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Video Game / Shinobi

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Joe Musashi, the original Shinobi.
He is stronger than steel and moves faster than a whirlwind.
Sometimes he hides in mud. Other times he transforms his shape like an ever-changing cloud.
Although his fighting spirit burns like fire, his mind is as calm as still water.
— "Shadows" (quoted from the Secret Manual of Oboro Ninjutsu), intro to Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master

Shinobi is a series of side-scrolling action games that were released by Sega during the late 1980s and early-to-mid 1990s. The games has the player controlling a ninja (usually Joe Musashi, a nod to ninja actor Sho Kosugi) who battles the forces of evil in each title.

The original Shinobi was originally released in 1987 for the arcades. The player controls a ninja named Joe Musashi, who fights a criminal syndicate known as "Zeed" in order to rescue his kidnapped students. The original game featured a floor jumping system similar to Namco's Rolling Thunder. Musashi is armed with his punches and kicks, as well as an unlimited supply of shurikens (which can be upgraded into a sword and gun), as well as different kinds of ninja arts which could be used to kill all on-screen enemies. Sega also made a Master System rendition which changed the game mechanics by adding more weapons, as well as a health gauge system and the ability to carry multiple ninja arts. There were also licensed versions for the Nintendo Entertainment System and PC Engine.


A single arcade sequel was released in 1989 titled Shadow Dancer, which retained the format of the original arcade game, giving the player a Canine Companion who helps the player fend off enemies. A severely stripped-down version was released for the Sega Master System, while the Sega Genesis got Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi, which had similar gameplay but with completely redesigned level layouts and different enemies.

Shinobi had further sequels for home consoles, the most prominent being the two Super Shinobi games for the Genesis, which consisted of The Revenge of Shinobi and Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master. The Super Shinobi series completely revamps the game mechanics from the arcade games, ditching the one-hit-kill rule from the arcade game, while adding selectable ninja arts and abilities in the process. The series went into a hiatus after the release of Shinobi Legions for the Sega Saturn, which eschews the hand-drawn graphics from previous installments in favor of Mortal Kombat-style digitized graphics.


Sega revived the series in the early 2000s with a new 3D game simply titled Shinobi for the PlayStation 2 in 2002, which had the player controlling a new ninja named Hotsuma, who wields the life-draining blade known as Akujiki (Eater of Evil). Joe Musashi also appeared in the new game as well as a hidden character. It was followed by a pseudo-sequel titled Nightshade in 2003, also for PS2, which featured a female ninja named Hibana. Many of the older titles (namely the three Genesis games and the original arcade game) had been re-released for the Wii Virtual Console.

A new Shinobi game was developed by Griptonite Studios for the 3DS, and released in September 2011.

Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed features Joe Musashi as an unlockable racer as well as a track based around Shinobi called Seasonal Shrines. Hotsuma and Hibana are also present in the sequel to Project X Zone, with the latter notably fighting alongside Strider Hiryu.

A list of Shinobi games by order of release:

  • Shinobi - 1987 (Arcade, Mark III/Master System, NES, PC Engine)
  • Shadow Dancer - 1989 (Arcade, Master System)
  • The Revenge of Shinobi - 1989 (Mega Drive/Genesis, known in Japan as The Super Shinobi)
  • Alex Kidd in Shinobi World - 1990 (Master System)
  • The Cyber Shinobi - 1990 (Master System)
  • Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi - 1990 (Mega Drive/Genesis)
  • The G.G. Shinobi - 1991 (Game Gear)
  • The G.G. Shinobi Part II: The Silent Fury - 1992 (Game Gear)
  • Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master - 1993 (Mega Drive/Genesis, known in Japan as The Super Shinobi II)
  • Shinobi Legions - 1995 (Sega Saturn, known as Shin Shinobi Den in Japan and Shinobi X in Europe)
  • Shinobi - 2002 (PS2)
  • The Revenge of Shinobi - 2002 (Game Boy Advance, unrelated to the Genesis version)
  • Nightshade - 2003 (PS2, Kunoichi in Japan)
  • Shinobi - 2011 (3DS)

Tropes used in Shinobi:

