The first time I played Shinobi X (known as Shinobi Legions in the U.S.) the game got stuck on the option menu. After a while I found out that the game doesn't work when you have the second joypad plugged in to your Sega Saturn. I find it rather silly; hopefully this won't be a precursor of things to come.
The story of the game isn't very inspired: Kazuma has returned ... blah blah blah ... as Sho, the younger brother, you must stop Kazuma's quest for absolute power and so on. The story is also told by some little movie bits that turn up before and after every level. The acting on these sequences is so unbelievably bad that I think it was done by the programmers themselves. It's also so lousy that it's laughable. The sequences are in Japanese (with English subtitles) and I liked to watch them one time just to see what kind of crappy Japanese stuff those guys would be shooting out ("don't worry, I'll save you!" and the usual crap).
But enough about those side issues, let's see what the actual game is like. Well, it's much like Shinobi on the Genesis, but it's a hell of a lot faster. Oh yeah, and your ninja got a lot more cool moves as well (which are listed in the manual). The music and sound effects are decent enough, too.
But I can't make up my mind about the graphics. Your ninja is a beautiful rendered character and all his moves look excellent. The enemies aren't as nicely developed. They are kind of pixely fellows that perform about two or three moves and usually stick to one spot from which they try to hit you (oh, and on one level there is a dinosaur that pops his head out of nothing).
The backgrounds are acceptable for first generation Saturn title; though the characters sometimes seem a bit out of place on the digitalized backdrops (I found that this had a charm of its own). I can't talk in superlatives about the looks of the end bosses either, but at least they move fast.
Though Shinobi isn't the most beautiful Saturn game you can buy, it is a fun game worth playing through. The game is really fast, the levels have been well measured out, so they're neither too long nor too short and the bosses are a nice challenge.
The control is excellent, the jumps are accurate ... what more could you ask for from a 2D platformer? You even get the classic irritating jumping bits (especially on level 5 - Mine ride, in which you ride in little mine cars), but the game is addictive enough to get you to keep retrying until you find yourself yelling like a little baby.
If you like 2D action/platform games, you really should check Shinobi X out. The game is a lot more mature than Rayman and a lot more fun than Bug! I really like Shinobi and I find it a pity it was one of the last true 2D platform to be released on the Sega Saturn.