> After an arcade debut in 1989, Sega released Genesis / Mega Drive and
Master System versions of Shadow Dancer in 1990-91 that are subtitled "The
Secret of Shinobi". While the Genesis / Mega Drive version was a
side story, Shadow Dancer for SMS is the true sequel to the original Shinobi.
The SMS version mimics the arcade original (minus half the rounds), while
the Genesis / Mega Drive version is largely original (but still has roots
in the System 18 original).
> The arcade original hints at Musashi's return in Shadow Dancer.
However, the SMS version stars a shinobi warrior (Takashi) armed with shuriken,
a sword and ninja magic. Takashi is on a mission to stop a terrorist group
from foiling a crucial space mission. The addition of a dog to aid
his quest really makes this game unique.
> Shadow Dancer is one of the last games released for the SMS. It's
amazing what a few years of experience can do for programmers on a given
Shadow Dancer on the Master System looks good compared to the System 18
original. The basics are there while many of the background animations
> The characters are large, and about half of the levels are in tact.
You'll traverse through an airport concourse, inside an airliner, on moving
railroad cars, within a dangerous factory, and more. The enemies
are the familiar Shinobi thugs with guns and knives plus the obligatory
end of level bosses. All that aside, Shadow Dancer's best graphical
feature by far is the simple fact it mimics the arcade original.
Actually, it's the only home console version to date which can boast that.
> Shadow Dancer's gameplay is almost identical to that of Shinobi.
You can move side to side, jump to higher platforms, throw shuriken, use
magic, and enter hand-to-hand combat. The addition of your fearless
dog, Yamato, really sets the game apart from Shinobi. When you're
in a tough spot, just charge the dog-meter and unleash his attack on the
closest enemy! If you're good enough to hit all the ninjas in the
Bonus Rounds, then you'll earn extra shinobis. Overall, I'd say Shadow
Dancer's tight control outshines that of the Master System Shinobi.
> As expected, Shadow Dancer's music features some fine Z-80 rifs.
It's upbeat and keeps you in the action. You'll hear about the best
rendition of the arcade version the SMS is capable of. The sound
effects are minimal and essentially get the job done. Yamato even
barks during the intro animation.
> Most people, no doubt, will think Shadow Dancer is challenging -- the
length of this game surely has something to do with the ramped up difficulty.
Once you've mastered a level, however, the difficulty becomes somewhat
normal. It's only four missions long, but it's chock full of classic
Shinobi gameplay. Acquiring this instant classic took a while.
Now, I'm so glad I own it! Knowing the level select code helps a lot.
Shadow Dancer for Master System is the only home version which mimics the
arcade's levels -- albeit only about half of them. It's a fine example
of 8-bit ninja action. The high difficulty factor makes up for the
fact it's not that long of a game. If you like easy games, then take
a pass on Shadow Dancer. Otherwise if you can find this Sega gem, then
buy it immediately!
8.3 | Graphics: 8.5 | Control: 9.0 | Sound: 7.5 | Fun: 8.0