Monday 20 January 2014

Shinobi Review (Master System)

One of Sega’s most loved franchises, Shinobi had you taking on the role of a deadly ninja trying to take out a high profile terrorist group who are the meanest ‘ever to take up guns and martial art’s weapons’. So what good are a sword, a bloke in a silly mask and a few throwing stars against a whole army of terrorists? Well you have that Ninja Magic!

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 before fighting a boss character at the end of the stage. As well as the standard side scrolling action our hero can leap up and down levels of the playing area, something that becomes increasingly important as the levels move along. Rescuing hostages gives the player better weapons as well as increasing life and unlocking a bonus stage which has you throwing shuriken's at enemies moving towards you in a first person perspective. 

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 of terrorist appearing every few levels to keep things interesting. Boss characters are large and well animated, often taking up around half the screen and presenting a daunting opponent for our heroic ninja. 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 due to the large amount of characters that appear on screen. 

Though Shinobi may appear to be a standard platform action game, it contains gameplay that really lifts it above the competition. The mixture of tactical screen jumping to try and 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 problems but for a game that stacked its claim in 1988 we really have to forgive such things. 

The power up system is inspired with a wide range of projectile and hand weapons to be gained and the impressive bonus level always worth hunting out the last few captives for. The truly inspired touch though is the way you can increase your health giving a slight role-play feel to proceedings. 

Overall, Shinobi remains a classic game. Playing it today shows how impressive the game would have been when it first came out as it still remains fresh and fun to engage with. The learning curve is set about right with difficulty increasing in bearable steps the further in you get. Each time you play a little more progress will be made and you will find yourself pressing to see the next level which is the mark of all classic games. If nothing else Shinobi proves two things; that ninja’s are cool, and true classic games always date very well. 


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