Review by Saikyo Ki
":: kanji symbols emerge from my forehead :: SORIYAAAAAA!!!"
You wanna talk about classic games that can't be improved upon even if someone tried because they are phenomenal in every way already? Well, guys and grrls, THIS is one of those games. Shinobi was one of the most popular arcade action games of the late 80s and will forever be one of the all time arcade greats. This fame is well deserved; the fun factor on this game goes through the roof, for a large number of reasons which I will now type out...
You may not have a mask, but that's okay...it's not like your enemies will live to tell people what you look like, because you're literally a master of your craft, from your shuriken accuracy to your devastating ninja magic techniques. Your mission is to save all of the shinobis in training and defeat all evil you come across.
You are initially armed with your trusty shuriken, your fists and feet and one of your ninja magic spells which fell all enemies/projectiles on screen. As you defeat the scads of opponents set before you, you will find the captured shinobi students. Most of the students you free give you points, but some give you better weaponry, namely a miniature rocket launcher and a sword for close encounters. You must free all of the students to move on the next area. If you make it to the end of a mission, you face the leader of the people who were previously out to get you.
This game may be 2D, but that doesn't stop this game from having an awesome amount of depth. Right when you begin the first level, you will notice enemies lurking on rooftops. To deal them the same justice as the people you have dealt justice to on the ground, hold up and press jump. To come back down, hold down and press jump. You will use this ability frequently in many ways, like getting over high fences, making your way down networks of platforms, etc.
You will face many, many types of enemies during your journeys. Aside from your basic brawlers, knife wielders and gunmen, you'll have to worry about scuba divers waiting to jump out of the water and slice you, florentine style ninja swordsmen color coded according to their skills (florentine style is a fancy term which means ''someone who fights using two swords''), those annoying hostage guards with their huge shields and scimitars that act like boomerangs and more.
Another nice thing about this game is that you don't die just by touching an enemy. If you bump into someone who is not attacking you at the moment, both of you stumble backwards. The only time you die is when kick, punch, blade or bullet, comes in contact with you.
At the end of every mission, there is a bonus stage where you can get an extra life for mowing down all of the ninjas trying to get to you with your shuriken. Miss one, and no 1UP for you.
Awesome for their time. Smooth scrolling, nicely detailed and colored backgrounds accented the action that resided in the foreground, which was also well detailed and colored, from the scenery to the combatants. All people on screen were also large and well animated. You won't see any one frame jumps in this game, folks. Also, the way your shuriken spins as it flies through the air looks so good that it almost looks like the Super Nintendo's Mode 7 capabilities. This game never slowed down, no matter how many characters were on screen.
Some of the sound effects didn't sound very fitting, but for the most part they were good. The sound of your shuriken being thrown was good, as well as the sound of one of them bouncing off of a shield/sword/etc. The rocket launcher must have had a powerful silencer on it, because it barely made any noise at all. There is no slicing sound heard when a shuriken finds it's mark, since in real life the most sound it would make would be a ''thump,'' but when those large bullets hit an enemy, the same thump is heard.
The narrator does his job well, although he needs a little help with his grammar, heh (''Welcome to Bonus Stage!''). The hero's voice sounds very cool, especially when he attacks at close range and uses ninja magic. I don't really have many qualms with the voice clips in this game, however they could have been sampled just a liiiitle bit higher.
I have no qualms with the music at all! Even with it's outdated sound system, this game's songs set such a perfect atmosphere for adventure that you'll be amazed. Usually, when you think of ninjas, you think of a warrior who stays cool and calm no matter how much pressure they're under and always keeps themselves sharp and alert, ready to engage any adversary that may come their way. The music in this game makes you feel exactly like that warrior. I don't know the name of the composer, but whoever wrote the music for this game is a genius.
Throughout the entire game, your control is seamless. Things happen RIGHT when you press the appropriate button. You will never have to worry about the interface hindering your game.
Replay Value: 6
What will keep you coming back for more if and when you beat this game is the fun action and the amazing atmosphere this game creates for the player. In addition, you can also try beating levels without using your ninja magic, which adds to the challenge immensely as you go deeper into the game.
Games like these are why Sega always has been and always will be one of the most powerful presences in arcades. To call it a classic would be to make one of the biggest understatements someone could possibly make. If you haven't played it, do yourself a favor and add ''Play Shinobi'' to your life's to do list (don't go for home ports, sadly none of them do this arcade game justice). Sega really outdid themselves when making this amazing game and it shows, which is why I give it a 10.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/31/01, Updated 04/24/04
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