Review by Console Ghost

"SEGA really is dead"

Oh Sega, say it isn't so… Not Shinobi. Sacrifice Sonic, or even Ryo Hazuki before you kill off Shinobi. Sigh.

This game is a monumental accomplishment. If Nintendo were to try and top this accomplishment, they would have to humiliate Mario, Link, or Samus and run their franchise into the ground. To this old school gamer, Shinobi is right up there as an icon with those Nintendo figures, right up there with Sonic, and Pac Man in importance of characters who we have come to know, and whose games we always eagerly await. It is a crime to take any of those characters and place them in a sub-standard game (scratch that, piss poor game). If you are going to make a crap game, send in Crash Bandicoot, or some other newer character to be burned. Don't send in our oldest and greatest. Enough of that, on to the review.

Graphics: 9/1

The character of Shinobi gets a 9. Sega tries and succeeds in creating a stylistic, slim Hotsuma, whose movements are fluid, and can wreak sufficient havoc with only a slight learning curve. The arcade feeling is well preserved here. Everything else in the game though, is a 1 (and that is being generous). No time, and I mean no time at all, was spent on the remainder of the game. The level designs are literally, rectangular hallways with identical walls. There is a very weak attempt to render some 2D posters and such to the walls to give them some variety but it fails. If the camera rotates during an encounter, I guarantee that you will not be able to tell which way to go…. Because the way you are going, and the way to came from look identical; not just similar, I really mean identical. I don't know about you, but fighting in what looks like a giant dentist's waiting room is not too exciting.

Story: 7

Let's face it, in this type of game story is inconsequential. Like Rygar and a plethora of other action platformers, you have to kick ass because some monster has done you wrong. Enough said.

Sound: ?

What sound? The droning screech in the background which passes for music? I think not. The sound is as drab as the background graphics, and you don't know whether you are coming or going, and it is never clear whether the song is starting, ending, or on constant repeat. Sad.

Gameplay: 8/0

Once again, kudos on Hotsuma and his frantic, powerful movements. Hotsuma moves like no other Shinobi has before him, able to teleport slash (if you target enough baddies) and perform impressive ninpo at will. His jumps, wall running, and general movement are smooth and intuitive. Everything else in the game however, gets a 0. That may sound strange as the gameplay rating is usually based on the character controls. Let me explain. If you've ever played tennis, you know that no matter how good you are, if your opponent sucks, you can't have a good game (or even any fun). This is because you are used to the ball coming at you at a high speed with lots of spin, and you've trained your return stroke to accommodate this level of skill. If some beginner hits a high flat shot at you, your well timed top spin forehand will most likely go into the net, because all that spin you were planning on reversing isn't there. This is the same for Shinobi. It doesn't matter how hot Shinobi's moves are. Everything else moves around like a mentally handicapped zombie with the flu. The only way they make enemies difficult (here we go) is to give them more hitpoints, or make them invincible from most angles…. Stupid. If you've read my reviewed before, this is what is referred to as a number 2 (see Metroid Prime review for explanation). The short explanation of the number 2 is that it means that the developers got lazy, and instead of building a creative level or smart enemies (a number 1), they decided just to turn up stats (number 2). Sad. So very sad. Playing this game, is like watching Michael Johnson go and compete in a race with elementary school kids. Very uncoordinated elementary school kids.

Replay Value: None

How could you bear this game more than once? I don't mean once through. I mean one sitting.

Summary:

What has brought the once mighty Sega so low, that they would release this piece of crap, and try to pass it off as a game? Shinobi, perhaps the coolest ninja series ever, is forever annihilated by this poor excuse for a... whatever this is supposed to be. Hotsuma's design is actually fairly decent as far as movement and effects. That's where the buck stops though. The levels were drawn by a near-sighted fourth grader who was able to eek out some rectangles. Seriously, (I can't emphasize this enough) if you blink, you get instantly lost in levels where every wall looks the same(gray, drab, flat), and you can't tell whether you are going forward or backward. As for the enemies, there is neither an attempt at or a pretense of any AI. Instead, as the levels progress, the enemies just get more and more hitpoints, and "invincible angles" (what a stupid feature) so that by sheer probability you are bound to mess up and die the next time you blink or sneeze. If you like aneurysm induced comas, go ahead and buy this one. For all others, this is a pass.

My only hope for this game is that Sega will clean up its act, once and for all, and do Shinobi some justice. Their recent 2K5 releases of sports games, and the quality of those games gives me hope that they are on their way to producing some decent games again. We're all pretty ticked off about Ryo Hazuki being stranded in China with no relief in sight, and the near abandonment of the icon characters (even Sonic) into constantly regurgitated copies of the older games instead of making the next great game in their genres.

Sega, some of us still believe in you. Please don't leave these guys in the waiting room.


Reviewer's Score: 1/10 | Originally Posted: 09/22/04


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