The Revenge of Shinobi Review
Intense ninja action, awesome platforming, an amazing soundtrack and mind-blowing bosses make this classic a must-have.
There’s something about ninjas. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Peter Laird said it well when he described them as “martial artist secret agents,” lurking in the shadows and performing amazing feats of acrobatics and stealth whilst kicking the crap out of anyone foolish enough to stand in their way. Not long ago I wondered why there haven’t been more ninja movies lately. Maybe it was a burnout from the glut of silly ’90s martial-arts kids’ films inspired by the Ninja Turtles craze (i.e. Surf Ninjas, Three Ninjas, etc.). But ninjas are inherently awesome and it’s time for them to make their comeback. With the film Ninja Assassin on its way this month, now seems a perfect time to review one of the best ninja video games of all time, one that shows why ninjas deserve their rightful place in the spotlight (ironic as that may be).
Flashback to 1990. I’m at my friend Jim’s house and witnessing the might of the Sega Genesis for the first time. After spending the last few years with my beloved NES, the 16-bit visual and audio greatness of the new console blew my mind. One of the games that Jim introduced me to that fateful day was The Revenge of Shinobi. Now, I was already obsessed with ninjas. What sane 12-year-old isn’t? But this game took it to a whole new level. In the years since, during which I grabbed the game online, the joy and excitement have remained as tangible. Revenge remains one of the definitive Genesis games and a true must-have for any action-platformer, or ninja, fan.
The story is right out of the vintage martial arts films of yore: After defeating the evil Zeed organization in the original Shinobi, master ninja Joe Musashi returns to life with his beloved Oboro clan. However, in the shadows the organization has rebuilt itself and is much more powerful than before. Now called Neo Zeed, the organization descends on the Oboro clan and decimates Joe’s friends. With his dying breath, Joe’s sensei reveals that the villains have also kidnapped Joe’s fiancé Naoko. The only course of action? Revenge! Thus Joe Musashi springs back into action to take down the forces of evil once and for all.
As Joe, your main method of attack is hurling scores of throwing knives (shuriken) at your foes. While these shuriken are very helpful at taking out enemies at a distance they are limited, and you must constantly smash open crates for more ammo (helpful tip: In the options screen, make your number of beginning shuriken 00, then wait for about twelve seconds. The zeroes will become an infinity symbol. These unlimited shuriken will help tremendously). At close range (or by default if you run out of shuriken) you will automatically attack with a slash of your knife, or if ducking, a sweep kick. These close attacks are very powerful but will usually put you in harm’s way. Picking up a POW upgrade will turn your close attack to a katana slash and your shuriken into fireballs which are extremely damaging; in addition you will automatically block incoming ninja stars as you walk. However, taking a hit will cause you to lose this upgrade.