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Shadow Dancer (Arcade) artwork

Shadow Dancer (Arcade) review


"“Shadow Dancer” is an ugly abortion of a game. It is (allegedly) the sequel to the 1987 arcade classic “Shinobi”, and I imagine this is what inspired the so-called “Revenge of Shinobi”, because I would seek vengeance too if somebody associated me with this piece of garbage. Did Sega know what a terrible game they had on their hands? Was that why they called it “Shadow Dancer” instead of “Shinobi II”? I’d like to think that Joe Musashi himself jumped off the screen, pointed some throwing knives a..."



“Shadow Dancer” is an ugly abortion of a game. It is (allegedly) the sequel to the 1987 arcade classic “Shinobi”, and I imagine this is what inspired the so-called “Revenge of Shinobi”, because I would seek vengeance too if somebody associated me with this piece of garbage. Did Sega know what a terrible game they had on their hands? Was that why they called it “Shadow Dancer” instead of “Shinobi II”? I’d like to think that Joe Musashi himself jumped off the screen, pointed some throwing knives at the Sega executives, and demanded a name change to preserve the integrity of the title “Shinobi”. I’ve never played “Shinobi Legion” or whatever the Sega Saturn game was called, but I can’t imagine it being this bad. No, this is the worst of the “Shinobis”.

On paper, “Shadow Dancer” sounds like a “slam dunk”. More of what made “Shinobi” good? Okay. Yeah, there’s jumping and ninja stars and melee attacks, but this time you have to disable bombs instead of rescuing hostages. Instead of the Mongols, we now have these cool shirtless dudes who throw their shields like projectiles. The graphics are BIGGER, to allow more detail and stuff. (Bummer that larger sprites means less space on-screen.) And now you have this wolf dog that does neat tricks, like jumping on enemies so you can get clear shots. Oh, did I mention the new ninja magic? It’s SOOOOOOOO awesome, because the screen shows a close-up of Joe Musashi as he chants the spell.

The problem is when you actually play the game. The first thing you notice is how ugly it is. The colors and the “texture” are all muddy, like someone smeared the screen with feces. The BIG characters look ridiculous. The original “Shinobi” wasn’t the prettiest game, but, darn it, it had a low-budget charm. The look here evokes “low-budget”, minus the charm. The sad thing is there’s a neat vision here of airports, train cars, boats, waterfalls, dank sewers…but it’s all for naught. The screen is too stuffed, claustrophobic to allow for dramatic vistas, and Musashi always looks a stone’s throw away from striking the Vulcan salute.

If you bother to look under the hood, to “see beyond” the ugliness, all you’ll find is a sluggish imitation of greatness. Joe Musashi’s jump is simply wrong. It’s been neutered. I often found myself trying to make a subtle leap over some incoming projectile only to land on them, because the game’s controls don’t allow the degree of freedom the original “Shinobi” had. The dog is a neat concept, but it’s poorly implemented. You activate him with “Down + Shoot”. What if you wanted to simply duck and shoot ninja stars, not sick the dog? Too bad, because you can only do both. All too often you will find yourself doing a ducking attack and your dog running straight into a trap, becoming “disabled”. Very unfortunate, since “Shadow Dancer” seems heavily designed around the dog, to the point that some areas are impractical to tread without “White Fang” at your side. With these awful controls, the game developers shoot their vision in the foot.

The “continue” screen even seems desperate. It tells me, “continue now and get two ninja magics!” I shrug. “Shadow Dancer” isn’t worth the effort. I can only muster the passion to write this review to warn others. Heed the warning, prudent reader.

Rating: 2/10

joseph_valencia's avatar
Community review by joseph_valencia (June 30, 2009)

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zigfried posted July 12, 2009:

I haven't played the arcade Shadow Dancer, so I don't know how badly you misrepresent the game. Based on your other "reviews" (I use that term loosely), I assume this piece is totally untrustworthy, but I can't really say for sure. However, I do know that the following line is rather silly:

The colors and the “texture” are all muddy, like someone smeared the screen with feces.

Exaggerated feces comparisons are soooooooo 2003. Actual description of the graphics would be more convincing than shocking hyperbole.

