27 Jun 2022
Shinobi front cover PC MS-DOS
Shinobi front cover PC MS-DOS
Welcome to SHINOBI, where you will rely on mastery, might, magic, and disappointment throughout the game. Yes, SHINOBI is one of those games that looks great on the outside, and terrible on the inside. When I first received my review copy, I was thrilled with the screen shots on the back of the box; I thought the game was really going to be good, maybe even an ultimate classic. This is not the case. I promptly put the disk in the drive and started playing the worst arcade game I've seen in along time. Something must be wrong, I thought. I compared the back of the box to the screen. It doesn't even look like the same game. (This review is based on the IBM-PC version.)

As far as I can tell, SHINOBI doesn't have much of a plot. You are Joe Musashi, Master Ninja, and you are trained in the ancient art of Shinobi. The evil Ring of Five has kidnapped the children of the world's leaders, and your job is to find them. What is the Ring of Five? I suppose they are five villains; don't ask me, the manual doesn't say. Whoops...that's my mistake: SHINOBI doesn't have a manual. It has a pamphlet. A very sparsely documented pamphlet.
Shinobi for MS-DOS
Shinobi for MS-DOS
There are five missions in SHINOBI: Ken Oh, Black Turtle, Mandara, Lobster, and Masked Ninja. There's no description of what you do in these missions, and I can't find any mention of how they differ; maybe just in name. When you finally start playing SHINOBI, you come up against shooting thugs, frogmen, gunmen, green ninjas, and mongos. In each mission, there are several rounds -- I can't tell you exactly how many, because the pamphlet doesn't say.

During play, your character bounces around sporadically, because the animation is very choppy. To fight back against the onslaught of thugs and vandals, you start out with ninja stars. You can also pick up other weapons throughout the game. I don't know what kinds of weapons, because there isn't a list.

Your magic abilities are called Ninja Magic. Ninja Magic kills all the normal enemies onscreen, but only weakens the leaders of The Ring of Five. I can describe the graphics to you in one word: mediocre. And in a game of this quality, you'd expect the sound to be equal to the animation and graphics, right? Right: The sound is about as good as the graphics and animation. You you hear a nice "ping" when you throw a star and you can hear different "pings" throughout the game.
Shinobi for MS-DOS
Shinobi for MS-DOS
The IBM-PC version of SHINOBI is packaged with the above-mentioned pamphlet and a 3-1/2" disk. I suppose you can obtain a 5-1/4" version somehow, but I couldn't find any information about it. SHINOBI requires 512K of RAM and MS-DOS 2.0 or higher to run on IBMs and compatibles. It is copy-protected. The program supports CGA/MCGA/EGA/VGA/Tandy graphics cards. You can use the joystick or keboard to control your characters' actions on the screen. The game doesn't display in true VGA mode, and I doubt that it supports true MCGA.

SHINOBI is a poor game with so-so graphics, pitiful animation, and pathetic sound. There isn't much to the documentation, but this may be a plus to some of you. If you're a fan of ninja games and you want to try this one, you might consider waiting for a different version.

SHINOBI is published and distributed by Mindscape.
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