Shinobi (Tengen)

Slower than the Arcade port

Developed: Tengen                                                           Release: 1989

Shinobi for the NES is a slower version of its Arcade counterpart. You are Shinobi! Armed with slow throwing stars and awesome yet weird battle skills, you must defeat the Ring of Five that have kidnapped children from all around the world. But watch out there are countless thugs and karate masters that are in your way. DO you have what it takes to master the ways of the ninja? In all honesty, Shinobi isn’t at all bad as most people would have you think. Yes it is an unlicensed game by Tengen but I know what your thinking it still has to be bad right well lets look right into it.


First off the the story is the exact same from the arcade, You are a master ninja and it is up to you to defeat the Ring of five but really, who are the ring of five and why do I have to stop them? Well first of the Ring of five have kidnapped the children of the world leaders and its up to you because it was the 1980’s and why you were picked didn’t matter! At first glance at the children, I could of sworn that they were kids from another village because look at them! They look like chibi ninjas!

The graphics for the game aren’t the greatest but I am kinda amazed of how well Tengen was able to recreate the some parts of the levels for the NES. Now the level of detail is something to question because most of the time every level is the same color with very little detail. At least each Level scenario is different. The character’s all look like their counterpart in the arcade with the exception of the solid colors


The controls were responsive, If I got hit by an enemy it was my fault and activating Ninjitsu was a easy enough (after reading the manual) although I’m not sure why I have to take out exactly ten enemies before activating it. The best part was the bonus rounds and throwing shurikens in a first person style was quite interesting. It was challenging and very fun and the controls didn’t become tankish.

The music isn’t the best part and nothing is going to stand out for you either. It does have that classic NES Sound and does the part of placing the atmosphere of the game. The sound effects are something of a hit or miss but I’m not complaining here.


The game itself is very challenging and you are most certainly going to die! Hey this is a NES game! One of the problems that I really had was throwing shurikens…you can only throw one at a time assuming that the knife has gone past a certain distance. You do have a kick which despite its close range is very effective in close combat. The ninjitsu is awkward to use and I’m not sure why I have to kill 10 enemies before using it but that may be the developer putting in a safety code so we don’t accidentally hit the same button unintentionally activating the ninjitsu. The bosses of the game are just as hard as they were in the arcade and are replicated the same way to be beaten. Expect to die countless times here. The bonus rounds are refreshing to play after a brutal experience on the field but don’t expect the enemies to go easy on you and if you have manage to beat the bonus round you are awarded ninja magic.

Final Thoughts: Although people have given this game harsh reviews in the past, after playing it I felt like it deserved better than what people gave it. Yes the graphics aren’t all that great and the music wasn’t very memorable but it did remind me of shinobi. I could easily get through the levels but the difficult part was battling the bosses. The bonus rounds are the best part of the game. If you can find this game for a low price then I would recommend trying it out.

SCORE: 5/10

Graphics:                          5 – Nothing to special here and most of the levels are excatly the same with very little detail.

Sound:                                4 – Seriously I can’t really remember the music and the sound effects didn’t stand out either.

Controls:                           7 – Apart from press and hold B while hitting A for Ninjitsu, the controls were responsive and not to overly complicated.

Replay:                              3 – By the end of the first few levels and boss fights, you are going to be pulling out your hair because of the random movements of enemies. Bosses are a completely different matter.

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