Izuna legend of the unemployed ninja switch Review


Izuna Legend of the Unemployed Ninja is a roguelike dungeon crawler RPG originally released for the Nintendo DS in 2007. Developed by Success Corporation, the game centers around Izuna, an unemployed ninja, and her adventures exploring dangerous dungeons and battling menacing monsters. After over 15 years, Izuna is making her return in an updated version for Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam. This new version, simply titled IZUNA, brings the classic dungeon crawling adventure to modern platforms with updated graphics and quality of life improvements.

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As a dungeon crawler RPG, Izuna Legend of the Unemployed Ninja focuses on venturing into procedurally generated dungeons, defeating enemies in turn-based combat, collecting loot, and making it out alive. The roguelike elements means death is permanent, with players losing all items and progress upon being defeated.

The basic gameplay loop involves selecting a dungeon from the guild to explore, then navigating grid-based levels battling monsters in turn-based combat. Battles take place on a separate screen, with players choosing attacks, skills, items, or defending each turn. Positioning and turn order is key, as attacking enemies from behind deals extra damage.

Defeating enemies earns XP to level up and loot to equip. Dungeons get progressively more difficult the deeper you go, so balance is needed between pushing further for greater rewards and retreating to avoid a lethal fight. Unique to Izuna is the ability to take NPC companions into dungeons for assistance, each with their own skills and abilities.

While death results in losing everything, Izuna does allow saving the game at any point. This means you can save before major battles or when collecting significant loot, adding welcome flexibility. The game also features a Town section, home to shops, NPCs, and story events between dungeon runs.

New Features in the Switch and PC Release

While faithful to the original, the new IZUNA release on Switch and PC adds a variety of new features and improvements:

  • Updated graphics and visuals – Higher resolution graphics and visual effects bring the pixel art world of Izuna to life. The visuals retain the signature sprite-based style while adding more detail and polish.
  • Quality of life improvements – Several tweaks make playing smoother, such as faster battle animations, easier inventory management, and automatic item pick-up.
  • New dungeon designs – Along with returning dungeons, new procedural dungeon layouts have been added for more variety.
  • Expanded ending – The ending has been expanded with additional story content and animated cutscenes.
  • Leaderboards – Global leaderboards allow players to compare high scores and compete with others.
  • Achievements – Steam and Switch achievements provide additional challenges and goals.
  • Accessibility options – Options for text size, camera zoom, and performance settings open the experience to more players.

While hardcore fans will appreciate the faithfulness to the original, new players can enjoy quality of life improvements that make this accessible for modern gamers. The new content expands the experience while retaining the classic, challenging dungeon crawling action.

The World and Story of Izuna

The world of Izuna is set in the fantasy land of Kunlun, where humans and yokai (spirits) live together. The story follows Izuna, an unemployed ninja who one day arrives in the town of Shinozaki to make a living exploring dungeons. There she meets Shino, a young girl who provides Izuna a place to stay in exchange for helping find medicinal herbs to treat her illness.

Despite being unemployed, Izuna is a skilled ninja, wielding blades and ninja techniques to swiftly dispatch foes. She’s joined by an entertaining cast of companions, including her brother Shino, a street-smart ninja named Ryunosuke, and Fuusa, a sweet but naive young witch.

While mainly focused on dungeon crawling action, the story provides an enjoyable backdrop with colorful characters. Izuna’s plight starts humbly trying to find work and help Shino, but evolves into uncovering lost treasures and artifacts hidden within the dungeons.

The original DS game contained references to Japanese mythology, a tradition the new release continues. This helps provide an authentic setting inspired by classic Japanese folk tales and stories.

Gameplay Breakdown

Let’s take a closer look at the specifics of dungeon crawling gameplay:

Dungeon Exploration

Using an overhead perspective, players guide Izuna through procedurally generated grid-based dungeon levels. Movement and actions happen in turn-based fashion. Combat, traps, and other events occur randomly as players explore.

Each dungeon contains various points of interest, including:

  • Treasure chests containing loot
  • Shops selling items & services
  • Special floors with puzzles, traps, or unique enemies
  • The exit to the next level
  • The boss monster sealing the exit

Navigating the maze-like dungeons requires careful positioning to avoid dangerous traps and monsters. Izuna can slash nearby objects to help find hidden doors or treasures.


When encountering an enemy, the view switches to a side perspective battle screen. Combat plays out in classic turn-based RPG style.

On their turn, players can:

  • Attack – Deal damage based on weapon/abilities
  • Use Skills – Spend MP to use special skills
  • Use Items – Heal, buff, debuff, or damage enemies
  • Defend – Take reduced damage for the turn

Izuna and enemies take turns attacking based on speed. Positioning is key – attacking from behind deals extra damage. Successfully attacking also builds up Izuna’s special Ninjutsu meter, allowing powerful unique attacks.

Enemies come in many forms, from thuggish bandits to deadly spirits, each with unique abilities. Bosses present a major challenge, requiring skill and strategy to defeat.

