Retrorevisited: Shinobi Series

Retrorevisited is a stream series where I revisit a game or a game series I haven’t played in over 10 or 20+ years. I’ll go through to try see what I remember until a game over or I run out of continues. In some cases muscle memory may slowly return, in others probably not. This is a chance for me to revisit games of my youth that I still have or had at one point, playing them with and without nostalgia goggles, and do with mini-reviews of them too. If I decide to play any fully later and do a full review, parts of the mini-review would be incorporated into it. Depending on the playstyle or system, games reviewed will either be mini-reviews or one about all games in this session.  

The Shinobi series from Sega started with the arcade game and grew into a franchise with multiple ports of the arcade game on systems, and various sequels for the Sega Genesis and new editions for more modern systems. Great graphics and music, tough action and gameplay define the Shinobi series throughout the series. Some games added to the series while others took a slightly different route, but all games are still tough.

For this Retrorevisited I tried out the Sega Master System ports of the arcade Shinobi, then Revenge of Shinobi (ver 1 with Batman and Godzilla still as bosses), Shadow Dancer, and Shinobi 3 for the Sega Genesis.

SHINOBI (SEGA MASTER SYSTEM): The first game still holds up and is as tough as the arcade, especially since there’s no continues. You’re dependent on your own skills and getting extra lives from bonus stages and saving hostages. Least you have a life bar! Unlike the NES port, the Sega Master System port’s graphics and music still hold up quite well for a game its age, along with its play control. The slow-motion jumping to higher and lower levels still makes me laugh a bit. The first game definitely throws in the point of memorization of where and how enemies will attack, something that players need to learn fast for the later games. 4 OUT OF 5 NINJA STARS!

REVENGE OF SHINOBI (GENESIS): From the title screen showing Joe with cracking lightning to the great graphics and rocking soundtrack, this Shinobi started the trend of awesome ninja action with the series! Thankfully this game you have continues and can set your options for difficulty, controls, etc. Again, memorization is the key to progressing…and trying to avoid game jank like getting juggled on hitting enemies or projectiles. The graphics aren’t as colorful as that on a SNES game, but they do the job well with all kinds of details on your enemies and the levels. Early editions of this game had you fighting Rambo, the Terminator, Godzilla, Batman and Spider-Man!

SHADOW DANCER (GENESIS): This one is a bit odd out of the series since you don’t have a life bar and it’s “one hit, you’re dead”. So learning levels, bosses, and enemy attacks and where they’re coming from is more important in this title than the others. The graphics are really top notch and a killer soundtrack. Some of the bosses can be tougher than expected (like level 3) due to a small hitbox and little room to make an attack. Some jank where you can get knocked back by enemies than take a death before you can recover. A new gameplay element has you sending your faithful dog out to distract enemies so you can move in for the kill with a sword swipe or ninja star. (NOTE: there is a “Shadow Dancer 3HP hack” that I enjoyed). 4 OUT OF 5 NINJA STARS!

SHINOBI 3 (GENESIS): I still own this game to this day and love it and was amazed how much this one still held up! The graphics and soundtrack still rock and the play control is the best in the series! only trickiest parts are wall jumping or double jumping in some spots. Some stages you even ride a horse or jet ski to the rest of the level! Locations range from forests in Japan to a lab with weird experiments to even jumping rocks going up a waterfall! 4.5 OUT OF 5 NINJA STARS!


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