Shinobi (Virgin Games) Review | Commodore User - Everygamegoing

Commodore User

By Virgin Games
Amiga 500

Published in Commodore User #72


"Ah-ree-yah!" (to be shouted in a Japanese accent) can't be a completely unfamiliar sound to anyone who regularly visits video arcades. It is of course the cry of the Shinobi, and one that countless Amiga owners will get used to hearing, now that Shinobi has finally been converted. Thankfuly, all the war cries have been incorporated, along with the rest of the sounds of battle.

Sadly, one of the things that hasn't crossed over from the coin-op is the gameplay. Shinobi is fun, and quite playable, but it's not even close to its arcade counterpart. Both scrolling and animation are exceedingly jerky, and the latter is limited to two or three frames per character. No prizes for guessing that this somewhat spoils the game.

As for the plot. You have been hired by the government to track down numerous crime bosses, all of whom are guilty of kidnapping girls. You have to seek through the enemy bases, killing every henchman you come across and freeing all the little girls. At the end of the level, you come across a multi-hit guardian. Destroy him, and go onto the bonus stage, which is a split-level shooting gallery where you fire an infinite of shuriken at ninjas. These race across the screen on two platforms and occasionally leap forward from the rear to the middle platform. Beware of ninjas who threaten to come all the way forward, because, if they get too close, you'll lose your bonus. All of this leaping backwards and forwards makes the game feel very similar to Rolling Thunder.

Your enemies are thugs, who just wait to be shot, and gunmen, who take shots at you, and then wait to be shot. Additional challenge comes in the form of shielded guards, who harbour the hostages and can only be shot from up close. Oh, and enemy ninjas do have a tendency to appear from nowhere and leap all over the place.

Choose from four ways to kill an enemy. First, and possibly the one method you will use, is to throw shuriken, but as you progress, you can collect guns and shoot bullets instead. Should you get close to an enemy, you can swipe him with your sword rather than fire a missile. Finally, there is your Shinobi, a mystical, magical, ninja spell that results in dozens of ninjas appearing and killing everything, rather like a smart bomb. And just like a smart bomb, you get one to use per level or life.

Having grown to love the coin-op, I must say that this version of Shinobi leaves me feeling disappointed. The end result looks careless, and with so much potential wasted, that's a far worse criticism than if the game had been a duffer in the first place.

Tony Dillon