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Published on January 4th, 2012 | by Shawn Long, Features Editor

Shinobi 3DS Review

After an eight-year hiatus, SEGA has decided to unleash its next adaptation of Shinobi, this time for the Nintendo 3DS. Although the game is for the 3DS, long time fans of the series will be happy to know that Shinobi has returned to its side-scroller roots while adding 3D effects to enhance the experience. Does this ninja deserve to sneak up on your wallet and snatch money, or does he fall flat on his face before reaching you? Well, it depends.

Players assume the role of Jiro Musashi, the son of the main character from previous Shinobi titles, Joe Musashi, and find themselves covering a vast array of levels spanning from AD times to futuristic levels with cyborg enemies after being betrayed by Jiro’s best friend. The story is very confusing, as are most Shinobi games, but the game does portray most of it in some stylish anime sequences which is a treat.

The game has very stylish graphics. It reminds me of a blend of Okami and Muramasa: The Demon Blade, which is a good thing. The game play is done in 2.5D which allows for fast action and smooth graphics. A few 3D gameplay scenes do pop up and the graphics remain crisp and fluid during these scenes. My favorite one in particular is when Jiro is on horseback fleeing through the woods, jumping over fallen tree limbs while fighting other ninjas on horses. Overall the graphics are well done, but you almost feel that SEGA didn’t really push the 3DS as hard as it could. The music and sound effects are a real treat, with some of the level songs being very catchy which was a nice surprise.

Most people play Shinobi for the high-paced and difficult action, and this game isn’t lacking in either department. The control layout is serviceable, and your hand will get used to hitting the R button in order to parry, because you will die. A lot. Unfortunately, that is one of the main gripes I have with this game. I have been playing games for 23 years with my first system being an NES, so I’m not a “noob.” The standard difficult gives you five lives, and after about three hours of playing, I finally beat the first level. Maybe my ninja skills aren’t up to snuff, but I can’t see the average gamer breezing through this game. Truth be told, I had to use “Beginner” mode which gives you infinite lives to beat the game, and I still struggled with that. Too many cheap deaths, pitfalls and somewhat unbalanced plat forming take away from the fun of the game. A fan service to original Shinobi fans? Possibly. A headache for newer fans? Definitely.

Final Truth:

Rounding everything up, there are a lot of neat goodies packed away in this title. A full history of every Shinobi game is available which makes for a nice read, including Alex the Kidd in Shinobi World, which was always seen as a spin-off on the main series. Level replays are save able on to the cart so you can show them off to your friends, and a free play mode that lets you pick a chapter and play through it without messing up your main file is nice for your friends to play. SpotPass does have a use in this, with specific ninja challenges being shared, which extends the game life.


Shinobi may not be the prettiest game on the 3DS, or the easiest, but it does deliver a solid shot of ninja game play to a system that can use some quality titles. Just be prepared to get very frustrated at cheap deaths and extreme difficulty while enjoying the game.

[xrr label=”Rating: 8/10″ rating=8/10]

+ Excellent art style
+ Fun gameplay
+ Challenging
Maybe TOO challenging
Too many cheap deaths
The amount of headaches the game will give you

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About the Author

Gaming for 23 years! Primarily into Nintendo systems, but play everything. Add me on Facebook, Shawn Long, on Twitter @ShawnLong85 or email me at slong@gamingtruth.com

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