After eight years of silence, the Shinobi series are resurrected once again, this time for the 3DS scene. Making its debut in 1987, Shinobi is one of the classic Sega characters preceding Sonic and his friends, and one that the fans of the franchise surely remember.
Has the legendary hero come to seek revenge once more? Is the Neo Zeed crime syndicate trying to take over the world once again? Who is Shinobi and what makes him tick? Let’s find out!
Shinobi is not the real name of the hero and it never was, but it’s often associated with Joe Musashi, the original character from the first Shinobi game back in ‘87. Throughout the titles, the role of Shinobi was taken by other characters, including Musashi’s son or other Oboro clan members. This time, it's Joe’s father's turn, Jiro Musashi, to enter the scene.
In feudal Japan, 1256, Jiro, the leader of the honorable Oboro clan, comes once again face to face with the despicable Zeed clan, in their quest to defeat the Oboro’s and claim their land once and for all. While defending the burning village, he is suddenly sucked into a time vortex and propelled to the year 2056, where Zeed has amassed a great army and is on the verge of conquering the world.
Betrayed by his friend, Shinobi ventures into the new world to find out who is behind this great plot, an adventure that will take him through futuristic factories, dense jungles, and even as far as the outer atmosphere. Gameplay
Shinobi is not the average game where you get to kill everyone in a stage with your mighty ninja blade while sitting comfortably in your seat. Shinobi is difficult and you will notice this from the very beginning.
While you can choose between four difficulty levels ranging from Beginner to Very Hard, they rather feel like Hard to Kung Fu Master. Mastering the ninja art is not an easy task, and Shinobi lives up to the saying.
True to his ninja nature, Shinobi has an entire arsenal of tricks and skills at his disposal. From his trusty sword, which you can use to perform deadly combos to projectile (kunai) attacks, using his grappling hook to drop on unsuspecting enemies from above and even harness the power of the elements, Shinobi will get the ninja out of you.
I just hope he's tough, because he will die a lot in this game and enemies might not be your biggest problem. Very often, you will find yourself dying not by the blade, but because of a deadly pit or a miscalculated a jump, which often takes the fun out of the game, making it quite a nuisance.
This provides an equitable challenge for the fans of the series, but might prove to be a bit too much for the average player looking to have some fun.
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|Use your ninja skills ... ||... and defeat your enemies |
Shinobi can also parry incoming attacks but don’t take it for granted. You can’t just sustain a parry indefinitely; instead, you have a split second to synchronize that parry to your opponent’s attack, otherwise you will sustain some damage. Remember, this is a game of skill where perfect coordination is the essence.
The controls take a while to master, but after you’ve accomplished that, you’ll find yourself jumping and blocking aerial attacks while landing a critical blow to an enemy underneath you and finishing with a kunai attack that will make you feel like a real ninja.
This rather sadistic pleasure will easily fade as you advance in the game. Killing the same enemies over and over again becomes boring, and Shinobi doesn’t provide too much diversity regarding your attackers.
Level by level, you will encounter almost the same enemies (a few different types of ninjas, futuristic soldiers and, eventually, aliens) carefully placed to make your life miserable. For an action game, this kind of content should be the one that keeps things interesting and fresh until the very end, but Shinobi fails to deliver on it.
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|Defeat powerful bosses ... ||... and become the ultimate warrior |
Although there are not too many levels (8, to be precise), it will take the average gamer a surprisingly long time to get through them all because of their difficulty. Some of the levels feature multiple boss encounters ending with a bigger boss (a super soldier, a mechanical shark, powerful ninjas and even an H-43 chopper) that will occasionally prove to be a challenge. Sometimes, they won’t. The key is to find their strengths and weaknesses, and exploit them as often as you can.
Every level features an over-the-shoulder 3D action scene where you get to ride a horse, surf some rapids and ride cars or airplanes trying to reach your goal. The surfing section, in particular, makes use of the gyroscopic feature of the 3DS and is needed to control Jiro as he jumps over ramps and avoids rocks.
At the end of each level, your performance will be rated and compensated: you will be penalized for every death and every ninja magic used, so try to keep that at a minimum and your multiplier going high to get the best score.
Over 60 achievements can be unlocked throughout the game that will reward you with new artwork and sounds for the game. If you search for new and harder challenges, new costumes or weapons, use the StreetPass feature of your 3DS and you can unlock them for 20 Play Coins each. Video and Audio
Turning up the 3D slider is not a bad choice, since it gives Shinobi a great look. While the main menu and some of the first stages are beautifully represented and a pleasure to watch in 3D, others fail to deliver the same experience and will make you turn it off in order to play the game.
This might happen especially in high contrast levels, where some objects and even Shinobi himself have faint duplicate images. As with many 3DS releases till this date, Shinobi fails to use the full potential of the console to its advantage.
On the other hand, the soundtrack of the game adopts more modern rock / techno tunes, while also keeping the oriental-style melodies and Chinese flutes. The music goes well with the level settings but, at the same time, is less memorable than the original tracks composed by Yuzo Koshiro. Conclusion
Eight years doesn’t seem enough for a proper comeback of this classic ninja master. Considering the graphics and the faulty 3D mode, Shinobi is far from perfect. The audio adds a nice futuristic touch to the game, sprinkled as it is with some oriental samples reminding you of the original soundtrack.
Shinobi has a great replay value especially for the more persistent players, adding new challenges and extra content through the StreetPass feature of your console.
If you are an old school player, the difficulty and repetitive combat will not be such of a burden, but it might prove a real turn off for average players. Remember, this is not a game for the faint-hearted, so arm yourself with tons of patience and try to anticipate your enemies' moves to survive each stage.