Where’s the time little Asqwanka wanted to become a ninja ? A ninja has a super cool look, stays relax in every situation, bursts with cool one-liners, can demonstrate his fighting skills in the most fantastic ways and usually has a beautiful babe by his side. Personally I find it strange that there are so little ninja games on the market, this concept should be great for games, shouldn’t it ? Sega believes I’m right and that’s why they’ve released Shinobi (we all know him from the arcades) again. Did they know how to make Shinobi again a wonderful game or has it become a total flunk?
In the intro movie we see Hotsuma taking over the lead of a ninja clan by killing his brother in a battle of life and death. One day, the city of Tokyo gets awakened in a pretty unpleasant way by a giant earthquake. Little later, it becomes clear that the quake is caused by the evil wizard Huriko who let a palais arise in the middle of the city. He also changed all members of the Oboro clan into zombies who serve evil.
More than enough to get our hero Hotsuma to take out his sword Akujiki and go off to battle. Of course he doesn’t only get opposition from his enemies but even from his own sword. Apparantly it’s extremely powerful when attacking enemies but if you don’t use it on attackers for a while, the sword will turn against you. Talk about a blood thirsty iron !
One can hardly say that Shinobi is easy, one moment you’re peacefully walking through the streets of Tokyo and the next moment you’re facing 12 blood thursty dogs which like nothing more than start attacking together. Also you’ll frequently have to jump from rooftop to rooftop and if you don’t make the jump, your character falls dead on the ground. Combine that with the fact that the developers seem to hate in-game saving and you get a game where you can do the same long levels over and over again from the beginning. Frustration you say ? YES !
Graphically Shinobi isn’t a typical example of the PS2’s potential. Still the game looks clean and except for a couple of engine flaws it contains even a couple of surprisingly cool effects. What needs to be said though is that nights seem to go on forever if we can believe this game. Continuously you’ll be in surroundings which are (too) dark which after a while becomes pretty boring and repetitive. Another downpoint for the eye is the camera viewpoint which frequently changes to a point which you don’t like. Fortunately you can alter this yourself aswell.
What I myself liked most about Shinoby was the simple but addictige gameplay, the game bulks of fast arcade action which you can’t get enough of in certain levels. Also you have a couple of cool moves and there are certain effects that make the game very enjoyable to play. As an example you’ll see enemies falling apart in slow motionif you’ve slashed a couple in a short time span and this gives a couple of moments which are really memorable.
The sound manages to enhance the atmosphere a bit but doesn’t do wonders. The combination of techno and traditional Chinese music may look like impossible but is very well-suited for this game. Also the voice acting is pretty good: the voices suit the character well and this adds to the realism. What could have been better though, are the emotions the characters display; during a conversation you’ll hardly see them move a muscle and this makes it hard to get into the storyline.
The AI can hardly be called finished. You’ll never catch your enemies on stupid mistakes, but if you see that they appear out of nowhere and have as sole goal you death by use of a small knife or even their teeth, you’ll know the reason for that. Overall the AI isn’t bad, but you can’t say it’s great…
Fast gameplay and an addiction factor of 20 are two good reasons why you could get this title into your collection. Unfortunately Shinobi has just a little more downpoints which convince you not to buy it. The difficulty level is too high, the game misses inspiration and the overdose of blood from time to time even works on your nerves. You’ve read it: a must have for 30 euro but a big no-no for 60 euro’s.