Wednesday 28 October 2020

Shinobi II: The Silent Fury (Sega Game Gear review)

Developer: Sega CS
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1992

Shinobi II: The Silent Fury is an action game and the follow-up to the 1991 original on the Sega Game Gear.

Your mission is to locate the four Elemental Crystals and stop the Techno-Warriors and Black Ninja from taking over Neo City. A total of five playable ninjas can be unlocked that each have different attacks / abilities to help you tackle each of the game's five rounds. From a level design perspective, there's nothing particularly innovative or wildly different to the original game, and to be honest some ideas (as well as music) are recycled. The maze-like levels are still highly enjoyable though and I like that enemies don't respawn as you re-enter the same areas in the hunt for the exit. The potential need to backtrack through beaten stages with different ninjas to find Crystals might seem like a chore, but the fun comes from being able to explore previously inaccessible areas that really open up the level design; this includes the Castle stage where you'll need the Green ninja to double-jump to a higher platform to collect the Crystal. What's also thoughtful here from a development point-of-view is that you're not forced to defeat the stage bosses again and instead you're warped back to the map screen. Throughout, the bosses are exceptional and feature interesting attack patterns and impressive sprites that take up large portions of the screen. The final stage is an epic, sprawling masterpiece, and while there's plenty of trial-and-error involved each individual ninja's abilities are put to great use; you'll certainly need to master every trick in the book, but it's very satisfying when you make it through to the next area! Once again, the music absolutely shines and manages to be both catchy and unnerving at the same time.

Shinobi II: The Silent Fury is an outstanding follow-up to the highly-regarded original, and while it doesn't stray too far from the existing formula, it does provide more of the same intense action and freedom in its stage progression. It's a blast from start-to-finish and the contrasting ninja abilities give the game plenty of replayability.

Random trivia: The game's music was created by Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima, who both worked on Streets of Rage 2 (1992, Sega Genesis).

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