Kasumi Ninja [Jaguar – Beta]

Kasumi Ninja [Jaguar – Beta]

As we can read on Wikipedia, Kasumi Ninja is a 1994 one-on-one fighting game developed by Hand Made Software and published by Atari Corporation for the Atari Jaguar. The game went through several changes before it was released to the public. Kasumi Ninja was previewed approximately 8 months before its original release by a virtual game magazine distributed via CD. In this preview, Kasumi Ninja had a very heavy story element to it. Beating the game with each character would produce a specific key which, when combined, would unlock the gates to the final confrontation with Lord Gyaku.

This method of gameplay would have required the player to invest more time in order to complete the story mode. Players would have to navigate the labyrinth to find their opponents, and characters would be unlocked for play only as they were defeated by Senzo and Habaki.

Many of the backgrounds and character designs went through several revisions. For example, Alaric’s default outfit had red trim, as opposed to blue. Habaki was garbed in black, but this was changed to represent Lord Gyaku. A fourth palette-swap ninja, garbed in blue, was seen in previews but apparently never made it to the final game.

The final game became a rush job. Pressuring the development team to get Kasumi Ninja out in a “timely fashion” (holiday season 1994), Kasumi’s story mode was dropped in favor of the fighting concept sans storyline. The labyrinth exploration and key gathering concept was condensed, but the character unlocking system remained intact. Video from viMasterJag’s YouTube Channel!

Thanks to Adam for the contribution!


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18 thoughts on “Kasumi Ninja [Jaguar – Beta]

  1. Ross Sillifant

    I’d wager the revisions in part were due to feedback on early screens (took flak for looking bland etc) plus producer Ted Tahquechi pushing for a larger cartridge than Atari originally planned?.

  2. Ross Sillifant

    Comment from Rob Nicholson regarding compression issues K.N and Doom had on Jaguar:

    To get all of Doom into a 2Mb cartridge, compression has to be used (bit
    like PKZIP). Data has to be decompressed into RAM at the start of each
    level. This takes time – even when using the Jaguar’s GPU. Kasumi Ninja
    has the same “problem”.

    Regards, Rob @ Hand Made Software Ltd.

  3. Ross Sillifant

    Wikipedia is kind of correct saying game is named after it’s setting..Kasumi Island.

    HMS went with the name Kasumi as it’s based on
    the Japanese definition:

    Mist depicted in various types of *yamato-e やまと絵 usually spreading horizontally in bands. Kasumi appears not only as a pictorial element but has definite functional purposes. In landscape painting, kasumi can divide the foreground, middle ground and background to create depth. In narrative painting, particularly in *emaki 絵巻, kasumi can suggest changes of scene and passage of time. In Heian style works, kasumi had a soft and transparent quality, lightly colored in indigo blue. From the 13c artists began to depict mist bands with a cleanly rounded head, often crisply outlined in white or black ink *sumi 墨. This kind of mist is called suyarigasumi すやり霞 or yarigasumi 槍霞, lit. spear mist, to differentiate it from the amorphous and translucent kasumi. The tendency for stylization and decorativeness accelerated from the Muromachi period, reaching a peak of resplendence in the Edo period when gold pigment and gold foil were used in abundance to depict mist and clouds (see *kinji 金地).

    The island is obscured by mist..Cue Kasumi Island.

    This came from HMS themselves.

    Really shame they ran with this game.

    The ideas and plans they had for other Jaguar projects, not well known could of fared so much better.

  4. Ross Sillifant

    HMS did consider a Jaguar CD version of the original Kasumi Ninja.

    Here’s HMS discussing the merits of Cart Vs CD on Jaguar :

    HMS: KN, everything is stored on cart in compressed
    format. We decompress and download everything into RAM. We’re just using
    the ROM as a form of disk. The only difference between a CD version of KN
    and the cart version would be a) longer time to load in each level and b)
    lots more backdrops and characters.

