Review By: Steve
awesome. You canít deny it. If youíre like me and most of
the general male population, you wasted many hours of your youth
pretending to be a ninja or a Power Ranger or whatever. Remember
the Power Rangers movie when they went all martial arts? Yeah,
good movie. Ninjas rule. Probably the damn coolest thing next to
point is that I love ninjas. Who wouldnít want to be
quicker than a blink of an eye, and wield a sword that can cut
straight through paper? While Shinobi wonít turn you
into an instant black belt, it helps to immerse you in a world
of your childhood dreams. Hoo-hah!
So when I
got Shinobi for Christmas, you can imagine that the first
thing I did after opening everything else was pop that baby in.
I turned on my PS2 and was immediately wowed by the title theme
(chock full of instruments that give it that Japanese zing), and
was then treated by a very impressive cinema. The scene does a
good job of setting up the story, explaining how Hotsuma (the
main character of the game) got to where he is as leader of the
Oboro clan, and the current conflict taking place in the city of
Tokyo. After that I watched him dive out of a helicopter, thrust
his sword through a skyscraper to slow his fall (I love this
guy), and land on the concrete road. Hotsuma looked behind him
and saw two undead ninjas ready for battle.
Let the fun
begin. *cue Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting*
I press and
hold R1 to lock onto one of my antagonists as I dash up to him.
He swings, so I press circle to jump and dodge. I land, press
triangle to chuck a shuriken and paralyze him. I then follow by
double-tapping square to play some slice Ďn dice. Iím still
holding R1, so I immediately lock-on to his accomplice. This one
is cake: I approach him, and quickly tap left while pressing X.
This makes Hotsuma pull a stealth dash around him, disappearing
and reappearing behind the evildoer. Shwing! Didnít even see
it coming. The controls are that simple. With the lock-on
function, you donít have to worry at all about where youíre
swinging because youíll constantly be looking at your target.
If you feel like switching targets, simply press R2. Canít see
in front of you? Press L1 to center your camera. L2 is reserved
for ninjutsu, a special type of ninja magic that can be used in
three different ways. Temporary invincibility, a shockwave
charged sword, or explosion of fire: pick your punishment. The
camera can sometimes get annoying, but the controls in this game
mention that this guy can run on walls? Iím loviní it!
learned that the key to the combat system of Shinobi lied
in my ability to perform a Tate kill (pronounced TAH-tay).
Whenever youíre encountered by a group of enemies, icons equal
to the amount of enemies confronting you appear at the top of
the screen. Every time you kill one of your enemies, one of the
icons lights up in a ball of flame, and the enemy will be frozen
in his position. You only have a limited amount of time to kill
the rest of the enemies before the first one finally collapses
into a pile of limbs. If you manage to kill all of them theyíll
all die simultaneously and youíll occasionally be treated to a
nice blood splattering cut-scene. You can even pull this off on
bosses, so go and impress your friends as you take out that
gigantic spider in one hit. The reward for pulling off a Tate?
played and completed any Contra? Is Metroid your
idea of a relaxation game? Do you complain about how Final
Fantasy isnít the way it used to be? Do you sit on your
porch and spit at ten-year-olds? If you answered yes to any of
the first three questions, then Shinobi is for you. If
you answered yes to the last question, then Iím coming over
and kicking your ass for the saliva you got in my eye.
This game is
hard. Very hard. The first few stages arenít that bad,
and do a good job of easing you into it. Once you get used to
it, they decide to throw everything at you. When youíve got
three knife-wielding dogs and two shielded ninjas staring you
down, you better be ready to pull of some tricky moves. You will
die. A lot. I have thrown my controller at the television screen
many times in fits of rage. If you are not a patient gamer, then
stay far, far away from this game. And you know what scares me?
This game has a hard mode. %#@$!
Now this is
all good. I love a good challenge. Thereís nothing better than
the feeling you get after dominating the final boss of one of
the hardest game youíve ever played. However, the guys at
Overworks paired up insane difficulty with the worst possible
characteristic: repetitiveness. Holy crap, is this game tedious.
One stage consists of the same plain, recycled backgrounds, with
the same enemies popping up, only in different combinations. Youíll
then progress to the next stage to find a new set of backgrounds
and enemies, except now these are recycled over and over.
Every place looks the same. Itís ridiculous. Now factor this
in with the fact that youíll probably die twenty-some times in
each stage. It absolutely kills the game.
A few things
save Shinobiís tediousness from sending to the dump
with all the rest of the crap. Like I said, its combat system is
wonderful and addictive. Nothingís more satisfying than
pulling off a Tate on ten enemies. Also, you get graded for your
performance in each stage, ranging from A to C. The grades
depends upon how fast you completed it, how many enemies you
killed, how many hits it took to kill the final boss (a one-hit
kill can be done using Tate), etc. There are artifacts hidden
throughout each stage, too. Could getting straight Aís and all
thirty artifacts unlock some hidden goodies? Who knows?
Overworks also attempted to integrate a storyline into the game,
but failed miserably. There is no story at all in the actual
gameplay, so all of it is told through the cinema scenes. It
does a terrible job of pulling the gamer in. Honestly, I donít
know what the heck is going on. It doesnít really matter,
though, since Shinobi isnít exactly a game made for a
story. Itís made for the action, where it succeeds
- Camera can be
annoying at times
- Ö Thereís
a hard mode? Hold me.
a blastÖ for the first thirty minutes. After that, the game
slowly started to decay. When you see the same things over and
over, itís hard not to get bored. If Overworks took a little
more time to spice this game up, it could have been so much more.
Itís still fun, despite its flaws, but Iím not sure if it was
worth the fifty bucks I slapped down for it. Itís definitely
worth a rental, though. Check it outóyou might just think itís
worthy of a purchase.