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Shinobi: Ninja Fun on the PS2

Shinobi means "female ninja", but in this latest version on the PS2 you're Hotsuma, leader of the turned-to-zombies Oboro clan.

The cut-scenes are lovely and tie together what is in essence a traditional hack-and-slash game. You drop into a level. Various bad guys and girls with swords and slicy weapons come after you. Slash - slash - slash and you get to the boss. Level over.


Being a big fan of feudal Japan and the samurai. I always wince a bit when ninja are running around with, say, giant, long, flowing red scarves. I can see it now.

Enemy 1: "Where is that attacker they warned us about?"
Enemy 2: "I don't see him anywhere. All I see is a neon-bright glowing 8' long red scarf drifting through those shadows over there ..."

Not only does Hotsuma have to fight his way through legions of enemies, but they're all actually the dead zombie bodies of his clan. The bosses are various servants, friends and siblings. He has to kill them all. And his cursed soul-sucking sword sucks the evility out of each corpse as it falls. Better hurry - the sword gets angry if it goes too long without death around it.

The combination moves are great - if there are three enemies in an area, kill them all quickly to witness the video clip of a smoothly executed triple-attack. The regular enemies are rather easy to dispatch, with the bodies cleaving in two for a thunk-thunk sound effect. The bosses are much more difficult, and make sure you really did some practicing instead of racing through the level.

There are various specials and secrets to watch for, and as each area gets a rating, you're encouraged to go back and replay areas to aim for that top score. Sound, music and voices are all good, and draw you into the game. The cool ninja-poses help you feel like you're in a movie.

Recommended for fans of arcade-fighting games.

Buy Shinobi from Amazon.com

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