Retro Round-up for January 22nd
Every week Cyril Lachel comes down from his giant castle in the hills to provide the final word on all of the classic downloadable games and retro compilations. This is the Retro Round-Up, your official guide to the best (and worst) in classic gaming for the Nintendo Virtual Console, Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. Join us as we shed some light on what games are worth your five or ten dollars, and what games you should avoid at all costs. For more information about these games (and retro gaming in general) we invite you to check out Defunct Games
Last week we rang in the new year with Mahjong, the dull and lifeless puzzle game from the land of the rising sun. This week we continue our trek through Asian stereotypes and check in with a ninja. But it's not any ninja, it's Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi. The good news is that this sequel wraps up Sega's classic Shinobi franchise on the Virtual Console; unfortunately it also means you will have to read about it in this week's Retro Round Up!
Shadow Dancer: The Secret of the Shinobi
What Is It?
Talk about screwing up the chronology. Back in 2007 we got the great Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master uploaded to the Virtual Console. Then, two years later, Nintendo uploaded both The Revenge of Shinobi and the arcade version of the original Shinobi. At long last, we finally have the fourth piece of Sega's classic ninja franchise, Shadow Dancer: The Secret of the Shinobi. Released in 1991 (on the Genesis), Shadow Dancer is actually the third game in the series, the true sequel to the arcade game. So what is the Secret of the Shinobi? Apparently it's the fact that he's a huge dog lover. In this unique action game we find our hero teamed up with a dog, allowing for advanced dog/ninja tag-team action. For the most part the gameplay mimics the arcade original, it's still a Rolling Thunder rip-off, where you can jump between levels simply by holding up and down and pushing the jump button. Despite the game's slow pacing and extreme difficulty, the game holds up reasonably well. Plus, I'm a sucker for any game that starts with an entire megalopolis up in flames. Not sure what that says about my personality.
Does It Still Hold Up?
This game definitely feels like a classic arcade game. Let's face it, this Genesis port is based on a 1989 game whose sole intent was to get you to put more quarters in the slot. It works. This game is tough and often unforgiving. You get a few continues and a bunch of lives, but even that won't be enough to get you through the first couple of levels. Like a lot of classic 2D shoot-em-ups, Shadow Dancer is going to require you to memorize your enemy's locations and their patterns. Oh, and you're going to need to teach your dog a few new tricks.
Is It Worth the Money?
Shadow Dancer is an incredible game that all Shinobi fans should already own, but $8 seems a bit steep when you're talking about a game that has been featured on plenty of cheap compilation discs. If you have access to a PlayStation 2/3, Xbox 360 or even a PSP, then you should probably spring for one of the Genesis collections Sega Genesis Collection
or Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection
. Assuming you get those games for less than twenty dollars, Shadow Dancer will run you around fifty cents ... maybe even loss. If you're one of those gamers who only owns a Wii, then hold your nose and purchase the Nintendo Points, because Shadow Dancer is definitely worth your time.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
It's questionable how accurate this is, but this is all that's known about Cyril Lachel: A struggling writer by trade, Cyril has been living off a diet of bad games, and a highly suspect amount of propaganda. Highly cynical, Cyril has taken to question what companies say and do, falling ever further into a form of delusional madness. With the help of quality games, and some greener pastures on the horizon, this back-to-basics newsman has returned to provide news so early in the morning that only insomniacs are awake.