You nicely explain the character size and how it hampers the gameplay (although I can't say I believe you anymore) but I've no idea what you're getting at by comparing the texture to feces.

Anyways, this is a very short "review" that wastes the entire first paragraph on silly insults instead of using that short space to provide a succinct, content-rich review of the game. I see that Sho rated this game a 9, and Nash rated it a 6. I trust a single number from those two people more than I trust the entire text of this review.

//Zig

EDIT: the purpose of this post is to dispel the misconception that silence = tacit endorsement. I do not plan to post every time I read a poor "review" (a rant), nor should I need to
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randxian posted July 12, 2009:

I wonder what excuses he will pull out of his arse this time.

Wait! I think I know some of what he will say.

"I didn't explain the graphics more in detail because the graphics aren't important. The game play stinks so why should I explain what I mean by the graphics look like feces?"

"This is just my opinion. If you don't like it, then read the other reviews. I'm not going to edit anything because I describe everything so eloquently and in great detail. People should have an accurate understanding of the game just from reading my review."

"Now excuse me while I make a bunch of subtle illusions about how you picked on me in my next batch of 50 word reviews. But it's your fault for being hung up on this issue."

Gotcha covered Spaceworlder buddy. You don't even need to waste energy moving your fingers to type a reply. We already pretty much know what you're going to say. Keep pumping out those reviews. It's all about mass production man!
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zigfried posted July 12, 2009:

I don't care about Spaceworlder's response, and I would suggest not spending energy to argue with him. The primary purpose of my post was a one-time commentary because it sounded like he misinterpreted the lack of Shadow Dancer feedback. The secondary purpose was to say that because of his rants on game I have played, it's nearly impossible to trust his rants on games I haven't played.

The tertiary purpose was to thumb my nose at him. Because I can.

//Zig
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bluberry posted July 12, 2009:

when somebody has the same opinion as you but you think their review is poorly argued, is it still trolling?

this is a rhetorical question. I'm staying out of this.
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joseph_valencia posted July 12, 2009:

You nicely explain the character size and how it hampers the gameplay (although I can't say I believe you anymore) but I've no idea what you're getting at by comparing the texture to feces.

I'm evoking the image of something smeared with shit to suggest how ugly I find the game to be. I thought that would be self-explanatory. If someone played the game or looked at the screenshots, they'd probably notice the dominance of browns and grunge in the aesthetic. Glancing at HG's own "Shadow Dancer" gallery, I find a lot of the still images are very difficult to look at and visually process. It's not unlike *drumroll* looking at something that's smeared with shit!
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zigfried posted July 12, 2009:

Bluberry: Even though the question is rhetorical, I'll respond! No, poor arguments aren't necessarily trolling. In other threads, the meaning of "trolling" has gotten confused with "attacking games people care about". It's fine to attack games people care about. That's the nature of disagreement.

Spaceworlder's Ninja Gaiden 2 review, El Viento review, Ninja Gaiden blog, and various message board responses are flagrant attempts to make people mad. That's why they're trolling. They just happen to also be poorly argued.

You could apply the same logic to say this thread is an attempt to troll Spaceworlder, but I don't actually expect him to get upset.

//Zig
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randxian posted July 12, 2009:

The primary purpose of my post was a one-time commentary because it sounded like he misinterpreted the lack of Shadow Dancer feedback

Good point. However, anyone who makes assumptions based on lack of feedback is obviously living in La La Land. It's pretty evident from the feedback forum that NOT EVERY GAME GETS FEEDBACK.

It's common sense that people don't have time to read every single review and leave detailed comments on all of them as well.
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joseph_valencia posted July 12, 2009:

Spaceworlder's Ninja Gaiden 2 review, El Viento review, Ninja Gaiden blog, and various message board responses are flagrant attempts to make people mad. That's why they're trolling.

That makes the creators of "Ninja Gaiden" and "El Viento" the biggest trollers of them all. 8-)

It's fine to attack games people care about.

But people get angry when you attack games they care about, and then they make whiny feedback threads like the one you created for "El Viento." That's the thing with throwing the 't' word around in regard to negative/bash reviews. The very nature of word "attack" has a hostility about it.

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