> Shadow Dancer is a side-scrolling action game for Sega's System 18 arcade
board. It's the true sequel to Shinobi,
and was released to arcades in 1989. Sega published home versions in 1990-91
that were titled "Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi". While the Master
System received a watered down version of the arcade game, the Mega Drive/Genesis
version could be considered completely remixed.
> The story is familiar, the Ninja Master (Joe Shinobi Musashi) and his
pet dog must vanquish an evil gang and destroy the syndicate that controls
them. These terrorists have planted time bombs throughout the metropolis
that must be found! To that end, Musashi has ninja skills and magic at
> Although better overall, the scenery is reminiscent of the original Shinobi.
The graphics have been bumped up nicely with lots of background and foreground
animations. Ninjitsu effects are more impressive, and bosses are more detailed
too. Although Musashi's animations are more varied now, their smoothness
is essentially unchanged.
> The enemies are a throwback as well, as Musashi will fight against gun
wielding thugs, boomerang slingers, numerous ninja types, and more. Lastly,
multi-level backgrounds have returned and been enhanced.
> Basic attacks are unlimited shuriken at range and a sword for up close
encounters. Although most of the gameplay in Shadow Dancer was left in
tact from the original Shinobi, this game added the use of a canine companion
for attack. When the dog barks in the direction of an enemy, the player
can sic the dog on the bad guy by holding down and pressing the attack
button. Don't wait too long to help the pooch, because he'll be turned
into a harmless pup after a few seconds.
> Three types of ninja magic are utilized that clear the screen of enemies:
Fire, Tornado, and Idol magics are randomly available. Also, extra magic
is awarded when the continue feature is used. Collecting time bombs will
unlock more powerful attacks until the player finishes the stage or dies.
> Back are one-hit deaths and unlimited continues (at least until you run
out of money). Upon death, the player restarts from the beginning of the
stage. The last stage of each mission is a boss battle, followed by a bonus
round where the player shoots skyward to kill ninjas jumping down from
> The tunes in Shadow Dancer are nothing short of classic Sega arcade with
plenty of up-beat songs to complement the action. Some songs are memorable,
and surely won't be irritating by any stretch.
> Overall, this game's sound effects are very good. The dog's plentiful
barking is convincing without being too bothersome. Musashi even chants
in Japanese when using Ninjitsu. Throwing shurikens, sword strikes and
gun fire round out the effects.
> Shadow Dancer has four missions with fifteen stages total. The first
mission has three stages, while the remaining missions have four stages
each. Bonus rounds are played between missions.
> The locales are an airport, bridge, warehouse, sewers and a space shuttle
launching pad. Don't expect to breeze through this game without a lot of
practice. Death comes easy, and one wrong move can send a player back to
the beginning of the stage. That being said, Shadow Dancer falls into the
category of easy to learn, tough to master and fun to play. If the difficulty
wasn't so frustrating from time to time, I'd rate this category higher.
Sega knows how to make games that eat quarters like nobody else.
Shadow Dancer is a great ninja action follow up to Shinobi. It will undoubtedly
produce frustration from one-hit deaths, but that's somewhat mitigated
by pumping in more quarters to continue. At any rate, arcade action fans
will surely enjoy the scenery and gameplay while being transported back
to the 80's arcade scene.
8.6 | Graphics: 9.0 | Control: 9.0 | Sound: 8.5 | Fun: 8.0