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Shinobi (Sega Master System) artwork

Shinobi (Sega Master System) review


"Itís a well known fact that arcade translations on a console will look like a slight downgrade from the original. It was a lot more so in the 16-bit era of gaming but it started very briefly on the 8-bit Sega Master System and the NES. It seemed that the majority of the games looked less superior than what they did in the arcade (especially in the 16-bit era) but they still provided the same quality of play when on a console, although it seems that the majority of actual 8-bit arcade ports looke..."



Itís a well known fact that arcade translations on a console will look like a slight downgrade from the original. It was a lot more so in the 16-bit era of gaming but it started very briefly on the 8-bit Sega Master System and the NES. It seemed that the majority of the games looked less superior than what they did in the arcade (especially in the 16-bit era) but they still provided the same quality of play when on a console, although it seems that the majority of actual 8-bit arcade ports looked almost as good as the arcade version, only slightly downgraded, a few examples of this would be Wonder Boy which had great graphics in comparison with the original and the same great game-play to boot and of course another pretty good example (although maybe not as much) would be the original Shinobi.

I reckon that most people probably first heard of Shinobi on his first Genesis title (called The Revenge of Shinobi), I know I did and it was one of my favourite games on the system, I guess you can imagine my excitement when I discovered itís prequel on the Master System. I had no idea what to expect and I was blown away, it seemed that this game was what Shadow Dancer was meant to be, but this time they actually got it right. The storyline of the game is fairly simplistic, involving an evil clan of Ninjas called the Ring of Five who have kidnapped the children of world leaders. Joe Mushashi, Shinobi sets out on his own to bring back the kids and kick the ass of those kiddie-stealing morons.

A basic way of play is great for a 2-D platform game and this game is no exception. All you have to do is avoid the oncoming bad guys and collect all the kidnapped children, which is sounds simplistic enough. It isnít, of course and what you will find that this game is very challenging (I donít use the term hard anymore) yet extremely addictive. You will have to use your brain to get through bad guys and lightening speed and skill to attack at the right time and so on, which is not a bad thing. A challenge makes a game more addictive, in my opinion.

The range of bad guy include armed soldiers that donít move except to fire bullets, guys that throw metal boomerangs towards you, you will have to use all of your skill and swift movements in order to avoid oncoming projectiles as a lot of enemies will have no problem in blocking your attacks you need to be on your guard in order to kill them before they nail you. When you become more experienced at the game you will learn the right method to use in order to eliminate bad guys. Bosses range from an oversized samurai who has eaten too much chilli (he can breathe fire) and a helicopter (I thought this game was realistic), the bosses have great design and the only problem is that some of them are difficultto beat.

A few other points; the small range of weapons you can collect, include your Shurikens and sword (for close combat only)bombs which are handy enough in combat and a gun (a ninja?!? Using a gun?) These are pretty effective to use and will get the job done but they donít have the feel of the shuriken as it is the weapon of the ninja. I guess its more effective as it fits in with the theme well and generally looks cooler. The last and probably least important feature in the game is an intolerably hard bonus game, which will test your reflexes pretty wll. Ninjas run across the screen at lightening speed and you have a quick chance to throw Shurikens at them. This mini-game is way too hard to be even reasonably enjoyable and I guess itís a good thing it only lasts for a minute or so.

Like I said, this games graphics are only a slight downgrade from the arcade original. Of course an 8-bit rendition of a game meant to be on the arcade does look a bit sloppy because the system has less power than the arcade machine but all in all they arenít too bad. The detail on this version is not as good because of the obvious reasons e.g. all of the characters have next to no faces on this version but that is what we expected. Quite a lot of the sprites have limited detail but they look like what they are supposed to be and they are a hell of a lot better than that NES version. The backgrounds are also not great because there is a certain extent of detail in them but it is the best 8-bit version visually. They are not too bad here but lack sufficient work but I bet no one can forget those classy Marilyn Monroe picture on level 1-2 which looks interesting, to say the least on an 8-bit system. Thats was a great idea!

The music is a tad repetitive and youíll get the Shinobi theme pumped in your head after playing the game for too long. The tunes themselves are very good though and although the actual quality of the sound isnít that great it still sounds good. The only problem is variation and the fact that there is little of it. The same tune is repeated over and over on the game levels followed by a boss theme which isnít too memorable but I have to say the Shinobi tune is one of those songs that really gets to you in way and youíll be humming it loudly in the shower (or not) after playing for ages. The sound effects are nothing too great either but the usual beeping noises of you jumping etc. are reasonably good but are nothing completely special. (All games tend to be like that though)

So, a good port of the arcade game and the better of the three, for definite. (the NES version looked crap and NECís one was structured poorly). The game itself is a simple style platform game but is relentlessly fun and addictive despite its massive challenge and replay ability. Definitely a classic game nowadays and probably a collectors item as well, one of the better Sega games in the eighties. A must get for all platform game fans and one of Segaís finest early work.

Rating: 8.0/10

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Community review by goldenvortex (September 14, 2004)

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