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Virgin Games Ltd
1989
Arcade: Gang beat-em-up
£9.99
£3.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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35
Chris Bourne

Shinobi is like a cross between Super Mario Bros and Human Killing Machine. It's colourful to look at and full of exploration but at heart, it's a combat game.

Your mission is to rescue an apparently infinite number of babies from the clutches of the evil ninjas. Actually, the "babies" are members of the junior ninja class at your old martial arts academy. They've been swiped by head meanie Foo (?) and if Foo doesn't get a big payoff, he promises that his henchmen will bump off the kids.

Of course, it's up to you to make Foo eat his words. And what a joy it would be to watch that - here it comes - Foo man chew.

So. What we have is a fighting/grabbing situation. The junior ninjas sit trussed up on the floor like so many Christmas turkeys while their murderous guardians fling deadly boomerangs at you. A right old to-do.

Of course, you have at your disposal the fantastic qualities handed down over the years. It has to be said, your fantastic qualities seem to have been a little bit jaded actually, as you can only punch and throw your limitless supply of shiruken. You are also endowed with ultra-fab Ninja Magic which, once per level, will wipe out everything on the screen in a flash of energy.

Although the graphics are colourful, they're not especially fantastic. The detail it a bit iffy. Thankfully, despite the simplicity of the movements available, the gameplay has been tuned very successfully. There is a definite learning curve in the game, and the easy start rapidly becomes a tough middle and a virtually impossible end.

Each level has tough stages and areas where you can get your breath back after a heavy bout of combat. The action takes place on a number of platforms too. By employing a "super jump" option, you can bounce yourself onto a second level in order to snatch more kids.

Taking out the bad guys can be a tricky business. Individually, they don't present much of a problem. Usually a good shiruken to the pelvic region will sort them out. Once they're coming from both angles, though, you'll appreciate the benefits of a decent joystick. You can occasionally jump your way out of trouble, but you're more likely to come a cropper than successfully escape.

The further into the battle you get, the harder time you have of things. Personally, I couldn't get to grips with the horrid floating enemy ninjas.

Shinobi, it has to be said, doesn't really offer anything new to anyone who has more than two kicky-fighty games in their collection already. If you're a fan of the coin-op or you're a loony psychopath into anything shiny and with points on, then this is the game for you.

A corker, but a tried and tested formula.

Label: Virgin
Author: Sales Curve
Price: £8.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: ?

Tried and tested though high quality ninja action.

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