Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Things are going badly, and only one man can save us. And he's not even a proper man - he's a cyborg. What's that, you may well wonder: it's a cybernetic organism, or in English a mixture of man and machine.
Oddly enough, this strange being is also an expert in the martial arts. He can jump, kick, and slash foes with his sword. He also has access to throwing stars and other special weapons. Best of all is the Ninja magical attack - not quite what you'd expect from a robot, but devastating in its effect on the enemy.
Early levels are set in factories and warehouses, with wooden crates and rising platforms to negotiate as well as baddies to zap. Then the action moves to the Bay Area, the Plain, the jungle and the waterfall.
The final two levels are set in a secret base, complete with force fields and tough opponents. Then it's on to meet the final boss, a huge ED209-alike robot with an extendible pincer.
Tokens are liberally scattered throughout the game, giving the metallic black belt extra life, shuriken, bullets and magic, as well as powering his sword up to greater heights of deadliness.
Shinobi came out a couple of years ago to generally universal praise. It featured great payability although the aim was virtually the same - the hero wanders along, slashing foes and releasing ninja magic against the tougher opponents. The most impressive part of the game was where ninjas would appear to leap out of the screen and Shinobi has to hit them with shuriken. A fairly impressive game, Shinobi is highly recommended to beat 'em up freaks!
Ninja beat em ups can be great - Revenge of Shinobi proved that. I had high hopes for this game, with its blend of magic and technology, but yet again I've been disappointed. The hero's movement is wooden, unresponsive and jerky, destroying any sense of suspended disbelief. As for the music... well, let's just say that Mozart's got nothing to worry about. The only backgrounds of note are those of the final level, when Cyber is wandering through the enemy base. The foes are poorly animated and easily defeated, even though the hero's lack of adequate response causes immense irritation. Do yourself a favour and spend your money elsewhere.
When you look at some of the new British Sega software released recently, which really shows what the machine can do, you wonder where some programmers are at. Cyber Shinobi features some rubbish graphics, with gaudy and badly defined backdrops, jerky scrolling and very poor sprites. The music is really naff and the gameplay is very boring. Shinobi-type games should be challenging and fun - this is merely dull, and doesn't have any new and original features to excite and certainly doesn't offer enough thrills or variety to keep you playing for more than a few goes.
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