Shinobi Review (3DS)

Posted by Jim Cook, Dec 02, 2011 23:20

Sega has had an eye on reviving their 2D side scrolling ninja hero before, with their famous "Shinobi’s back!" ads. It didn’t amount to much at the time, but did show that the series hasn’t been forgotten. Now he’s back again on the 3DS, delivering a fairly good, if brutal, platformer. In Shinobi, players guide the historic ninja through a variety of locations, killing generic enemies, making precision jumps, fighting bosses, and even going through a few non-traditional stages for good measure.

Shinobi (3DS)In a strange move, Shinobi is controlled mostly with the analog nub rather than the d-pad. It’s not an ideal arrangement, but it works well enough and I rarely found cause to blame the controls for any deaths. He has a decent array of techniques, with the usual running and jumping joined by the ability to fling kunai (effectively ’Japanese throwing knives’), slide, use a grappling hook to reach high places, conjure devastating ninja magic, and parry incoming attacks if you have good timing. The first stage does a fairly good job of teaching you how to use these various skills, so you’ll be up to speed in short order.

What makes Shinobi stand out in today’s market is that it is intentionally rather difficult. While most sections aren’t particularly hard and involve just fighting a few enemies at a time with plenty of warning about obstacles, they mostly provide contrast for the harder areas. You’ll start running into instant-death pitfalls that require very precise jumps to get past just a few stages in, and you’ll occasionally find such obstacles guarded by rather annoying enemies who might send you falling you to your doom. Normally I would consider this a significant problem, but the series has generally been somewhat hard anyway and players can use lower difficulty settings. Likewise, many bosses love ’gotcha’ tactics where you think you’ve figured out their pattern in a previous stage, but later they might have an extra step in their attacks that will throw your timing off or just plain surprise you. It’s rough, but it’s meant to be.

Other parts of the game aren’t quite what one might expect when they hear ’2D platformer.’ There are some touch screen controls for a few of your techniques and other purposes, and even a few early stages involve things like riding through the forest on horseback from a 3D perspective while avoiding trees. While I’m not particularly fond of these inclusions, they’re not bad and certainly don’t ruin the experience; they seem more like token nods to the 3DS hardware than anything. There is another departure from the norm that is more welcome though, the inclusion of various in-game achievements and extra modes. Free play and training modes are available to help you learn various fancy ninja sword combos, and you can even unlock various art/music/series history gallery pieces. These are definitely nice touches to have, and they do help make up for some of Shinobi’s shortcomings.

Ultimately, Shinobi is a decent game. It relies a little too much on the more ’cheap’ and gimmicky form of challenge in many places, but it’s fairly faithful to the series’ history and fun enough to play. It’s going to appeal to a very specific crowd, and wasn’t quite to my tastes, but it isn’t a bad game by any means. Fans of the series should be pleased enough, and those interested in classic-style, notably difficult 2D platformers may want to check it out as well.

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Our Rating for Shinobi Review (3DS)
7.0 Replay
In-game achievements and unlockable gallery content may bring some players back for extra sessions.
7.0 Graphics
Players visit an impressive variety of locations, and the graphics themselves look decent enough.
7.5 Sound
Basic sound effects and limited voice work join a fairly good spread of music, so you won’t have any problems with what you’re hearing.
7.0 Gameplay
Good controls and a variety of actions keep the action fun, though several segments make too liberal use of cheap death areas.
0.0 Multiplayer/Online Content
N/A; this is a single-player game.
7.0 Overall
An enjoyable platformer with some rough edges. It may not catapult Shinobi back to stardom, but it’s still fun.

Rating: 0.0, votes: 0

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