Shinobi (video game)

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For the PlayStation 2 game of the same name, see Shinobi. For an overview of the series, see Shinobi (series)
Shinobi
Shinobi.png
Shinobi sales flyer.
Developer(s) Sega
Publisher(s) Sega
Director(s) Yutaka Sugano[1]
Composer(s) Yasuhiro Kawakami[2]
Series Shinobi
Platform(s)
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Platform
Hack and slash
Mode(s) Up to 2 players, alternating turns
Cabinet Upright
Arcade system Sega System 16
Display Raster, standard resolution (Used: 320 x 224), horizontal alignment

Shinobi (Japanese: 忍 -SHINOBI-?) is a side-scrolling action game produced by Sega originally released for the arcades in 1987. In Shinobi, the player controls a modern day ninja named Joe Musashi who goes on a mission to rescue his kidnapped students from a group of terrorists. Shinobi was later adapted by Sega to their Master System game console, followed by licensed conversions for other platforms such as the Nintendo Entertainment System, PC Engine, and various home computers, as well as downloadable emulated versions of the original arcade game for the Wii and Xbox 360. The success of Shinobi inspired the development of various sequels and spin-offs (see the Shinobi series).

Plot[edit]

The player controls a ninja named Joe Musashi who has to stop a criminal organization called "Zeed" who are kidnapping the children of his ninja clan. Through five missions (consisting of three stages for the first mission and four stages each for the rest), Musashi must make his way to Zeed's headquarters and free all the hostages in the first two or three stages before confronting the boss at the final stage of each mission. At the start of each mission, the player is shown their objective, followed by a file containing a photograph of the enemy boss and a map display pinpointing the location of the next stage.

  • Mission 1: "Pursue the Terrorists" - Set in the slums of a city. The boss is Ken Oh, a gigantic samurai-like ninja who can throw fireballs.
  • Mission 2: "Enter the Enemy's Hide Out" - Set in a harbor. The boss is the Black Turtle attack chopper, which drops off an army of yellow-clad ninjas.
  • Mission 3: "Attack the Logistic Base" - Set in a secret base hidden within a cave. The boss is a lineup of stack-up Mandara statues controlled by a supercomputer, which takes the form of a giant fireball-spitting face.
  • Mission 4: "Destroy the Enemy Ninja Group" - Set in a ninja training camp. The boss is the Lobster, a tall sword-wielding ninja clad in red samurai armor with a V-shaped symbol on his helmet.
  • Mission 5: "Defeat the Behind-the-Scene Ninja" - Set in the mansion of the enemy's leader. Unlike previous missions, the player is not allowed to continue if he loses all of his lives at this point. The final boss is Zeed's leader the Masked Ninja, who attacks with four different ninjutsu techniques. His true identity is revealed to be Nakahara, Joe Musashi's mentor. Nakahara's name is a reference to the Musashi-Nakahara Station. His name is meant to be a hint of his true identity as "Nakahara Musashi", Joe Musashi's father.[3]

Gameplay[edit]

Stage 2-1, Musashi confronts an enemy keeping a kidnapped child hostage.

The controls of Shinobi consist of an eight way joystick and three action buttons for attacking, jumping and using ninjutsu techniques (also called "ninja magic" in the game). In addition to the standard walk, the player can perform a crouching walk by pressing the joystick diagonally downward. The player can jump to higher or lower floors by pressing the jump button while holding the joystick up or down. Musashi's standard weapons are an unlimited supply of shurikens, along with punches and kicks when attacking at close range. Rescuing certain hostages in each stage will grant him an attack upgrade. When powered up, his throwing stars are replaced by a gun that fires large, explosive bullets, and his close-range attack becomes a katana slash. Musashi's ninjutsu techniques can only be used once per stage and will clear the screen of all enemies, or in the case of enemy bosses, greatly damage them. There are three ninjutsu techniques in the game (a thunderstorm, a tornado and a doppelganger attack) that vary depending on the stage, although the effect is the same no matter which technique Musashi uses (only the animation changes).

Enemy characters include punks, mercenaries, various kinds of ninjas clad in different colors and the Mongolian swordsmen who are guarding each hostage. Musashi can bump into most enemies without harm and can only be killed if he gets struck by an enemy's attack (such as a punch or a stab), gets hit by a projectile or falls into a bottomless hole. When that happens, the player must restart the stage from the beginning, although hostages that have already been saved don't need to be rescued again. When the player runs out of lives, he can insert additional credits to continue the game. This option is not available during the final mission. The player has a time limit of three minutes to complete each stage. Bonus points are awarded based on how quickly the player took to clear the stage, along with additional bonuses if the player clears the stage without using a ninjutsu technique or using only melee attacks. Extra lives are awarded by achieving certain scores.

