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Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Rating: 100%
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
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You have to hand it to Joe Musashi. While most men get slower as they near their golden years, Joe only seems to be getting faster. In the 1987 original he was slow and methodical, creeping along and never rushing into risky situations. The same goes for Revenge of Shinobi and Sega's two Game Gear chapters. And yet here he is taking a page out of Sonic the Hedgehog's playbook. He speeds across the screen at alarming rate, killing a half dozen bad guys in a blink of an eye. There's no doubt about it, Joe is definitely on something.

Regardless of whether he's illegally juicing or simply getting better with age, Shinobi III is one of Sega's strongest arguments for their 16-bit Genesis. While the speedy gameplay may seem out of step for this long-running franchise, there are enough throwbacks to the classics to make it feel like a true Shinobi sequel. This is a spectacular return for one of Sega's best characters, and a fitting end for Joe Musashi.

Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master (Genesis)

So keep up: Shinobi III is the direct sequel to The Revenge of Shinobi, the early generation Genesis release. That means that both Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi and The Cyber Shinobi: Shinobi Part 2 are nothing more than side stories (we can quibble over what to call the two Game Gear releases). Thankfully you aren't required to know the branching history of Shinobi in order to have fun with Return of the Ninja Master.

So it looks like Neo Zeed wants to take over the world again. Unfortunately, only one mane knows how to defeat this reoccurring enemy. That man is Joe Musashi, a ninja only too eager to jump back into the thick of things and defend the world from this criminal syndicate. You pack your ninja stars, sword and magic scrolls and set off on what will prove to be Joe's final mission.

Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master (Genesis)

Having completely mastered the five year old hardware, Sega gets the most out of their 16-bit Genesis. The seven levels are completely different, offering the developers a variety of chances to show off the tricks they've learned along the way. Joe will visit a spooky biological weapons laboratory, fight through a burning forest, dismantle a factory specializing in robotic weaponry and takes on a gigantic sky fortress. And just when you think you've seen it all, Joe fights on horseback and goes surfing.

The levels are full of tiny details and cool graphical flourishes. They're also full of interesting twists and turns, a far cry from the flat paths found in the arcade original. But as good as these stages are, they take a backseat to the fast-paced and always exciting gameplay. Controlling Joe is a breeze, and he's given just enough ninja moves to be dangerous. The ninja magic is also cool, showing off what the Genesis was capable of.

Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master (Genesis)

This is the apex of Shinobi, one of Sega's very best Genesis games. As it turns out, this would be Joe's final adventure. He went out on top. This long-running franchise may have had a few ups and downs over the years, but Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master is a rock; it's not going anywhere and only gets better with age. Joe, you will be missed.
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