1988 – Shinobi



Developer(s) Sega
Publisher(s) Sega
Designer(s) Director: Yutaka Sugano
Composer(s) Yasuhiro Kawakami
Platform(s) Arcade
Release date(s) November, 1987
Genre(s) Platform
Hack and slash
Mode(s) Up to 2 players, alternating turns
Cabinet Upright
Arcade system Sega System 16
Display Raster, standard resolution (Used: 320 x 224), horizontal alignment


Joel:  Shinobi is actually one of the first true console games I remember playing – I used to spend a lot of time at my neighbour’s house as a child, a good chunk of it playing this. They were the only people I knew with a computer that wasn’t bristling with confusing buttons, cost more than the average car and required all manner of typing to operate. Plug and play, a true wonder for my tiny, little, infantile brain. I don’t think I ever made it even so far as the first boss – at least I didn’t recognise him when I destroyed his business on the testing run-through the other week. Great fun – Everyone who games knows the Shinobi series, so I won’t go into massive detail about it (though I’m sure Liam will anyway.) Side-scrolling (mostly) fighter ahoy. This is one of my favourite genres of game, it’s a shame you don’t see so many these days. Anyway ..  It’s good stuff – Kill the baddies, rescue the hostages, reach the end of the level. Wash, rinse, repeat. A winning formula for sure. It’s a tough call as to who will do better at this one, I’m struggling to even come up with a metric for measuring it at the moment, might just have to be good, old-fashioned high scores. Once you get in the swing of timing your approach properly, the game is in the bag.

Liam:  Err nope. I know next to nothing about this game. I didn’t jump on the console bandwagon until quite late, I had a Gameboy but my first non-handheld was a SNES. I think I have only ever played on the system we will be using, the Sega Master System, a handful of times. I was still using my Amstrad CPC in 1988. As Joel said, Shinobi is a sort of side scrolling ‘Ninja-em-up’ which introduced some new elements to a traditional platform game such as rudimentary AI. The only thing I remember about this game is that when you died you slowly crumpled to the floor in a really exaggerated way, and you died a lot.

One thing I did want to mention about this game (and many other Japanese games from this era) is that a lot of effort went into creating a soundtrack. A much overlooked part of video games in my opinion is having a composer create an original score for a game. The reason I bring this up now is that sadly due to the nature of our challenge we are missing out a lot of the games with outstanding classical music soundtracks – mainly due to being predominantly one player games – although there is a corker coming up in a couple of years!


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