Platform: Sega Genesis
Genre: Platformer / Hack and Slash
Release Date: December 1990
Region: JP, NA, EU
Special Features: None
Availability: Very Common
The Shinobi series of games is known for it’s action packed side-scrolling style. How did Sega seek to improve upon its first effort in the series on the Genesis/Megadrive? Simple; ninja dog! Shadow, the dog is a worthy companion for our protagonist. The gameplay mechanic of having Shadow attack on command is undeniably fun. Shadow latches on to the enemies, immobilizing them long enough for Shinobi to strike with a shuriken or his sword. If Shadow is hit he turns into an adorable puppy, unable to attack.
Shadow Dancer improves upon its predecessor with great level design, traversal mechanics and challenging, but fun boss fights. The game is somewhat shorter than the prior release in the series with five stages. Each of the first four stages has three sections with the fifth stage being a final boss level.
Overall the game is challenging, but fair. Players will learn by failing in the style that all good games of the era possess. The difficulty may be somewhat off-putting to players who didn’t grow up playing these games, but veterans will love the challenge. I highly recommend seeking out this gem on the Genesis/Megadrive.
Sequels always feel the need to add a little “extra” don’t they? Shadow the dog was a strange choice for a Ninja themed game. Tails (Sonic 2), Yoshi (Super Mario World), Diddy Kong (Donkey Kong Country), Rush (Megaman3) etc; the list goes on and on. I could write a whole separate article on the history of sidekicks and failed attempts. We remember the good ones, but there are countless failures. Shadow the dog was a strange, yet successful attempt in a franchise that certainly didn’t need a cute fury friend to be your companion.
Like what you read? Want more? Check out our review of Lego Racers on Nintendo 64.