to make the demo playable to uncover all screens: Integrator 2012 can be used for that! Unfortunately only the 4 locations shown in the demo are available (at index 7, 8, 18, and 20).

As per second point above, I had to patch the build of Integrator 2012 for coping with the data from the demo and I had to change a byte in the latter. Therefore, I made a new Windows build available, inclusive of data from the demo at this link.

Here’s a screenshot of the location with the dragon used in the demo:

Integrator 2012: one location from the LN demo by Luigi Di Fraia
Integrator 2012: one location from the LN demo

One can also appreciate that the available locations are exactly at the same index where they are in the finished game. Furthermore, most objects are available in the demo. This suggests that for the demo some data might actually have been removed from the level design file that was in progress.

About Luigi Di Fraia

I am a Senior DevOps Engineer so I get to work with the latest technologies and open-source software. However, in my private time I enjoy retro-computing.
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