Sega Ages Shinobi Review – Rejoice If You’re in Your 40s

Shinobi Review

Shinobi is the original Sega beat ‘em up classic released in arcades in 1987. This version of the game is not the port originally made for the Sega Master System, or a port for any other console. This is a loving, exact port of the arcade original, which means smoother movement, and larger, brighter graphics on the Nintendo Switch.

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Before writing about the game itself, I should clear up that the Sega Ages games shouldn’t be confused with the games found on the Sega Genesis Classics collection. Even though both are available for the Switch, the Sega Genesis Classics collection is a single purchase with over 50 Sega Genesis games, The Sega Ages games are all individual game purchases and are comprised of mostly 80s/ 90s arcade and Sega Master System games. There are also a few Genesis games, but it looks like the priority of the Sega Ages collection is to provide games not found on the Sega Genesis Classics collection or the Sega Genesis Mini.

Now that that’s all out of the way, I can happily write that Shinobi still holds up as a retro beat ‘em up. Joe, the titular Shinobi, walks from left to right and throws shuriken at bad guys, while jumping and ducking to dodge their bullets. In a twist on the formula though, there are hostages that Joe must reach in each stage. If he gets to the end without rescuing them, he can’t continue. There’s also a second plane in the background that Joe can jump to and from by pressing up or down, respectively, and the jump button. These small changes are enough to elevate Shinobi above many of its contemporaries.

It’s Pretty Darn Short

Although Shinobi can be beaten in about 25 minutes, and its gameplay is very basic, there are lots of modern extras to keep fans playing and menus feature the original game artwork. In Arcade Mode, players can insert as many coins as they want, and go through the game traditionally. There’s also an Ages Mode, where Joe starts in a powered up white suit, which allows him to take multiple hits, and he shoots 1 hit kill bullets instead of throwing shuriken.

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At any time the game can be saved. There are rankings kept for those who lovingly remember arcade machines. Replays can be saved and viewed. There’s an online scan of the manual as well, which unfortunately couldn’t be accessed at the time of this review. A rewind feature can be turned on or off and players can choose between the Japanese and International versions. There are 4 difficulties to choose from and the number of continues can be set from 2-5. The player can even change the enemy bullet speed! Stage select can be turned on or off. The controller can be mapped to the player’s liking. There are several display modes, and selectable wallpapers. And finally, background music can be selected and played. Whew!

Although Shinobi likely isn’t going to gain any new fans from this release, it is a comprehensive, well put together, package for the original game. It contains every modern enhancement I could think of, and for only $8, it’s a steal for all Shinobi fans.

*** Switch code provided by the publisher ***

The Good

  • Tons of modern extras 
  • Great use of original artwork 
  • Is the arcade version, and not a port 

The Bad

  • Only a 25 minute playthrough 
  • Basic game design 
  • For franchise fans only