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GENESIS Reviews: Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master


For those reading one of my Genesis review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

I already reviewed a bunch of SNES games, so its natural that I am going to review the games of its prime competition. Does the SEGA Genesis stand a chance against the legendary SNES library?

My review series is based on the top 100 list of Retro Sanctuary

-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the Retro Sanctuary list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

16: Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master:
Year: 1993.
Genre: Action.
Publisher: Sega.
Developer: Megasoft.

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

With third Shinobi on the Genesis, Sega is making a game on the back of poorly conceived Arcade port, and a well loved game that is nonetheless overshadowed by other Ninja-themed action games.

It is Shinobi III that Sega cements the series as part of the holy Ninja Triad of the the 8 and 16 bit generation.

"He will be a shadow. He will be a Shinobi"

Unlike its predecessors, Shinobi III actually attempts to put together some story to Shinobi's actions. At least with an extensive opening essay. After that, the game basically leaves all pretense of a narrative, and simply let's the action speaks of itself.

In a supposed sequel to The Revenge of Shinobi, the evil organization in that game returned with a vengeance, and Joe Musashi needs to go through 7 levels to put a stop to it. Its all basic stuff, but that's not what you are getting into this game for.

You are getting inot it to jet surf over water while throwing knifes at some bad guy's face

Each level manages to be unique, in such a way as to invite multiple playthroughs through the sheer quality of the game. Unfortunately, playing on older hardware (without save points), you may miss a feature that saves progress, which is a common complaint in action games.

Still, it is a testament to the game's arcade quality that going through the same level several times rarely gets boring. After all, each time, you discover a more efficient way of moving forward, a more effective way to deal with danger. And that is the most important quality in an arcade-type game.

Very Basics Story: -2
No Save System: -1
Invites Multiple Playthroughs: +5

"Although his fighting spirit burn like fire. His mind is still and calm as water "

Retaining its shooter-like gameplay, Shinobi III continues to employ throwing shurikens as the most primary method of attack. However, it changes mechanics significantly by ramping up Joe's mobility and speed.

Now, the game invites faster play styles, and because of that, it does reduce the difficulty level overall. Which is okay, since this is the closest to a bad ass ninja experience the franchise came to achieving.

Since each level is a little different, each requires a different utilization of the game's mechanics. Some levels need a more careful approach, with a wait and see style. Others invite more speed, with one level adding in an annoying platforming section.

Not all levels are as straightforward as the starting forest

While the occasional platforming can be annoying, it manages to express the spirit of this faster iteration of Shinobi. With the ability to wall jump, as well as double jump, performing these ninja feats is a big part of the game's fun.

However, due to the frustrating unpredictability of the double jump, what could have been one of the highlights of the game becomes one of its lowest points.

Other than that, all action mechanics click satisfactorily. Especially with boss battles that are difficult, engaging, and beautifully tense.

Healthy Challenge: +2
Fun Basic Gameplay: +3
Fun Bosses: +3
Double Jump Inaccuracy: -2

"The wings of darkness burns and shakes the earth as it lands"

It is obvious that Sega applied all their production experience for the Genesis in making this game. As it manages to look and sound, simply better than any other action game in the system, and even rivals the best looking games of the SNES.

Due to the increased speed of the game, anything less than the top-notch sprite animation we see here would have been an obvious let down. It is then more satisfying to see that these well-animated sprites are also remarkably detailed. Especially the bosses, whose increased size allows for more to show, without sacrificing performance.

You will fight some seriously grotesque monstrosities

Yet, these sprites wouldn't look half as impressive if not for beautiful level and background design. One level has an impossibly large moon in the background, and somehow, the entire landscape somehow seems to be lit through that moon.

True, some levels do have some boring generic "secret base" look, but the majority of locations and backgrounds are either the perfection of a well-worn level type (forest level), or something new and exciting.

Similarly, the soundtrack is the best in the series, and among the best on the Genesis. It doesn't grate in the ears like other, usually non-Sega games, and it manages to be upbeat and exciting throughout.

Great Graphics: +5
Very Good Soundtrack: +3

In Conclusion:

Shinobi III is the culmination of Sega's experience in both the Genre and the console. It manages to be one of the most mechanically satisfying Action games in the system, as well as an obvious art production power house.

It doesn't have the interesting lore and look of games like Castlevania, or even Strider, but it does make it up by being very good at what it does, and that's being a very good Action-Shooter hybrid starring a Ninja named Joe.

Final: 41/50

The game's seven stages



1- Conserve your Shurikens, don't waste them on enemies that guard.
2- Do not rush forward, check first to see enemies before they see you.
3- The fourth Ninjatsu skill attacks the bosses, give you back a spell, and costs you one life. Use it against difficult bosses if you have lives to spare.
4- Look around the stages for more Shurikens and power up.
5- When using a power up, you can guard against some attacks by moving forward.
6- You are most vulnerable when you jump, so make sure things are clear.

Next Game:

That's it for the Shinobi series on the Genesis. In fact, that is it for the Shinobi series until the PS2 era. Based on the games I played, as well as the reception for the series, I don't understand why it didn't feature in the Sega Saturn. Its a good Action series, that probably should have a greater fleshing out in the Saturn era.

Next game in the list, at #16 is Beyond Oasis, an action adventure game that released in 1995, after the Saturn was released. From what everyone is telling me, it looks like a good game.

Stay Tuned

For Previous Genesis game Reviews:

The List

 For More Screenshots:

See Here

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About Lord Spencerone of us since 5:57 PM on 01.12.2014

Hello all, I am Lord Spencer, your friendly neighborhood royalty. Yes, the ancient bloodlines are letting absolutely anyone in these days.

Being the lurker that I am, I have been following Destructoid for more than four years. Well, its 3 AM where I live now, and I just plunged in getting HUGE in the way.

Here is hoping for a fun time.

Oh yes, here is a little more info about me that is probably not as interesting as I think it is:

-I owned and played about 1000+ games.
-I owned and read about 2000+ books (I counted comic books I read as a kid so this is not as impressive as it sounds).
-I absolutely love Legos.

Out of all the games I played, I only regret playing a few. I am a big fan of gaming, and thus I really like most of what I play.

Seeing as my top 10 games of all time would change depending on the day you ask me, I am just going to put in Random games I don't think are in anyone's top 10 list:

-Blood Will Tell
-Mega Man Legends 2
-Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon
-Donkey Kong Country 2
-Suikoden 2

Oh, and here is a link to my blogs:
My Blogs