  • Abstract Eater: Hotsuma's sword is inhabited by the Akujiki, an ancient metaphysical parasite that feeds on blood, eats yin, and drinks souls.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: In the final mission of Shinobi III, Joe boards Neo Zeed's flying fortress and has to navigate past its automated defenses in order to reach the final duel with the Shadow Master.
  • All There in the Manual
    • Depending on the language of your instruction manual, the protagonist of Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi is either: Hayate, the estranged son of Joe Musashi, seeking to avenge the death of his adoptive father (which is the story in the Japanese manual); or Joe Musashi himself seeking to avenge the death of a student (which is the story in the English version). The game's opening text crawl (which is written in English, even in the Japanese version) is ambiguous enough to support either version of the backstory, as it never actually mentions the protagonist by name.
    • All the backstory for Shinobi X is only detailed in the manual, making the FMV scenes - especially the ones that deal with Kazuma and Sho - completely incomprehensible.
    • Much of the backstory for the various ninja boss characters of the PS2 game is only ever told in the Japanese version's manual. Tidbits include:
  • Always a Bigger Fish: The Hellspawn may be immensely powerful demon lords, but the Akujiki will devour their souls all the same.
  • Anyone Can Die: The PS2 game may have a rather small cast, but the only character to make it to the very end is Kagari Ubusuna.
  • Apocalypse Maiden: Kagari, the Ubusuna Miko in the PS2 game, whom Hiruko intend to use to power up Yatsurao. She's also his descendant.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Some of Hotsuma's lines when performing a TATE attack are "Forgive me" and "I am sorry".
  • Asia Rune Chant: The kanji on the markers that denote the number of enemies currently active on screen in the PS2 game make this when read aloud.
  • Attack Animal: Both Shadow Dancer games allow you to sic a white dog at enemies that would be very difficult to handle without the dog's help. The dog can distract some enemies to make them easy targets for the ninja. However, letting the enemy fight the dog too long will allow the enemy to injure the dog, turning it into a puppy until the next bomb is found or the next hostage is rescued.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Both Lobster samurais had their heads as their weak point. Some bosses have this as well.
  • Badass Armfold: Hotsuma's idle stand has him crossing his arms.
  • Badass Family: The Oboro Clan.
  • Base on Wheels: The giant ballistic missile tractor in Revenge of Shinobi.
  • Battle Aura: In Shinobi III, the final battle with the Shadow Master starts off on equal footing as he uses shuriken and katana against Joe. Then when he takes enough damage, he calls down a beam of energy to power himself up with a corona of fire — at which point he starts firing energy bolts from his palms, hurls a huge Energy Ball, counters Joe's dive kick with a Shoryuken and sometimes unleashes his own Ninjitsu technique to spray the entire chamber with energy bolts.
  • Bomb Disposal: The ninja must collect all of the time bombs in a non-boss level in Shadow Dancer before he can leave a level.
  • Bonus Feature Failure: Joe Musashi can be unlocked as a playable character in the PS2 Shinobi, his bonus being that he has an unlimited supply of shurikens — which damage targets instead of paralyzing them, and no life draining Tate gauge (since he doesn't wield the Akujiki blade). He has the strongest magic attack as well. The benefit to this is that you don't have to worry about getting huge combos to keep your health and damage enemies, and you can just continually chuck shurikens at some of the harder to kill enemies. The downside is that there are some bosses that pretty much require you to get huge combos in order to defeat them in a timely fashion; however, you can also chuck shurikens at them infinitely. A perfect beginner character... only you don't get him until you've collected 40 Oboro coins, which is only possible if you've already beaten the game twice: once on Normal and again on Hard.
    • Using his infinite shurikens to defeat a boss sounds good on paper, but in practice it takes a ridiculously long time. The game was also designed around the 'stun' ability of Hotsuma and Moritsune's projectiles, which actually makes certain sections trickier with Joe.
    • On another note all together, the long time fans will note that this isn't much of a surprise for Joe, as all of his titles focused much of the combat on rapid-fire shuriken throwing (save for latter installments like Shinobi III, where the running slash and jump kick help to ease the difficulty by a good notch), Making this something of a throwback to the arcade games.
