Shinobi III – Sega Genesis Review

by Marcos Paulo Vilela

Long overdue, let’s review the 3rd 16-bit entry into the legendary Shinobi series. My original strategy episode can be found here: …

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Wisegamer

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38 comments

Ophidian Mind 2023-06-04 - 3:59 am

The Shinobi series was great overall and the Genesis games were the peak of the series. In my opinion, the Genesis Shinobi games are some of the greatest action platformer games ever made and I'd rank them up there with the best of the classicvania-style Castlevania games. On that note, it would have been interesting if Shinobi had continued in a similar what to Castlevania that shifted to more metroidvania-style games. A metroidvania that played like a Shinobi game would be a dream come true for me.

While there are a lot of people in recent years who claim The Revenge of Shinobi to be their favorite game in the series and I can understand why, Shinobi III is my personal favorite because of how incredible the gameplay is in it. Once you've mastered the controls, it really does feel like you're playing as a badass ninja as you go throughout the game and the variety in the ways you can attack can add a lot of replay value to the game in how you can try to fight the bosses in different ways.

Shinobi really is one of the greatest series that Sega has ever had and it would be nice if they brought the series back in a way that is true to the spirit of the earlier games. If Sega valued Shinobi as much as the series deserves, then maybe Joe Musashi would be the face of Sega instead of Sonic.

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Bradley Adams 2023-06-04 - 4:00 am

Shinobi will be just called Shinobi, and it needs to have 2D 3 dimensions. If you move up, you actually move further away from the player, if you move down, you move the character closer to the player, if you move upward right and push the red button, you do a powerful jump kick, but it has to have a great story, it needs to be an ancient clandestine mission, each level has a boss you have to take down to have broken the kingpin's defensive network, and the kingpin doesn't fight alone.
Shinobi is Ninja, and ninja are clandestine. You need to be able to disable your target without being detected, otherwise you have to fight more than one at a time. That was a great game for the '90s, but a star definitely wounds your enemy in this one and makes their attack on you less powerful. The game is about sneak and powerful attacks, two slashes kills most enemies, and Shinobi can withstand 4, but his own blows won't be so potent.
Jump is a button, so forward and the jump button jumps in the direction, then you can use the directional pad to guide the fall and attack, but you have to guide the direction of your fall to attack kick with your fall.

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Brunobi02 2023-06-04 - 4:01 am

One of the best games from this legendary franchise!

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Jason 2023-06-04 - 4:04 am

Played lots of sega games and this one is no different….it sucks its crap n garbage …it's easy to see how sega lost the video game wars…they had nothing that could compete with Nintendo

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Roccoco 2023-06-04 - 4:06 am

Thank you for this, imo this is the pinnacle of the Sega Genesis. No other 16-bit action title can match the graphics, soundtrack and gameplay of Shinobi III. Got it when I was a kid in 95 or so and still play through it at least once a year. Expert difficulty, 0 shurikens to start always.

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Chris Howson 2023-06-04 - 4:07 am

Knew Whirlwind had to come up in the music. Don't get me wrong, 100% that the music is absolutely fantastic, but Whirlwind? That tune is one of the best on the system. Adored it from the moment I heard it back in the day and still turn up the volume to it to this day! Great review SLX 👍

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John Doe 2023-06-04 - 4:08 am

Honestly, I didn’t realize the game was such a sales failure, that’s a real shame.
Though it does explain the situation with the Shinobi franchise after. I’m still shocked the Dreamcast ever got a game.
It’s still a shame that the franchise as a whole has gone dormant again for the last 11 years or so.
Still hoping to see a return (hopefully in 2-D like SOR4) one of these days.

