Shadow Dancer (Arcade / SMS / MD)
Sega/Shin Force
Shadow Dancer (Arcade / SMS / MD)

Sega/Shin Force > Elite Series > Shinobi (Series) > Shadow Dancer

Shinobi @ Sega/Shin Force
Shadow Dancer :: Reviews: Arcade
Arcade System
Sega System 18
Nov. 1989
Nov. 1989
1-2 (alternating)
Raster 320x224
     > 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 his disposal.

     > 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 a building.

     > 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.

Bottom Line
     > 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.
Overall: 8.6 | Graphics: 9.0 | Control: 9.0 | Sound: 8.5 | Fun: 8.0
~ Shinobi ~
Shadow Dancer - Marquee
Shadow Dancer - Marquee
Shadow Dancer - Cabinet
Shadow Dancer - Cabinet

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