    • Some other things to note. Hotsuma has the weakest sword strike but average speed, defense, and magic. He doesn't lose energy to his sword like Moritsune. Moritsune has the most speed and power, but the worst defense and second strongest magic. Joe Musashi has the slowest speed, but the second strongest sword and the most powerful magic; in addition, he doesn't lose energy to Akujiki, and he also has unlimited Shurikens. He's there to beat the game on Super difficulty if you need it.
  • Boss Banter: Every single one in the PS2 version. You can actually attack them while they're taunting.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Averted in the final stage of the arcade original. You can continue as many times as needed in previous levels, but here losing all your chances is Game Over, with no continue prompt. Quite a nasty surprise, really.
  • Brother-Sister Team: The two teens Shirogane and Akagane.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Hotsuma will yell "BURN!!" as he cast his jutsu. Hiruko too, but he could be justified being a warlock.
  • Canine Companion: Both Shadow Dancer games allow you to sic a white dog at enemies that would be very difficult to handle without the dog's help. The dog can distract some enemies to make them easy targets for the ninja.
  • Cherry Tapping: the essence of most of the older games, as getting close enough to use your blade is suicidal lest you're quite skilled... you spend most of your time at a distance, chucking shurikens like it's going out of style. Lampshaded by Joe's unique ability when he's unlocked in the PS2 game...see Bonus Feature Failure above.
  • Collision Damage: Subverted in some of the games, such as Revenge, where merely touching an enemy causes the protagonist to be knocked back but doesn't actually hurt him.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The Game Gear games had multiple playable ninjas each dressed in a different color with their own weapons and techniques.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: In Sonic the Comic. Shinobi was the first Sega game outside the Sonic the Hedgehog series to get a comic adaptation, and it was both faithful to the games' stories and suitably serious in tone.
  • Continuing Is Painful: In the Master System version of the original game, dying resets the length of your life bar down to its default, and brings you back down to the slow-shuriken weapon. The former can be particularly frustrating in levels 4-2 and 4-3, which feature bottomless pits.
  • Continuity Nod: Of sorts in the 3DS version. Enemies from past games like the Brain Mutants make an appearance, and one stage has Jiro board a Zeed warship identical to the one in the final level of Shinobi III.
  • Convection Schmonvection: The fourth area in the PS2 version is filled with lava pools and fire-spitting foes. Yet, Hotsuma has no problem whatsoever walking around. He's damaged only if he hits the magma.
  • Cyber Ninja: The Shadow Master.
  • Damsel in Distress: Naoko in Revenge of Shinobi, Aya in Shinobi Legions, and Kagari in the PS2 game.
  • Dangerous Technique: The MacGuffin in Shinobi Legions/X.
  • Dark Secret: The duel Hostuma fought with his brother Moritsune wasn't to decide the leadership of the Oboro, it was to give a soul to sate Akujiki. Hostuma isn't pleased to learn that, especially when by the end of the game we see that he has Akujiki to blame for all of his woes.
  • Defeat by Modesty: The Pink Dragon dancers from Revenge of Shinobi are one of the few enemies who don't explode when they die... instead, after nine hits, you knock their bra off and they surrender while desperately trying to cover up!
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: Enemies tend to explode when they die.
  • Degraded Boss: The Shadow Dancer (Boss of Stage 2 in Revenge) returns in Shinobi III as Stage 2's Mini-Boss.
  • Diagonal Cut: Whenever you manage to pull a Tate attack. Extremely satisfying if you manage to wipe out all enemies onscreen.
  • Difficulty by Region: The US version of the PS2 Shinobi removes Easy entirely and adds an extra "super" difficulty level.
  • Directionally Solid Platforms: In 2D games.
