Read the full review here.
“With a focus on ducking behind cover, triggering enemy fire in order to deftly dodge it before attacking, and eliminating foes one at a time, Shinobi will appeal to a more patient, cerebral gamer. Not that others cannot enjoy it, but its particular flow… will not appeal to everyone.”
– from the full review, which you can read here.
I dig Shinobi.
Does that mean I believe it is a great game? No. But I do not think it should be so easily dismissed. Whether in my broad prior experience in retro gaming conversations, or an informal poll I recently took on Twitter, it seems that while some players give NES Shinobi a fair shake, others rather dislike it, even to a seemingly heated extent.
But why? Because the arcade version is better? That is a silly reason, by itself. Of course the cabinet iteration is going to have better graphics and crunchier sound. As long as the gameplay is faithful, though, let us be honest: This is a recognizable copy, and a very similar game.
Compared to some true NES stinkers, Shinobi is not bad at all, even among platformers. I could instantly name a half-dozen games I would much rather play Shinobi than (Athena being the first that comes to mind, for the record). In my mind, it is a step (or a half-star, if you would) above Rolling Thunder.
It is still weird to see the word “SEGA” on the title screen, though. Every time.
NES Gameplay Tips For Shinobi: Honestly? Be patient and crouch a lot. Seriously. Keep in mind, that on a mechanical level, most of the enemies actually are not truly pattern-based (or even mindless runners like the purple-sleeved zombie goons from Kung Fu), but are instead “tripped” by your proximity. You can fairly quickly figure out, based on their consistent projectile speeds, the appropriate distance from which it is safe to drop down to or jump up to them, dodge their weaponry, then attack. Sure, you will get tripped up every once in a while by a new enemy type or an unexpected tandem, but figuring out those enemy-combination puzzles is precisely part of the fun of Shinobi!
Read The Full Review For: Use of the word “gander,” an attempt at explaining the hostages-as-items situation, a breakdown of what sort of gamer this game will appeal to, and something about ninja flair.