The GG Shinobi (simply referred to as Shinobi for American and European releases) is a decent miniaturization of the Shinobi series, with gameplay similar to The Revenge of Shinobi, but with some new elements to make up for the inferior tech. The graphics are still excellent, and the soundtrack features music from Yuzo Koshiro, along with a few chiptune renditions of songs from The Revenge of Shinobi. Sega didn’t cut any corners with regards to presentation, as noted by the impressive parallax scrolling backgrounds in some stages.
Taking a hint from sentai shows, The GG Shinobi lets you play as a group of five ninjas, each with a different colored uniform. Each also has a unique weapon, ninjitsu and skill. You begin with only the sword-wielding Red Ninja, whose magic can damage everything on the screen, but you choose your levels in a Mega Man style stage select. There are five in total: Highway, which has you jumping between moving cars; Harbor, with ships and crates; Wood, which has you swinging between trees; and Valley, with a river running through it. Once you’ve beaten the four main stages, you can head to Neo City for the final battle.
When you finish a level, you rescue one of your compatriots and can switch to them at any time. Pink Ninja tosses bombs, can freeze all enemies on the screen and can climb on the ceiling; Yellow Ninja attacks with energy blasts, can walk on water and can make himself invincible; Blue Ninja has a grappling hook that can be used to swing on certain pegs and can turn himself into a tornado allowing limited flight; and the Green Ninja wields shurikens, can double jump and has a suicide attack much like the Mijin attack from The Revenge of Shinobi. Spreading out the abilities with the ninjas makes this play somewhat differently to its bigger brothers.
The ninja selection is a great idea, and it really adds variety to the gameplay. Unfortunately at the start of the game, when you’ve only got the Red Ninja with his pathetically short attack against enemies that take two or more hits, the game can be very tough. Your short life meter doesn’t help either, as you can take between two and four hits before biting the dust. Other than the cramped portable display, The GG Shinobi is still quite enjoyable.