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Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master (Genesis) artwork

Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master (Genesis) review

"Joe Musashi sharpens shuriken and ninjato to once again take battle against the vile Neo Zeed"

I still own my copy of Shinobi III for Genesis and its one of those investments I was wise to make back in the day. I was always a fan of the Shinobi series ever since I played the arcade original and found myself feeling nostalgic as I heard of the third installment on GamePro magazine before I seek it out. There is simply no wrong with a powerful ninja taking on evil organizations to save the world.

Joe Musashi comes back from the shadows to seek out Neo Zeed, which once again rises to create chaos in the modern world. The Musashinator travels through forested areas, underground laboratories, and perilous cliffs battling ninjas, guerrilla soldiers, robots, and mutated monsters. This time around however, there is no damsel in distress to save, just a showdown between good vs. evil.

Just like Neo Zeed has upgraded its forces to take down Joe, he too learned a few new skills to even the odds. Besides his usual arsenal of special moves from the last game Joe can now do a lunge kick in mid air, block projectiles at will, hang from ledges and dash through the ground, which makes the game even faster and fiercer, being that you can attack with your sword in mid-dash. This new move can also be handy in tight spots where you can avoid a cheap death. Besides the usual linear style of play Shinobi III also features stages with Joe riding on horseback and a water ski to break the monotonous play through.

Most of the stages within the game are linear and vary from left to right and from ground up. You can even go through some stages without ever worrying about engaging enemies and there are simply not many secrets to find all around. Shinobi III focuses more on giving an arcade action experience than anything else, something that fits very well on this title.

Joe retains his varied ninja magic incantations which you can access through a paused game. It would be imperative that you save these as much as you can when confronting a difficult boss battle. Said boss battles can be highly challenging, with creatures ranging from a gigantic mutant monster that burrows through mounds of flesh to a Mecha-Godzilla like machine later in the game. If anything, Shinobi III brims with innovative boss characters more so than in the last game, where some of said bosses were parodies of copyright characters. You also encounter a mid-boss halfway through the stage, which can also be of a challenging nature.

The soundtrack is just as engaging as the game play with a heavy dose of Japanese styled tunes and electronic synthesized arrangements. It immerses the player deeply into the atmosphere of the game. The soundtrack was composed in part by Masayuki Nagao, who also worked on other SEGA Genesis titles like Sonic 3 released a year later. However this clashes with the garbled voice effects from Joe's grunts and attack cries. The game was one of many that came out when the Sega Genesis was having issues with its Yamaha sound chip in later titles. However this would not impede the overall game play of this amazing title.

Control can be tight at times. Jumps must be timed precisely or you will find yourself falling to your doom quite often. The double jump suffers from being pulled off perfectly just as it did in the last game, especially when you need it the most to advance through stages with a bottomless pit. Otherwise Shinobi III responds just the right way when it comes to engage enemy characters. The difficulty on this game can be quite frustrating for those who cannot act quickly on their reflexes.

Shinobi III is a gem in 90s gaming for the Sega Genesis. This is a worthy title to add in your collection of 16-bit greats. Its legacy on the system is of high praise as ones like Streets of Rage and Sonic the Hedgehog, meaning that adding this title to your collection would pretty much make your gaming life a step closer to completion. One could even argue that it surpasses Revenge of Shinobi, but of course, that is up to opinion. It is however, one of the mightiest action games for the Sega Genesis no doubt.


CptRetroBlue's avatar
Community review by CptRetroBlue (February 04, 2019)

Cpt. Retro likes old school gaming the most and grew up playing Arcade games in Mexico. He also loves talking about retrogaming.

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