NY Comic Con Hands-On: Shinobi - Preview

By Chris Matulich, October 21, 2011
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The 3DS is employing some classic names, pulling no punches with the celebration of key industry icons in Sonic Generations and upcoming Mario titles. Nintendo even sees some 3rd party support from SEGA and Griptonite games, who are bringing Shinobi to the 3DS and back into our ninja hearts, after a long and much-needed hiatus following the less-than-stellar PS2 iterations.

The plot behind the Musashi clan will unfold, detailing Jiro's (Joe's Father) story through some nice usage of comic-styled cutscenes, holding a very clean and polished aesthetic. Returning to side-scrolling form, Shinobi follows the classic arcade format, utilizing advancements since the original trilogy to beautify the game. 3D models are placed over 2D backdrops. Levels are varied - I saw big cities, snow-covered mountains, and tiny fishing villages within the first couple of stages. Shinobi remains true to its roots while managing to impress visually and enhance the side-scrolling ninja action.

Shinobi hits hard with its arcade style, you'll be fluidly running, jumping, slashing and burning your way through each stage with good speed. Face buttons drive the controls, with the touch screen merely being used for minigames, which are definitely an afterthought compared to the high-paced combat. Musashi's classic array of attacks – katana slashes, kunai, and ninpo – keep true to the original’s feel, but add some interesting and useful mechanics.

Charged katana attacks and a revamped magic system are much welcomed improvements that help bring Shinobi back into the limelight, both in terms of functionality and fun factor. Yet, where transitioning into the modern era has seen some classic games lose their sense of difficulty, Shinobi remains as challenging as ever. Even on beginner mode, enemies (and especially the over-the-top bosses) were tough, providing a healthy trial.

It’s good to have another timeless ninja back in our grasps, even if we’re not getting Joe Musashi, as Ryu Hayabusa has left his 2D side-scrolling days for much greener, more insane pastures. Playing Shinobi, I felt like I was back in 1994 sitting in front of the arcade. Great controls, combat, and retro music drive it forwards. Grab your katana and ninpo, and get ready to jump in on November 11th in Europe and the 15th in the U.S.

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