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H.D. Beird 2023-06-04 - 4:10 am

I still prefer Revenge of Shinobi, since that's the one I grew up with and didn't play Shinobi 3 until a few years ago. But it is a better game and one newcomers should probably try first

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Marzimus 2023-06-04 - 4:14 am

My favorite Genesis title!! 😍 The OST will be played at my funeral…

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Nostalgia 2023-06-04 - 4:24 am

Shinobi 3 DOES what NintenDON'T

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Daniele Speziari 2023-06-04 - 4:30 am

This is the game that made me fall in love with the Mega Drive some years ago (I was strictly a Super Nintendo boy back in the day). There are some stages that I like less than others, in particular the one where you jump on rocks one after the other, that one got me frustrated a lot because I couldn't always double jump in a consistent way. Otherwise, it's a brilliant and spectacular work of art

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ProcyonAlpha 2023-06-04 - 4:40 am

Amazing game still have my complete mega drive copy. Soundtrack is amazing!

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John Carolina 2023-06-04 - 4:42 am

I played this on Sega Channel and had my mind blown. Thanks for Sega Channel mom, it really was smarter than spending $50+ on every video game I wanted

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Claudio Sacchi 2023-06-04 - 4:47 am

Best ninja game ever, followed by ninja warriors on the SNES

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chad barnett 2023-06-04 - 4:56 am

Great vid. Loved it

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Olly Oscillator 2023-06-04 - 4:58 am

I think "Whirlwind" is one of the best tracks on the Megadrive. Absolutely iconic.

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BIG JOB40 2023-06-04 - 5:03 am

Top game which was a great follow up to one of my all time favorites ! Was better in gameplay but music wise I do not think that shinobi 3 just did not have that same wow factor as the all mighty revenge.

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Kamikaze Ray 2023-06-04 - 5:05 am

Sega lost the oportunity to call this game shinobi 3…and knuckles.

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Adrian Gauna 2023-06-04 - 5:14 am

I remember playing ''Toki Going Ape Shit'' the very first time on the Mega Drive thinking to myself ''there's something about this game that reminds me of Shinobi III'' I think it was the second level where you had to keep ascending up the mountain and I later found out that it was the same developers across the two games, also all Megasoft's games use the same drum kit. They tend to use that Moonwalker SMPS drum set.

I too have always felt that the Mega Drive could have pulled out one more Shinobi title before the lifespan ran out, there was still time in 1994 or 1995, I mean it teases the player at the end by saying ''To Be Continued'' but just like Street Fighter's Asassin's Fist movie, there was never to be made a direct sequel.

Also in 1993 the SNES was slowly starting to win the 16-bit race as one of the things that was letting down the Mega Drive at that point was the poor western driver put in nearly every western game known as GEMS. Shinobi III was one of those games you could show off to all your mates and say it had a bangin' soundtrack that showed just what you could do with FM synthesis. FM synthesis was designed to sound real and by god does this music sound real.

Definitely the best Shinobi game period, not only on the system but also in general. My favourite and for a 1 Megabyte/8 Megabit cartridge it gives the player a good hour of gameplay.

Would love to see your review take on the Master System version of Shadow Dancer and also the game ''Jewel Master'' on the Mega Drive.

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Lazy Lebanese Lifestyle 2023-06-04 - 5:14 am

this was the first game in my childhood that made me say ''THE GENESIS IS SO COOL'' since the nes and snes had nothing as cool as this.

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Ivan Vargas 2023-06-04 - 5:17 am

My favorite one: this was one of my first Sega genesis games ever.

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Tjoeb123 2023-06-04 - 5:20 am

While I didn't experience this entry until the PSP Genesis compilation, this is definitely one of my favorite Genesis ever. Though if I'm honest, outside the final boss I find the game to be a tad on the easy side (Hard difficulty just lower your max HP), and I wish there were more levels.

I think the fog effects were specifically designed for CRTs and that's where they may actually look better, similar to the waterfall transparency in Aquatic Ruin Zone from Sonic 2.

BTW, you forgot to mention the 6 button support. I prefer playing the game this way with a dedicated Melee button and not using Shurikens.

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Grant Z 2023-06-04 - 5:20 am

I've never played it, but I got it on my sega classic collection PS4. Going to give it ago tonight

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nbdante 2023-06-04 - 5:21 am

I don't think of a bad Shinobi I played! Pretty much a spotless franchise but SEGA neglected it like many others of their great franchises!.. I don't think SEGA will manage to bring back the series even if they wanted to, which is unfortunate!!

