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Shinobi (Game Gear) artwork

Shinobi (Game Gear) review

"GG Shinobi is not a down sized conversion of the original arcade game. Nor is it a shrunken down version of the Mega Driveís The Revenge of Shinobi. Itís a completely different kettle of fish from any Shinobi game featuring a collection of five (yes, five) versions of the legendary Joe Mushashi. Each of these clones has their own special abilities and different magic capability. With just one, they may seem weak but together they can break down any obstacle, walk on water and even defy t..."

GG Shinobi is not a down sized conversion of the original arcade game. Nor is it a shrunken down version of the Mega Driveís The Revenge of Shinobi. Itís a completely different kettle of fish from any Shinobi game featuring a collection of five (yes, five) versions of the legendary Joe Mushashi. Each of these clones has their own special abilities and different magic capability. With just one, they may seem weak but together they can break down any obstacle, walk on water and even defy the laws of gravity by walking upside down.

However, I am getting ahead of myself. You start as normal Joe, in his normal red and white ninja garb. The Master of the Oboro sent him to the Neo city, to rescue for members of his Ninjutsu School. Four students of the school had already been sent before but they did not return. Being the last member of the school, Joe leaves on a quest to rescue his fellow students and to seek out and destroy the evil that is lurking in Neo City.

Joe (from now on, he will be called Red) has a choice of four locations to visit. Each of these locations has one of his four friends hostage but because of his limitations, he is best to go on the highway world to rescue his good buddy, Pink. Youíll have to leap along moving traffic and attack enemies up close with your sword because is all you can do now.

After jumping up the gutters of a few buildings and duelling with fat bald men with big hammers, youíll find yourself forty thousand feet in the air, on top of an aeroplane. If that was not bad enough, youíll have to go one on one with a helicopter, which is swooping down constantly to knock you off. In addition, if that was not bad enough, the pilot of this chopper is none other than Pink. It seems that whatever is in Neo City has taken control of your fellow student so you better beat the snot out of him so you can bring him down to earth.

When the chopper is destroyed, youíll revive Pink and heíll join you in your quest to rescue the others. Unlike Red, he can throw an unlimited supply of bombs and walk along ceilings with no problems. His new powers can kill enemies from a safe distance and he can reach places where Red cannot go. Heíll become useful in the Harbour level as it is littered with obstacles that can only be conquered with his abilities.

All of the levels follow the same structure, the water level can only be completed with the Yellow ninja. Youíll have to jump from log to log on a flowing river with this guy. His special power is to hurl fireballs form the palm of his hands, he can charge them down for a while by holding the attack button. This makes his attacks stronger and creates an array of three fireballs instead of the one. His ability to walk across some areas of water makes him a perfect choice for this world.

Completion of the water level will allow you to play as Blue. He will stalk through the woodland world with a grappling hook, swinging from tree to tree and using it to destroy any robots that may be leaping around the trees. He can also attach it onto various knobs and swing from trees. This weapon will also be handy for destroying the heads of laser spewing statues and killing monks who block most assaults with super rotating staffs. If you finish this world, you will have unlocked Green. His various abilities include a double jump and an unlimited supply of shurikens. Heís the character that the die hard Shinobi fans have been waiting for because his skills, when compared with the original Joe from ROS are almost the same.

When you have unlocked a ninja, you can swap form colour to colour by simply pressing start during play which allows you to make a choice. Each of the five ninjas have their own magic abilities, if you have one magic power up then you can choose which magic is best for the situation by looking at the picture near the ninja. You can create a powerful earthquake, create a force of lightning around yourself and transform into a whirlwind enabling you to fly for a short time. To collect magic, youíll have to find it in grey boxes scattered around the levels. Some of these may contain extra lives and even bombs, which can go off in your face if your not quick enough.

After you rescue all of your ninja buddies, youíll enter the heart of Neo city. A nightmare of a level which creates an almost impossible maze with various rooms packed with traps. Each ninja will have to use his various skills to conquer giant laser cannons, spiked mines and every other boss youíve previously faced. Not only do we have a level jam packed with hard puzzles, doors that can throw you to the beginning of the maze but we have rehashes of the old bosses as well. Itís not very fun and itís excruciatingly hard. If you lose your lives in this level you have to start the maze from scratch. Itíll drive you crazy but if you think and apply each ninjaís skills to the environment, youíll finish most of the puzzles. Using magic can also unlock ways to new areas so collect as many magic boxes as you can. This level is very long and extremely frustrating, you can find yourself walking around in circles for hours. Even worse, you can get really far and then go through the wrong door which takes you right to the beginning of the level, that is extremely frustrating.

The Shinobiís will face various bosses such as a walking robot with a very big arm, a humongous head held together by three Ninjas and a blue ninja that fights you in a waterfall. Most bosses are ease to overcome and require a little magic followed by constant pummelling. The last enemy is the mysterious black ninja, a character who uses all of the attacks that your coloured ninjas can perform. He can only be damaged by Redís sword so you canít use your shurikens, bombs or fireballs on him. After a few hits, heíll change into a colossal robot who fires out two separate types of very slow attacks. Luckily for you, Red can leap over him and trash the robot with ease.

If you took the Joe sprite The Revenge of Shinobi and shrunk it down to 8-bit proportions, youíd have GG Shinobi. All of the five ninjas are basically palette swaps, they have a white suit with their coloured sashes, the only differences between the five ninja are their respective colours. Backgrounds are slightly hazy, the colours are bright but blurry and the details on enemies seem quite smudgy. The quality of the graphics are okay but better ones have been shown on this old black brick.

We are provided with some great tunes, some are very memorable while others are simply downgraded tracks from ROS. The boss tune is still that Terrible Beat (itís not terrible, itís awesome) and the music from the story section of ROS is used on the second part of stage one. After playing GG Shinobi, youíll remember a lot of the tracks, especially the Highway stage but the chances are that youíll have a good time with the rest when you play but forget about them when you put it down. Itís a mixed bag, showcasing some real classic tracks and a few mediocre ones.

GG Shinobi is the definite Game Gear purchase. Itís a treat for action gamers and an underrated member of the Shinobi family. It may do things a little different when compared to its big brothers but it remains as another great Shinobi game. The use of the five different ninjas with their separate skills really boost the games playability by far. The only problem was the absolute bastard of a last level, which is a real kick in the balls for all your hard work. Apart from that, itís a tough little game to play through and is worth picking up if you still have your Game Gear.

I sold mine for £20 and bought The Simpsons: Cartoon Studio. Feel free to laugh.

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Community review by goldenvortex (April 29, 2005)

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