Developer: Griptonite Games
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: Out now
ESRB: T for Teen
Like a ninja from out of seemingly nowhere, the Shinobi series sees its first release in over seven years on the Nintendo 3DS. It also returns to its roots by favoring side-scrolling over the 3D worlds of the last two entries. Despite being a well-received series, I have never picked up a Shinobi title before this one. My avoidance towards it is mostly because the games can be notoriously difficult. Is this game right for newcomers to the series, or is it too hard and should be left for the old fans?
In Shinobi, you take the role of the ninja Jiro Musashi (the father of Joe, the famous ninja of previous Shinobi games). What little story there is doesn“t really matter (and to be frank, it“s confusing anyway) – you“re going to be playing for the frantic platforming action. You have an array of ninja equipment and moves at your disposal and you“re going to be wanting to use every last thing such as your trusty katana, kunai, magic, and parrying.
Even during the beginning stages, you“re going to be wanting to have some fast reflexes, knowledge of your attacks and defense, and be expectant of whatever may be lurking at the sides and top of your screen. In later stages, enemies will start to become especially overwhelming with their shurikens and whatnot pretty much filling up the whole screen.
This game is hard. Even on beginner and normal modes, you're going to have a tough time getting through certain spots and bosses. Thankfully, beginner mode does offer infinite lives to help those new to games like Shinobi. Included is also a very hard mode that boasts that nobody will be able to complete it unless they are a real ninja. In this mode, you're only granted 1 extra life, 3 continues, no auto-saving, and even more challenges spread throughout the game. If you're able to beat the game on this mode, you are a god amongst men.
Unfortunately, multitudes of spastic enemies aren“t just what makes this game difficult. The controls do feel a bit stiff and in this kind of game, it makes a major difference. With complicated wall-jumping and such over bottomless pits, these controls could mean many irritating deaths.
The graphics for Shinobi are okay, but like the story, they aren“t going to be the focus. Level design takes priority anyway and you“ll have the pleasure of going through awesome renditions of feudal Japan and a future of mechanical machinery. The 3D effects are sparse and minimal with some objects popping out slightly. Even though there are some problems with double images when the 3D is turned on, it“s still pleasant to look at.
There are also cutscenes in Shinobi with simplistic and minimal animation, but they“re beautiful and work out perfectly. The only voicing done is from a narrator reading some inspiring (and sometimes cheesy) quotes that will pop up from time to time during these scenes. The only negativity about these cutscenes is that they are unskippable and may be forced to watch them repeatedly with how often you“re going to be dying.
The music for Shinobi is great and fits the game perfectly. The main theme that plays on the main menu is simply awe-inspiring and gets you pumped and ready to begin your adventure. A neat little note about the music is that Norihiko Hibino of Metal Gear Solid fame composes it.
Some cool little extra features put into the game include unlockable concept art, music, cheats and more. There are even achievements like those for PS3 and Xbox 360 games in Shinobi for those who are fans of that. With the extras this game provides, you“ll be pouring even more time into it and get your money“s worth.
Shinobi is really a game made for fans of the series, although it seems to be a good entry point to those new to it and seeking to get into some ninja action. Despite the game kicking your butt nonstop, there's nothing like the feeling of overcoming the intense obstacles in it.
+ Pure and intense side-scrolling, platforming action
+ Fun extras like achievements and unlockables
- Stiff controls can lead to many infuriating deaths
- Unnecessarily and mercilessly hard at some points
Overall Score: 7.0 (out of 10)
Fans of Shinobi and other similar series should consider picking this up, but be somewhat wary if you“re not used to fast-paced, butt-kicking action.