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Shinobi on the PS2

YEAR: 2002
SYSTEM: Sony PlayStation 2
DEVELOPER: Overworks

The early 2000's saw the return of several classic gaming series: Ghosts N' Goblins (in the form of Maximo), Ninja Gaiden (rescuing Ryu Hayabusa from his Dead Or Alive purgatory), and Castlevania all made the jump to next-gen systems.

And then there was Shinobi. Longtime Shinobi fans had been following the Overworks update of the game ever since it was announced for Dreamcast. When Sega pulled out of the console wars and decided to get back to making software, many onlookers wondered if Shinobi would get lost in the shuffle.

They shouldn't have worried. Overworks ported their efforts to the PS2, and this Shinobi update was the result.

Why am I talking about this? This isn't a Strider game. This is a game for an entirely different series.

I happen to be of the opinion that this game has more in common with Strider than it does with Shinobi. The wall-clinging, the stealth-dashing, the mixture of a post-apocalyptic setting with Japanese ninja fables, the conflict between the hero Hotsuma and and his brother Moritsune mirroring that of Hiryu and Hien, and most noticeably, the trailing, tattered red scarf all add up to a heck of a lot of Strider atmosphere.

And oh yes, all of you who whined about Strider 2's difficulty should have nothing to complain about with Shinobi. Read my lips:

This. Game. Is. HARD.

Seriously. This game will kick your ass, eat your lunch, steal your girl, key your car, and laugh in your face afterwards.

Granted, the gameplay is a bit monotonous. See, the story is that a golden palace has appeared in Tokyo, decimating everything. Hell-spawned beasts have appeared, and it's up to you to get to the bottom of it. Whoever's caused these demons to appear has also caused Hotsuma's ninja clan, the Oboro clan, to be reanimated from the dead.

All you do throughout the whole game is clear an area of bad guys as quickly as possible so you can move on to the next area full of bad guys. You'd think there'd be more to ridding Tokyo of undead ninja and demonic infestation than that.

I dare you to get bored, though. You'll get frustrated first.

And if the difficulty of the enemies doesn't get you, those long-ass chasms will. Midair stealth dashes from one floating bad guy to another with bottomless pits beneath you really suck.

So if you're in the need of a Strider fix, go ahead. Give this one a play. You'll be BEGGING to play Strider 2 by the time you reach Area 2.

I guarantee it.

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