Friday, January 13, 2012
Its rare I review video games on here. But this is actually the first time I've reviewed a game that isn't for the PS3. It was actually for the Sega Genesis. And it was released in 1993. And it currently stands in front of Dead Space 1 & 2, as my favorite game... of all time. And not without just cause either. Read on to find out why.
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master is as classic as they come I suppose. I've played one and two, but wasn't nearly as impressed. They're both solid games. But they feel fairly standard. Whether thats because I'm used to newer games, or whether its because they play more towards difficulty and Shinobi III plays more towards speed and action, I can't honestly say. But Shinobi III still holds up today. For what it is, its perfect.
I play lots of flash games, and find that the good ones, the fun and addicting ones, strongly echo lots of early cartridge games. Their simple design asthetic, or their simple yet satisfying control scheme, theres lots of inspiration to draw from a whole generation of cartidge based games.And what better setup for any simple sidescroller than Super Mario Bros.? Its simple, fun, and addicting. However, if you're into a more action based game, and would rather fight ninjas right now than go jump on mushrooms or something, Shinobi III is the game for you. Its now just as easy access as any garden variety flash game, and its way more fun. It can hold its own with the best of them and come out on top.
Each level is unique and actually pretty neat to look at. Despite the dated graphics, it still looks really really cool. Theres a surprising wealth of detail and nuance to the design of this game. You can tell they really pulled out all the stops for this one. The gameplay itself is also something to be praised. Its fast, and fun, but also as the game progresses it forces you to be creative and intuitive. You feel as though you're an expert ninja by the time you're done. And its really cool because the bad guys aren't limited to just ninjas... theres four armed mutant samurai, hi-tech futuristic soldiers, mechanized brains armed to the teeth with lazers, machine guns, and frag grenades. Lets also not forget the giant mecha robots, and flying ninjas. Oh and theres a Mecha-Godzilla you'll have to fight too. Pretty cool huh?
With all the skill and finesse of the game's iconic protagonist, Joe Musashi. You stick to shuriken and your faithful katana as your go-to attacks through the game, but its not always as simple as that. You must have a sense of timing, and try to anticipate whats coming ahead, which in and of itself is quite a trick. The result of all this intense gameplay is quite satisfying. Its one of the most involving and unabashedly fun games I've ever played. And if you compare it to the pantheon of flash games or gameboy titles, it still holds up really damn well, and kicks all kinds of ass in the process.
In conclusion, Shinobi III, is the quintessential sidescroller ninja game. You jump, run, and slash your way through 7 lengthy and action packed levels that are classic tests of skill and patience. As the iconic white-clad ninja, Joe Musashi, fight your way through legions of ninjas, samurai, soldiers, mutants, disembodied brains, dangerous mecha robots, mystical creatures, deadly traps, hi-tech fortresses and finally... your arch nemesis: Neo Zeed. Next to the classic Sonic the Hedgehog and titles like Comix Zone and Altered Beast... Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master was the best thing to happen to the Sega Genesis way back then, and its still a damn fun ride today.
Everyone has their own concept of what an ideal ninja movie would be. Set in modern day? Or in the past? Slow burn character study about honor and betrayal? A cheesy mystical fantasy take? Or perhaps a balls-to-the-walls slaughterfest? In case you couldn't tell by the picture above, Ninja Assassin was made by a bunch of dudes who shared in the mutual idea that the perfect ninja movie would indeed be a gory slaughterfest.
And while I think its lacking a few elements to make it the quintessential ninja movie of all time... its certainly a perfectly awesome slaughterfest.
Ninja Assassin is about Raizo, a trained killer who defected from his clan, and now they're out to kill him for vengeance. Its pretty much just like that more or less. Eventually an interpol agent gets caught up in the whole thing and Raizo has to save her life because she knows too much and now they're trying to kill her too. Theres a wealth of detail I'm leaving out, but since these reviews normally feature a plot synopsis, I had to put one in even though its inclusion is pretty irrelevant. The movie's title generally speaks for itself...
Well, Ninja Assassin speeds ahead at a breakneck pace, only stopping when absolutely neccessary to deliver essential backstory, character motivation, and plot details. All of this is handled well. Especially the backstory. The overall plot is rather thin, but if you stayed past the opening sequence, than you're probably part of the demographic who in this case, just doesn't give a shit how thin the plot is. Even though, typically, I do give a shit, in this instance, it really isn't neccessary...
This movie coasts by on, and boasts about two things... Lots and lots of ninjas. Which we get. In spades. And endless loads of gore. Which is awesome. Buckets and buckets of blood flash across the screen in each spectacular action scene which all evolve into awesome set pieces that keep escalating and escalating until its time for more story. Each action scene is bloodier and longer than the last. And they keep coming at an insane rate. This is why I love this movie. It sounds incredibly two dimensional and shallow... but its a perfectly ideal gory ninja movie. Its a massive slaughterhouse full of bloodthirsty ninjas and anyone who gets in their way is just more meat for the grinder. The bodycount in this movie... is ridiculously high. I don't think anyone in their right mind could keep track. Its just brutal. Its incredibly graphic in its swordplay and such, which results in many many MANY dismemberments, decapitations, impalings, and the like. Is it weird to say this is what I've always wanted to see ninjas do? Eviscerate anyone in their path? Its a nice word. Eviscerate. Very appropriately used too.
In conclusion, if you're looking for something intelligent, mature, and emotional... stay away. Please. The people who love this movie are tired of hearing the same complaints from all the haters. Yes, it hits all the pitfalls of your standard action fare, but it pulls off its meal ticket: the action scenes, with style, and skill. And in something like this, thats all I signed up for. Action. And I got it. Lots of it. Thats what this movie does well. Taking some pretty standard concepts, putting a fresh spin on it, and delivering a stylish, intense, blood soaked action flick. If you're not super freaking eager to watch an hour and a half of nonstop graphic swordfights with legions and legions of ninjas... then don't bother. However, if you're like me, and never tire of seeing such awesomeness as this, please go ahead and treat yourself to this epic piece of cinematic junk food.