SEGA really are digging deep this year on the 3DS, both attempting to revive 1990′s Sonic and now ninja supreme, Shinobi.
A game that never really got over the Mega Drive years; at the time Shinobi was a rock hard 2D platform fighting game where you played as a ninja, usually fighting against an enemy called the Zeed. Shinobi had a few hot titles but is probably best known for the copyright infringing appearances of Spiderman and Batman as bosses in 1989′s The Revenge of Shinobi. Sega have revisited Shinobi a few times since then but with mixed results, so now we are back to its roots for some hardcore ninja action.
Just like the old arcades and home consoles, Shinobi returns as a side scrolling platformer, with our hero Jiro somehow thrust through time, starting in 1256 in a secluded village and then inexplicably arriving in 2056 which happens to be full of fun toting maniacs and flying brains.
Jiro has a wealth of weapons and powers available to him from a versatile katana to a limited amount of Kunai for distance targets. Jiro is also so adept with his blade he is able to deflect projectiles with a well timed RB press. This move very early on becomes your main fall back, allowing you to harmlessly dispose of bullets as you gain more ground towards your target. The more you deflect the more you boost your combo, granting even more powerful moves. Our ninja also has plenty of acrobatic skills to put to use to gain advantage over the many enemies, with a chain to pull him up to ceilings, wall jumps, double jumps and slides.
With the use of the touch screen Jiro can also select and use Ninja Magic by collecting magic scrolls littered around the levels. These are triggered with the LB and each one has their own advantages; Fire magic will cleanse the screen of most enemies in a roaring inferno that also grants Jiro fire weapons for a short period, Earth magic gives Jiro an auto parry but leaves him with little health afterwards, lightning grants immunity for three hits and water magic boosts jumps and running speed.
Though graphically the game won’t win any awards as it does look quite simple, there are plenty of cool effects to entertain you, with flame effects and some well created enemies that fall into piles of skulls and bones as you kill them. 3D is also present and offers some decent depth to the action on screen, sadly though it’s all 2D during the animated cutscenes.
Many action platform games tend to fall on the boring side after a while and even though the story is lost early on, Shinobi manages to stay fresh throughout as you constantly feel like you are progressing. From jumping across roofs of cars and dodging missiles, running through huge freight trains full of weird experiments to dodging sniper fire whilst working your way up a lift shaft, every level really offers something new other than a batch of platforms to jump around.
The difficulty of games is always a sore point when reviewing, too hard and you never see the end, too easy and it’s all over in a blink of an eye; well Shinobi has hit the prefect chord here, offering a real challenge spread over a range of difficulty settings. The combat is designed in such a way that you need your game face on all of the time or else you will perish a lot, with even the beginner settings being very humbling if not focused. However, playing on the beginner setting grants more continues, lives and slightly easier enemies, but at the cost of all this help effecting your final score and rankings.
Even after the initial challenge of the story mode there are plenty of other areas to explore. Each level has a variety of well hidden items to locate plus a wealth of achievements to unlock and brag to your mates about and the additional option to save replays of any level so can show off how you completed them. The StreetPass is also utilised here in a series of 13 challenges that you need to unlock by using game coins. As an added bonus there is also a decent history of the Shinobi series, with some interesting facts about each game, plus a short synopsis on the plots.
Whilst not the greatest looking game on the 3DS, Shinobi is one of the most rewarding thanks in part to its skilful combat system that is a pleasure to master. Shinobi on 3DS is certainly not far away from the quality of the games of old, which is when series was at its best.
Rating: GoodReview Policy
You can order Shinobi from ShopTo here.