The Game Gear sequel pretty much follows in its predecessor’s footsteps, but refines some elements to make it an even better game. You’ve got to rescue the same four ninjas, each with the same abilities as before. There are four stages here too – Castle, Building, Canyon and Factory.
In addition there’s a crystal hidden in each of the stages. You’ll need to find all of these crystals before advancing to the final stage, but many require special abilities to reach, meaning you’ll go through some areas a second time after rescuing your uniquely attributed allies.
Bosses are spectacular; you get to fight a giant armadillo that shoots out the spikes on his back, and of course rolls into a ball and all across the screen, plus a giant worm that bores out of the floor and ceiling to attack you. The rest of the game looks equally excellent. While the predecessor took the style of The Revenge of Shinobi, here the backgrounds look a bit closer to the later Shinobi III, with a greater emphasis on biological and mechanical designs.
The difficulty has been adjusted – enemies take less hits to kill, so the earlier stages of the game aren’t as frustratingly difficult. With the addition of a password system, Shinobi II makes for one of the best 8-bit portable action games out there.