Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Shinobi

Review: Shinobi (3DS)

6:00 PM on 01.24.2012 // Darren Nakamura
  @Dexter345

It has been nearly 10 years since we were last put into the sandals of an Oboro Clan shinobi, the last game of which was well received despite (or perhaps because of) its high difficulty. Though it brought the series into the third dimension, its gameplay hearkened back to a simpler time when health didn't regenerate and levels had to be obsessively studied in order to be conquered.

On the 3DS, Shinobi returns to the 2D sidescrolling roots that popularized the series more than 20 years ago. Staying true to its legacy, this latest entry maintains a lot of the old-school game philosophy, though developer Griptonite Games has added a lot of the new-school fluff that gamers today appreciate. Whether anybody gets to experience the bonus content depends on how much pain they are willing to endure.

Shinobi (3DS)
Developer: Griptonite Games
Publisher: SEGA
Released: November 15, 2011
MSRP: $39.99

I like difficult games -- I finished Super Meat Boy's Dark Cotton Alley, I've completed Bionic Commando Rearmed's Super Hard mode, and I reveled in Contra 4's punishing requirement of both memorization and reflexes. I say this not to brag but to provide a point of reference when discussing the difficulty of Shinobi. I almost gave up on this review entirely, because after wasting a few hours trying to complete the first level on the "Normal," I thought there would be no hope. I had to suck up my pride and drop down to the insultingly titled "Beginner" difficulty, and it was still a tough journey to reach the end credits.

I don't know that Shinobi is necessarily more difficult than any of the aforementioned titles, but it definitely hangs onto a few obsolete ideas that today's difficult games tend to eschew. In contrast to the bite-sized levels seen in many modern challenging games, Shinobi presents fewer levels that can each take more than half an hour to complete. I tend to spend more time playing games with short levels, as there is no "just one more try" desire after being set back by 30 minutes.

Again, a lot of the problem was solved by lowering the difficulty, as the Beginner mode affords the player infinite lives, offers more generous checkpoints, and decreases damage taken from attacks. The higher difficulty levels resemble old-school gaming at its worst, with finite lives and continues, after which a player is forced to start over from the beginning.

The general gameplay in Shinobi is not far removed from its ancestors on the old 8-bit and 16-bit systems. At its heart, it's a 2D sidescroller with a focus on combat finesse and precision platforming. Your hero, Jiro Musashi, has at his disposal the standard double jump and wall jump as well as a small repertoire of melee and ranged attacks.

Of the two main gameplay elements, combat is the more satisfying. Shinobi rewards the player for patience and timing rather than mindless button mashing. Going into battle with a wildly swinging sword will almost always result in an enemy counterattack. Instead, the player must predict the enemy's attack, parry it, and launch a counterattack when the enemy's defenses drop. While that sounds simple on paper, it takes quite a bit of getting used to. That said, once it clicks and the player can build up a high combo by emerging from several fights untouched, it really does instill the feeling of being a ninja.

Boss fights follow a similar philosophy as fights with standard enemies. Attacks are telegraphed a split second before they are launched, and they can generally be parried and countered. While the bosses seemed difficult at first, none are cheap; with some practice, it is not unreasonable to finish a boss fight without taking damage.

In contrast to the combat, the platforming is weak. The controls are fine, and there is a lot of nuance involved in jumping to exactly the location intended, but the main problem is that it just doesn't come up often enough. Platforming sections that really test the player's skill take a back seat to combat sections, so the player doesn't get nearly as much practice. In addition, there are some unfortunate level design choices, like sudden pitfalls and spikes that are just out of sight before making a jump. A more zoomed-out camera during platforming sections could have maintained the necessity for skillful jumping while eliminating the cheap deaths that aren't really the fault of the player.

In keeping with the old-school design, the story in Shinobi ranges from nonsensical to nonexistent. From the anime cutscenes between levels, I gather that it is about a ninja from the 13th century who gets transported forward through time 800 years to fight things. Over the course of the game, the player finds himself riding on top of speeding cars, exploring an undersea laboratory, ad navigating the inside of a volcano, all with little to no explanation of how or why he is doing it.

