Shin Force | Sega Master System Review
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Shin Force ~ Shinobi ~
 Shadow Dancer: The Secret Of Shinobi
Shinobi
Reviewed
07.11.2000
Publisher
Sega
Developer
Sega
Format
2 Megabit Cart
Origin
Import/Domestic
Available
1991 (Japan)
1991 (USA)
Exclusive
Yes
Difficulty
Hard
Dimensions
2D
View
Side
Genre
Action
Player(s)
1
Options
Control Pad
Control Stick
Requires
n/a
Importable
100%
INTRO:
         > After appearing in arcades in 1989, Sega released Master System and Genesis / Mega Drive versions of Shadow Dancer.  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 a few rounds), while the Genesis / Mega Drive version is largely original (but still has roots in the System 18 original).

         > Naturally, it stars a shinobi warrior (you) armed with shuriken and ninja magic.  Takashi, the shinobi, is on a mission to stop a terrorist group from foiling a crucial space mission.  The addition of a dog to aid your quest really makes this game unique...

GRAPHICS: 
         > 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 console.  Shadow Dancer on the Master System looks quite good compared to the System 18 original.  The characters are large, and about two thirds 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 retains most of the arcade levels.  Actually, it's the only home version to date which can boast that.
CONTROL: 
         > 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 Shinobi.
SOUND:
         > 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.
FUN:
         > Most people, no doubt, will think Shadow Dancer is challenging -- the length of this game surely has something to do with it.  Once you've mastered a level, however, the difficulty becomes normal.  It's only four rounds 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!
BOTTOM LINE:
     > Shadow Dancer for Master System is the only home version which mimics the arcade's levels -- albeit only about two thirds of them.  It's a fine example of 8-bit ninja action.  It's not too long, but the difficulty makes up for that.  If you can find this Sega gem, then buy it immediately!
Overall: 9.2 | Graphics: 9.6 | Control: 9.3 | Sound: 8.5 | Fun: 9.4
~ Shinobi ~