Shinobi for 3DS
Sega's either not too smart or they purposefully sabotage certain franchises. Either they move the series to a highly pirated device and then complain when it doesn't sell outside of Japan or release a version no one wants in a franchise that never sold well to begin with, all so they can give an excuse to bury the franchise or to give a reason not to release future sequels in areas that don't sell well. Shinobi for the 3DS is just one of the many games Sega has done this to, releasing only two days to two weeks after Super Mario 3D Land, depending on the region.
Shinobi is a hard game that focuses almost completely on the gameplay. It goes back to a time where we don't question why the second stage is 800 years in the future or why Jiro is going through completely different areas fighting all these enemies and bosses. We finish a stage, it's got a pretty cutscene, we move on. The gameplay is what we care about, so does Shinobi play well?
Jiro, unlike past Ninjas in the franchise has many more actions, allowing him to parry attacks, use a grappling hook, climb along a celing, pull off a combo that can start on the ground and end in the air, and slide or slide attack, all to break through enemy defenses. He's still got the kunai and the kunai fan, but he's much more equipped to deal with the threat than any Ninja before him. There are a lot of enemy types and every one has a way of getting around them. Many enemies are no longer susceptible to the kunai until there's an opening, and others that will counter when you try to use one. Each attack you do against an enemy not only takes damage, but also gives you points and fills a multiplier, that will give you two, three, or four times as many points depending on how well you do. If you haven't inreased the multiplier to the next level and you don't gain points within a certain amount of time, the modifier will go down to the last attained level, and if you get hit, the modifier resets back to level one.
Magic attacks are the other half of Jiro's move list and can be performed once per life, and once more if you collect a scroll. Using magic will reduce your score but is very benificial. Fire magic kills or damages all opponents on screen. Earth magic gives you complete invulnerability to all damage while also an increase in speed and power for a limited time then reduces your health to one. Lightning gives you invulnerability to three hits. Water increases your movement and reload speed of kunai.
The stages Jiro goes through are varied, where you'll be in a village, jumping from truck to truck that get destroyed as you approach a military base, even fighting enemies on a jet in an After Burner stage. I'm not a fan of required memorization and cheap deaths, and for the most part, the game tries to stay away from both, except for the last few stages, the final two almost ruining my experience with the game. The stages are also very long, with some checkpoints spread out further than they should have been. Most of the games eight stages are around 10-15 minutes if you don't die while making your way through them, requiring you to start from the very beginning of the stage if you die all your lives.
Graphically, it's alright, but there are PSP games that look better and the game does have its issues. There are the very rare parts where the camera will pan further back where you can see three times the view you normally do, something that I wish would be available at all times instead of the somewhat zoomed in look of many DS and 3DS games. The games 3D effect isn't very good, and there were two crappy segments that were thrown into the game to make use of it. The graphics do however get the job done as enemies are detailed well enough that you can tell enemy types apart and are easily visible so long as they're on screen. The games soundtrack is good and fits the areas nicely, and sound effects sound as they should.
Overall, it's a good game and it's sad that it'll be overlooked by a lot of people that would actually like it. Although it's probably too difficult for most, if you don't mind a difficult game and you're a fan of platformers, you'll probably like it.
Gameplay - 10
Story/Presentation - 6
Graphics/Audio - 5
Balance - 4
Overall - 6.25
New scoring criteria.
Gameplay - 10
Design - 9
Presentation - 8
Balance - 8
Overall - 8.75