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The Revenge of Shinobi (Genesis) artwork

The Revenge of Shinobi (Genesis) review


"Taking vengeance on your patience"


I try to wrap my head around as to why this game is so high regarded and considered a "classic" given that all the times I've played it I have not seen reason for such high praise in the least. Unlike its great successor in the form of Shinobi III, Revenge of Shinobi feels so unpolished in gameplay that it makes me want to toss my TV set out the window in frustration.

Maybe you would berate me for referring this game as such, probably because the nostalgic value of it is reason enough to be included in SEGA greats, and I would agree on that, Shinobi is a franchise of games which I had adored ever since playing Shadow Dancer and then finding its predecessor Shinobi in the arcades back in the day, followed by the excellent port of the arcade game in the Master System and so on. I also agree that Revenge features a lot of nostalgic visuals and an excellent soundtrack by the indomitable Yuzo Koshiro, which is one of its positives on this game. Quite superb.

Getting to the main point, the problem with Revenge for one, is its awful control over the main protagonist, the fabled ninja master Joe Musashi, who comes back on this spin-off to rescue his girlfriend from the nefarious Neo Zeed after his fateful encounter with the evil ninja organization in past adventures. Musashi here moves like molasses and more often than not you have a VERY difficult time timing jumps properly over obstacles and the game's insufferable number of pits throughout stages, some of which make absolutely no sense appearing such as in an Asian urban town of all places. Those potholes sure gotten big over time I guess. The game is also quite unforgiving with its enemy AI, often attacking you from afar before you even gets a chance to notice them onscreen as you wander through stages, all of these resulting in cheap shots and deaths eventually. Musashi also seems to have this annoying habit of slicing in the air with his close combat animations when you aren't even near an enemy or a crate in order to shoot your shuriken at enemies away from such. The hit boxes here are certainly wonky as well. Enemies here are placed in such way that it guarantees cheap shots and even cheap deaths being that most can shoot projectiles before they appear onscreen.

However there is ONE tidbit here which really, really upsets me with this game. The fact that its double jump is a chore to perform. You don't have to tap twice in succession like other games where the protagonist has the ability, instead you must wait for the right moment as Joe is in mid-jump to perform such and it is a whole lot difficult than it sounds in here. I had cursed many times out loud whenever I fell to my death all because this ninja master can't perform such feats successfully. Yes, you would say that mastering this jump is all a matter of patience and whatnot, but it all ends up the same being that whenever you need to use it the most is when it fails just the same.

The game offers a variety of new features over its first outing in the console versions, such as a number of ninja magic arts you can choose while pausing it, each which serves a different purpose other than just kill everything onscreen. Such new magic includes the ability to jump higher, a temporarily energy shield to deflect attacks, a powerful fire magic that either kills everything or severely damages foes, and a weird one where Musashi seemingly explodes, annihilating everything around him. I try to find any reason why the last one should exist being that you have already one similar which does not damage your health bar when cast. Joe can also block enemy projectiles only when acquiring a POW power up and when moving forward his foes, blocking their attacks with his shuriken. Its quite irritating being that you could had simply added this feature as it did in part III where you press and hold the ATTACK button without having to rely on said power ups, as well as nullifying that silly rule that in order to shield yourself you MUST be moving.

Overall Revenge of Shinobi is indeed a classic from the annals of 16 bit gaming in SEGA's history, one that is a tad flawed but nonetheless enjoyable enough that encourages you to continue playing and conquering said flaws while earning that satisfactory feeling once you beat it. My recommendation though would be playing the much better sequel that came a few years later which fixed most of the incontinences in this game.

3.5/5

CptRetroBlue's avatar
Community review by CptRetroBlue (December 31, 2020)

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