the Revenge of Shinobi
Release year - USA:1989
Company: Sega
System: genesis
Genre: Platformer
Players: 1

Review by: PrimeOp

Instead of porting the aging arcade version of Shinobi to the Genesis, Sega decided to make a whole new game that expanded upon the original in many ways. The result is one of the best all-around platforming games ever, the Revenge of Shinobi. While the original Shinobi was good (as "one hit and die" games go), this is the game that helped the series achieve legendary status.

The Zeed organization that Joe Musashi defeated in "Shinobi" has returned in the form of Neo Zeed. While Joe is away, Neo Zeed lays waste to the Oboro compound, kills most of the clan members and kidnaps Naoko. Once again, Joe Musashi is drawn into battle in order to save the world, his love and avenge the deaths of his breatheren. Unlike most sequels where characters were off training somewhere, Joe gained many skills beyond his original Shinobi move set. Not content with throwing one shuriken at a time, he can now leap in the air, spin and throw a barrage of them in many directions. A power-up now allows him to block small projectiles while standing still and throw burning shuriken. Joe still has his handy low-walking skill to duck beneath traps and enemy fire. Even better, his ninpo magic now goes beyond mere smart bombs. Sure, he can still set his enemies world on fire, but he also has a spell to increase his jumping power (complete with ghostly after-images). Nothing can top the move that involves Joe 's causing himself to explode (costing you a life) to pummel his enemies with his own bone and gut shrapnel, then reform his atoms just as good as new. You can perform these once every stage or life, unless you find extra "nin" symbols that are hidden in some levels.
Chiba Chiba, y'all. Unfortunately, you won't find this title screen tribute intact in later editions, and many other tributes are edited.

Always walk to the edge of the platform that's the furthest away from the brain, let the laser aim there, then walk to the front end and attack the brain when you can.
The Neo Zeed has learned from the mistakes of it's predecessors and restocked their armies accordingly. Now the enemies are more varied while the environmental hazards and traps are far deadlier. Even the drone ninja look menacing by wearing the same mask that the leader of the Zeed, Nakohara (Joe 's teacher), wore in the original Shinobi. There are bat-winged ninja, Chinese assassins armed with San-Sie-Gun (3-section staffs), killer soldiers, female dancers with lethal kicks and more. But the bosses are what really sets this one off. One boss encounter has you beating up the weak spots of a speeding truck that you're on top of while it fires bullets at you and sends electric shocks your way. Another boss is a giant brain-powered super-computer that is guarded by a pair of deadly laser cannons. Yet another boss is a cross between two Arnold Schwartzenegger roles (I leave it to you to get the more subtle of the two). One of the most thrilling moments comes after a fight atop a speeding subway train. When the ride stops, you'll have a chance to do battle with one (or two) of the world's greatest superheroes. Another boss is one very BIG surprise.

At the time of the game's release, these visuals were considered amazing. The high level of detail in the graphics were also ahead of it's time, especially characters' clothing and the backgrounds. Level 2-1's waterfall effects were something that most gamers had never seen before. The palettes used in the stages perfectly set the tone for the areas which they depict. Military installations and the junkyard look battle-torn and forboding while the disco that the boss named Shadow Dancer lurks in is a neon and strobe light festival that we wouldn't see the likes of again until Streets of Rage 3. Yuzo Koshiro, the man behind Streets of Rage's music, did the fantastic tunes for this. Personally, it's some of my favorite game music of all games EVER. It ranges from funky to traditional "ninja-like" music to grand dramatic compositions. The music definitely adds to the experience of the game here. Last but not least, the control here is quick, responsive and intuitive. It takes very little time to 'feel' the timing of his movements, including where in his leap to perform his double-jump. With all this and rather presice collision detection, the gaming is fair and your death is probably your fault.
Don't get mesmerized by the waterfall... unless you want to fall to your death or get hit by the enemy's shuriken, that is.

Despite being one of the first games available for the Sega Genesis, it's still one of the most fun. The fluid gameplay, Koshiro's music and the character 'tributes' are a winning combo here. Shinobi III may be more polished, but the start of the "Super Shinobi" series still has its charms.

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