3/24 – Shinobi

Hello and welcome. My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

Today’s game is Shinobi, the first game in Sega’s Shinobi franchise. It was originally developed by Sega and released in arcades in 1987. It would later receive ports to the Master System, the PC Engine, a number of home computers, and an unlicensed NES version by Tengen.

Shinobi follows a modern-day ninja named Joe Musashi fighting against a criminal organization known as Zeed across the US while saving the children they have kidnapped from Joe’s village. As an 80’s arcade game, Shinobi is light on story, with most of the game’s details only showing during the attract mode.

The gameplay has players traverse linear, side-scrolling levels with a number of enemies. Players have unlimited shurikens that they can throw at enemies, as well as punches and kicks for close range. These moves can be upgraded by saving hostages to a gun firing explosive bullets and a katana. Finally, players have one ninjutsu attack per stage that will clear the screen of enemies. This move is different for each stage but always has the same effect.

Shinobi has five missions with four stages each, except the first which has three. The last stage of each mission always consists of a boss fight. While Joe can touch enemies without taking damage, unlike many games of the time, one hit will kill him. Players can get extra lives during bonus rounds played between missions, if they can get a perfect score in the shuriken shooting gallery.

These days, many players see Shinobi as being very similar to popular franchise, Ninja Gaiden, which also has players play as a modern-day ninja in a side-scrolling action platformer. It’s easy to see the similarities but interestingly, Shinobi actually came out a year before Ninja Gaiden, even in the arcades.

While the series would see popularity with Sega gamers in the 90’s, only a few titles have come out since then with the last being on the Nintendo DS in 2011. While the game has received some re-releases on the Xbox 360 and Wii, the original arcade version of the game is available as a hidden unlockable in Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection for the PS3 and Xbox 360.

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