Game Of The Month: July 2015
Revenge Of Shinobi - Sega Megadrive / Genesis
When launching a new console it's important to always make sure the first batch of games are worthy of the investment for the consumer. It is also extremely crucial to make sure at least one of the titles is an exclusive to your machine and also respects the companies traditions and legacies, to cut it short make sure you release a killer franchise entry. If you're Sega then that console is the Sega Megadrive / Genesis and the game is Revenge Of Shinobi.
While this particular game didn't launch day one for the 16-Bit console it was available in Japan and North America within the 3 month time scale that represents a hardware release window and in Europe did in fact make it for the first week on sale of the new system. For many fans of the Megadrive it was absolutely one of, if not THE game to own for the machine in the early days and a real system seller / showcase for Sega all round. For the 8-Bit NES and Master System fans this game was a real wake up call to just how that tech was out and a new kid on the block was about to rule.
Taking place three years after the first game, the criminal organization Zeed from the original game has since reformed and have renamed themselves "Neo Zeed". They decide to have their revenge on the Oboro Ninja clan and Joe Musashi by killing his master and kidnapping Joe's bride, Naoko. Joe, having reached the clan too late, manages to learn about Neo Zeed's plot by his dying master. Joe decides to travel the world to gain his revenge on Neo Zeed as well as try to save his bride before it's too late. Standard save the day and the damsel story done to death a million times over but hey if it works it works eh?
Playing very much like the original arcade game Revenge of Shinobi (Super Shinobi in Japan) sticks to the formula that created one of the greatest arcade games to ever leave the Sega warehouse. Joe moves left to right and jumps upwards and down on scenery through eight districts infested with bad guys. Each district consists of three scenes, two of which are platforming levels and the third being a battle against a unique boss-character. As well as the standard jump and attack buttons the controller also allows for a special technique to be activated in order to dispatch a whole screen of enemies. It's these moments along with stuff like the massive Dragon head and car with rocket launcher from stuff like Golden Axe and Streets Of Rage that help to convey just how utterly cool Sega were in the 1980's and 90's.
Joe powers up through destroying crates in the levels that will give our ninja hero extra shuriken to throw or health to regain his strength to carry on the fight however once again in typical Sega awesomeness if you hit a crate sometimes a bomb will appear, those pesky bad guys have booby trapped some of them. If you are extremely lucky you may just find extra lives or extra 'ninjitsu' attacks.
On release this game sold very well indeed probably because all of the gaming magazines of the era lavished it with huge scores, this was a title that got high 80% marks for fun and even a few 9's, rightly so in our opinion because it's a perfect arcade style game on home console. It is also a bit of a legend in the retro scene for how many versions of the title are out there, in total 4 different releases for this game exist. In early versions of the game enemies based on famous characters like the Terminator, Rambo, Batman and Spiderman all appear and for fans of big monsters how about Godzilla rocking up as an end of level boss.
Over time and as it was released in different territories certain stuff was replaced by similar bosses in order to comply with copyright laws so for many people seeing Spiderman fight a Ninja is something they may only ever see via emulation (just another reason to love roms). What did remain however over the 5 different revisions of the game was a solid videogame full of quality design, superb music, graphics that blew your face off for the time and above all else fun. This was a game you not only wanted to complete but you wanted to show your friends, let them complete it then do it all over again... Twice!
As another of the franchises Sega have decided to shelve in order to nicely pretend their best days are not in fact way behind them passes into history it's always important to remember when games sold the systems before hype even began to take over. If Altered Beast is the game people remember from the machines launch then a crime of epic proportions would have occurred, THIS is the game that made the Sega Megadrive / Genesis a must have console under your TV. Many years on and it still has every single ounce of quality it had from the first play, this is why the Golden Era was, is and always will remain Golden.
They just don't make them like this anymore and that's not just a saying to finish off this text, it's a statement of fact, a warning and a sad realization. Walk with a Ninja today and know greatness!