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Shinobi: Still fighting fit after eight years away?

A tanto-lising prospect...

Before we tell you all about our hands-on experience with the relaunch of one of Sega's most beloved '80s franchises, let's set the scene with a little interactive experiment to make you feel suitably ninja-ish.

Put the magazine down, sit in the meditation position and close your eyes (after reading the rest of the instructions, silly). We want you to imagine where the very first level of the game might take place. Aaaand... open your eyes. Did you picture a classic Japanese village at sunset? You did? Spot on. Now we can begin.

We didn't have high hopes when Shinobi on 3DS was announced, but on closer inspection it turns out that Griptonite are crafting a fun, honest 2D platformer that understands what made the original games so special.


Chief among its qualities is the fluidity with which Jiro Musashi (father of original Shinobi hero Joe, ninja genealogy fans) moves. He has a new trick hidden up the sleeve of each button combination - our flexible friend can vault, wall-jump and roll with the best of them.

Even in mid-air, the tactical options floweth over; a tap of the A button encourages Jiro to spit out an arc of face-shredding shurikens, while the Y button instead opts for a spin slam that works not unlike Mario's famous butt splash.

The action takes place at a breakneck pace, and the smooth, versatile controls encourage you to engage with it on its terms, racing through levels as quickly as possible to chain together reality-defying combos. It helps make for a game that's very attractive in motion, even if the lacklustre 3D fails to put ninja stars in your eyes.

The 3D showboating is instead left to a few select setpieces that break up the platforming action - in this instance, a brief horse-ride to the next area.

Oh god, that horse-riding bit. Maybe we need to work at it a bit longer, but at a glance it appears to be a messy and somewhat arbitrary avoid-'em-up section where getting smacked in the face by a tree is a fact of life. Whatever. It's over before you know it, and it gives Sega something to stick on the box.

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Later levels show more artistic flair, so we're confident that while it won't blow minds, this will prove a fine addition tothe 3DS's burgeoning catalogue.

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