Loot Collection

Defeating enemies and opening chests earns Izuna gold and items. This loot allows improving Izuna’s gear and abilities. Key loot elements:

Weapons – Swords, daggers, staves, and more for the main and off-hand. Provide attack damage and special effects.

Armor – Helms, cloaks, gloves, and upgrades for defense and magic resist.

Accessories – Rings, tattoos, and other items boosting stats and abilities.

Materials – Used for crafting new weapons and gear.

Medicine – Healing items for recovering health and curing status effects.

Misc – Quest items, documents, ingredients, and artifacts.

Figuring out the best loot combinations to tackle greater challenges is part of the fun. But dying means losing everything, so balancing risk vs reward is crucial.

Town Activities

Between dungeon runs, players can explore the town of Shinozaki. Here they can buy and sell items, take on side quests, advance the story, and more. Key town spots include:

Inn – Izuna’s home base, where she can rest to recover HP/MP and save the game.

Shops – Sell Items found in dungeons or purchase weapons, medicine, and supplies.

Guild – Get details on available dungeons and take on quests with specific objectives.

Temple – Make offerings to the gods for permanent stat boosts and blessings.

Training Dojo – Spend time training to permanently improve Izuna’s abilities.

Castle – Progress the story, meet characters, and unlock new dungeons.

Aside from shopping, managing loot, and preparing for dungeon runs, the town also provides breathing room to experience story events and interact with the colorful cast of characters.

My Impressions

As a fan of retro gaming, I was eager to dive into the modern revival of Izuna on Switch and PC. I’m happy to say the new version retains the excellent dungeon crawling gameplay and charming spirit of the original. The quality of life improvements help streamline the experience without sacrificing depth or challenge.

The combat strikes the right balance of being accessible yet strategic, with positioning and turn manipulation key to defeating difficult enemies. Finding optimal combinations of weapons, accessories, and skills to complete harder dungeons is very rewarding.

While I wish some form of progression persisted after death, the risk vs reward element remains strong knowing any wrong move can result in losing everything. It really raises tension exploring deeper levels when you’ve acquired great loot.

I also enjoyed the expanded story content and cutscenes. Izuna’s humorous adventures with her eclectic companions provides welcome levity between tense dungeon runs. The added story helps better flesh out the characters and fantasy world.

In terms of presentation, the graphical improvements are noticeable without losing the retro pixel art style. Little touches like flowing water and swaying lanterns help modernize the visuals. The UI enhancements also make managing inventory and battles smoother.

Overall, Izuna Legend of the Unemployed Ninja is a great revival of a niche classic title. Roguelike dungeon crawler fans will love the addictive, high risk gameplay. But even RPG beginners can enjoy the intuitive controls, charming characters, and accessible gameplay refined for today’s platforms. This release proves some games are worth revisiting years later when handled with care. I’m excited to keep pushing further into the dungeons to see what adventures await.


What platforms is the new Izuna releasing on?

The updated version of Izuna Legend of the Unemployed Ninja is releasing on Nintendo Switch and Windows PC via Steam.

Is this a remake or a port?

IZUNA is more than a simple port. Along with coming to new platforms, the game features updated HD graphics, new dungeon designs, expanded story content, achievements, and quality of life enhancements. So it is both a remake and an expanded port.

Is this game only single player?

Yes, Izuna is focused on single player dungeon crawling. No multiplayer or co-op is included.

Is there character customization and progression?

There is no creation of custom characters. You play exclusively as Izuna and make her more powerful via leveling up and equipping new gear found in dungeons. Dying means losing all non-permanent upgrades though.

How long is the game?

Expect 30+ hours for a single playthrough focusing on the main story. Completing all side quests and post-game content could double that. As a roguelike, replay value is very high.

Is it necessary to grind?

The challenging, high-risk gameplay means grinding can give a sense of insurance before tackling new dungeons. But it is not required, as skilled players can progress through skillful play alone. Grinding simply reduces risk.

Does the game have permadeath?

Yes, Izuna features permadeath in its dungeons. Dying means losing all items and money earned during that run. However, the game can be manually saved in town to reduce losses.

Is there voice acting?

No, the game does not have full voice acting. Key story moments feature occasional voice samples, but most dialogue is text-based. This allows retaining the feel of a classic RPG.


Izuna Legend of the Unemployed Ninja is an excellent revival of a roguelike RPG classic. The new release on Nintendo Switch and PC spruces up the visuals while keeping the deep, high risk dungeon crawling intact. Added quality of life enhancements make enjoying the strategic combat and loot collection smooth and accessible. Both longtime fans and those new to Izuna will find an addictive, rewarding challenge mastering the game’s perilous dungeons. With expanded story content and a charming cast of characters, Izuna solidifies itself as one of the best modern incarnations of old-school dungeon crawler RPGs.

TitlePlatformOriginal Release YearDeveloper
Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed NinjaNintendo DS2007Success Corporation

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