Title: Shinobi SEGA Ages
Available on: Nintendo Switch
Genre: Side-scrolling action
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Official Site: https://segaages.sega.com/project/shinobi/
Release Date: Out Now
Where to Buy: Eshop
Shinobi first appeared in the arcades in 1987 as SEGA looked to cash in on the Ninja trend of the time. Many of you reading this probably hadn’t been born by then (I was 3) yet are probably still aware of the Shinobi series of games in some form.
It was a good game and gathered a host of fans. Now, thanks to the SEGA ages series, fans and newcomers can play the game once again on the Nintendo Switch.
If you have played Shinobi before, that knowledge is probably enough for you, and it’s already sitting proudly on your console, even if I scored it as 1 star you’d have ignored me and bought it anyway. The real question is, how does the port hold up, and is the game worth playing today?
Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabadoo
The Sega ages ports have always been of good quality, and right off the bat, things seemed to be the same here. For those not aware, Shinobi is a 2D side-scrolling action game that sees Ninja Joe Musashi trying to save a group of children from the evil organization, Zeed.
Being an arcade game meant that the story here doesn’t matter at all. If it did, I would spend at least four paragraphs here trying to work out why a Ninja is called Joe; it makes me laugh every single time.
Another arcade feature is also present and accounted for. Difficulty. Arcade games had to have players often die so they would keep feeding coins into the machine for it to make a profit. Shinobi is no different.
For the purists out there, the original arcade experience can be had; only this time, it can be had with unlimited continues all for the price of admission alone. There’s even the option to play the Japanese version and to increase the difficulty, should you be so inclined.
For people who found the original experience too challenging, there are several options designed to make this release much more accessible.
Firstly, you can save anywhere and just reload should you mess up. For games that see you have to restart at the beginning of a level upon death, this is a beneficial feature should you reach a particularly challenging segment.
There is also a level select option allowing you to start on previously reached levels and the ability to rewind time. This takes you 10 seconds into the past to re-attempt whatever you had failed at. Should this option make you angry, it can be turned off at the start.
Kick, punch, it’s all in the mind
The fact that these options are there only for those who chose to use them is great and is for people who otherwise couldn’t get far through the game.
The more people who can enjoy something, the better, and as I played through the arcade mode, I had a good time. Shooting shuriken’s at bad guys as they shot at me was extremely fun. Everything is nice and straightforward, too, besides directional input, there are only three buttons. One to jump, one to fire and one to unleash a special attack that takes out the entire screen.
Even with one-hit deaths, I managed to get through a good portion of the game unscathed. The bosses, on the other hand, were an entirely different matter. These were pretty challenging and saw a good few deaths. Had I been old enough to visit an arcade in 1987, I would have fed Shinobi countless coins.
Luckily, for this version, I can just try and try again when necessary.
After each boss is a bonus stage, which is effectively Space Invaders only with Ninjas instead of aliens.
At about level 3, the difficulty does start to ramp up, and I’ll happily admit to having to save quite frequently to get through. I felt bad doing so, but I had to bring you this review at some point; however, it’s good to know I can keep going back and trying until I can perfect the game, just like the ways things used to be.
An easier way
If the arcade mode puts any of you off, then the SEGA Ages version of Shinobi has you covered with Ages mode. In this mode, Joe is stronger and can actually take an extra hit before being killed. This makes things much more manageable, especially the bosses. I’m pretty happy they included this.
Despite being released in the 1980s, Shinobi has aged really well, and, as is expected, the Ages port is excellent. Everything looks and runs great. I had one moment of slowdown when a lot was happening on the screen, but other than that, I had no issues at all.
The game is how it has always been just with added extras, and for a price of $7.99, you can’t go far wrong. I’d recommend picking this up, even if only to own a piece of history. Anyone who hated it for the difficulty will now have a reason to try again, and fans don’t need a reason.
Verdict: Shinobi is a fantastic blast from the past. The original game is here along with accessibility options meaning that anyone can now give it a try and not become bankrupt in doing so. The SEGA Ages ports have mostly been great, and I look forward to seeing what we get next.
- Classic Shinobi gameplay
- Looks and plays great
- More accessible
- Can be difficult
- Is pretty short
- Some annoying bosses