Game Gear

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 7

Sound: 10

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 9


Music can truly make a video game. Not just make it better; it can be an integral part of the game. Case in point: Shinobi. So few Game Gear games have soundtracks that just make you want to continue on through the game, but Yuzo Koshiro pulled off a small miracle here. The gameplay isn't that bad either.

Following in the footsteps of the Genesis sequels, Shinobi puts you in control of the venerable Joe Musashi, one of those ninja-types. Four levels are selectable from the start, and much like Capcom's Mega Man games, how you choose is almost as important as how you play them. After completing each stage, another colored ninja becomes available, each with their own special maneuvers. They can be selected on the fly during the stages via convenient pause menu. Certain power-ups can only be reached by specific ninjas. There never really is a RIGHT way to play through this one as the power-ups and other items are scattered over all the stages.

Each level is accompanied by a specific theme, each of them great enough to fall into the classic category. This is truly important as this game is BRUTALLY hard and sometimes your only incentive is to hear Yuzo's music once more. Even if you complete the first four stages, the fifth and final one (split into countless smaller segments) is cheap enough at times to fling the portable into a wall. Still, the music keeps right on going, pulling you into the game for "just one more turn."

Even the graphics, though occasionally riddled with annoying flicker, help bring the entire package together. Certain stages are littered with outstanding color and Musashi looks very close to his larger console partner. The only real problem is that you'll occasionally be stuck on a ledge and not be able to see if it's safe to drop, but these instances hardly effect the overall package.

Quality platformers really were a rare breed back in the days of Shinobi. So many cheap licensed games, failed attempts at new mascots, and a general lack of originality really pulled the entire genre down a notch or two. Hence why it's so refreshing to be treated to a game like Shinobi. The insane difficulty level may put off a few "less than seasoned" gamers, but every time you play, you'll get just a hint farther. Oh, and it's one of the few Game Gear games where using headphones is tolerable.

Just want some of the tunes? Hold up and 2 at the titles screen and press start.


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Last updated: Sunday, October 02, 2005 08:28 PM