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Ninjas on the Brain: A Look Back at Shinobi on the Genesis
Posted on July 16, 2011 by

For some reason today I’m thinking about Ninjas. Maybe it’s that Strider PSA I posted yesterday. And while Strider is an awesome ninja, there’s one ninja that has captivated me from the first game I played him in. And his name is Joe Musashi.

Most people would wonder: Why would a ninja wear white? Well if you’re as badass as Joe, you don’t worry about being seen. His enemies will be dead shortly after they see him anyways. And this was many years before Naruto came out. Naruto, who wears BRIGHT FREAKING ORANGE.

This game was full of blatant copyright infringement, and felt like several action movies rolled into one crunchy roll of awesomeness. Among the list of cameos include many a famous face:

The Terminator (who turned into the Hulk):

Spiderman (Who turned into Batman):

Why, even Godzilla was in this game:

Mind you, Sega didn’t actually bother to get the permission from the respective companies to use these characters, so later versions of this game replaced the characters, like Batman with a demon and Godzilla with a dinosaur skeleton. But my childhood will forever remember the first run of the game that had these memorable faces. (Fun Fact: Sega did actually have rights to Spider-man since they were producing Spider-man games at the time. But when the license expired, he needed to be changed too).

Joe’s ninja arsenal included a plentiful supply of throwing knives and a sword when you powered up. You also had a hand of cool spells: a lighting shield, pillars of fire, a spell that buffed your jumping abilities, and one that made you explode. Yup, that’s right: explode. You sacrificed an entire life, blowing yourself and everything around you to smithereens. Normally you could only use a spell once per stage (or twice if you found the magic scroll) and you would get it back if you died. Since you are technically dying when you do this, you could use it over and over again.

Thankfully, all the king’s men could put the shinobi back together again. Things got turned up a notch when Shinobi 3 was released. Sega decided to turn it up to 11 and make the game that Revenge of Shinobi wished it could have been. Joe now could run, wall jump, dive kick, ride horses, surfboard, and use his sword whenever he pleased. While there weren’t any of the cool cameos of the first game, you did have insane bosses like this:

Shinobi is still known as one of the most recognizable Sega franchises out there, and is fondly remembered by anyone who owned a Genesis back in its day. Tune in tomorrow when I delve into the under rated Shinobi installment on the Playstation 2.

- Kyle

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