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dudeguy 2023-06-04 - 5:24 am

My copy of Shinobi 3 randomly stopped working one day. Cleaned the contacts multiple times. Tried different consoles. nothing

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Wayne Hickman 2023-06-04 - 5:25 am

Great review as always, there's also a few more games in the series; there's Nightshade on the PS2 the follow up to PS2 Shinobi, Revenge of Shinobi on GBA, although I'm not sure if it is actually counted as part of the main series and lastly Shinobi on the 3DS

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Cacique3480 2023-06-04 - 5:27 am

Listen to that Sega bass! 10:04 😮

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Order Of Magnitude - The Paranormal & Personal 2023-06-04 - 5:28 am

Swear you've reviewed this a few times… oh well.
Great game

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Kenneth Eaton 2023-06-04 - 5:28 am

This is my absolute favorite Shinobi game. Followed closely by the 3DS game. With Revenge close behind in third.

I know you don't really cover stuff on Nintendo platforms, but I would REALLY love to see you do a full review on the 3DS game. IMO that one gets way unfairly overlooked, and does not get the recognition or praise it deserves. Its one of the best games in the entire franchise… and most are completely unaware of it, or just write it off as a cheap mobile cashin, when it's anything but. The game is one of the most mechanically rich and well made games in the series. It honestly feels like a great perfect of the PS2/3D Gameplay with Revenge & 3 style 2D gameplay… with the story serving as a remake of the original Arcade game. Oh and the music is incredible.

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Tomy Robinson 2023-06-04 - 5:44 am

I love Shinobi 2 but Shinobi 3 has a better soundtrack. It’s atmospheric in a way no other ninja game matches.

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Robert Stevens 2023-06-04 - 5:45 am

As good as 3 was, for me Revenge was the best. Those first two years for the Genesis were outstanding, and interest in gaming dipped a bit after that. So missed out on initial launch of 3. I enjoy 3, but with Revenge being one of the first games on the Genesis. I would put in more hours of that game than any other Genesis game I have played. Thought seriously you can’t go wrong with any one of the Shinobi games. Sega needs to put out that collection on the current consoles like Konami did with the Turtles games. That would be epic.

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InFern0L 2023-06-04 - 5:46 am

Great review as always!
I like that Joe Musashi uses kunai in this game as projectiles, yet for some reason they're called shurikens =)
If you haven't played 3DS version of Shinobi 3, I can recommend it – aside from decent 3d effect, you can change control scheme that actually uses all buttons of console. Having block and melee attack on a separate buttons is a treat.
Sega Lord X, have you ever played Shinobi 3D, on 3DS? If yes, I wonder, what's your opinion on this title?

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sex shit 2023-06-04 - 5:47 am

This is a fantastic game.Great graphics and decent sound.ROS still is a more special game for me as everything fitted perfectly but this is also amazing.

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Speed enthusiast 2023-06-04 - 5:50 am

I’ve played this through multiple times and never knew he could block 😮

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Royal D irty 2023-06-04 - 5:58 am

When i think of this game i think its the most complete 16bit game. Responsive controls, moves that you can do make you into sharp kiling machine. (All standard moves imaginable for a character are put in Shinobi… Double jump, double dash, jump down, down kick…)
Graphic, nothing short of perfect. Music, levele layouts? Atmosphere? Bosses? Perfect 16 bit game in my book.

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Dan Lukens 2023-06-04 - 6:01 am

Definitely my Sega Genesis game. Playing it as a kid made me feel so badass! I love this channel man – you do great work.

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TANOS 2023-06-04 - 6:15 am

I hope one day SEGA brings back Shinobi. Or at least release a Shinobi game collection for the latest platforms much like the Sonic collection 🙂 I still want to replay Shinobi (PS2), Nightshade, Shinobi Sega Saturn, Shinobi 3DS, Shinobi 1, 2, 3, every Shinobi game. I'd pay $70 for the collection.

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MotionDeep 2023-06-04 - 6:16 am

No need to find out, it's an instant classic.

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