Between missions, the player participates in a bonus round played from a first-person perspective where he must throw shurikens at incoming enemy ninjas without letting any of them get near him. If the player successfully completes a bonus round, he will be awarded with an extra life.[4]

Reception[edit]

Sega's own port of Shinobi was released on the Sega Master System to general critical acclaim. The Sega Game Gear version of the game was reviewed in 1993 in Dragon #190 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 4 out of 5 stars.[5] Classic Game Room's review of the game on Master System reflected the view that the game is a classic, albeit less of a classic than the 16-bit sequel The Revenge of Shinobi.[6]

Home versions[edit]

Master System[edit]

Sega produced its own home version of Shinobi for their Master System game console. It was released in Japan on June 19, 1988, with subsequent releases in North America and Europe. Some of the play mechanics from the original coin-op version were altered for this version. Instead of the one-hit kills from the arcade game, the player now has a health gauge that allows Musashi to sustain more damage before losing a life, although this comes with the trade-off that touching an enemy causes Musashi to lose health.

While the player still rescue hostages in this version, it is now an optional task and not mandatory to complete the game. However, rescuing hostages allows the player to upgrade both their close and long-range weapons, as well increase their maximum health gauge or restore it. Additionally, rescuing certain hostages is a requirement to access the game's bonus stages, which now occur after the regular stages instead of each boss fight. The ninjutsu skills are now obtained from completing these bonus rounds and the player may hold up to four stocks. The input method of performing these ninja arts is also different as well. The player can use between three different close-range weapons (in addition to the default punches and kicks), four long-range weapons (including an upgrade to the default shurikens), and six ninjutsu spells.

Home computers[edit]

In 1989, ports of Shinobi were released for the Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, and ZX Spectrum. All five conversions were developed by The Sales Curve and published by Virgin Mastertronic in Europe and by Sega in North America (with the exception of the Amstrad and Spectrum versions). An IBM PC version was also released in North America by Sega, developed by Micromosaics Inc.

PC Engine[edit]

A PC Engine version was released exclusively in Japan by Asmik on December 8, 1989. The graphics and play mechanics of the PC Engine version are similar to the arcade version's, but the close-range attacks and power-ups are missing and there are no bonus rounds (extra lives are instead given by getting a certain amount of points). Although, there is no life gauge, the time limit for finishing each stage from the arcade version was removed. Mission 2 is also completely omitted and all subsequent missions are renumbered as a result.

Nintendo Entertainment System[edit]

The Nintendo Entertainment System version of Shinobi was released by Tengen exclusively in North America as an unlicensed release in 1989. The play mechanics are based on the Master System's version. However, Tengen removed all of the close-range weapons (the sword, the nunchaku, and the chain) and the grenades. Only the basic punches, kicks, throwing daggers, and pistol were kept. Unlike the Master System version, the player can only shoot one shuriken, dagger, or bullet on-screen at the same time, even after obtaining power-ups. However, the maximum stock of ninjutsu skills has been increased to five. All the vertical-scrolling stages (such as Mission 2-2 and Mission 3-2) were redesigned into horizontal-scrolling stages.

Wii and Xbox 360[edit]

The original coin-op version is available as a downloadable title for the Wii's Virtual Console and Xbox 360's Live Arcade services. Although both releases are emulated from the arcade game's code, slight graphical modifications were made due to licensing issues.

One of the enemy grunts in the second stage of Mission 1, a wall-crawling ninja who roughly resembles the comic book character Spider-Man, originally wore a blue bodysuit and mask with red gloves and boots, which was too close to Spider-Man's color scheme. In the Wii and Xbox 360 releases, his color scheme was changed to a green bodysuit and mask with yellow boots and gloves.

The backgrounds in Mission 1-2 and 1-3 also featured Andy Warhol-style posters of Marilyn Monroe. However, without consent from the Monroe estate, these images had to be removed.[citation needed]

Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection[edit]

Shinobi is also a hidden game in Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. To access it, the player must complete the first round of Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master, without using a continue. Although the version included in the compilation was also an emulation of the arcade game, the graphical changes that were made in the Virtual Console and Xbox Live Arcade releases were not made in this compilation.

Sequels and related games[edit]

Further information: Shinobi (series)

In 1989, Sega released a follow-up called The Revenge of Shinobi as one of the first titles for their new Sega Mega Drive game console. In Japan this game was called The Super Shinobi.

An arcade sequel called Shadow Dancer was also released in 1989. Shadow Dancer retains the same gameplay as the original, but gives the main character a canine companion.

Other Shinobi sequels also appeared for the Game Gear, Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, the PlayStation 2 and most recently the Nintendo 3DS.

Alex Kidd in Shinobi World is a parody of Shinobi with former Sega mascot Alex Kidd as the main character, released for the Sega Master System in 1990.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Legend of Joe Musashi: SHINOBI Music Collection (booklet). p. 7. 
  2. ^ "Yasuhiro Kawakami". 
  3. ^ Okunari, Yosuke. Legend of Joe Musashi: SHINOBI Music Collection (booklet). Japan: Wave Master. p. 5. WM-0626~9v. 
  4. ^ Kalata, Kurt. "Shinobi". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  5. ^ Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia & Lesser, Kirk (February 1993). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (190): 55–60. 
  6. ^ "Classic Game Room HD - Shinobi for Sega Master System". Inecom Company. 21 November 2008. Retrieved 10 April 2013. 

External links[edit]