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Released: 1988

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: Sega Master System

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Sega

Submitted by: Gareth Chappell

One of Sega’s most loved franchises, Shinobi has you taking on the role of a ninja trying to take out a terrorist group. Set across five missions, each split into smaller sections, you must engage in side scrolling platform action taking out enemies and rescuing hostages to gain power ups.

As well as the standard side scrolling action our hero can leap up and down levels of the play area, something that becomes increasingly important as the levels move along. Rescuing hostages gives better weapons as well as increasing life and unlocking a bonus stage which has you throwing shurikens at enemies moving towards you in a first person view.

Graphically, Shinobi is small but well defined and levels contain a large amount of detail. Enemies are varied from level to level with a new type appearing every few stages to keep things interesting. Boss characters are large and well animated, often taking up around half of the screen presenting a daunting opponent.

When jumping up and down levels the playing field moves well with the game screen keeping integrity and moving without distorting. Slowdown is hardly ever apparent, though there is a touch of flickering at times.

Though this may appear to be a standard platform/action game, the mixture of tactical screen jumping to get the hostages and the more standard action help create a truly memorable game. Controls are responsive, though turning on the spot does present a few minor problems. The power up system is inspired with a wide range of projectile and hand weapons to be gained. The impressive bonus level is also well worth hunting out the last few captives for.

Overall, Shinobi remains a classic game. Playing it today shows it still to be fresh and fun to engage with. The learning curve is set about right and each time you play a little more progress will be made. This isn’t an arcade perfect conversion but it’s about as close as an 8-bit game can.


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Released: 1989

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: PC Eng/Turbografx-16

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Asmik

Submitted by: Alley Kat

Converted from Sega's legendary 1987 coin-op, Shinobi is an evergreen classic, still offering superb, tight gameplay and a great sense of style.

As Joe Musashi, armed with shurikens and ninja magic smart-bombs, the player must rescue the bound children scattered throughout the many split level or maze based stages.

Although PCE Shinobi is probably the best home version, it lacks the iconic first person bonus rounds where you throw shuriken at hordes of ninja as they run and flip their way towards you. The second level at the docks is also missing.

The arcades close range attacks, where Joe would slash enemies within arms reach with his katana are also absent. Thankfully the classic tunes and jingles remain intact, as, generally speaking, do the graphics, despite the odd shortcut here and there.

A great game, but its hard not to feel a bit disappointed, as it would have found a far better home on the PC Engine's CD-ROM medium, which would've allowed a good conversion to be a near perfect one.


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Released: 1989

Genre: Beat-’em-up

Format reviewed: Amstrad CPC

Publisher: Virgin Interactive

Developer: Binary Design

Submitted by: Neil Reive

I first played this game in the local fish and chip shop and it would take another couple of years until the game was converted to my beloved Amstrad CPC, but it was worth the wait.

The game's main character is a ninja called Joe Musashi who has to infiltrate a criminal organization that have kidnapped the children of the world's leaders. Joe had to progress through the various platform levels freeing the hostages all the while disposing of the enemy. Enemy would consist of gun-equipped henchmen, samurai wielding warriors, ninjas, while extravagant end of level bosses would also try to thwart your mission.

Your main standard weapon is an unlimited supply of shuriken and even your fists and feet can be used at close range. When you received a power-up you gain a gun that fires explosive bullets. Ninja magic can also be used once per level, which involves ninja figures flying all around the screen taking out any enemy.

The first person perspective bonus screen is particularly memorable as you shoot shuriken at ninjas that are running across three platforms in front of you. Randomly one or two will jump and advance towards you. If you succeed in killing them all, you gain an extra life.

This game is pretty tough in the later levels, particularly the high-rise block of bamboo sticks where one wrong step or jump led you to falling into the pits. I don't recall ever completing the game, but remember fighting a lobster type creature with a huge samurai sword in the later levels.

Although this was never going to match the arcade pixel for pixel, it is very faithful to the original's gameplay. The programmers have made full use of the CPC's capabilities with some great colourful graphics. The 128k version even has some speech in there. A brilliant conversion of an excellent arcade game.


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Released: 1987

Genre: Beat-’em-up

Format reviewed: Arcade

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Sega

Submitted by: Darran Jones

Spare a thought for poor old Shinobi this year. Despite sharing a 20th birthday with brother After Burner, parents Sega, have forgotten about its little ninja offspring.For you see, while the recent release of After Burner: Black Falcon proudly updates Suzuki’s classic arcade blaster for the PSP, no such release seems promised (PSP or otherwise) for the king of the ninjas.

Of course, you can’t really blame Sega (both Shinobi and sequel Nightshade on the PS2 didn’t exactly set the sales charts alight) but it seems somewhat of a shame that it hasn’t tried to capitalise on its venerable franchise reaching its big 2 0.

Therefore let us take a stroll down memory lane and remember what made the game so damned great in the first place. While it wasn’t the prettiest game to be found in arcades at the time, Shinobi offered plenty of enjoyment for those that decided to chance ten pence on it.

The multi-tiered leaping from level to level was very reminiscent of Namco’s Rolling Thunder, while the addition of a ninja lead made sure that Sega had the coolness factor well and truly sewn up. Then of course there was the fact that you were able to use ninja magic, throw shurikens, and even obtain the odd gun for greatly enhanced firepower. With a finite amount of children to rescue on each stage and some ruthless enemies to tackle, Shinobi never let up for a second and required your full concentration if you were to reach the end of each section and face off against the huge bosses that awaited you. While the likes of Ken-Oh proved fairly easy to vanquish, later foes – including the helicopter shown here) could be a right pig to beat; and wait until you reach the final level…

Still, once you did beat an end-of-level mayor you had the chance to earn a life in one of the greatest mini-games we have ever played. We would have shown it here but that goddamned helicopter is just too cool.