Shadow Dancer review - Sega Megadrive

Read Original Review PDF for Shadow Dancer

Shadow Dancer box artThe year is 1997. The world, at peace until now, is brought to the brink of global disaster - the Union of the Lizard has kidnapped a large number of dignitaries, and has threatened to kill them all unless their demands are met to the letter. The only man capable of rescuing them is Joe Mushashi, the master ninja known as The Shinobi.

Mushashi has not only his martial arts skills to aid him, but also the secret of ninjitsu magic - a power to conjure up the force of the elements themselves - and his faithful dog, who will attack on command, leaving most enemies defenceless.

The way ahead is treacherous and dangerous, with many warriors and creatures out to stop the Shinobi by any means possible - none worse than the evil spirits called from the Otherworld to use their powers to destroy Mushashi utterly!

Overall Score63%

Retrospective comments


Shadow Dancer is often overlooked in favour of Sega's other Shinobi games. You might say it is regarded as the black sheep of the family. What's even funnier about this Megadrive version is it bares very few similarities to the arcade version in terms of its gameplay.

Fans of the original 1987 arcade Shinobi will probably appreciate that in some ways Shadow Dancer has a few things in common with it. The rescuing of hostages, close hit attacks, platform jumping and one-hit deaths are all retained here. Whilst Revenge of Shinobi and Super Shinobi III were awesome games in their own right they did somewhat break away from the original arcade formula with the introduction of the energy bar and free roaming style levels.

One of the interesting features of Shadow Dancer is the use of Shinobi Joe's dog Yamoto. Hold on to the action button for a second or so to charge up and your faithful sidekick will launch an aggressive assault on the bad guy you are too coward to take on yourself! Watch out though, get your timing wrong and your dog will get hit and shrink into a puppy!!?

The boss battles are worth a mention as they require the gamer to work out the winning tactics and repeat. With the 'one hit and you die' system there is no margin for error here. After beating the stage boss you enter a bonus stage much like the original arcade Shinobi except this time you have to take out the oncoming ninjas whilst skydiving!

It's a short game with only 5 levels. The default difficulty setting is quite easy also so most seasoned gamers will complete this quickly. It's still a fun arcade style romp and is still fun to replay over and over again. See if you can get through this by cranking up the difficulty setting or turning off the shuriken option!

This is by no means the perfect game. It is not as vast as the other Shinobi games on the Megadrive and some may find the lack of a energy bar frustrating. (whimps!) However even if you only give this a try out of curiosity you are likely to be pleasantly surprised.

Tris Wicks - 11 Nov 2008, 02:36 GMT

This is so tough to master. It may be short but it's classy - and having seen a mate OWN this game on the hardest difficulty settings i've found new respect for it.

Matt Taylor - 04 Aug 2009, 00:28 GMT

Its a shame that 'Shadow Dancer' was overlooked as a 'classic' Shinobi title on its launch, but its easy to see why following on the back of the seminal and convention breaking 'Super Shinobi' and falling short as an arcade conversion. But its for exactly the latter reason that it should be applauded. Like other early megadrive titles such as 'E-Swat' and 'Rainbow Islands', 'Shadow Dancer' offered (and still offers) and genuinely exclusive arcade title, not available on any other platform, and a game platform/shooter fans can relish. Perhaps only with the benefit of hindsight will a generation of gamers come to realise it.

Rich - 05 Nov 2009, 16:42 GMT

Hmmm, yeah I remember this review, the only time where I read a review from CVG, where I really felt that they had completely missed the ball, this is an awesome Shinobi game, one of my favourites.

Stuart - 12 Aug 2010, 16:17 GMT

There was a disappointment with this not being that close the the arcade version. I think a closer arcade conversion would have been better.
Still a good game although personally I think its a little under rated here.

Dylan Barry - 20 Jun 2012, 16:02 GMT

mental soundtrack... very abstract

Andrew Laggan - 05 Jul 2013, 16:56 GMT

I thought the original magazine review at the time was rather harsh. Whilst different to the coin-op in terms of level design and structure, the gameplay is more arcade orientated than that or Revenge/Super Shinobi. Shadow Dancer may lack the depth of the former but it's still (in my opinion) a decent game in it's own right with some impressivly slick visuals in places (the stage on the bridge over the river was particualrly nice for the time) and some excellent music in places. I would have given the game 8/10 in its day. Not as good as Revenge of Shinobi but decent nontheless!

Liam Golder - 24 May 2014, 11:27 GMT

I love this game and feel it should get more praise it is under valued- the main character is cool and the game layout is interesting and keeps the player occupied. Feel it has been classed as a game that is rated lower than it really is. Revenge of Shinobi has an edge but love the way in Shadow Dancer the dog follows you around- great game well worth playing again and again.

YawnBoyPest1957 - 23 May 2015, 11:24 GMT

I prefer this to revenge of shinobi, it's the closest we ever got to the first shinobi coin op on megadrive. The gameplay has that same kinetic flow. However Revenge looked more stylish and had better atmosphere, this comes off looking a bit cheesily sci fi. The game veers between looking good to downright ropey, the flaming background of the first stage looks like a half assed thunderforce III impersonation. It doesn't suprise me that some reviewers turned their nose up at the game.

Panch - 29 Feb 2016, 16:34 GMT

OMG did mean yob review this?

CVG Magazine
Platform Game Sega Megadrive
Buy today!

Shadow Dancer

Shadow Dancer

Shadow Dancer

Shadow Dancer

Shadow Dancer

The Mean Machines Archive Sega Megadrive Reviews Super Nintendo Reviews Nintendo Entertainment System Reviews Sega Master System Reviews Amstrad GX4000 Reviews Nintendo Gameboy Reviews