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Old 11-18-2003, 02:00 AM   #11
Deal with it.
Icarus4578's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,550
Make Me Dance

Revenge of Shinobi - Genesis - Rating 3
Joe Musashi, Ryu Hayabusa, Kid Niki, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Moonlight, etc. etc. We sure do love ninjas, don't we? Yeah, I'd say that if a company is going to make an action game then it's a safe bet to include a ninja as the lead character because they almost always seem to conjure strong sales (and they're usually good games on an unusually often basis). Why? Is it the costume, the katana blade, the throwing stars/shurikens? Could it be the persistance of the fearless enigmatic soul that has been forced into that ever-familiar path of vengeance and destruction? I think I have the answer: every ninja game must feature at least one ninja/samurai boss that's always about 10 feet tall. It's an unwritten law that is abided by in virtually every ninja game. Now, don't take what I said to mean that just because a game has some ninjas bouncing about in the pale 'kage' of the moon that that is to be interpreted as meaning automatic quality gaming. For example, have you played TMNT on GC, PS2, or X-Box yet? If so, you have my sympathy. Talk about bore-job. In case you haven't played it yet here's a summary: beat up the same pathetic enemies 1,000 times per stage, repeat until sometime in the next century, the end. Obviously not one of the high points in Konami's long and lucrative history.
Sega didn't exactly strike gold with this installment of Shinobi in my opinion. The faults outweigh the positives. Sorry Sega, but I'll have to reserve a great score for a game that truly deserves it, like your very own Shinobi III (Genesis) or the forever-classic Irem gem Ninja Spirits (TG16). Not even a Yuzo Koshiro soundtrack can fix what's wrong here. So what happened?
Let me first explain the game briefly. The game opens with a brief full-screen cinematic with light flashes exposing Joe Musashi from within the darkness. He leaps and deflects two throwing stars from an up-close frontal view of his face and the title screen appears. Not bad for a game done way back in 1989. (Then again, this is the sequel to the Shinobi arcade.) You can listen to the music/sound effects, change the difficulty, amount of shurikens to start with, and the controls from the options menu. The harder you set the game, the less lives you'll start with. You've only got 3 continues to work your way through the eight stages with and this game is tough so be forewarned -- you'll probably return to the title screen more than a few times, especially on any difficulty setting aside from easy. This is good and all, but the game isn't hard in such a way that you figure out how to defeat each enemy and you move on from there. Instead, it's more the "Rush 'N Attack" style of memorizing almost every single enemy's location within each level and preparing accordingly. This I usually despise as it is just not fair for the player. I don't care how challenging a game may be - it's not much fun getting your ass handed to you just because you didn't know an enemy was waiting there to blow you away with a machine gun or something, so you often wind up 'running into' some sort of attack that you should've at least been given a chance to anticipate. Compare: in Ninja Gaiden you can clearly see everything in the stage because everything is presentable as a consideration to the player (because that's a necessary requirement in all good game design, as far as 2D action games go), and yet it remains a very challenging game. Even Shadow Dancer, another Shinobi title, is more sensitive to the gamer by naturally and progressively developing skill through repeated gameplay rather than losing just because you haven't memorized every enemy in every given location. This, I feel, is a massive mistake and a glaring flaw in game structure. Certainly, after awhile you will 'get the game down' but at what cost? I didn't have much fun doing it, so what was the point? Games are supposed to be enjoyable experiences, period.
The game controls are pretty simple. You can make Joe jump various heights and somersault by pressing jump again near/at the highest point of the first jump. He can also crouch (from which position he can still move), shoot out shurikens when at a distance from an enemy/object, fire out several shurikens which covers a span of about 90 degrees while somersaulting, use his katana or deliver a kick when in close-range, and perform four different types of Ninjitsu: Jitsu of Ikazuchi - covers Joe in a lightning barrier to absorb a set amount of punishment, Jitsu of Kariu - elongated flame dragons deliver punishment to all on-screen, Jitsu of Fushin - Joe can jump much higher, and Jitsu of Mijin - a self-destruct move which hurts everything on-screen and recovers your life bar... that is, if it doesn't kill you. It's a risky move to say the least and should probably be done only once per level, if at all. In order to change Ninjitsu you must pause the game. Sometimes the jumping gets irritating, and if you by chance happen to bump into an enemy, especially during a jump, you might fall down somewhere and lose a life so be careful not to make contact. There are crates lying around for you to destroy and acquire items like POW which increases your shuriken power until you receive a hit, more shurikens (you have a limited amount), 1-ups, etc. Often you'll shoot a crate and find a bomb inside, so you'll have to avoid going near them. There are some tricky jumps in some locations and you should make 100% certain that there isn't any opposition nearby before attempting some death-defying leap.
The graphics are decent - 4 MEGS with quite a variety of locations to be explored. The enemy designs aren't very impressive but it's not really an issue. Expect lots of ninjas, armored samurai, soldiers, and the like. Backgrounds are nice and consist of bamboo forests and dojos, waterfalls running down a mountain-side, a city (looks kinda shoddy to me), the inside of a plane, etc. Most of the bosses are rather hard and take skill to defeat, as opposed to the levels which are cheap and stupid games of memorization. Right off the bat, the first boss is a 10-foot armor-clad samurai warrior. Or wait, is that ninja warrior? I can't remember; who cares? For the second boss you'll have to take on a powerful ninja inside a diner, and the third is a brain.... protected by laser-shooting mechanisms on the ceiling....
The music is a mixed bag. As you've probably guessed it's pulse-driven dance tunes (just once I'd like to see Joe Musashi and Co. get down and boogie to some Yuzo tunes, but that will never happen so.... ). Songs like The Shinobi, Sunrise Blvd., and The Dark City are done quite well but nothing here touches Yuzo's work in Streets of Rage 2. The sound effects are average and don't stand out in any particular way.
Well there you have it. If you've made it this far into my review, thanks for sticking around. I felt uninspired by this game and don't really care to play it again.... ever! Why bother with this when there's far, faaaar better ninja titles available? Makes little sense to me. Even the ending isn't worth it. :thumbdn: Look, I'm just trying to prevent you from wasting your time like I unfortunately did. If I can do that then I can go to bed with peace of mind knowing I did what is right.
...Don't even THINK of touching the GBA Revenge of Shinobi.

Cheat code ~
Save time and money
--Don't play this game. Ever. :cool guy:
Turn on the difference.

Last edited by Icarus4578; 05-09-2004 at 04:31 AM.
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