The GG Shinobi II: The Silent Fury
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Game Gear
  • Developer:
    • Sega
  • Publishers:
    • JP US UK Sega
    • Brazil Tec Toy
  • Released:
    • JP 12/11/1992
    • US December 1992
    • UK Brazil 1992
Score: 80%

This review was published on 09/17/2017.

Shinobi II: The Silent Fury, known in Japan as The GG Shinobi II, is a side-scrolling action video game developed by Sega for the Sega Game Gear. It was originally released in Japan on December 11, 1992, North America in December 1992, and Europe and Brazil in 1992. As was often the case back then, Tec Toy published the game in Brazil, while Sega did the publishing in almost every other region. As its Japanese title implies, this game is the sequel to The GG Shinobi, a portable spinoff of the Shinobi series that originally released on the Game Gear in 1991. The main series started in the arcades in 1987, and got sequels on home consoles throughout the 1990s, mostly the Sega Master System and Sega Genesis. The series is known for its high quality ninja action, and The GG Shinobi is a surprisingly good handheld adaptation of that action. The sequel is even better.

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Techno terror! The Oboro Ninja Clan has protected the four Elemental Crystals for millennia. Each Crystal contains within it an elemental power that is represented by a color: blue for Air, yellow for Water, pink for Fire, and green for Earth. Every crystal is protected by the ninja master of that element. However, a terrible event has taken place. The Techno Warriors have enlisted the Black Ninja, master of ninja techniques, to help them take over Neo City. The Black Ninja begins his treachery by capturing the four Elemental Ninjas and stealing the four Crystals that they protect. Joe Musashi, protagonist for most of the Shinobi series, is now the only capable ninja left. Just like last time, it's up to Musashi to rescue his pals and defeat the terrifying Techno Warriors. With the exception of the Elemental Crystals, the premise is basically the same as it was in the first GG Shinobi.

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All characters are controlled similarly. In other words, you use the d-pad to move left or right, squat, walk while squatting, and enter doors, and the 1 and 2 buttons make you attack and jump. The controls are just as precise and intuitive as before, so there are no problems on that front. Every character is still capable of using ninjutsu, which is essentially ninja magic, through the pause menu. Ninjutsu is limited, however, and can only be replenished by acquiring certain items. You also have a life bar that can be permanently extended by obtaining special items that are hidden in every stage. All characters still share the same life bar, so a single upgrade will affect everyone on your team, regardless of who collects it. This is pretty convenient, because it means you don't have to plan who gets what. These are the basics, and they're basically the same as the last game.

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Like the last title, there are multiple playable characters. You start off with just Joe, who lacks ranged attacks and special abilities, but will rescue one differently colored ninja after beating each of the four main stages. After you have a ninja other than Joe on your team, you'll be able to freely switch who you're controlling through the pause menu. Every character has a distinct weapon, special ability, and ninjutsu. The same five ninjas from the previous game are here, but some of their abilities are different. For instance, Joe's ninjutsu has been changed into a teleportation spell that teleports you to the entrance or exit of the current stage, and the yellow ninja's weapon is now a boomerang-like shuriken instead of the energy blasts he had before. All the other ninjas are mostly the same, though, such as the blue ninja having a grappling hook that allows him to latch onto certain pegs to swing around, the pink ninja being able to crawl on ceilings and throw bombs, and the green ninja can double jump. Being able to play as different characters with unique abilities is still the main highlight of the game.

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As with the previous game, there are four main areas accessible from a stage select screen that you have immediate access to. Besides the fifth and final area, you have the freedom to tackle these stages in any order. Aside from the stages being totally different, the main difference between this and the previous game is the addition of the Elemental Crystals. There is one Elemental Crystal in each stage, and all four of them are needed in order to unlock the final area. Not only are the Crystals typically hidden, but the special abilities of specific ninjas are often required to acquire them. This means that you'll likely have to play some stages more than once to get everything. That's okay, though, because unlike the previous game, you're able to revisit stages whenever you want. It's a little annoying that the Crystals aren't optional, but they do add a nice dash of exploration to the mostly linear stages.

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Of course, the biggest difference between this and the previous game is the stage design. The stages are all fairly cool and feature different environmental themes, like a building that's under construction, a factory featuring conveyer belts, a Japanese castle filled with traps, and a canyon that contains ancient ruins. Getting to the boss at the end of the stage usually doesn't take long, but finding the Crystals can be tricky. Due to that, the stages focus more on exploration than action, usually featuring slightly nonlinear layouts. Some of them can be a bit confusing to navigate, though. The difficulty is also better balanced this time around, though the final stage is still insanely difficult. Also, there are now short passwords to help you resume your progress.

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While The GG Shinobi is certainly a good Game Gear game, the sequel is simply superior. It solves some of the problems the previous game had, like the inability to revisit stages, plus it adds some cool new features, like passwords. The stages are also more competently designed, featuring multiple pathways to explore. Searching for the Elemental Crystals is a fun part of the game, even though being forced to retread old ground can be slightly irritating. Outside of a few minor issues, this is arguably one of the best games on the Game Gear.

Word Count: 1,050

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