So while story is unimportant, gameplay is king. Knowing this, the developers added in a substantial amount of bonus content. There are Achievements, each with their own rewards that can be as little as cosmetic bonuses, such as alternate costumes or weapons, or as big as a full boss rush or other challenge levels that really put the player's skills to the test. It's impressive how much extra content there is to find in Shinobi, though how much the player actually sees depends heavily on how much time and effort he is willing to invest.

Shinobi is a great game with tons to do. Some of the old-school elements are sure to turn many players off, but if you can surmount the steep difficulty curve, there is a substantial amount of satisfying gameplay to be found. Those who want a cohesive narrative or who can't afford to endure a few hours of frustration should look elsewhere, but those who can make it past the hump can wring out a lot of fun.



THE VERDICT

8

Shinobi - Reviewed by Darren Nakamura
Charming - Not perfect, but it's easy to ignore the rough spots when faced with so many engaging design decisions and entertaining moments. A memorable game that's hard not to like and recommend to others.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Darren Nakamura, Associate Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure Dexter345 Tips
Darren is a scientist during the day. He has been a Destructoid community member since 2006, joining the front page as a contributor in 2011. While he enjoys shooters, RPGs, platformers, strateg... more   |   staff directory



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Shinobi


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Music Notes: "Tied Down" by Forever Still

Desert Golfing - The Model Mobile Game

Review: Pony Island - Maneiac Crop!

The meaning of The Witness (Part 1 of 3)

Do you even Bebop?

Cblogs of 02/04/16 + Bayonetta and some other one I suppose

Waifu Wars: Your Cruel Device, Your Blood Like Ice..

Best Kickstarter implosion EVER as dev money is spent on booze and strippers

Video Gaming Bits -- Dungeons& Dragons: Tower of Doom

Is Planet Earth more than Blue, such as An?

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

TheBlondeBass avatarTheBlondeBass
Give me an open-world game and I'll find a way to mistreat children and the elderly.
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
What do you think guys? Text or no text?
Agent9 avatarAgent9
I'm dying of laughter, these are too good XD super Zangeif OP
Parismio avatarParismio
How dare they price her so low...
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Fire Emblem Fates special edition is confirmed to have all three versions on one cartridge, so you DO get Revelation early.
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Frinkiac.com: Search Simpsons quotes, get the image from the episode where the quote is from and easily make a meme.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I ended up buying Yakuza 3 on Amazon and nabbing Gravity Rush Remastered on the PS Store. Both have trophies so I'm pretty hyped to play em.
Virtua Kazama avatarVirtua Kazama
Just finished a blog just in time for the 25th Anniversary of Street Fighter II, which is in a few minutes...
Parismio avatarParismio
Jesus Pacland in smash looks like something someone made in MSPaint. I love it.
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Looks like Nintendo was selling a North America exclusive 3DS cover plate. At least, I've never seen this particular one before. It's out of stock now, though.
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
So Helldivers is pretty fucking great.
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
Since I thanked Niero and Paladin on the site update article, might as we thank the rest of you staff, contributors, mods, volunteers, tippers, former workers, commenters, bloggers, quickshitposters, lurkers, trol-nevermind them, anyway XCOM2 calls!
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
I've got an even better picture! I'll post it in the comments.
Steel Squirrel avatarSteel Squirrel
I just have to post this pic because it's one of the best things ever. Gotta post it in the comments though.
Nathan D avatarNathan D
Hits Save in blog editor.Your post currently has a publish date of 2016-01-23 11:44 PM.
Samsneeze avatarSamsneeze
Maurice White, Earth, Wind and Fire founder died yesterday and 2016 continues to make it clear that it gives no shits about your favorite musicians and people.
Jinx 01 avatarJinx 01
I have a bunch of unfinished blogs from the last two years when I had too much anxiety to finish them. So expect a bunch of probably outdated blogs from me soon ;p
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
If anyone wants to peep me having a quick, unpolished go at some cheesy Sonic music, the fun is here: https://soundcloud.com/justin-stewart-57/i-am-all-of-me-wip
Torchman avatarTorchman
Daily reminder that your waifu is shit. That is all.
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
While fighting a Lucas, I did Bayo's up taunt, then I remembered what happened to Lucas's Mom in Mother 3. Now I feel bad.
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -