Retrospective Review – Shinobi

Shinobi ~ General Information

  • Developed by Griptonite Games and Published by Sega
  • Released on November 15, 2011
  • Current Price: $39.99 (MSRP), $29.99 (Pre-owned @ GameStop.com)
* This retrospective review is based on excerpts from my full review of Shinobi, originally posted on GameFreaks365.com. You can check out the full version of the review there, or continue reading for the summarized “retrospective” version.

Summary ~

… [Shinobi] doesn’t hold back – just like its predecessors, it essentially punishes you for simply choosing to play it, unless you become as skilled as the series’ protagonist (Jiro) himself…[the] over-the-top style is overall very reminiscent of the classic 16-bit side-scrollers found on the Genesis and Super Nintendo…Shinobi also stays true to its predecessors with its fundamental gameplay mechanics, which are quite easy to learn – but as the saying goes, very difficult to master.

…on precision and perfection:

Shinobi constantly judges your performance based on almost every action – from taking any sort of damage (lose some points) to dying (lose a lot of points) or resorting to the use of magic scrolls (lose even more points). If you don’t complete the brutally-challenging stages within the “par times”, you lose points. Basically, Shinobi demands the kind of perfection that just isn’t really seen in modern gaming – and like it or not, the game is actually very fair.

…on the steep learning curve:

Button-mashers beware; the sense of reward that keeps you playing through this game will only come if you really master it – fans of the Shinobi games are familiar with this concept, but the punishing difficulty will likely turn away many of the casual gamers who aren’t as familiar with the relentless challenge of NES/Genesis-era titles.

…on trial-and-error and the idea of perfectionism:

…despite the countless frustrated moments I witnessed in each stage, I couldn’t shake the urge to go back through each stage in the “Free Play” mode to try again for higher scores. Since the game demands perfection for such rewards, there is a lot of trial-and-error involved.

…on “Achievements”:

Shinobi is one of the first 3DS games to prominently feature in-game “Achievements”, which certainly add a lot fo the replay value – particularly if you typically enjoy seeking out all of them. Though many of them require you to be very skilled at the game, there are plenty that almost seem like a “mark of shame” – for instance, the Achievement for using magic scrolls 150 times essentially scolds you for resorting to those abilities so many times.

…on extra content:

Shinobi offers quite a bit of content that extends well beyond the 8- to 10-hour Story Mode. If you choose to tackle the stages on harder difficulty settings, you’ll have to start a New Game – but you can go back any time and play the easier settings in Free Play, regardless. There are also “Challenge Maps” that can be unlocked with the StreetPass functions of the 3DS, or by using some of the Play Coins you’ve collected by walking around with the console in your pocket.

…on the overall quality of the game:

 …if you enjoy challenging games – particularly those “old-school” throwbacks or reboots that imitate the game design or fundamentals seen in 8- and 16-bit classics – you will find a lot to like about Shinobi. Fans of the series will definitely appreciate how much the gameplay reflects upon the Shinobi titles from the Sega Genesis. Anyone seeking a solid action title will find it; as well as the flashy visual style, the cheesy-yet-nostalgic techno-rock soundtrack, and the satisfyingly deep amount of bonus content.

Scores ~

Design/Concept: (8/10)
Presentation: (8/10)
Functionality: (7.5/10)
Replay Value: (8/10)

Final Score: 8 out of 10

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