Game Info
Playstation 2
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood and Gore, Violence
The Good

• Intense violent action
• Good degree of challenge
• Excellent CG sequences

The Bad

• Repetitive
• Level design could be better
• Camera angles add to difficulty


After a massive earthquake lays waste to Tokyo, a mysterious golden palace appears at the heart of the city. At the palace is the powerful sorcerer, Hiruko, who has unleashed demons and a horde of evil ninjas upon Tokyo. The ninja Hotsuma travels deep into the heart of the city, only to find out the ninjas are the deceased members of the recently decimated Oboro Clan, the same clan Hotsuma fought to the death with his brother to take command of. At Hotsuma's disposal are a variety of techniques, including wall running and the Akujiki Sword, which absorbs the souls of defeated enemies.

At the heart of the Shinobi is a fairly straightforward hack-and-slack action title. The player has at their disposal a dash attack, which allows you to quickly move from one location to another, a double jump and the ability to run along walls. You can throw shurikens and even use magic attacks. The main focus of the game is the use of the sword, which absorbs energy from your defeated enemies, but if you don't keep killing enemies, it starts to drain your own life. During each level, you'll often be faced with a "packs" of enemies, which, if you dispatch them quick enough, will treat you to a short sequence of their bloody demise. Each level is fairly linear and sets the player to get from beginning to end by killing wave upon wave of spawned enemies and even includes some platforming aspects. At the end of each stage is often a challenging boss fight (even though some of the fights tend to feel similar) and you get a score for how well you perform.

One of the nicer visual aspects of the game is the plethora of finely produced CG story sequences that carry the story along. The levels are solidly built, even if they tend to look fairly repetitive. The level design, for the most part, is pretty mundane, even though there are a few levels that look better than others. While Hotsuma himself looks great, the minor enemies tend to look okay, even though you may grow tired of killing the same enemies over and over again. Spell effects look nice and Hotsuma's quick dash move looks great.

Audiowise, Shinobi is pretty good. The music feels appropriate and the sound effects work well. Voice acting may not be the best ever, but it delivers the story as well as it needs to.

Shinobi has a lot of style and action going for it, but there are some things that really needed addressing. Along with the boring level designs and repetitive action is a camera system that only adds to the difficulty of the game. While the game itself provides enough quality challenge, the camera itself needs some adjusting, and during the heat of battle can lead to some confusion as to where the next enemy is. While the player can move the camera with the right analog stick, you never seem able to keep up with the action during a fight. Also, the cutscenes after killing multiple endings gets old fast and considering that the game is basically killing wave after wave of enemies, this grows tiresome after a while.

Shinobi isn't a bad game and fans of the original series may want to give it a try. There's very little need for strategy and the gameplay may grow weary to some, but it does manage to have tons of style, challenge and action to spare. Give this one a rent if you're interested.

- - Kinderfeld

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