    Jeff Minter discussing the game when he saw a preview of it:

    There are *definitely* gonna be some ultraviolent death moves. I saw
    the same version of KN at Devcon, the programmers were there and for some
    reason the Fatalities on the ECTS version were disabled. Apparently
    there’s this scene where someone’s head explodes; there will certainly
    be good fatalities in the game.

    Reassuring the gore-fans,

    — Y a K

  5. Ross Sillifant

    More Minter:
    Just got back from Devcon… AVP is looking very-nearly-there… saw an
    early JagDOOM version, better colour than the PC version for sure, slow
    at the moment (just a quick port to get it in the Jag, doesn’t use any
    special Jag features yet, mostly running on the 68K alone) but should be
    25fps when finished… yummy.  Kasumi Ninja looks good, I like the way
    the spatters of blood which fall on the floor stay there and don’t just
    disappear, the whole round; there’s a cool backdrop of Arizona-type mesas
    which scrolls in parallax.  Also saw a demo of Jag FMV – bloody hell!  3
    minutes of the climax of Jaws, where he blows the shark up, excellent
    quality, 30FPS, and takes about 300K!!!  And this is *without* MPEG!

    Cool, cool, Atari are getting things right!


  6. Ross Sillifant

    Martin Kilner of HMS popped up on YT to say he did work on the backgrounds and animation for this, but the tools avaiable, dpaint and coral draw, limited him to so few colours,he described himself as a 2bit artist.

  7. Ross Sillifant

    David liu aka The Dragon on 3DO Way Of The Warrior giving his thoughts at the time:

    I would like to follow up the issue of WOTW vs. KN, just to
    set things a little straighter.  KN, like Way, is a work in
    progress.  It is conceivable (although this might require a lot
    of work) that KN could emerge an excellent fighting game.

    However, I stand firm by my initial point about the difficulties
    of cart-based fighting games matching up to CD-based ones.

    NOT INCLUDING music, video, etc., each level of Way occupies
    the full 3MBytes (24 MBits) of RAM.  In fact, taking out all
    the music, video, and what not, the game is still on the order
    of TWO HUNDRED MEGABITS of graphics and code that wont compress
    all that well without loss.  I’ll be very generous from the
    programming pt of view and say that you can compress Way to
    50% of its size.  This still requires that you fit Way in its
    INCOMPLETE STATE into a 100-MBit cart.  Do I smell a
    Neo-Geo-priced cart here….???

    I honestly think it would be, er… challenging to squeeze Way
    into a $50 cart without loss.  And sure, one could argue that
    you could just take away some of the backgrounds, characters,
    sound fx, etc….

    To these people, I say:  I have this great Gameboy fighting game
    called “Two Deaf Stickmen Duke it Out in a White Featureless Room”
    with perfect gameplay…but something seems to be lacking…



  8. Mr Ross Sillifant

    Jim Gregory was kind enough to give his account of the game:

    Jim Gregory: The original Kasumi was also crippled by Atari.  Because of the boss’s kids’ input, they removed many elements and characters.  They halved the cart size that we could use, again wiping out many months of work.  Oh dear me… we hired a host of actors and had a new 3-D engine set up for a superb CD version of Kasumi 2.  It was a fantastic storyline and was WAY ahead of anything else.  Many thousands of pounds were to be lost on that project when they were closed down by Time Warner.

    When I chatted to him many months ago and it can be added to the comments by the other 2 HMS sources.


    New information regarding HMS has come to light and paints the company in a rather different light.

    Further investigation is being carried out and hopefully can be shared,so people can make up their own minds.

  9. Ross Sillifant

    With no less than 3 seperate sources now, coming forward with fresh insights into Handmade Software and how things were run within the company..I cannot in good faith, promote a single persons view of events.

    So the online interview with Jim Gregory featured on Scott Stilphen’s website (which is where my quotes come from ) will be pulled.

  10. Ross Sillifant

    A few more sources from the development team have offered their thoughts:

    Kasumi Ninja wasn’t a particularly glorious moment for me.” was one quote..
    “Did some stunts on the green across from the building, we filmed some walks runs and jumps with my leather jacket on…it hurt!”..another.

