My love for Shinobi is palpable. I had one of those six-in-one Genesis cartridges as a kid, and The Revenge of Shinobi was one of the most played titles on the collection. I was never a big fan of the series' move to 3D last generation, so when I heard about a sidescrolling 3DS version, I exploded with joy.
I got to try the game out on the E3 showfloor and, while the game is no great stunning revelation, it certainly looks capable of providing a decent -- and challenging -- ninja experience.
Shinobi 3DS does a terrific job of bringing back the old school feeling of the Shinobi series, where methodical progress and well-timed movements are key to victory. The most important move is the Parry, which will be needed to fend off the attacks of enemies. Failure to master the parry command will result in death.
Like the old games, opposing Ninja will duck and jump while tossing knives at you. Your Parry only defends for a second, so you'll need to time your movements with the enemy perfectly before unleashing your own attacks. This consideration of enemy movement, and knowing when to parry, move and attack, leads to a game that more modern players may not appreciate due to its slower pace. Shinobi fans will feel right at home, though.
Shinobi 3DS is definitely more forgiving than its Genesis ancestors. The player can absorb a lot more damage before facing death, and health items are a bit more liberally spread than before. Nevertheless, the game still puts up a good fight, especially with some of the tricky environmental navigation. Spikes and pitfalls continually threaten the player's life, and you'll need some quick reflexes to utilize the grappling hook, wall-jump and avoid all manner of traps.
For the most part, the controls worked well enough, but I did find a few commands sluggish, especially the wall-jumping. The protagonist could do with being a little more responsive, but it's certainly not a dealbreaker.
Graphically, the game is certainly not the best looking on the 3DS, but it's got a really excellent use of color and a stylized, cartoon-like appearance that I found quite endearing. The game's magic attacks are especially impressive, and really pop out at you with the 3D slider on. The minimalist approach to visuals won't impress everybody, but I think it helps make the game look pretty unique.
I found Shinobi 3DS' demo pretty enjoyable. It wasn't a stunning revelation but it was a fun sidescroller with a very welcome respect for the series' eighties/nineties roots. It throws up familiar enemies, a cool horse-riding section, and the kind of thoughtful action gaming that we haven't seen since ... well, since Shinobi's heyday, I suppose.
So yeah, I guess I liked it!