SEGA's classic arcade ninja videogame first hit the arcades back in 1987, now some twenty years later, SEGA has unleashed the ninjas onto the Xbox 360. But how do they stack up against modern gaming fare?
This solid port first found its way onto current-gen consoles in the form of the early 2009 release SEGA Mega Drive Ultimate Collection, and it proved to be one of the better titles on the jam-packed retro release. But like most of the retro re-releases we see today, Shinobi was a rather no frills affair; there were no online modes to speak of, no game-specific achievements or even online leaderboards for you to show off your sneaky ninja skills. The good news is this has been recently rectified as Sega has released a glut of classic SEGA properties onto Xbox Live Arcade for your enjoyment - providing you don't already have a copy of SEGA Mega Drive Ultimate Collection. Each title is available for the low, low price of 400 Microsoft Points, providing some good bang for your gaming buck for gamers that have a decidedly retro taste.
The game puts you in the stealthy shoes of Joe Musashi, a man out to to stop the nefarious deeds of the shadowy organisation known as Neo Zeed. Armed with a fistful of shurikens and some sweet chin music, this stand-up guy will find himself facing off against a series of brightly coloured ninjas, Arabian Nights wannabes and an assortment of other giant, evil riff-raff as he fights his way through five missions (each mission is broken up into three or four small sections) to try and rescue the hostages that have befallen the wicked ways of Neo Zeed.
Very early on you'll find that the enemies of Shinobi are old school AI - in that they walk forward and attack you without much thought at all. Though, don't let the classic AI fool you, Shinobiis the kind of game that you can pick up and play in seconds, but mastering it will require a touch of skill with a good dose of memory to survive it as the enemies move in fixed patterns.
While Shinobi is one of the great arcade coin-ops of the 1980s, and the port of the title is an absolutely flawless representation of the classic, the fact of the matter is that the game really hasn't withstood the test of time well at all. We really can't fault Shinobi for what it is - after all, it is a title that is well over twenty years old. While there are many other titles available from the same era which do manage to provide gamers with solid entertainment, Shinobi is just not one of them. That's not to say that the game doesn't provide some fun, because it does, it's just that you'll tire of it quickly - very, very quickly. We would have liked to see SEGA put together a full Shinobi package which included the vastly superior The Revenge of Shinobi and Shadow Dancer to give gamers a more rounded experience of the series. That said, even if you only fire it up for an hour or two here and there, it just might justify a purchase for the nostalgia factor alone. But that really depends on how much love you've got for the series.
If you're a massive Shinobi fan or a gamer looking for a cheap title to wile away a case of the boredom blues, you will take away some fun from the XBLA package of Shinobi. For those looking for an XBLA title that will deliver long-lasting fun, we don't recommend that you shell out your Microsoft Points on this title.