What happens when you cross Ninja Spirit and a shoot 'em up? This. Unsurprisingly, it's a game by Irem, who made both Ninja Spirit and quite a few shoot 'em ups! Also not surprising is that it’s a port of the arcade game of the same name; again, just like Ninja Spirit!
You play as Tommy (Or "Tonma"), a prince who has to save a princess from an evil demon. To do this you have to complete a total of 7 levels filled with loads of enemies and traps. Tommy attacks by shooting fireballs, which can be upgraded from little, straight-shooting balls, to bigger, homing fireballs, and even a type that goes forward in a zigzag pattern by picking up items. He can also pick up items that shield him from enemy attacks or allow him throw bombs. Tommy can also jump on enemies to temporarily stun them (This won't work on all of them!) but this is best avoided - Tommy's jump is very odd and floaty which makes it difficult to control in the midst of the franticness of the game.
As I said, the gameplay is similar to Ninja Spirit. Tommy moves and attacks in similar ways to the ninja, there's a similar onslaught of enemies, both games have upgradeable weapons, and both have seven stages. You will most likely find Legend of Hero Tonma quite a bit easier than its counterpart though, due to better weapons and weaker enemies.
Most enemies you encounter are simply creatures that try to bump into you, to hit you, and usually follow you wherever you go. There are also different enemies, though, like odd creatures that come up from the ground and extend their tongue at you, statues that shoot fireballs, and soldiers that throw bombs. Most enemies take one hit to die, but there are quite a few that are a bit tougher as well.
Unfortunately, Tommy is similarly weak. While grabbing a shield will extend his life a little, he will die in one hit. Luckily, you have unlimited continues and there are checkpoints in stages. While dying doesn't seem so bad because of that, it actually is. If you die, your weapon is depowered all the way back to its first stage, leaving you practically defenseless. While on the first two or three stages this might not be too bad, later stages will become practically impossible to beat if you die due to the lack of enough powerups to get a good, strong weapon.
Each stage also has a boss. Most of these aren't too hard, actually: that is, if you've got appropriate weaponry. If you're depowered because of dying you'll find them extremely hard and aggravating to beat, starting right from the first boss in the game. Oh yeah, if you die against a boss, you start back either at the last checkpoint or all the way at the beginning of the stage (if the stage doesn't have a checkpoint).
The music is a bit of a mixed bag. The first level theme, among a few others, is pretty good, while some are just annoying. If you like one of the songs, the game includes a sound test too so you can listen to it without gameplay sound effects (More games need to do this!).
I'll reiterate it a last time - Legend of Hero Tonma is quite a bit like Ninja Spirit. The only differences are that it's a bit easier, the levels are smaller, Tommy has a larger arsenal of weapons, and the game is much more colourful. Think of it as a kids' version of the game. It's an enjoyable game while it lasts, but unfortunately it's not long or challenging enough to stay consistently enjoyable every time you play.