    “I was promised this amazing music system from Atari for KN on the Jaguar so I wrote loads of cool music and then it turned out the system couldn’t handle it and Atari’s code was dreadful.”..the final quote.

    I won’t name them as it was hard enough getting the information.


  11. Ross Sillifant

    Additional sources from within Handmade Software have come forward to warn us to take anything Jim Gregory claims with a very large pinch of salt.

    There were internal conflicts within the company with staff being paid poorly..late and not at all.

    Teams were made to create mock up screens and tech demos to fool press and publishers just to keep money rolling in.

    Jim lacked direction.

    Development of Kasumi Ninja described as a nightmare.

    Internal name for company was Halfmade Software

  12. Ross Sillifant

    Jon Correl of Atari said of Kasumi Ninja II that it had better be good as cost to date at start of 1995 on it had been $128.

    Doesn’t look like Atari had the same level of confidence in it Jim Gregory had…

  13. Ross Sillifant

    Joe Sousa of the belief the failings of Kasumi Ninja lay at feet of HMS, not Atari

    “I did work extensively on Kasumi ninja and I can say we should take the blame for that. Pete wiseman did what we told him to do. “

  14. Ross Sillifant

    You talk of the game being rushed..

    Atari flew the main coder over to their HQ to finish the game, plan being it would only take 7 days work, he ended up working long hours for 4 weeks in order to finish it,went out on a heavy drinking spree after,returned to Atari H.Q and trashed the ladies toilets :-))

  15. Ross Sillifant

    Correction to the above:

    The Kasumi Ninja coder spent 2 months at Atari Corp, finishing the game,not 1.

    He left hating the Tramiels and his time working on the game, describing himself as a very bitter Atari developer.

    He said the Tramiela had screwed every developer that still had faith in them, every game took 3X as long to develop as it should have as Atari demanded changes to months of previously approved graphics at a whim and demanded game performance beyond that the Jaguar could deliver, as Atari believed it had the power of 10 super computers.

  16. Ross Sillifant

    So where’s Kasumi Ninja?
    – Released from test on Wednesday, I should know as I went out on the
    celebratory piss with the Kasumi Krew that night!

    Classic Jeff Minter there…

  17. Ross Sillifant

    Peter Wiseman




    Listen up dudes,

    Three years ago, I got my hands on the most awesome development kit
    imaginable. Atari Jaguar; and it had a great future, hardware that kicked
    the megadrive and SNES into orbit.

    Unfortunately, the Tramiels f#cked everything up by screwing with every single
    developer that still had faith (or were blind) to Atari’s un-cooporative
    development support. End result – every single game that Atari produced took
    three times as long to develop as it should have. While Atari were fucking
    around, Sega and Sony popped out their mega-machines and flushed the Jaguar
    down the toilet. Believe me, Atari had their chance, and they blew it. They
    had Jaguar ready and waiting a year before it hit the shops and all they had
    to beat were the Megashi#e and Sneze. Unfortunately, they screwed up the
    software by poor (not strong enough a word) development support. Atari
    repeatedly altered software specificaions without warning, insisted on changes
    to months of previously approved graphics design and demanded game performance
    that simply was not possible on the current hardware, believing they had a
    machine the power of ten super computers. Developer support was non-existent.
    That’s why, after three years, Jaguar owners still don’t have access to more
    games than the Oric. Believe me, ‘cos I know the truth my friends; I worked as
    a developer for Atari for two years and it was the worst two years of my life.
    I saw a potential gold mine flushed straight down the bog; well out of my
    control. Don’t blame anyone else for the demise of Jaguar and Atari other than
    the Tramiels. I know what I’m talking about.

    A very bitter ex-Atari developer – Peter Wiseman

    Atari 1975 (Nolan Bushnell) Atari 1996 (Dick Face Tramiels R.I.H)
    Have faith in the man who founded the Atari legend; not those who destroyed it

    Sell your Jaguars NOW, ‘cos if you think your going to get support from the
    Tramiels then you probably still believe in Santa Clause. Any further Jaguar
    releases are purely for legal reasons !

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