  • Dirty Coward: Hakuraku, who will summon ninja hounds and keep healing himself using scrolls from his magical box.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: The Sega Master System version of Shadow Dancer identifies the player character as "Fuma" in the attract sequence and "Takashi" in the manual.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Originally, Joe was not the most traditional ninja around. He didn't wear his headress-mask and he was a One-Hit-Point Wonder. The guy also went the high tech route when it came to his weapon power-up. When he powered-up, he exchanged his regular shurikens for a gun that shot rocket-propelled explosive shells. The flaming shurikens that he uses now are no less powerful but a lot less stylish and he's taken to covering his face.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Akujiki may look like a katana, but it's actually some sort of metaphysical parasite. It's so ancient that nobody remembers where it came from, it can remain dormant for centuries until it's awakened by the taste of blood, and it feeds on the concept of yin. It forces its host to slaughter enemies constantly to keep it fed, and will drain their soul if they neglect to satisfy it. Even Hellspawns are terrified of it, and for good reason.
  • Elemental Powers
  • Everything's Better with Samurai: Present in some of the games as enemies. Most prominent examples are the large Lobster Samurai that serve as a Boss Battle in the arcade game, Revenge, and Shinobi III.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: In addition to having a Punishing Steel Rain attack, Jiro can launch into a Jump-and-Slash off a double jump.
  • Evil Counterpart: In the PS2 Shinobi, the four Hellspawn Lords are actually twisted and dark counterparts of the Four Gods: eg Shirogumo stands for the White Tiger of west, and is a white Giant Spider with Tiger's head and earth powers. From the same game, Moritsune is one to Hotsuma, having many of the same attacks and abilities he later doubles up when he is possessed by Aomizuchi, who stands in for the Azure Dragon of the East.
    • The Shadow Master is this to Joe, especially since he was cloned from the Musashi bloodline.
  • Evil Plan: Hiruko is more interested in collecting souls than the Yatsurao. His actions are focused on collecting them, or getting the player to collect them for him. Nonetheless, the Yatsurao thing is the opening conflict.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Hiruko, especially in the boss fight with him.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Hiruko.
  • Evil Weapon: The sword Akujiki in the PS2-generation Shinobi feeds off the lifeforce of those it kills, and if not given fresh blood for too long, feeds off the wielder instead.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Hotsuma is aware that Akujiki's power will either force him to kill others to stay alive or die sealing it away. He chooses the latter, but not without slaying Hiruko first.
    Hotsuma: "I am prepared to face my fate."
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Jiro Musashi.
  • Flechette Storm
    • The Punishing Rain technique, from The Revenge of Shinobi onwards.
    • The Ninja Master in Shinobi III gained a flechette spray attack launched with a flick of his kabuki wig.
    • Also, the Shadow Master's Ninjitsu technique.
  • For Massive Damage: The PS2 game's Tate system tended to require human foes to be hit in the back for one-hit kills, while the massive Hellspawn Lord bosses had "taunt" phases to their attack patterns where they took hugely increased damage. Outside the US-only Super difficulty, every boss could be killed by Hotsuma in a single sword swing save the two iterations of the Blackhawk. Yes, even Shirogane and Akagane if attacked at the right time.
  • Full Motion Video: Shinobi X did this; specifically, the "live action cutscene" shtick used so extensively in The '90s.
  • Fuuma Shuriken: Kongou wields a gargantuan, kite-shaped shuriken that he uses as a shield and a flying saucer-like platform.
  • Genocide from the Inside: In the PS2 generation "Shinobi", Hiruko resurrects the remaining members of the Oboro Clan to fight Homura throughout the game after initially killing them so Hotsuma can collect their souls for his later usage. Hotsuma essentially has to kill off his clan members after they've already died.
  • Guide Dang It!: Killing the Ninja Master in Revenge of Shinobi can get like this, given he appears completely invulnerable and even the boss-killing Mijin magic deals no damage to him. As it turns out, you can only attack his body, which is usually protected by his deadly Kabuki hair — until he overextends it in his initial strike, which leaves an opening that Joe can throw a shuriken at... or even detonate a Mijin into.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Kazuma in Shinobi X pulls this, as he considers Sho a Worthy Opponent.
  • The Hero Dies: Hotsuma stays behind in a collapsing Golden Palace after killing Hiruko to seal Akujiki away for good.
