Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Revenge of Shinobi

Today I'm looking at Revenge of Shinobi : the second game in Sega's Shinobi series. This a classic action/platformer that a lot of devs could learn a lot from. Let's see if we can take a closer look and find out why.

First off, I don't feel comfortable continuing this discussion without giving a shout out to Yuzo Koshiro, the sound composer for this game as well as the Streets of Rage series. He did an incredible job on this soundtrack, featuring a lot of punk/techno riffs that are upbeat and set the mood right, and features a mastery of the Genesis soundborad synth. Something about those hard Genesis beats still gets me.

Game music isn't something that can really be incorporated into the game design itself for the most part. Its one of those things you have to entrust your composer(s) with, but luckily the more experienced and skilled game composers are able to spin compositions that mesh with the game world and help to control the feelings of the player as they progress through the game. I'm getting a bit off topic now so I'll finish for now by saying that no game developer should EVER forget the importance and power music has on virtually every aspect of your game. Get it right.

As for the rest of the game, I'd say the settings for each of the levels stands out the most to me. You have a bamboo garden bathed in the moonlight, a night club near a towering waterfall, military bases, cargo holds, chinatown and subways, and the enemy base complete with rain and wind outside. Nice sense of progression as you arrive closer to the Neo Zeed headquarters.

                 Bamboo garden background that turns to night sky with rising moon...nice touch Sega.


Game doesn't hesitate to keep the action up with lots of enemies, all of which are easily dispatched with your shuriken and close range attacks. The levels usually include new traps and props to keep the player interested. The military stage has a wire fence that can be somersaulted over for instance, giving the level a sense of depth with enemies and obstacles in front of and behind the fence.

Bosses are usually an important ingredient in video games, especially platformers, and Shinobi doesn't disappoint here. Bosses comes at the end of every stage, or after every 2 levels. They are large, and most have a weak point where they must be hit, but all of them require some sort of simple strategy to be deployed in order to defeat. For instance the first boss is a giant samurai that requires you to get close so he will swing his sword downwards, then you can step away to jump up and hit his head. The bosses do get progressively harder and they are definitely a real treat to fight, especially with the signature boss music thumping in the background.

                                                   Yes Spiderman is a boss.



The feeling of progression and difficulty curve is great. That is until you get to the ocean stage (7-1). Oh god the cheap deaths from the jumps, and getting knocked into pits. If there is one thing that can ruin enjoyment of this game...its this stage.

                                                          Trust me when I say this jump is bullshit.


Luckily you are given an array of awesome ninja powers available at limited use, one including a super jump, but still its times like these when you have to question how much a game should challenge before it just gets frustrating...a very difficult but important element to game design that developers still struggle with today. I'll probably end up writing an article on difficulty in games at somepoint. Keep in mind that I'm not just talking/complaining about the difficulty itself, but how it is presented to the player and what tools they are given for success - its definitely not a straigthforward design process by any means. But moving on...

The main reason I wanted to talk about this game is how it handles its ending. The last boss has your girlfriend captured, and how fast you defeat him causes you to get the good or bad ending, depending on whether you save your girl or not. If there's ONE thing developers can learn from this game, its the subtle ways in which it provides a powerful ending, youtube link below, with spoilers obviously.





 Once again music plays a vital role in setting the tone, but more impressive is the way each ending says all it needs to see with a very short scene absent of dialogue. Surely modern game devs could learn a lot from this ending.

35 comments:

flowchiller said...

I never really played this, but I sure like the music... Too bad I was 100% Nintendo-centered when I was little :)

Doro said...

I have never played it before but I think I have to try it ;)

James Lyndon said...

Sick game! +kudos :D

Matt said...

A very interesting read, the music was very good too. Thanks for this and look forward to seeing more!

Youtuber said...

so oldschool, very nice!

My Personal Projects said...

They probably never tested that jump because they figured nobody would get there, haha.

Fortune said...

Real blast from the past

Helios Blog Log said...

.....im going to search on youtube some gameplay..of this game

Marc D said...

Wow I believe I have played this before!

elexerdelex said...

Got here by bloghunt, this actually sounds interesting! is the picture on bloghunt not that of the metroid prime series?
Followed!

B Jeezy said...

nice

landsquid said...

O I so remember playing this... and sucking hard.

Titan of 2012 said...

this is the true ninja!

Blogs4Hogs said...

I think I played this back in my New York days! I never got past the second level though...

Dav0h said...

I remember my dad playing this! And I also my dad getting very pissed off and going through many controllers after he chucking them at the tv...

Jestar4A said...

Nice. I agree with you 100% on the bit about game music's importance. A lot of modern composers don't take it into consideration.

Mo said...

i dont know this one

neversettleforsecond said...

this game is awesome! thx for making me remember about it lol

Pyrotrees said...

classic

MrDSmith said...

I used to love Sega back in "the day"/

Jay Reid said...

Good stuff! Great game!

clique said...

spiderman boss=instant win

Jordan said...

I'm interested simply because Spiderman is a boss.

Graeme said...

Great stuff dude

Intraman said...

ahh i remember playing this as a kid; awesome stuff

psychologypost said...

nice shit just got real

Dejch said...

played shinobi alot! still got it and play it once a half a year or so! it's great

Furril said...

I played these games ALL the time as a kid. I never had enough quarters.

I still never beat the bonus stage in shinobi.

Chloroform said...

This game brings back so many ridiculous memories haha. I might have to get an emulator and play it again.

Santa Is Drowning said...

you are correct about those Genesis beats. They echo in the memories of the minds who have played the games

SeniorGato said...

I miss the classic side scrollers... ahhh the good old days

Eric Peterman said...

i enjoyed what they did with the endings too. wow i played this game sooo long ago i cant believe youre reviewing this

MJ to IM said...

holy. one of my favorite games! always kicked my butt when i was a kid though haha

R.C said...

This game was beautiful. Loved the music too!

midmagdraven@yahoo.com said...

haha so true the music was epic

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