It's the time of the year when the days get shorter, retailers stay open longer, big games are released and there seems to be a holiday every other week. Defunct Games wants to ring in this festive season with a look at the most memorable video game themes of all time. For five weeks straight, Cyril Lachel and Kevin Bailey will share their thoughts on themes from the last thirty years. Join us every day between November 22 and December 25 for The 34 Game Themes of Christmas!
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
[ Company: Sega | Year: 1993 | Console: Genesis ]
Nobody does it better than Joe Musashi! After taking some time off, Joe is back to the grind of defeating evil ninjas and taking on supernatural bosses. Widely regarded as one of the best games on the Sega Genesis, Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master remains a top-notch action game with almost no flaws. Could the music be this game's weakest link? Find out when you listen to this Shinobi III theme song ...
Who brought the 16-bit pan flute? This Return of the Ninja Master theme song has enough energy to make you completely forget that this 1993 classic is the last must-own Shinobi game published by Sega. From its brief, yet memorable intro to a chorus you can almost sing along with, this theme song is perfect ... for TV advertising. Have a ninja action figure to sell? Throw on this snappy tune, yell "NINJA FURY" at the camera and watch the money roll. There's a pleasant interlude towards the end that hints at a more diverse song, but alas we're left with nearly a full minute of one repeating melody. The good news is that melody is funky and easy to dance to. It certainly makes me want to play Shinobi III. Unfortunately, it also makes me want to drive to the store and buy everything in sight.
Unlike other ninja games, Shinobi III's theme doesn't seem to call back to old ninja movie themes at all. It still manages to feel like a ninja theme, but it's not so over the top. On the other hand, it's certainly not subtle. The drums not only have a disco beat, but a fun kick and snare pattern as well as several fills. The bass doesn't entirely stick to root notes, nor is it entirely eighth or quarter notes. They let the rhythm section have some fun, which I love. The lead synthesizers, on the other hand, are having an absolute blast. There are busy sections, long sustains, and it seems as if one guy is playing three keyboards: a dirty lead synth, a clean, mostly rhythm synth, and a third that sounds like a pan flute through distortion. It's a lot of fun and gets me excited to play.
Most people don't realize that the hero in this game is brand new to this 16-bit sequel. They also don't know that this brand new hero dies at the end, effectively killing this franchise. This game may be a major disappointment, but at least you get to rid a jet ski. That makes everything better!