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The Revenge of Shinobi (GEN)
Shinobi III

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The Cyber Shinobi
The GG Shinobi
The GG Shinobi 2

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Shinobi Legions
The Revenge of Shinobi (GBA)

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Shinobi (PlayStation 2)
Nightshade

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Shinobi (3DS)
Alex Kidd in Shinobi World
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Shinobi Legions / Shinobi X / Shin Shinobi Den (新・忍伝) - Saturn (1995)

Japanese Cover

American Cover

European Cover

Shin Shinobi Den (New Shinobi Story), or known as Shinobi Legions in North America and Shinobi X in Europe, is an early Saturn release that used digitized graphics for all of the characters. Taking control of a new ninja named Sho, the controls and mechanics are very similar to Shinobi III, although a little more sluggish and clumsy. For the first time, there are separate buttons to use a sword and throw shurikens. And compared to the other games, there's a far bigger emphasis on swordplay than ever before, since the shurikens are slow, even more limited in number and fairly weak, even though you can now throw them upwards. You'll also spend much more time blocking and parrying enemy attacks. New melee moves include a spinning sword slash, a downward thrust manuever, and the ability to reflect enemies projectiles back with your sword, though this move is hard to time effectively. The magic skills have changed up a bit. The only one you can store up and use at any time is the Fire Dragon, which attacks everything on the screen. The POW icon has been replaced with the Bushido Blade, which is immediately activated and summon gigantic shadowy warrior statues every time you slash. There are also glowing orbs, which will grant an extra life when you collect ten of them. Boxes are much rarer than before, as most items are dropped by enemies. Unfortunately, this also means bombs, which are even more numerous and annoying than they usually are.

Even though the core mechanics are familiar, there's something not quite right about everything. Sho doesn't control as tighly as before, and has a tendency to make extra movements when executing sword combos. And while the level designs in the previous Genesis Shinobi games weren't exactly the best, they were at least competant - here, they're overtly long and boring, as each stage is only comprised of a single long area, rather than two or three smaller areas, before the boss fight. Many areas are similar to the ones seen in previous games - medieval-style Japanese towns, biological laboratories, caves (complete with a mine cart ride), forests, and so forth. Similarly, the bosses themselves are fantastically unmemorable. All and all, it can't help but feel somewhat uninspired.

The worst of it, though, is the graphics. All of the sprites are digitized actors in rather goofy looking costumes. This was at least a few years after Mortal Kombat came around, so theoretically this fascination with live actor sprites should have worn off, but apparently the designers were still enamored with characters that looked "like real people". Except that, in execution, everything comes off as remarkably silly, especially the animation. The backgrounds look photorealistic (albeit as a low resolution), but realism is boring compared to the near-futuristic levels in the 16-bit titles. Forgot fearsome monsters and mechanical robots - mostly you're fighting other ninjas, birds, and occasional supernatural creature, like the big dinosaur thing, which looks like a ridiculous toy model. It's bloodier than before and it is cool to slice bad guys in half, with a spurt of blood as their torso falls off. If that wasn't laughable enough, after each level follows an FMV cutscene telling the story of ninja Sho and his quest to rescue his woman Aya. It's unclear whether the developers were paying homage to cheesy Saturday afternoon ninja serials, or they just didn't have a budget, but this is a C-grade level production with cheap locations, terrible acting, awful lighting and some massively dated 80s-grade synthesized music. In the English versions, the spoken dialogue is left in Japanese and subtitled, but it's still extremely corny.

While not an overtly terrible game, Shinobi Legions looks painfully dated, and the core game is sloppy and uninspired. Apparently Sega of America felt the same way, and opted not to publish it in America, instead licensing it to Vic Tokai. Sega of Europe did publish it in Europe, but apparently wasn't happy with the soundtrack, which is fairly standard, boring, and completely unbefitting the Shinobi name. To fix this, they pulled a situation similar to Sonic CD, where they replaced the soundtrack with music by a Western composer. The new tunes are provided by Richard Jacques, also known for his work on Sonic 3D Blast for the Saturn and Sonic R. While still not quite up to par with the Genesis games, it's also leaps and bounds better than the Japanese/American soundtrack, making it the superior version overall.

Shinobi Legions

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

Director:

  • Nagi Onomichi

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Themes:


Shinobi Legions

Shinobi Legions

Shinobi Legions

Shinobi Legions



Cinema Scenes


The Revenge of Shinobi - Game Boy Advance (2002)

American Cover

Despite sharing a title with the Genesis game, The Revenge of Shinobi for the Game Boy Advance is a totally different bag of shurikens. Developed by an American company called 3d6 Games, which also worked on the GBA Altered Beast title before going out of business, and published by THQ, this hackjob totally misses the point of the Shinobi series.

Taking place in feudal Japan, the story focuses on a ninja named Shinobi. His master tells him the story of a warlord named Ashira-o, who was destroyed by five shogun and sealed within five swords. Those swords eventually corrupted all of the shogun, each of which is associated with an element: fire, wind, water, earth and darkness. As such, Shinobi must take them all down.

Disregarding nearly every element of the series that came before it, the title could very easily have been "Generic Ninja Action Game", and it both looks and feels like a shoddy Amiga release. In order to complete each of the many sprawling, non-linear levels, you need to explore the stages while rummaging through all of the nearly identical looking houses and caverns, in order to find keys or switches to open up the exit. You end up doing far more running around than actual fighting or platforming.

The combat is basic and shallow, and can be reduced to two techniques: either slash mindlessly, or slash, wait a second, then slash again. It's a little sad that the enemy AI of a 1986 arcade game outshines that of a 2002 portable game. In addition to your sword, you can chuck shurikens, but they are so few in number as to be near useless. Similarly, there are a number of magic spells, each associated with various elements, but their use is also limited.

The animation is bad, the scrolling is jarring, and the controls are terrible. The mere act of walking down steps is incredibly difficult to execute on the GBA pad. The background graphics are colorful, if repetitive, but the computer rendered sprites are blurry, indistinct and ugly. The music, which is comprised of traditional Japanese instruments, is a far stretch from the rest of the series, but the sound quality is decent for the system, at least.

The Revenge of Shinobi for the Game Boy Advance isn't entirely unplayable, like The Cyber Shinobi on the Sega Master System is, but it is still shockingly dull. Instead, try Hudson's superior Ninja Five-O on the GBA, which does a far better job of capturing the spirit of the series than this sub-par product.

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  • 3d6 Games

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The Revenge of Shinobi (GBA)

The Revenge of Shinobi (GBA)

The Revenge of Shinobi (GBA)



<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Intro
Shinobi

Page 2:
Shadow Dancer

Page 3:
The Revenge of Shinobi (GEN)
Shinobi III

Page 4:
The Cyber Shinobi
The GG Shinobi
The GG Shinobi 2

Page 5:
Shinobi Legions
The Revenge of Shinobi (GBA)

Page 6:
Shinobi (PlayStation 2)
Nightshade

Page 7:
Shinobi (3DS)
Alex Kidd in Shinobi World
Other

Back to the Index