Full of fantastic set pieces like the train roof battle and boss fights against Godzilla and Spider-man, Revenge of Shinobi’s class shows from start to finish. Much slicker and more polished than many other games at the time, Revenge of Shinobi has more of a shooting element to distinguish it from Sega’s other famous sidescrolling series, Golden Axe and Streets of Rage.
A simple story – a lone ninja on a journey to rescue his girlfriend from an evil crime syndicate – provides plenty of opportunity for out of the ordinary locations and enemies, with one of my favourite stages being the level set in a car pound, your ninja garb looking slightly less than stealthy amongst the compacted steel and machine gun bullets. Your enemies also vary from run-of-the-mill grunts to highly trained kunoichi, with some traditional Shinobi themes thrown in for the bosses.
The soundtrack cemented Yuzo Koshiro’s reputation as a master of Mega Drive melody, and the “bad” ending was the first moment a video game ever made me feel genuinely sad. I remember watching Naoko die, having a drink to calm my nerves (it was milk – I was only about ten) and going straight back to save her. It’s still one of my fondest memories of any game; a completely unexpected moment in what, on the surface, seems a straightforward action game. I guess a ninja game should deceive along the way, though.