For a long time, the Sega Ages line of video games continued to bring arcade titles to current generation platforms, to reintroduce classic video games to new and old generations of gamers. The current Sega Ages line is reviving some of Sega’s old arcade titles on the Nintendo Switch, and so far, 12 games have been released worldwide including Sonic the Hedgehog, which is about to get a movie adaptation. Today, Sega released another arcade title on the Switch called Shinobi, which is a side-scrolling action game, originally launched in 1987.
As standard when re-releasing old Sega arcade games, the developer introduced some modern features not included in the original game to make the gameplay smoother on the new consoles. Like most games of the past generation, the premise of the popular ninja arcade game Shinobi is simple, players take on the role of a young ninja named Joe Musashi, who is on a mission to save children from his clan who was abducted by the terrorist. organization known as ZEED.
Putting together Shinobi’s story is a bit difficult especially for new players, because aside from the title cards at the beginning of each episode that briefly tell players their main objective, it doesn’t really explain in detail what’s going on story-wise. Instead, the game simply throws players into a level where they immediately encounter enemies to fight and hostages to free, and that’s not a bad thing since Shinobi was originally an arcade game that players played for in the gameplay and not the story.
Shinobi contains five stages in total, where each stage consists of 3-4 levels. In each level, players will face an army of armed militia and several bosses that are harder to kill. Combat-wise the game is full of fast-paced action-packed moments that continue endlessly until the player clears a level. In its true side-scrolling form, enemies will come from both sides, and while most of their moves are predictable, some may surprise the player. There are several methods available to fight the game’s hordes of enemies such as unlimited shurikens for long range attacks, and melee for close combat. The player is also given a special move to kill all visible enemies, apart from bosses of course, but players should note that the special move is limited to one per level.
There are several modes available in Shinobi for Switch, giving players the option to play both the classic and modern versions of the game. Arcade Mode is pretty much the 1987 version of Shinobi, perfect for players who just want the original experience. In Arcade Mode, players are killed in one hit and only have limited lives before the game restarts from the beginning. However, just like in a traditional arcade, players can simply insert another coin to continue, which is simulated in the Switch version with a press of a button.
Shinobi’s gameplay is extremely challenging, but in a classic way that perfectly replicates the original arcade experience. Although the controls are optimized for the Switch, there is a bit of a learning curve to overcome, which is difficult at first because once the player starts a level, enemies will immediately rush in to attack. However, once the player has mastered the controls, the gameplay is smooth and immersive making for a heart-pounding, adrenaline-filled experience. That said, players looking for an original and challenging Shinobi experience will truly enjoy Arcade Mode.
On the other hand, Ages mode is where most of the new features of the re-release reside. This mode gives players extra health and damage, making the experience easier. In Ages mode, players start with Joe wearing a white ninja outfit, which turns red after being hit by an enemy. The change in outfit color indicates the player’s health and getting another hit while wearing the red ninja outfit will result in death. Ages mode is a welcome addition to Shinobi for Switch, making it more accessible for new players or those who find Arcade Mode too difficult.
Another new feature introduced in Shinobi is rewind, which is becoming standard in most ports of older games. The rewind feature is available in both Arcade and Ages mode and can be triggered by pressing the ZL or ZR button on the console. This feature allows players to turn back time for a maximum of ten seconds, which players can take advantage of by reviving the character upon death or to redo a specific action such as accidentally pressing the button triggers a special move. Players should also be careful when using the rewind button as it will not skip the part of the game beyond the ten second limit.
The Switch release of Shinobi also introduced many customization options that allowed players to switch between the Japanese and International versions, change the game’s difficulty, and the enemy’s bullet speed. The game looks amazing on the Switch, and even though its graphics are clearly dated, the action-packed gameplay makes up for it, keeping players fully immersed in the gameplay. Moreover, players can also choose between a myriad of display options depending on their preference. By default, the game itself doesn’t fit on the screen to avoid stretching, but there are plenty of background options to choose from to fill the space, such as Cabinet mode that mimics what players would see when playing from an arcade machine. While this display mode looks cool, it significantly shrinks the game itself, making it a bit difficult to see. Of course, full-screen mode is also available but it lengthens the game quite a bit, making the default display mode the perfect choice for clean visuals.
Overall, the latest version of Shinobi for Switch encapsulates the original experience and challenging gameplay of the 1987 classic title making for a fun nostalgic alternative to modern ninja games like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Shinobi’s abundance of customization options is also a welcome addition to the arcade title, making each gameplay suitable to each player’s playstyle. In short, Shinobi for Nintendo Switch is a perfect re-release of the classic arcade title, given the perfect combination of challenging gameplay of the original game, with the convenience of modern features, making it accessible to both newcomers. and veteran players.
Sega Ages: Shinobi is now available exclusively for Nintendo Switch. Today Technology was provided with a Switch code for the purposes of this review.