> I was hooked on The Revenge of Shinobi,
then Sega announced they were making Shadow Dancer for Genesis as well.
Of course, I thought they were talking about the awesome, but very difficult,
arcade game of the same name. As it turned out, Sega only did an
arcade port of Shadow Dancer for the Master System. The Genesis /
Mega Drive iteration was to be largely new.
> This version's story is a bit different than the arcade original.
After bringing down the Neo Zeed, Joe "Shinobi" Musashi went to New York
to spend time with his former student, Kato, then retired to his native
land. Later, Kato was fatally injured while protecting local school
children from a new gang of thugs. Musashi rushed back to New York
to find that Kato had died, and left only his faithful dog, Yamato.
A group called the Union Lizard (led by Sauros) killed Kato. Musashi
was enraged and promised Kato's mother that he would avenge her son's death...
> If you're into collecting import games, then Shadow Dancer is a good
one to get. It's 100% importable, as long as you have a conversion
cartridge. The entire game is in English, so there's no language
> For the most part, I really enjoyed the scenery in Shadow Dancer.
Especially in the "Burning Downtown" and "Statue of Liberty" levels, Sega
injected lots of detail and background effects. Some of the original
locales have been remixed for the Genesis. Nice touch. Anyway,
Musashi animates very nicely, as do the various enemies.
> The coolest enemies are certainly the deadly ninjas. They don't
just stand there, they jump around, almost unpredictably. The bosses
aren't really anything to write home about, although the final boss, Sauros,
is sweet. Finally, the Ninjitsu is pretty much been-there done-that
> Shadow Dancer's controls are fairly simple. Musashi has Ninjitsu,
jump and attack buttons. Although jumping can be done in the same
plane, across planes, or up/down levels, gone is Musashi's double jump
from The Revenge of Shinobi. Depending on your proximity to the enemy,
Musashi will wield either a shuriken or katana. Let's not forget
Musashi's newest friend, Yamato. If you "charge" (hold) the attack
button, you can send Yamato to disable the nearest enemy, while you move
in for the kill. Be careful though, if the enemy is too strong, Yamato
will be disabled for a bit. What's the downside to Shadow Dancer's
gameplay? It would be that Musashi is only one-hit from death at
all times -- there's no health bar. That can be very frustrating.
> Your main mission is to survive to the end of a level. Along the
way, there's hostages to save, and power-ups to be earned. When you
get to a boss, Musashi must fight him alone. Some of the boss attacks
are unpredictable and frustrating too. The only other thing I didn't
mention is the Bonus Rounds. In the tradition of Shinobi,
kill ninjas to earn bonuses.
> Of course, since Yuzo Koshiro didn't compose the music, it's not anywhere
near awesome. Still, it gets the job done and is at least average
Genesis fare. The sound effects are pretty good, though nothing stands
out as fantastic.
> Most everyone belly-ached about Shadow Dancer only having five levels
(with multiple stages). That never bothered me, since most games
have a hard time holding my interest through the first few levels.
> There are 3 difficulty settings, and the option to play with unlimited
shurikens, or none at all. Even with the easiest settings, though,
Shadow Dancer is no push over. The last few stages can be quite frustrating
-- believe me. At any rate, there's lots of ninja-action fun to be
Although Shadow Dancer is way different than its arcade brother, any serious
ninja action fan would not be without this game. It's not as good
as The Revenge of Shinobi or Shinobi
III, but it's a worthy game for your Genesis library. The only
question is, why did Sega change the awesome box artwork from the Japanese
8.9 | Graphics: 9.5 | Control: 9.0 | Sound: 8.0 | Fun: 9.0