While this Shinobi has you fighting in 3D, the areas are extremely contained; similar to the way they were in the side scrolling originals. The game is fairly straight forward, and there is never any question where you need to go, since there is never more than one route. From one section of the level to the next, you must either defeat all of the enemies, or destroy the floating gate locks, in order to continue your adventure through the level.
The game is woven together by the inclusion of a brief story. The game takes place after the capital city has been completely destroyed by an unknown force. Making things worse, the clan that once looked up to Hotsuma as their leader, now is dead set on taking him out. This means that Hotsuma is needed to save the city, see who’s behind this, and let his clansmen rest in peace.
The story, while entertaining, is there to do little more than move you from one area to the next without anybody questioning why. It’s not a very deep plot, and you probably won’t be discussing it with your friends after the game is over, but it does what it’s supposed to do, and is in the tradition of so many outlandish Japanese samurai films.
The game is split up in to seven levels, each with two areas and two bosses. Each of the environments is based on different parts of the city, from urban areas to tranquil wooden areas, to everything in between. Some of the more impressive levels feature earthquake destruction and an entire city on fire, others, however, just look like your every day run of the mill run down city, or worse, industrial locales.
The backgrounds have a tendency of not being very alive, as they often just sit there motionless. There isn’t a lot to interact with, either. This wasn’t a big deal when I was focused on fighting oncoming enemies, but between battles I found the levels to lack that certain amount of detail so common in games these days.
The graphics are impressive, for the most part. Some of the effects, especially the animation of Hotsuma’s extremely long, red scarf, are absolutely mind blowing. Others, though, are just down right ugly. The destruction of the buildings looks good at first, but as you continue through the level you find yourself seeing the same texture time and again. This doesn’t really get in the way, but does make the finished product look a little rushed.
Thankfully the game play takes over where the graphics leave off. Not only does Hotsuma look good moving around and performing these acrobatic feats, but also does them with very little frustration to the user. The camera is seldom a problem, and even when it refuses to auto adjust, it is easy to correct the problem manually.
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