Three classic Sega Game Gear games head this week's Nintendo eShop update.

Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble, Shinobi and Dragon Crystal both launch this Thursday as downloadable games. Sonic costs €5 / £4.50, Shinobi costs €4 / £3.60, and Dragon Crystal costs €3 / £2.70.

On the Wii Virtual Console, Capcom's Mega Man 5 launches for 500 Wii Points. DSiWare puzzle game Hints Hunter launches on the 3DS eShop and the DSi Shop for €2 / £1.80 or 200 Nintendo DSi Points.

Meanwhile, 3DS owners get the fourth Shaun the Sheep 3D clip, called Bitzer over easy, created in 3D by Aardman Animations. The third part in a series of Kid Icarus Anime clips is also available from Nintendo Video. It's called Thanatos Rising, and features Pit and his battle against one of Medusa's minions.


The first two Game Gear titles to launch on the 3DS eShop will likely be Shinobi and Sonic Triple Trouble.

Both have just recieved fresh ESRB ratings (spotted by TinyCartridge).

Their launch will be the first time non-Nintendo platform games have become available on the 3DS Virtual Console.

Nintendo first announced it would start dusting off Game Gear titles early last year. Turbografx-16 games were also promised.

Sega has launched new games in both the Shinobi and Sonic series for 3DS during the past year, so it makes sense to start mining the back catalogue with these.

Both games were rated "E for Everyone", with Shinobi featuring "animated violence".

Nov 28, 2011

Some games age well, and some just age; take a look at Shinobi. The 1987 arcade game and its home console sequels are, in the memory, death-defying adventures through samurai death mazes, a precision gauntlet. But these days, Shinobi plays worse than the memory. It feels like an archaism rather than a forerunner.

Perhaps that undersells a series that has seen 12 (!) entries, including this kind-of-reboot for 3DS by Griptonite Games. Shinobi has dabbled in full 3D combat with the highly fiddly PS2 games, but here the depth is purely visual. This is a 2D platformer that wants nothing more than to hit the nostalgia button.

That's not to say the illusion isn't good. Shinobi's action may be 2D, but its locations have a depth of scenery and a neat eye for angle-turning tricks that, even now, is sadly uncommon on 3DS. The crisp cartoon reworkings of the 16-bit enemies jump out on these stages, lending the violent animations real hoof.

This man-to-man combat is what Shinobi 3DS does best. But what it does most is flutter around it, prioritising repetitive platforming and boring distance combat over what proves to be its only real strength. It's clearly intended as a kind of homage to the years of Shinobi 3, from the reworked blocking mechanic to a rather dated (and repeated) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles gag.

Up close, it can work brilliantly: fast, fluid slices through enemy after enemy with perfect blocks leading to devastating counters. The parry is a quick press of the 'R' shoulder button, which you can remap to another button for preference, and which deflects incoming attacks in a generous timing window. In straight fights, it's a clinical and satisfying tool, a trigger that lends a Zen-like calm to the most frenetic encounters.

But the further Shinobi gets, the more it messes things up. A defining characteristic of the series, and one this game clearly aspires to, is a stiff challenge. But a stiff challenge is not always the same as a fair challenge, especially when mixed with unnecessarily stingy checkpointing.

You will rarely die from combat in Shinobi; instead, your allegedly universe-conquering ninja will fall soundlessly to his death, again and again. This is not a game built for platforming, but there is an awful lot of platforming - most of which, it has to be said, seems to be re-textured from a bare few templates.

Shinobi's leap has more vertical lift than horizontal movement, so despite a double-jump that rescues some situations, the platforming is a series of misjudgements waiting to happen. The momentum of the character is never quite right for these intricate timing tests, and the wall-jump proves quite the trick to master, but you can just about learn to fudge through.


Search news
Feb   Jan  
Archives By Year
2018   2017   2016   2015   2014  
2013   2012   2011   2010   2009  
2008   2007   2006   2005   2004  
2003   2002