Shinobi 3: Return of the Ninja Master (Giant Bomb|Wikipedia) is a Sega Genesis classic – a game that always seems to find its way onto Genesis collections whenever Sega decides to publish one for a platform. I’ve seen it described as a brawler, but I would say it’s more like an action game – either way, your objective is to kill everything in your path and make it to the end of the stage. There is some platforming in this one too, but for the most part it’s pretty light. Every level has a mid and end boss, some of which have some really great looking sprites.
In order to destroy everything in your path, you are given several attacks. You can throw a shuriken at enemies but you have a limited number of them, you can hit them with your katana if you’re close enough, or you can use magic. Yes, you have ninja magic and it is very useful. I was only able to get the basic lightening shield, but according to wikipedia there are several offensive magic attacks available. Enemies will attack you with various ranged and melee attacks, which you can jump or duck to avoid. Speaking of jumping, there is a double jump that you can perform but I was never reliably able to pull it off. The best I can tell is that once you are on the descending side of the jump you can no longer double jump.
The graphics are quite good for a game released on the Genesis in 1993 – scrolling backgrounds, transparent waterfalls, and huge sprites. I really liked the art style too – particularly on the third stage where there are glowing test tubes with creatures in them pulsing in the background.
Music in this is… uneven. Some of the tracks I really liked, such as the first stage and the title music. Others, not so much. The music in the fourth stage in particular was borderline bad in my opinion.
I spent about an hour with the game, and got near the end of the fourth stage. Judging by the total count of seven levels, I think this game is easily beatable in about two hours if you are good. I think the length is a bit on the short side, but each level is completely different from the last and the boss encounters are memorable which helps justify the length.
Verdict: Play again! This was a fun action game, and due to the short length, I think I will try to beat it next time I play.
Images courtesy of Giant Bomb