Those looking for a game with lots of challenge and a distinct sense of style would do well to check out Shinobi.
It's a well-known fact that ninjas are cool. Yet these enigmatic, highly trained, highly disciplined, emotionless Japanese assassins probably have a pretty difficult life, what with all the skulking and assassinating and running around. And in the case of Shinobi, Sega's latest 3D action game, the main character, Hotsuma, has it even tougher than usual--he'll be constantly fighting off the demonic remains of his former clansmen. So if you're expecting a challenge from Shinobi, then at least you know what you're in for. The game, inspired by Sega's classic ninja action series, is notable both for its extreme level of difficulty and also for its highly responsive control mechanics. The combination of these elements makes for a game that can be very satisfying when it isn't frustrating, though in any event, Shinobi could have used more time in development so that its action could have stood out better from the game's assorted shortcomings.
Other than the fact that its main character is a ninja, Shinobi actually has very little in common with other games in the series, such as the original arcade game and the Sega Genesis classic, Revenge of Shinobi. Unlike those games, this Shinobi is a fully 3D game that has much more of an emphasis on close-quarters hack-and-slash combat than on ranged shooting. However, this Shinobi does have a thematic similarity to its predecessors, insofar as this is not a game involving stealth--you won't be spending any time sneaking in shadows here, but instead you'll be busy chopping up and chopping down droves of otherworldly foes. There's definitely no shortage of pure action in this game.
The mechanics of Shinobi are the best thing about the game, though you won't realize this at first. Hotsuma, clad in his futuristic black armor and bearing a long red scarf (which make him look awfully similar to Hanzo from the Samurai Shodown fighting games), has a lot of interesting techniques at his disposal. He can swiftly run about, jump in any direction, jump a second time for additional height and distance in midair, and perform a "stealth dash," a faster-than-the-eye dodge maneuver that leaves a ghostly image of him standing there for a moment. He can dash around like this nonstop while on the ground, traveling quickly from place to place or easily maneuvering behind a foe for the kill. Or he can dash once in mid-jump to gain even more distance in midair. He can even latch onto and run along many completely vertical surfaces. Some of Shinobi's most enjoyable, most challenging sequences involve having to run through enemy infested levels--along the sides of skyscrapers. You'll make desperate leaps from one side of a building to another, and certain death awaits if you fall short.
To do his dirty work, Hotsuma fights with a cursed ninja sword, which he can use to execute a few slashing combos or midair strikes. The curse manifests itself relatively early on in the game and creates both advantages and disadvantages in combat. On the one hand, the sword has a constant need to drink souls--you'll see a red meter onscreen that gradually drains down but fills back up as red energy from slain foes gets absorbed into the blade. If the meter runs all the way out, Hotsuma's sword begins absorbing Hotsuma's own life energy and will eventually kill him if he doesn't do some killing of his own, fast. On the other hand, the sword's curse empowers it as Hotsuma kills opponents in rapid succession. The more foes you slay in a row, the stronger the sword becomes, and empowering the sword in this fashion will be a necessary tactic for defeating many of the tough boss monsters in Shinobi--they'll conveniently spawn in a number of smaller, weaker foes, and you'll quickly kill them one by one, then land a deathblow on their master. The fact that Shinobi essentially requires you to move and fight quickly definitely works in its favor and makes for some fast-paced and intense fighting sequences. Also, besides his blade, Hotsuma has a limited number of throwing knives whose primary purpose is to stun targets, immobilizing them for a short while so that Hotsuma can cut them down.
- Player Reviews: 66
- Game Universe:
- Shinobi (PS2, ARC, C64, GG, NES, SMS, TG16, AMI, CPC, X360, MSX),
- The Revenge of Shinobi (GBA, PC, PS3),
- Nightshade (PS2),
- Shadow Dancer (GEN, C64, SMS, ARC, AMI, CPC, PC),
- Rittai Ninja Katsugeki Tenchu: Shinobi Hyakusen (PS),
- Rittai Ninja Katsugeki Tenchu: Shinobi Gaisen (PS),
- Shinobi Legions (SAT),
- Shinobi II: The Silent Fury (GG),
- Nightshade (NES),
- The Cyber Shinobi (SMS)
- Number of Players: