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31 Bonus Levels of Christmas
Shinobi: Ninja Shooting Gallery
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 06, 2010   |   Episode 12 (Show Archive)  

   

It's that time of year again, a time when Defunct Games celebrates the holidays by posting a daily theme article that should inform and delight gamers all over the world. This year we're taking a look at 31 of the best-known bonus stages in all of video games. Each day we're going to look at a different level and review it, while also trying to figure out what makes it tick. Join us as we post a new episode of the 31 Bonus Levels of Christmas every day leading up to the biggest holiday of the year!
Shinobi: Ninja Shooting Gallery
[ Console: Arcade | Year: 1987 | Grade: A ]

If Sega ends up making a first-person Shinobi game, remember where you saw it first!
The Context: Joe Musashi is not like other ninjas. While most of his peers like to hide in the shadows and wait for the perfect opening to strike, Joe isn't very patient. Instead he barrels into any action setting with reckless abandon. With his trusty sword and ninja throwing stars, our hero casually strolls through some of the most dangerous environments in the world. He doesn't care; he'll murder anybody that gets close to him. He doesn't even do it with style, at least not in this first Shinobi outing. Joe flails about and is lucky if he makes it to the boss battle. If he can get his act together we may stand a chance. If not, well, at least we have the memories.

The Rules: This bonus stage is played from the first-person point of view, something unheard of in 1987. Think of this bonus stage as a shooting gallery ... with ninjas. Players will see groups

Joe doesn't care that there are ninja stars whizzing by his head because it's a BADASS!!
of ninjas run back and forth, weave in and out, and eventually rush your locked position. It's up to the player to throw enough ninja stars to keep these goons from getting too close. It's a lot like Tapper, only without the beer and advertising. Even if players fail to tag every last enemy, they are still treated to a cool image of a ninja getting ready to pounce.

The Verdict: Even if it's is little more than throwing stars at ninjas, this is one of my favorite bonus stages. I know they're antiquated in the 21st century, but I still love shooting galleries. Shinobi understands an important trait of shooting galleries - a little bit goes a long way. This stage is fast-paced

Hey ninjas, quit hiding in the shadows!
and way more exciting than Duck Hunt. Plus, the attacking ninja graphics are really fun to watch. Best of all, pretty much every port does a good job recreating this stage, no matter how limited the hardware is. Given the success of this stage, it's a shame this series didn't stick to adding bonus levels.

Completely Missing the Point: Shinobi just confirms a suspicion I've always had - ninjas suck! It may not be politically correct to say this, but it's the absolute truth. These days they are boring. They hide in the shadows and wait. That's all they do. BOR-ING! It's like being friends with the world's most exciting agoraphobe. Give me action. These people are trained to kill people with the slightest touch, let's see that in action. Let's put an end to hiding in the shadows. And that goes for you too, Batman!
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