Title screen. Classy.

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.

And six of 'em? Really?

Is that... Marilyn Monroe? Wha?

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.

That helicopter? You totally fight it. Boss.


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!

Ninja time.

Getting somewhere...

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.

Mmmm, hostages.

Final level!

3 Responses to “ Shinobi ”

  1. Good review. I think Tengen’s most glaring mistakes with their conversion of Shinobi were the mechanic for using ninja magic (hold B then press A? Why not just use Select?), and the fact that the magic was unavailable during boss fights. The second of those 2 flaws is the most damning because ninja magic is readily available during boss fights in the arcade original, as well as in the SMS conversion (though that’s a different animal). Had they chosen a better color palette and corrected those 2 issues, I think the title would have played better and perhaps aged better than it has. Still, I agree that it’s still a highly playable adventure that is close enough to the arcade game it’s based upon to be a must-have for fans of the original, considering it’s the only console port that didn’t change the formula ala Bionic Commando.

  2. Agreed, MetalFOR, and thank you for your comments — if I remember correctly, another flaw specifically to the NES version is its limit of one player projectile on the screen at a time. On the SMS, you could throw two shurikens at once which, understandably, made for a bit more fun and fast-paced of an experience.

  3. […] four stars; compare that with what I consider a step below this game with three, like my recent Shinobi review of three stars). The best part is probably the $1 off coupon for Domino’s Pizza in the […]

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