#520 Shinobi

Posted: 20th February 2021 by Jeroen in Games
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932th played so far

Genre: Action
Platform: Playstation 2
Year of Release: 2002
Developer: Overworks
Publisher: Sega

We’ve covered a lot of games that made the jump from 2D to 3D – Super Mario 64 is the obvious example, while Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time did so around the same time of today’s game.

The difference is that while I enjoyed the Super Mario Bros. series and played Prince of Persia long before Sands of Time was even thought of by anyone, I played the Shinobi series for the blog and didn’t enjoy them as much, which makes me dread today’s game far more. For once, the game being that different may be an upside, but I’m not entirely sure what to expect.

Our Thoughts

On some level, it feels like Shinobi made the transition to 3D quite well… by having a fairly linear game that starts by taking place on rooftops with bottomless pits to die in. You do get the extra dimension to move around the arenas in, but in too many cases you can only go in one direction and are gated until you beat a bunch of enemies. There are some secrets in each stage, but there’s not that much exploration to get there, mostly doing it through a few action puzzles. Even so, they’re fairly minimal.

The second level moves away rooftops into a temple environment – with pits still occasionally falling in the ground, so you end up guessing whether the black is a shadow or an infinite pit. It means that a single jumping mistake sends you back to the start of the stage, something quite harsh in the game considering how hard it is.

The second stage also introduces the main gameplay mechanic, with your sword needing to feed on life as you kill your enemies, or else it’ll start to drain your own health. It means you have to keep pushing forward so you can get your kills in, which helps explain the linear nature of the game. Combat is plenty and made to look quite good – especially with the cinematic death shots after defeating some groups – but again it feels a bit much, especially when you have to keep repeating the same fights.

Final Thoughts

While Shinobi is a pretty good adaptation of the series, it also has the flaws of the original games in its platforming and linear set up. The additional mechanics are somewhat interesting, but in the end the entire system just doesn’t really elevate the game to the point it could be.