This article is written by Staresy.
Shinobi III is the follow up game to the immensely popular and best selling Megadrive hit ‘Revenge Of Shinobi’ itself a sequel to the legendary arcade game ‘Shinobi’. All three games follow the adventures of Joe Musashi, a Ninja master who must defeat the evil of Neo Zeed. A fourth title ‘Shadow Dancer’ was released featuring the son of Musashi and his dog but some do not consider it canon even though it was a worthy title.
It was never going to be easy to follow up such a mammoth hit and the game received mixed reviews on it’s release from various magazines but is it really just an average follow up?
Well I’m here to tell you that, NO it most certainly isn’t. Shinobi III in my mind is one of the finest games to grace the system and one can only assume rose tinted nostalgia for a previous title that may have caused some less favourable reviews.
The graphics are simply stunning. The sprites are bigger the colours more vibrant than it’s predecessor and the backgrounds are deliciously detailed, full of lush parallax scrolling and animations of waterfalls and leaves blowing. Some of the special effects employed would honestly put the SNES’s mode 7 to shame and everything is superbly animated. Some of the levels resemble scenes out of various Manga films with combinations of traditional Japanese settings to futuristic technological compounds and that’s no bad thing at all. Being a bit of a ninja freak myself I still fail to understand why Joe, a master of the shadows is always in white, the brightest most visible colour, but this is in no way an attack on the graphical quality.
The sound is equally impressive with the music being much more preferable to the previous titles sonics, which is surprising considering that the great Yuzo Koshiro had no involved in this game at all. The uber catchy oriental tunes will really get the adrenaline pumping as you work through the levels. The sound effects are mostly lifted from the previous game and serve their purpose with some great new ‘smack’ and ‘slash’ effects but also some pretty dodgy ones in there with moments of ropey and quite weedy sounding sampled kiai (shouts).
Play wise the game is just a joy. The controls are responsive and there has been many more moves added to Joe’s skills. This is really apparent when you play this game for a while then go back to ‘Revenge Of Shinobi’ and get a perspective of just how much smoother and faster the action is. The learning curve is set almost perfectly and the game has a real ‘just one more go’ factor which does get you that little bit further every time. The gimmiks in the play are just that but sometimes having cool but shallow stuff in a game is just, well…….cool. The joy that is felt when riding across a Japanese plain on horseback or the sheer exhilaration of riding a motorised surfboard on water (to what is arguably one of the best pieces of game music ever) is brilliant and while it doesn’t add that much depth to the play it’s still a nice change. The only real downside is that the game can get a tad repetitive at times but that’s just the nature of the beast and could be said of any game around that time.
Shinobi III takes the foundation on which it’s older brother laid and built on it. Almost every aspect of the game has been improved, speeded up and added to in some way or another and then surpasses it and is a shining example of what Sega programmers at the time could achieve with their console when they put their minds to it!
Staresy is a long time gamer and chiptuner. You can listen to chiptunes from classic games systems and covers of classic game music. You can listen to some of them at Prototron.