01 July 2015


Publisher/Developer:  Sega
Format: Cartridge
Game Size: 256K
Rarity:  2
Game Type: Side Scrolling Arcade Action Platformer
Region: USA
Other Ways to Play:  LOTS!  Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Arcade, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, MSX, NES, Turbografx 16, ZX Spectrum, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 (On Sonic Genesis Collection)
Power Base Convertor Playable?: Yes, 6 button controller works.

Price I Paid: 15 Dollars maybe?
Price I Would Pay: 10 Dollars.
Condition: Game, Case, Manual, Ad Poster
Game Rating: Ok*
Game Completion/Desire to: Yes/
My History:  Its a port of an arcade classic I first played at a laundromat in town that got great games in all the time.  And eventually died because apparently they did a lot with drugs.  (RIP Sudsy Sammy's.)  I got this port at a nearby Flea Market that still exists to this day but this game was one of the only things I bought in one of the only times I went into said Flea Market for nearly twenty years.

  The legendary Shinobi!  Similar to Namco's Rolling Thunder, you take your lone hero through your basic left to right (and sometimes up and down and right to left on more maze like stages) platforms, avoiding or killing enemies while pressing UP/DOWN with your jump button to switch to a higher or lower level which allows for some strategic gameplay.

  Unlike Rolling Thunder, Shinobi skips the limited ammo for shooting, but adds in children to rescue in between timing jumps to avoid attacks while using cover, and gives you a close combat attack when you get close to the enemies.  Oh, and the odd bit of NINJA MAGIC to clear out the screen or get a couple extra hits on end bosses which you will need thanks to no continues.

  As a change from the arcade original, this port adds in a life bar which can be expanded like weapon increases and healing of said bar by rescuing those captive kids.

Four screenshots from the Kega Fusion emulator.
 Rescue the kids, avoid annoying dudes shooting at you.

 Bonus stage with ninjas moving around.  Kill em for bonuses!

 Attack ninja enemies low.  Try to avoid dying so you can keep your sweet upgraded gear.

The final boss.  Because beating Mandala wasn't enough misery you have this SOB you need to memorize.

Arcade Game Via a MAME variant because I can't be bothered to load up and photograph my HDTV running the Genesis Collection on the Playstation 3.

   While getting a higher score eventually nets you additional lives, the odd control feature to activate your NINJA MAGIC in this game is nearly impossible as you have to hit and hold buttons to use it, and only on normal stages after you have killed a number of enemies.  And earned said magic from the Bonus Stage where you throw shuriken at Ninjas coming at you.  No using it on the bosses where you actually NEED IT, especially given how some magic isn't even offensive in nature and you have to use your magic in order.

  Another problem is the power up system.  You see the children you can rescue in each level provide one with a random power up or bonus score.  It is RANDOM by and large.  And you lose all your power ups if you die.  Some power ups degrade what you already have such as the shorter range close combat weapons replacing longer ranged ones.  (If you get close to an enemy you attack them with a close combat attack as opposed to your shurikens which can eventually be upgraded to knives then grenades, then bullets.)  This can lead to the videogame power up FAILURE CASCADE syndrome wherein areas of a game go from easy to impossible if you die, practically necessitating you to restart the entire game, especially if the game uses checkpoints.  Which Shinobi does.  Though any kids rescued don't respawn but thankfully neither do the shield and boomerang sword wielding guardians who tend to camp around them.

 Outside of the weird way you get the magic to work (you don't basically!) control is overall very good and responsive.  The music and graphics are pretty good too outside of the odd bit of sprite flicker.  And a couple of jumps that need to be nearly pixel perfect.  

  And this is the SMS Shinobi.  So close to good but just enough annoyances to keep it from there.  No continues either.  Which WILL make your life hell with the third and final bosses.

 Game contents.  An old game that was clearly left in the sun for many moons before I bought it.

Genesis Power Base shots up first

 Bosses don't really flash weak spots, allow you to use NINJA MAGIC on them, or even show how many HP they have left which is something the arcade did.

 Dodge guardian shield dude boomerang swords and shoot em while their shields aren't out.

 Want useless magic?  Complete the bonus stage!

Thankfully the water isnt instadeath here.  

This boss is the bane of my existence and all but ruins the game singlehandedly.

And a few SMS shots:
 Also unlike the arcade the gun dudes don't have reload pauses.  You just have to time their wee shots and attack aggressively.

The second stage is complete!  I appreciate the game keeping the stage map introductions even if the bosses don't make appearances through the three main sections of the level before the boss part.

Master System Play:  Outside of the usual SMS bleed it is quite fine though obviously emulator play with save states is the only way to play without losing one's sanity.  Most controllers are good outside of the Control Stick because of how hard diagonals are to pull off.  Diagonal down movements are needed for crouching moves which are all but essential in some areas.

Rating:  The sheer lack of continues plus the power up system/doom spiral turns what could have been a Good game into one that is merely OK.  It is just tedious to have to replay and all but perfectly memorize and play an entire game and it turns fun into a painful slog.  It is so close to good.  So.  Very.  Close.  Play in an emulator or play the arcade game which you can unlock on the Genesis collection available on the 360 or PS3.  Even with the arcade's lack of a HP system it is a lot more playable overall.  

Next Time:  I continue to be busy and slacking, especially in convention/tax season.  So Mickey Mouse & the Castle of Illusion is up next!