Hurrmmm... how do I describe this? I forgot how to ninja. This is solid old-school gameplay, and it's a good reminder that I've softened over the years. I've become accustomed to constant check points and save points that let me play through at midway points and use up all my lives while being allowed to continue right before the boss fight. I've let games play themselves for me, relying on their fine tuned mechanics where all you have to do is press the win button. Shinobi whaps me upside the head, pulls my pants down and then points and laughs while I just stand there looking like an idiot glouring at him.
Yeah, Shinobi's really not that hard. The difficulty harkens back to the days where you played games that dealt death to you every inch of the way, but did it in a consistent manner. Your skill relied on memorizing enemy locations and boss patterns while also reacting instinctively before enemies even appeared on screen. This is how Shinobi's always been, so it's real nice to see that Sega's stayed true to its spirit with this 3DS installment. I just now passed the third level, and it's the perfect balance of love/hate. I love the game, but I hate it at the same time for making it start at the beginning of the level every time I lose.
So what's it like? Well, this new ninja is named Jiro, and he's got a few more moves up his sleeves. You can skill shoot shruikens at enemies and slash them with your sword, but you can also perform multihit combos, upward slashes, rolling mid-air slashes, etc. You can even sneak up on a few enemies and stealth kill them in rather hilarious ways, but it all has that classic Shinobi feel to it. This isn't something you can just mash the attack button on. Your sword slashes need to be expertly timed, well placed. You also have to parry incoming attacks, and since you can't just hold a blocking stance, you have to parry at just the right moment. Also, the game already threw a few wicked platforming segments at me in just the first few levels. I'm dreading to see what else it has in store for me.
It's reminding me a lot like Shinobi III, but my nostalgia will prevent this game from ever coming that close. For one, I find the ninjitsu practically useless, and you only get to use it once, unless you find another scroll. I also think the game does such a poor job with its narrative, they shouldn't have even bothered with any of the anime cutscenes. Who am I fighting? Why am I fighting them? What the hell is going on? Would have been better to just keep it entirely old school and just move from one level straight to the next. Plus, you can't skip cutscenes until you've had to continue the level. The second level's opening cutscene is roughly a minute/minute and a half long. Irritating. Also... again, it's the memories of Shinobi III that's holding this game to higher standards, but I'm not enjoying the music that much.
The graphics are alright, but I know the 3DS can do loads better. It looks like a really good DS game, not something that 3DS would have to really flex its power for. Still, it moves and animates well. It also controls well, but that's dependent on you. Every hit you take is you somehow screwing up your timing. Jiro leaves himself open for a split second, which is odd for a ninja, but it does happen. Anyway, the game's dirt cheap now. If you have a 3DS and are looking for an old school side-scroller, give Shinobi a shot.
I loved your first paragraph. After getting used to modern games, it can be tough going back to games that are truly challenging!
I loved Shinobi III, but now that I think about it that was really the only Shinobi game I played.
some times it is hard to remember that the older games were considered hard because we had to figure out how to play them without having at game guides or access to walkthroughs. Just knowing that we can look something up if we have to relieves some of the stress and helps a great deal now.