Forgotten Old Games – Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi

Greetings everyone! It’s that day of the week again…brace yourself for another FORGOTTEN OLD GAME! YEAH!
I must admit. I’ve spent some time thinking about which game would I talk about, but the recent events involving exploding sewers happening at Rio de Janeiro made it clear to me. Ladies and gentlemen, I present you Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi

Cover

Released in 1990 by SEGA, Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi is a side scroller platform action game. Being part of the Shinobi series and a direct sequel to The Revenge of  Shinobi, this game leaves no room for hesitation, since it’s a one-hit-kills like most of the good ‘n old ninja games!
There’s a little problem with the main character’s identity though. The japanese version states that the ninja is Hayate son of Joe Musashi, the main char from the previous games. But the american version tells us that the ninja is Joe Musashi himself!!! What a mess! The dog is called Yamato in both versions anyway. Since I’ll be talking about the american version, let’s stick to the Joe Musashi name.
It’s 1997. The world seemed at peace, after the events that led to the defeating of the Neo Zeed organization by Musashi’s hands. Unfortunately that peace is once again disturbed by the rising of a new threat. The Union Lizard crime sindicate, led by Sauros, a reptilian monster, attacked the city of New York and kidnapped innocent people. Now it’s up to Musashi to use his skills and save the world again, with the help of his dog, Yamato.

Screen1

The graphics are dark and crisp, giving the right atmosphere to the game. The levels are mostly urban scenery, since it takes place in New York. There’s even an “elevator” stage at the Liberty Statue!  But I feel that they lack a bit of detail. The characters animations are good. Also notice that this game doesn’t share the same interface as Streets of Rage like the previous one. Talking about the game interface, let’s take a look at it:

Cidade...maravilhosa...

1P: Your current score.
High: The High score for that level.
Time: Shows how much time you have to finish that level.
Save: How much hostages left to save.
Dog Icon: Flashses while charged, indicates when Yamato is ready to attack.
Ninjutsu Icon: Indicates current Ninjutsu(magic) that can be used.

A Ninjutsu in action.

The music is good. Modern tracks that fit the stages well. Sound effects are ok.
Yamato barks everytime an enemy is within his range, which can be annoying sometimes, but when you reach stage  4-2 you’ll love it, since it’s the only way to see where enemies are hiding!

Yamato's barking can be annoying but it's really useful here

The controls are sharp. You won’t have problems dishing out those shuriken.
Let’s see what each button does:

D-Pad: Moves Character
A Button: Ninjutsu
B Button: Attack/Yamato
C Button: Jumps

You can use Yamato to hold enemies.

Pressing A button and Musashi will unleash a powerful Ninjutsu (Ninja Magic) that kills all enemies on screen instantly, except for bosses. If you just press the B button, Musashi throws a shuriken (if away from an enemy) or uses his sword/fists (if an enemy is close).  If you hold the B button, the Dog Icon will charge and start flashing, release B and Yamato will charge into an enemy. As for jumping, just pressing C button  is the normal jump, but since the stages are ‘layered’ you may require to hold Up or Down while jumping to access upper and down layers. Unfortunately there is no double jump neither wall grinding.
As I stated before, you die if an enemy hits you, but you won’t die from touching some of them, so you could use it for your advantage. Some enemies are behind covers, and they can shoot you. At these times you must send Yamato against them, and finish them while they’re being held. Be fast though, since they can take Yamato down and it’ll become a puppy (?!?) and will be unable to attack until you rescue another hostage.

The first Boss!

There are 5 Levels with 2 stages and a boss each. After the boss you have a Bonus Stage where you can win prizes according to the number of ninjas you kill:
50: 3 Lifes
49: 2 Lifes
48: 1 Life
1~47: Bonus points
0: 1 Life (wtf?!)

Hint: Do nothing at the bonus stage and you'll receive a Life (1UP)

By the way. If you find the game too easy, you can set up difficulty in the options menu. And even turn off Shuriken. Yeah! You’ll have no range projectiles (besides Yamato, but you can use them at the bosses).

Well, that’s it for now. Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi is truly a great game and I recommend it to everyone. Thanks for reading!

Notes:
Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
 was supposed to be a port of Shadow Dancer from the Arcade. But the stages, songs, and graphics are all new. The Arcade version had light graphics and instead of saving hostages, you disarm bombs. The rest is pretty much the same. Oh by the way! I find it hillarious when you use a Ninjutsu in the Arcade version of the game, since Musashi says a lot of things in japanese followed by something that sounds like “BUGAAAAAAAA” to me!
I really wanted to use the japanese version of the cover, since this one is so FUGLY. But I decided to use the American version anyway so you could comment on it for me! Your thoughts please!

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