Towards the end of the Master System’s life, I used to regularly pop into the local Future Zone and pick up some cheap cartridges. Sometimes they’d be great – Rampart, Robocop Vs Terminator and Wimbledon come to mind – but other times, well… At other times they were The Cyber Shinobi.
By this point, I knew that I loved Shinobi, The Revenge Of Shinobi and Shinobi III – so naturally, The Cyber Shinobi was going to be great, right? Wrong. Shinobi games don’t need to be particularly speedy (Revenge moves at a glacial pace), but The Cyber Shinobi feels like fighting through treacle. Not only do you move slowly, but progress through each stage is slow as you’re prevented from moving forward until a quota of enemies has been defeated. Worse yet, attack animations are dodgy and collision detection is awful, so you’re never confident of hitting an enemy. Better yet, safe platforms and deadly falling platforms are visually identical and often placed near enemies, making them hard to react to – an awful design decision.
The problems extend to the game’s presentation, too. While the game looks attractive enough in stills, it suffers from choppy scrolling and jerky object movement, thanks in no small part to the decision to use background graphics to draw foreground objects. The tunes are also completely forgettable, unlike those in most of the rest of the series. This game carried the subtitle Shinobi Part 2, but appears to have been retconned out of the series. We can’t say we’re upset by that.