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Revenge of Shinobi

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Reviewed by Michael LoCascio Revenge of Shinobi belongs in the class of action games that enjoyed prominence during the days of the NES, but slowly faded away as higher-powered systems were introduced. It's a challenging 2D side-scroller that will require a certain amount of dedication and fortitude in order to conquer and fully enjoy it. The frustrating jumps and clunky controls make this game a throwback to the days when platform games couldn't be beaten overnight. Take the play mechanics of the original Castlevania and replace Simon Belmont with a ninja warrior, and you've basically got Revenge of Shinobi. While the high difficulty level of the game can be rather intimidating, you're anything but defenseless. Along with a limited supply of shurikens that you can hurl at the enemy, your ninja is equipped with a sword for close range fighting. The most interesting aspect of the game is your character's ability to make use of four special ninjitsu powers. Calling upon these powers can grant you extra defensive strength or greater jumping ability, or they can take the form of special, long range attacks. Learning which ninjitsus are most effective in which areas will require a great deal of experimentation; you will undoubtedly meet a number of untimely deaths until you become competent with these powers. While the vast majority of enemy characters are swift and tough to take down, the high difficulty level of the game is mostly due to the frustrating amount of jumps that you must make. You can attempt to pull off a special somersault leap, but more times than not, your warrior will simply not respond to your command to perform this maneuver. Adding to the frustration is that there are usually plenty of enemies awaiting you after you successfully make a lengthy jump - and there's nothing those enemies love to do more than knock you right off the edge of the platform and force you to make the jump all over again. Another annoying aspect of the game along these lines is that your character is always flung a substantial distance whenever contact is made with an enemy. You may think that you're securely standing in the center of a platform, only for an enemy to come in slight contact with you and fling you right off the platform. This problem was also present in Castlevania, but it's even more of a nuisance in this game. The slick, intense music in Revenge of Shinobi fits the ninja theme of the game extremely well. The graphics are generally top-notch as well, although they do cause some problems every now and again. For example, the waterfall in Stage Two is visually impressive, but many of the enemy characters in the level tend to blend in with the color of the water. As a result, you might not spot an enemy warrior until it is too late. I realize that this camouflaging effect may very well have represented an effort to make the level more difficult, but the stage is hard enough without the cheap deaths caused by not being able to see the enemy characters. There are plenty of options available to you before you begin playing the game. The difficulty and the number of shurikens that you begin the game with can both be altered to fit your wishes. Don't expect to cruise through the game, however, even if you give yourself every possible advantage on the options screen. Making those tough jumps and mastering your ninjitsu powers will enable you to succeed in the game - the number of shurikens that you possess is almost irrelevant. While Revenge of Shinobi offers a nice taste of what games used to be like, I doubt that most gamers today will have the patience that is necessary to get through the game. Let's put it this way: if your first video game system was either a Playstation or an N64, then this isn't the game for you. Even at the time of its release, there was room for improvement. While this title was far better than the Legend of Kage style of ninja games that were prevalent during the days of the NES, it doesn't even come close to Ninja Spirit for the Turbografx-16. I personally liked the game, but it's tough to recommend it these days. Unless you want a reminder of how difficult and frustrating video games used to be, you'd probably do well to avoid Revenge of Shinobi. Overall: 6 / 10

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