The Cyber Shinobi
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Master System
  • Developer:
    • Sega
  • Publishers:
    • UK Sega
    • Brazil Tec Toy
  • Released:
    • UK Brazil 1990
Score: 55%

This review was published on 09/08/2017.

The Cyber Shinobi, also known as Shinobi: The Second Act and Shinobi Part-2, is a side-scrolling action video game developed by Sega for the Sega Master System. Sega originally published The Cyber Shinobi in Europe and Australia in 1990, while Tec Toy did the publishing in Brazil. The game never saw release outside of those regions, because the aging Master System had been discontinued in most parts of the world by that point in time. As its name implies, this game is part of the Shinobi series. The first Shinobi was originally released as a coin operated arcade game in 1987, but got ported to various home platforms soon after that, one of which was the Master System. The Cyber Shinobi purports itself to be the sequel to the Master System version of the first Shinobi, but it's up in the air as to which game is truly the sequel to the original Shinobi, as there are many titles vying for that title. While it wasn't as good as the original arcade release, the Master System version of Shinobi was still pretty decent and one of the best games on the platform. The same can't be said about The Cyber Shinobi, which is one of the worst games in the series.

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In many of the Shinobi games, a criminal organization known as Zeed terrorized the world with its disorganized crime, but a brave ninja by the name of Joe Musashi always took care of those goons whenever they struck. The Cyber Shinobi is set in the highly elusive year of 2XXX, long after those events had passed, and the world is facing yet another crisis. A group of robots and men began robbing atomic power plants from countries all over the world, eventually amassing enough plutonium to equal 100,000 megatons of explosive power. These unscrupulous individuals refer to themselves as Cyber Zeed, and they intend to use their newfound nuclear capabilities to terrorize the world once more. Every nation sent its best forces to stop Cyber Zeed, but all of them were defeated. Then Joe Musashi's grandson, who's strangely also named Joe Musashi, came forward to battle this threat. As you can see, the Musashi family isn't terribly good at coming up with names.

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You control Joe Musashi's grandson in this crudely coded game. He can walk left or right, crouch, and crouch walk with the d-pad, whereas the 1 and 2 buttons make him attack and jump, respectively. If you jump while holding up on the d-pad, you'll slightly increase your jumping height. Most games in the series primarily have you attack enemies by throwing projectiles from a distance, but The Cyber Shinobi encourages you to mostly stick with melee attacks like sword swings and kicks. However, the range of your standing sword swipe is pitiful and awkward, so you'll usually rely on crouching kicks to take care of most foes on the ground. Even with the crouching kick, the collision detection is awful and inconsistent, resulting in your attacks sometimes hitting enemies without even making contact with them, and other times your attacks don't do anything even though you're right next to a foe. Movement in The Cyber Shinobi also isn't pleasant, because all your actions are painstakingly slow and the controls are too imprecise.

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The first thing you'll notice about The Cyber Shinobi is the colossal status bar at the top that takes up nearly half of the screen real estate. This needlessly convoluted bar is filled with many meters, each one representing a different aspect of your character. Besides the obvious "Life" meter that represents your health, there's a "Power" meter that determines the strength of your basic attacks, a "Shot" meter that shows the remaining ammunition for your ranged weapon, and a "Ninjutsu" meter that depicts how much ninja magic you have left to use. Breakable containers contain power-ups to increase these meters, which are marked by the letters "L," "P," "S," and "N." You use ranged attacks by pressing the attack button while holding up on the d-pad, and spells are cast by pressing both the attack and jump button simultaneously. The latter will cause you to accidentally cast spells on more than one occasion.

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Collecting Shot and Ninjutsu power-ups not only increases or replenishes ammo for your ranged weapon and ninja magic, but it also upgrades them. Each Shot power-up you grab upgrades your ranged weapon by one level, taking you from a shuriken launcher, to a machine gun, to a supply of grenades. You only get eight shots for each one, and you'll be downgraded to the previous level if you run out of ammo for your currently equipped ranged weapon. Magic is slightly different, because its strength depends on the length of your magic meter. Your magic meter can go up to eight ticks, and your current spell gets upgraded every two ticks, but you use up two ticks whenever you cast a spell. That means your magic gets downgraded by one level every time you cast a spell, similar to ranged weapons. As evidenced by this tedious explanation, this upgrade system is way too convoluted for a simple side-scroller like Shinobi. The only somewhat good bit of design here is that you get an extra life if you grab a health restoration power-up while at full health.

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Unlike most games in the series, the objective isn't simply to reach the end of the stage while saving hostages or defusing bombs along the way. Instead, The Cyber Shinobi plays more like a beat 'em up, forcing you to beat up a certain amount of enemies before the screen will allow you to move forward. This gets unbearably repetitive when the game decides to throw you the same set of enemies over and over. When the screen does scroll forward, it does so in a very choppy manner. In fact, not only is the screen scrolling choppy, but all of the character animations and movements are, too. All of this greatly slows down the pacing of the game in a way that's incredibly unwelcome. To top off the poop sundae, the stages are overly long and boring, and they end in equally dull boss battles. The only solace is that the game is fairly easy, so you're more likely to die from boredom than from the enemies.

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For the most part, the Shinobi series is home to some of the best ninja centric games around. It was also a highly influential series, serving as the inspiration for other ninja based classics like Ninja Gaiden. However, not every game in the Shinobi series is good, and The Cyber Shinobi is one of the bad ones. The garish graphics, mediocre music, crappy controls, sucky scrolling, and horrible hit detection are all indicative of this fact. This is, quite possibly, the worst game in the series. It's an insult to the Shinobi name.

Word Count: 1,160

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