It’s weird to think that once upon a time, an action game like Shinobi would have been hotly anticipated. It wouldn’t have gone unnoticed like the recent 3DS revival of the franchise. Unless it was on a format like the Sega Game Gear. Everybody ignored that think except the funny kid with his pocket full of batteries. And so we have The G. G. Shinobi. What does the G. G. stand for? Game Gear. Oh.
The G. G. Shinobi is the perfect portable downsize of the popular Shinobi franchise which graced the Sega Mega Drive, chunky visuals and a funky soundtrack definitely drag you back into the 90’s. Marching through levels dodging shurikens and slashing foes is the objective of the game, but you can’t just run in, it requires careful timing and graceful dodging. This is teetering towards the Mega Man difficulty scale and once you get to grips with being a ninja, you’ll start dressing as one to work. Or to Job Centre Plus.
The Game Gear version stays faithful to the big console versions, but the appeal here, apart form being portable, is that you can switch between five different ninjas, each offering a unique ability. Pink can hang upside down on walls, Green can double jump, Yellow can walk on water, Blue can grapple, and Red is useless. It’s like the Power Rangers, but with enemies who can actually pose a threat. It’s fun to tackle through the five stages with the individual ninja skills and the final level makes the most of every ability to make it through the challenging maze.
It’s just a shame that the last level is the only time you need to utilise everything in your arsenal. Powers are used in ways not seen in the prior levels and so it can be a confusing mess as you try to figure out how Pink’s time stopping special can be of some use and that Red can actually tear apart blocks with his. Having some simple puzzles to make use of these abilities before the big finale would have created a better flow, and helped increase the rather minuscule length. For only a small time do you actually feel the ninja essence, rather than a dressed up Streets of Rage brawler.
The G. G. Shinobi lurks in the shadows along with the Game Gear itself, but as the 3DS brings back these hidden classics, Shinobi prepares to pounce. It’s all over before you can even blink.