  • Highly Visible Ninja: Hotsuma's scarf is designed to make him this so the player doesn't lose track of him during the action.
    • Lest we forget... Joe Musashi...a master ninja, fearsome shadow, all around badass... clad in WHITE.
    • Hibana doesn't do anything to be very stealthy either for the most part... as she too wears mostly white and has a scarf that trails ghostly pink.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Shadow Dancer on the Genesis uses faux-sequel numberings on its difficulty levels: level 2 and 3 change the title screen to Shadow Dancer II and III, respectively.
  • Improbable Use of a Weapon: In the 3DS Shinobi, Kunai are used as projectile weapons much like shuriken. Although not implausible in real life, Kunai were used primarily as tools and melee weapons (as depicted in Revenge of Shinobi and Shinobi III), seldom thrown. However in real life there are kunai-gata shuriken, ones that are shaped like kunai and are very much meant to be thrown.
  • Improbable Weapon User: A part from various weird shaped blades, we have Homura, who fights with a kiseru (pipe), Hakuraku, who uses a huge box full of scrolls, and Kogou, who uses his extra-spiky iron Geta in order to chain lightning bolts at you.
  • In Name Only: The Game Boy Advance version of The Revenge of the Shinobi is a completely different game from the original Genesis game.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Hotsuma's sword can cut a tank in half.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: In the early versions of Revenge of Shinobi, Musashi will fight against thinly-disguised pastiches of Rambo, The Terminator (or The Incredible Hulk, depending on how you look at it), Spider-Man, Batman, and even Godzilla as bosses. Unfortunately, the companies that made the characters started catching on, so shipment of the games was stopped in order to modify the sprite data. This happened at least 3-4 times, with each revision removing or altering the characters in question. By the time of the Wii re-release, Rambo was spriteswapped, Spider-Man was recolored pink, Batman was a mutated Devilman ripoff, and Godzilla's skin was peeled off. Yep, that's right: only the Terminator / Hulk survived.
    • Spider-Man was more of a Special Guest, as Sega originally obtained the rights to use him in another set of games. In fact, he was the only one of the aforementioned cameos who remained the same until the Wii re-release, since Sega no longer had the Spidey license by that time. Especially noted is that he does not die in the Boss Fight; rather, he climbs out of the picture after taking enough hits before the Batman/Devilman rip off moves in to take on Joe.
    • In Shinobi III, Mecha Godzilla is the fifth boss, making him the second Godzilla-related boss in the series.
    • In the prototype of Alex Kidd in Shinobi World, titled Kid Shinobi, one of the bosses was named Mari-oh, who looked like the mascot of a certain rival company dressed like a samurai. Said company wasn't amused by the joke Sega made at their expense, so Mari-oh was renamed Kabuto and his face was altered. However, he still attacks by throwing fireballs and shrinks after taking a few hits.
    • Here's a dialogue in a youtube comment section for an LP of Revenge of Shinobi:
      sandwichoftruthiness: So you're a ninja and so far you've fought Rambo clones, Terminator-Hulk, Spider-Man, Batman and Godzilla. Did Sega's CEO just write some fan-fiction and tell them to make it into a game?
      slowbeef: Does the "Tropes vs. Ninjas" title make sense now?
  • Legacy Character: In the 3DS Shinobi, it seems Shadow Master has become a title for the head of Zeed, as the one fought in this game is apparently the very first and is quite different from the Cyberninja in Shinobi III.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Moritsune when unlocked as playable character is faster and stronger than Hotsuma, but his yin meter drains more quickly causing him to need to kill more enemies to keep his health from being drained.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Ageha betrayed the Oboro Clan and broke the seal to release Hiruko, hoping that he would resurrect Moritsune, a childhood friend who saved her from having her soul absorbed by the Akujiki when they were children.
  • Made of Explodium: Every single enemy in Shadow Dancer.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Orn in the 3DS Shinobi is the real mastermind behind the attack on Jiro's village, and is controlling the Shadow Master (and therefore Zeed).
  • Market-Based Title
    • The Revenge of Shinobi is known as The Super Shinobi in Japan.
    • Shinobi III is named The Super Shinobi II (establishing its status as a sequel to Revenge).
