The original Shinobi coin-op introduced in the arcades several years ago was a sure-fire hit. That's not surprising really as it was an excellent blend of three popular game types: Shoot'em up, beat'em up and platform action. Predictably, the home computer conversion followed soon after but unfortunately, was a big disappointment. However, that was many moons ago. Since then the sequel has crept into the arcade and before we've had chance to sample the real thing, the conversion has been released.
Shadow Dancer is in many ways very similar to its predecessor. A group of terrorists in the centre of a violent city are committing a series of horrific crimes. The worst of these is the planting of time bombs throughout the busy metropolis. These lethal explosives are to blow simultaneously in a set period of time. As you play the part of the young Ninja, it's your responsibility to round up the bombs and annihilate the syndicate that planted them in the first place. This time, though, you're not alone in the quest. Your faithful pet dog will follow you throughout each level and assist you in fighting off the many terrorists, Ninjas and marksmen that lie in wait.
Being a ruthless Ninja, you have several ways of trashing the enemy. Your main weapon is an endless supply of throwing stars that can be dispatched very speedily. If the enemy strays too close though, you won't have time to throw a weapon, so you'll have to rely on a quick flick of your trusty blade. Your ultimate weapon is Ninja magic that literally wipes out everything on the visible screen, excluding you and your dog. Be careful when using this though as supply is very limited. The Ninja magic comes in many various forms including the hurricane which twirls around the level drawing up any of the bad guys into its centre. The other form of magic is the fire flame. If there are any enemies on the screen they will be engulfed in flame and burnt to a cinder. As mentioned before, the magic is in short supply so it must be used sparingly.
The saying: A man's best friend is his dog is certainly not far from the truth as far as this game is concerned. If you're caught in a tricky situation, you can order your mutt to attack the nearest person. If it isn't up to the task it'll be thrown off looking more like a poodle than a savage guard dog. Luckily though, it soon recovers and can be used time and time again to thwart the enemy. If you thought you had it good, the terrorists have it better. They fight back using daggers, swords and even shot guns. Being hit by such objects results in the loss of a life.
The game is played over four rounds split into different sections, totalling 15 stages in all. As you progress through each stage, the screen will scroll in all four directions, with new enemies and time bombs moving into view. At the end of each round, you'll have to overcome a large guardian. Each one has a weak spot that needs to be hit several times by a well placed shuriken. In return the guardian will fire back various missiles in an attempt to stop you proceeding. Keep your Ninja wits about you and you may survive to fight on through the levels.
This is a very cool game ported from the Sega arcade machine. It's about a Ninja and his wolf. A little beat 'em up, a little action, with good graphics and interesting gameplay.
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