I remember getting Shinobi on the Master System as one of my first games, and it still stands up as one of my favourite in the series. As an arcade conversion it’s hardly 100% accurate, but as an action platformer it excels in its own right. There’s more thought involved in the home version, as you learn to plan a route to free hostage children – very Moonwalker! – and avoid enemy fire. The end-of-level ninja bonus levels have gone down in history for being memory and reaction tests of the highest order, and even in my prime I could never clear the fourth test. So many ninja.
What’s amazing from looking at these screenshots is how differently I remember the game. I couldn’t believe it had so little detail – in my memory it was a beautifully sketched game of light and shade, yet the screenshots reveal it to be very different. Funny how our memories play tricks on us, although I suppose I did own this game nearly 15 years ago, which forgives a little memory lapse on my part!
Shinobi’s legacy is clear to see in any number of modern titles, but its greatest contribution to the world is, without doubt, Flying Squirrel Magic. It’s just a shame the attempt to render Joe Musashi in 3D fell flat, because I’m sure resurrecting those bonus levels for the Wii Remote has crossed more than one mind at Sega. Perhaps in Sega Superstars Tennis 2?