    • Shin Shinobi Den is known as Shinobi Legions in America and Shinobi X in Europe.
    • The 3DS version is known as Shinobi 3D in Japan.
    • The Game Gear installments, The G.G. Shinobi and The G.G. Shinobi II are borderline examples, since the in-game titles remained the same (only the titles on the cover artworks were changed).
  • Master Swordsman: Kizane, who's blind but with keen senses and slices things using Razor Wind.
  • Minecart Madness: Happens in Shinobi Legions.
  • The Mole: Ageha in the PS2 Shinobi.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: Zeed and its successor Neo Zeed.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Gameplay example with the fight with Hiruko in the PS2 game. Hotsuma's attacks will only remove a sliver of Hiruko's health, so he can only reliably be killed with "TATE" attack. If Hiruko didn't summon minion to allow Hotsuma to do a "TATE" then he may well have been impossible.
  • Ninja: Obviously.
  • Not so Fast, Bucko!: In Shinobi Legions/X, the protagonist Sho spends the game trying to rescue his girlfriend Aya. You actually rescue her after only stage 4, and she even teaches you the secret to the ultimate Ninjutsu technique, but the Big Bad's ninjas were eavesdropping on you both so they could overhear the secret, and they recapture Aya after knocking her out with a cheap shot. So your mission to rescue Aya isn't over yet.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: The ending of Shinobi on 3DS has Jiro fall from space ALL THE WAY DOWN TO EARTH during the entirety of the credits. On fire. And then he walks away unscathed upon landing. Doubles with I Fell for Hours.
  • Notzilla: The Revenge of Shinobi features a boss battle against a Godzilla parody.
  • Obvious Beta: Sega once released a pack of poorly emulated Genesis games for PC. The Revenge of Shinobi was one of them and it was a beta build.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: The player dies in one hit in the original arcade versions of Shinobi and Shadow Dancer. This can be quite jarring to players more accustomed to the console versions, since even the Master System version of Shinobi gave the player a life gauge. The only console game in the series to retain the one hit rule was the Genesis version of Shadow Dancer.
  • Prehensile Hair: The Ninja Master, Final Boss of Revenge of Shinobi, uses his Kabuki hair as a weapon. When he returns in Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master as the penultimate boss, he takes this Up to Eleven, shooting a Flechette Storm from it.
  • Press X to Die: A self-destruct ninjitsu is featured, which kills or greatly damages everything on the screen and reduces a life from your total stock, while also giving you another use for a ninjitsu. There's nothing to stop you from using it while on your very last life.
  • Pyro Maniac: Homura in the PS2 game is very fond of roasting people.
  • Razor Wind: Kamaitachi no Jutsu.
  • Reality Ensues: In Revenge of Shinobi, falling into molten metal spells instant death, and getting hit by a car really hurts!
  • Recycled Title
    • The name Shinobi alone could apply to the original 1987 arcade game and its console variants, the first Game Gear title, the 2002 PlayStation 2 game starring Hotsuma, and the 2011 3DS game by Griptonite (aka Shinobi 3D).
    • The Revenge of Shinobi could apply to the 1989 Sega Genesis game (aka The Super Shinobi) or the 2002 Game Boy Advance game by 3D6 games.
  • Recycled In Space: The arcade version of ESWAT is pretty much Shadow Dancer with a RoboCop-esque setting. The Genesis version is more different, though.
  • Red Herring: Yatsurao.
  • Reformulated Game: The Genesis port of Shadow Dancer has the same gameplay as the arcade game, but with completely new stages.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Played straight and then subverted in Shadow Dancer. The original arcade game starred an unnamed ninja with no relation to the Musashi bloodline, but the Japanese Mega Drive version establishes to be Joe Musashi's son Hayate, where he is given an elaborate backstory of how he was estranged from his father in the manual. However, the English manual for the American and European version ditches that backstory in favor of just making the protagonist into Joe Musashi himself.
    • Similarly, in the Japanese version of Shinobi III the penultimate boss is Byakushishi ("White Lion"), who is supposed to be the Ninja Master's younger brother while Western releases makes him The Ninja Master instead.
  • Rocket Ride: Jiro performs one in a cutscene (off the plane you were fighting on no less) to reach the Zeed stratofortress.
