Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Shinobi 3 (Sega Genesis, 1993)

 One of the best games on the Sega Genesis and something I've gained a lot of respect for over time.

(Originally posted: May 2014)

 This game is featured on Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection, and I played a fair amount of it on there. It's pretty rad.

In this game, you play as noted ninja Joe Musashi. He must battle the nefarious forces of Neo Zeed in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. This is like a Highlander writer's wet dream (except for the lack of cops and crime drama to go with the apocalypse).

The Japanese version has a debatably cooler box.

The lightning cinches it. This box just looks EXCITING.

Now to take a look at the game itself.



Zeed is a hell of a name. It's like General Zod, except that the vowel went through mitosis.

This game has some sweet moves, like the dash-slice seen here. For the most part, your primary offense consists of throwing knives.

There are also four special powers that you can use once per life. Ikazuchi makes you temporarily invulnerable. Fushin gives you super agility so you can move fast and jump high. Kariu decimates all enemies on screen. Mijin restores your life to full, but costs an extra life. That last one is probably the most useful, because it also damages the enemies on screen like Kariu does. However, it should be saved for the big lategame bosses, unless you want to run out of lives early.

For the most part, this is your typical beat-em-up. You walk through straightforward levels and take out enemies. The designs are pretty cool, like the samurai seen here.

You can also hang from ropes and ceilings. This is a super-useful technique for escaping from the police IRL evading enemies.

The first boss vaguely looks like Gilgamesh from Final Fantasy V. After all these years I still don't get why people like that guy so much. Because he has cool battle music? I guess as far as minions go, he's one of the more interesting examples out there due to all of his arms and weapons. He's everything Siegfried in Final Fantasy VI could have been.

Sweet level clear picture! Either this game has giants, or Joe Musashi is a hobbit.

The next level has you barreling through a field amidst a thunderstorm. This game is awesome.

I take a moment to use Ikazuchi to bring down some lightning. This is SO COOL YOU GUYS.

Unfortunately, most of the remainder of the game takes place in factory-type levels. I don't really like mechanical environments. I got significantly less interested in Xenoblade once I got to Mechonis.

The second boss is a brain in a Dr. Wily saucer type deal. It flies around and stuff. Flying enemies are difficult to hit since throwing knives don't move too fast. Doesn't help that this game has the typical floaty Genesis action game controls. One thing I don't like about action games on the Genesis is that the play control never seems to be anywhere near as tight as the Super NES offerings of the time.

The next stage is some sort of bio-laboratory. Wonder if this game was taking cues from the Ninja Gaiden series, which had a lot of this kind of stuff.

Amidst THE CREEPIEST HALLWAY EVER, a large boss looms in the background.

...and then the foreground! AHHH! JESUS!

I unleash hell with the special that damages all enemies. Though in retrospect, it'd be better to just save your spell attack and fight normally until low health... then use the special that damages all enemies AND heals you. You lose a life, sure, but if that's about to happen anyway...

The next stage is another rail level. This time you get some sort of waterski, and battle a Gundam.

A foot level follows that looks oddly like the Jersey Turnpike. Run! RUN!

The big boss here is a bigger Gundam. It transforms several times. This fight was a pain, to say the least.

Mr. Musashi now traverses a burning forest and does battle with a refugee from Front Mission: Gun Hazard.

 More factories! Well, I like this game a lot but I can't say I'm crazy about the environments. This is where the game starts to get difficult (it's quite easy to this point), with bombs everywhere that destroy floorboards. Sometimes this is bad (like here, with our hero standing over a pit), while other times it's necessary to progress.

 Next boss: MECHA GODZILLA. No joke. This game has that distinctive "Genesis look", and you can really see it with this boss.

Next up is the lamest section in the game, as you need to scale a bunch of falling rocks to reach the top of a cliff. With the poor jumping/climbing controls, it isn't easy. This is just like one of the final levels in Skyblazer.

At the top is a dastardly birdman. One of the easier boss fights in the game, following up what might be the hardest level.

 Upon defeat, he explodes into a cloud of feathers and sadness.

 The next level is some kind of dojo with MORE PLATFORMING ON TINY LITTLE BOXES ARGH. At least they don't continually fall down like the rocks did, but you also have to contend with flying enemies trying to knock you off. It's quite frustrating.

 Next boss... this gentleman. He runs in and out of doors while throwing knives at you. What a jokester!

The final stage begins with you climbing along the underside of a flying ship. Didn't Ninja Gaiden 3 do this in the last level too?

 The bowels of the ship are awful. The less said the better. Suffice to say these levels are astronomically more difficult than most of the game up to this point.

The final boss is some sort of cyborg, and you fight him inside The Internet from The Lawnmower Man. Except creepier, with weird stretchy faces like it's been taken over by Giygas.

I dish out FIRE PILLARS~! ...this is a mistake, because it locks me out of the heal spell.

 The heal spell is the only one you want to be using on this fight. It's pretty overpowered, all things considered. In any case, this is an intense battle even with the heal spell.

 The ending gives us a very Ninja Gaiden type cutscene while Joe Musashi laments about THIS LAND OF CONFUUUSION.

And then he rides home in the sunset.


So yeah, I'll go ahead and say that this is probably one of the best games on the Sega Genesis. Very cool stuff here.



  1. "this is a super-useful technique for escaping from the police IRL" heehee

    Why is his name Joe? haha couldn't it just be musashi? Is Joe supposed to make Americans relate to this guy more? Or, what if his name were just Joe...

  2. If you look up "badass" in a dictionary, you'll see this game.

  3. I too like the outdoor environments a lot better. That horseback in the rain part is stellar.

    The idea of having four super-moves a life is superb. Really makes you feel like ninjas are powerful.

    The Internet is terrifying. Why did we stay on it guys.

    I'd like a poll on whether Americans prefer "Joe Musashi" to "Musashi".

  4. Very excited game wonderful game the best game