October 11, 2010, at 02:22 PM

Mini Review: Shinobi

From the SMS’s heyday, one of the arcade conversions that powered the system in the battle against the NES. But I’d never played it before. So is it any good?


Pretty good, for the era. Presumably the arcade game was on more powerful hardware so it’s a downconversion, but it’s not too dreadful for that. Enemies and environments are reasonably varied.


Classic tunes. Well, I know them all from Alex Kidd in Shinobi World but it’s interesting to hear the “originals”.


The game is reasonably playable which would keep you coming back for more, and it’s certainly enjoyable enough to make me power through with some enthusiasm. But it seems short. Only the dreadful difficulty spikes (see below) stop it being a 1-day game.


I’m sure there was one, but I didn’t read it. Reads the back of the box Rescuing children? Was that it? Hrmph.


This game has some major difficulty issues.

  • First, there’s the impossible jumps. As far as I can tell, in many places (especially the later levels) you have to jump over instant-death pits with pixel precision, and it’s not particularly easy to tell which pixel either.
  • The stage 3 boss is a complete nightmare - the first phase is a “wall of mandaras” (I had to look it up and I still don’t really get it) which you have to destroy using button-mashing in slightly less time than is humanly possible.
  • A few of the bosses forget to flash or give some other feedback when you find their weak point.

If it wasn’t for savestates, I’d have given up on this. Even with them, I had trouble with the button mashing. Maybe back in the day I’d have persevered but these days, life is too short.


The two-level design is very interesting, although it is rather modal. The multi-stage bosses are pretty good and ought to have caught on a bit more. The variety of enemies is nice too, with new ones being added into the mix fairly continuously throughout the game.


One of those games everyone ought to play, but I think you need the nostalgia bit to be set to consider it a classic you’d play over and over.

Mini Review Ratings