US Gold Ltd
1991
Arcade: Gang beat-em-up
£10.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

40,41
Nick Roberts, Mark Caswell
Chris Bourne

Terrorists aren't very nice people, are they viewers? But there are a few square-jawed heroic types who'll stand up to them and give them a taste of their own medicine. Joe Musashi is one of them. The hero of Shinobi has returned after a long rest to find a terrorist gang have been busy planting bombs in civilian establishments across America. So Joe dons his espadrilles and snazzy white togs, buckles on his razor-sharp katana sword and calls to heel his faithful mutt (let's call him Fido) and heads into action.

Level one takes you, playing both Joe and Fido to Miami airport where the terrorists have been busy wiring up explosives. With a copy of The Sledge Hammer Guide To DIY Bomb Disposal and a pair of ear plugs, Joe strides through the three sections that make up the level, dismantling bombs as he goes.

But it's not that easy. Evil terrorists are waiting to ambush our pal, but using throwing stars, limited ninja magic, sword or Fido's sharp choppers, they can be dealt with. Fido's quite a handy pal to have. With a press of the space bar he'll run ahead and hold a terrorist while you dispose of him.

After battling through the concourse and cargo loading bay, Joe enters a plane and faces a huge, fireball-throwing samurai robot. Beat that and you're into the bonus level, which goes like this: your standing at the bottom of a tower, looking up at its lofty heights. You have an unlimited supply of shuriken stars to lob at the nasty ninjas who leap down and try to plant their size ten espadrilles on your nut.

Later levels take place on a speeding train, in a factory, down the sewers and at a shuttle base, a nasty guardian awaiting man and dog at the end of each.

Are we bored with ninjas yet? Well, just a bit. I've played so many I'm turning Japanese - - if not going slightly orientally mad (yes viewers, he thinks he's a Bonsai tree -Ed). But let's look at the game on its own merits.

Shadow Dancer is a good scrolly beat-'em-up with arcade adventure overtones. It's fast, tough and, above all, playable. The character sprites are all speedy little chaps, especially Joe, who leaps around like a turbocharged Bruce Lee, while the backgrounds are pleasantly colourful and varied. Yup, I liked this a lot; it's well worth having a go at.

MARK ... 80%

CRITICISM

'Shadow Dancer follows in the footsteps of countless other ninja beat-'em-up games. But Shadow Dancer's novelty is that our hero's brought his dog along. The graphics are mainly monochrome, the odd bit of colour cropping up when you come to large obstacles like walls and oil tankers. The sprites are really well drawn and shaded and the animation's neat. I found the gameplay fun for a while but the novelty of having a dog to help me out soon wore off.' NICK ... 74%

Fido gives Shadow Dancer that extra bit of excitement over most ninja adventures.

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Screenshot Text

Ah-ha! We can see you, you sneaky ninja, lurking at the bottom there! Fetch, Fido/Rover/whaever your name is...