Shinobi 3DS review When we last played a preview version of Shinobi we thought it was decent but had our doubts.
There were too many cheap deaths, the horse-riding sections were horrible, the whole thing felt a bit cheap and it didn't look like Griptonite Games would have time to add the polish necessary to make it a good title.
Yet here we are, generously applying ketchup to our hat, because they've managed it.
Shinobi is a side-scrolling action platformer very much in the style of the old Shinobi arcade and Mega Drive games (some of which can be found on the Wii Virtual Console). You walk
from left to right defeating enemies, opening crates and using your jitsu magic when you need that extra edge.
It's an unashamedly simple game and it doesn't care. What's seemingly more important in Shinobi are two things - making you learn your character's skills inside-out and making you feel thoroughly awesome in the process.
Your ninja is armed with a sword for close combat, shuriken daggers for long-distance attacks and the ability to block. Most of the game is played using these three disciplines, and surprisingly it's the latter that's the most satisfying to pull off.
When you hold the R-button your ninja blocks attacks for around half a second - long enough to give you a margin of error so you don't have to block at the exact moment you're attacked, but short enough to make spamming the block button ineffective. Both close attacks and projectiles can be blocked without taking damage, and there's something hugely enjoyable about running towards an enemy, perfectly deflecting the two daggers he's thrown at you, parrying his sword attack then knocking him into the air.
While the combat is fantastic, it still doesn't make up for a potential issue - the sheer difficulty. Shinobi is very much old-school, shamelessly challenging to the extent that even the first level on Normal difficulty will have you dying plenty of times. Levels are also very long, multi-stage affairs that can last upwards of 20 minutes and losing all your lives will take you back to the start of the level, which can be immensely frustrating.
But that's the sort of game Shinobi is. It doesn't want you to zoom through it with no hassle, it wants you to die over and over again as you learn which enemy spawns where, figure out the best tactic to defeat each one and in time become an untouchable ninja warrior.
The extra challenge missions (unlocked through either Street Pass or with Play Coins) take this even further, requiring perfect skills with a single hit failing the stage.
Shinobi won't be to everyone's tastes since we're now in an age where games are expected to be easy enough for everyone. But if you like the idea of a game repeatedly handing your backside to you until you learn the ins and outs, Shinobi will give you many hours of fun.