U.S. Gold (computers)
|Release date(s)||November 1989 (arcade)|
|Genre(s)||Platform, hack and slash|
|Mode(s)||Single-player or two-player (alternating turns)|
|Arcade system||Sega System 18|
Shadow Dancer (シャドー・ダンサー?) is a side-scrolling action game produced by Sega originally released as an arcade game in 1989. It is the second and the final arcade game in the Shinobi series, following the original Shinobi itself. It follows the ninja Hayate, son of Joe Musashi aided by an attack dog, who is fighting to save the world from evil ninja-led terrorist organization.
Shadow Dancer was developed on the Sega System 18 motherboard hardware and its generally well received home versions were released for the Master System console and several home computer systems in 1991. A completely different game titled Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi was released exclusively for the Mega Drive/Genesis.
The play mechanics of Shadow Dancer are similar to these of the arcade version of the original Shinobi. The controls and almost all of the player's moves from the original Shinobi are present here as well.
The biggest change is the addition of a canine companion that follows the protagonist around. When the dog barks towards an enemy, the player can sic the dog on the enemy by pressing the attack button while crouching, allowing the player an opportunity to attack the enemy while it is being bitten by the dog. However, if the player takes too long to attack the bitten enemy or the enemy has a strong defense, then the dog will be hurt and turn into a harmless pup. The dog will then remain in pup form until the player acquires the next time bomb or finishes the stage.
The player's weapons consists of an unlimited supply of shuriken and a sword which is used when adjacent to an enemy. When the player collects half of the time bombs in each stage, stronger weapons are granted until the player finishes the stage or loses a life. The player can also use from one of three random ninja magic (ninpo) techniques that will clear the entire screen of enemies. Normally, these techniques can only be used once per stage, but if the player continues the game by inserting more coins and pressing START, the protagonist restarts the stage with two units instead of one. Bonus points are awarded if the player completes the game without using shuriken or ninja magic.
There are four different missions, consisting of three stages for the first mission and four stages each for the remaining three. In the first few stages of each mission, the player must collect a certain amount of time bombs scattered throughout the stage in order to proceed to the goal. The final stage in each mission is a confrontation between him and the one of the four bosses: an armoured giant throwing energy balls, a weaponized tank engine, a woman armed with a shield/weapon device, and a female ninja using magic and a naginata (the dog does not appear during boss battles).
Between each mission, there is a bonus stage minigame seen from the character's perspective as he tosses shuriken at enemy ninjas dropping down from a building. The player is awarded extra lives after successfully completing this minigame.
Shadow Dancer is a sequel to the original Shinobi, set 20 years later when the terrorist group Asian Down planted numerous time bombs throughout Miami as part of their plan to take over the world. They also killed Kato, the friend of Hayate Musashi, a young son of ninja master Joe Musashi. Hayate, accompanied by a canine partner, sets out on four missions to dismantle the bombs and destroy the terrorists to avenge Kato. The game ends in a final fight against the mastermind behind the crisis before she can hijack a nuclear-weaponized space shuttle.
Following its debut as an arcade game in 1989, Shadow Dancer was released on various home computer formats in Europe during 1991. Versions released for the Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, and ZX Spectrum were published by U.S. Gold and developed by Images. Their protagonist is Joe Musashi himself, instead of Hayate. Some of these were re-released as budget titles by Kixx in 1993.
The Master System port was released 1991 exclusively in Europe and Brazil. Although this version bears the title Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi on the packaging (much like the Genesis version released during the same year), it is actually based on the arcade version and is simply titled Shadow Dancer in-game. However, most of the content from the arcade version was cut and the play mechanics were modified a bit. Missions now consists of a single side-scrolling stage and a boss encounter. The player's canine companion no longer follows him around, but can still be summoned to kill certain enemies from a distance. Collecting time bombs is now an optional task that the player can conduct while on his way to the goal. When the player gathers all five time bombs in each mission, he will gain an attack power-up for the next boss battle. The attract sequence now shows profiles for the protagonist (who is named Fuma in this version) and most of the enemy characters.
Both the 8-bit and 16-bit versions of Shadow Dancer were generally well received upon its release. Commodore Format awarded this "wondefully playable," "highly polished and challenging game that no one can really afford to miss" a score of 89% upon the original release, and the same score for its 1993 re-release, while Zzap!64 gave it 83%. Your Sinclair described the ZX Spectrum as an "impressive arcade conversion" and "pretty blimming marvellous" and CRASH called it "is a good scrolly beat-'em-up with arcade adventure overtones" that is "fast, tough and, above all, playable." Amiga Action awarded Shadow Dancer a review score of 84% and ranked it as the 19th best action game on the system. Other, also positive, review scores of the 16-bit versions included 89% for the Amiga version from RAZE and 80% for the Atari ST version from The One. On the other hand, Retro Gamer declared it a vastly inferior game than the Sega Genesis' 1990 Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi, "let down by surprisingly stodgy controls, uninspired level design, and a really frustrating difficulty level."
- Okunari, Yosuke. Legend of Joe Musashi: SHINOBI Music Collection (booklet). Japan: Wave Master. p. 8. WM-0626~9.
- Somewhat like Shinobi, Shadow Dancer has a kanji form of its name: 影の舞. This particular phrase is used extensively throughout the game.
- "Sinclair ZX Spectrum Reviews". Zxspectrumreviews.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-05-04.
- "Shadow Dancer". Ysrnry.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-05-04.
- "Commodore Format Magazine Issue 07". Archive.org. Retrieved 2015-06-20.
- "Commodore Format Magazine Issue 33". Archive.org. Retrieved 2015-06-20.
- "Zzap 73 (May 1991) Reviews - Amiga Magazine Rack". Amr.abime.net. Retrieved 2015-05-04.
- "Amiga Action 21 (June 1991) Reviews - Amiga Magazine Rack". Amr.abime.net. Retrieved 2015-05-04.
- "RAZE - Issue 09 (1991-07)(Newsfield Publishing)(GB)". Archive.org. Retrieved 2015-06-20.
- "The_One_Issue_33_Jun_91". Archive.org. Retrieved 2015-06-20.
- Retro Gamer 77 (May 2010), page 66.
- Shadow Dancer at the Killer List of Videogames
- Shadow Dancer at MobyGames
- Shadow Dancer at World of Spectrum
- Shadow Dancer at the HOL Amiga Database