  • The Ruins I Caused: The ending of Shinobi III, where Joe looks at the remains of Neo Zeed's aerial base from a cliff after it crashes into the ground.
  • Rule of Cool: Ninjas on surfboards in Shinobi III? Yes, please.
    • Riding on horseback at the beginning of stage 2.
      • On which said horse can do a diving KICK ...awesome
    • And Hotsuma's sword-parachuting, cutting tanks, missiles, and helicopters in half...
    • Hibana gets some nice moments too in a number of the cutscenes.
  • Save the Villain: At the end of Shinobi X, Sho attempts to do this for Kazuma, but Kazuma decides to save Sho and his girl instead, dying in the explosion he was responsible for.
  • Scarf Of Asskicking: Hotsuma's scarf in the PS2 titles.
    • They even tack one on Hibana - although hers isn't quite as epic, it does leave a rather cool 'ghost trail' effect.
    • Hell, they tack one on JOE in his model for PS2... it doesn't trail or get brushlike....but it's the principle that matters.
    • Jiro Musashi sports one.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Hiruko at first and then Yatsurao, a demonic living statue powered by the souls of the victims of all the earthquakes that struck Tokyo in the past.
  • Sequel Number Snarl: The Genesis games go from Revenge of Shinobi to Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi to Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master. Shinobi III is the true sequel to Revenge of Shinobi and features the same gameplay system, while Secret of Shinobi is actually a loose remake of the arcade's Shadow Dancer which kept the arcade version's one-hit-point-per-life system.
  • Signs of Disrepair: A neon sign in the PS2 game reads "SKILL UP" before the battle begins. As the boss walks towards you, the "S" and "P" short out, and the sign reads "KILL U".
  • Shout-Out: An organization named "Zeed"? An enemy named "Ken-oh"? Someone must have been watching too much Hokuto no Ken when they made the game.
  • Soul Eating: The Akujiki in the 2002 game. It feeds on the souls of those that are slain by it, and it can and will also feed on the soul of its wielder should he fail to keep it sated.
  • Spoiler Title: Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master. The Ninja Master, the Final Boss of The Revenge of Shinobi indeed returns, albeit as the penultimate boss.
  • Stepping Stones in the Sky: Round 6 of Shinobi III is set entirely on a series of falling rocks in a chasm.
  • Suicide Attack / Taking You with Me / Action Bomb: The Art of Mijin sets off an explosion fuelled by Joe's lifeforce (i.e. one life) that'll wipe out Mooks and inflict heavy damage on Bosses. Also, for the longer stretches, it's a great way to avoid having to do a level from closer to the starting point - if you're going to die, might as well do it without having to do everything over again, no?
    • But if you try to do it when you don't have any lives left, this can fall right into Explosive Stupidity.
  • Super Drowning Skills: In the revenge of shinobi, in the first 2 acts of the Tokyo stage (rocky canyon near Tokyo and Tokyo itself), the second act of the Detroit stage (car factory), the second act of the Area Code 818 stage (freeway), the first act of the New York stage (the docks), and the first act of the Neo Zeed Marine Stronghold stage (the mariner), Joe is killed instantly if he falls in water.
  • Super Mode: Again, the Shadow Master after he charges up.
  • Take That!
    Loading Screen: Everyone knows real ninjas eat chicken, not pizza.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Sho in Legions does this to save Aya from getting backstabbed.
  • Time Bomb: Non-boss levels in the arcade version of Shadow Dancer are littered with these, justifying the missions' time limits.
  • Timed Mission: The arcade version of Shadow Dancer has a timer justified by the time bombs that are placed throughout non-boss levels.
  • To Be Continued: We are told this after the credits in Shinobi III, but Joe's story isn't continued at all in the other games.
  • The Un-Reveal: That the Malevolent Masked Man alongside Hiruko is Moritsune is painfully obvious. That Aomizuchi was possessing him, however, wasn't so obvious...
  • We Can Rule Together: Kazuma tries this in the final stage of Shinobi Legions. This example differs from most Video Game examples of this trope, as Sho automatically says no.
  • A Winner Is You: The ending in the arcade Shinobi wasn't anything special to begin with, but it sure beats the Master System port, which awards the player with a blank Game Over screen (the same one you can get for losing the game).
  • Womb Level: The second half of level 3 in Shinobi III.
  • Yuki Onna: Jiro has to fight one at the end of the first level.

Alternative Title(s): Shadow Dancer, The Revenge Of Shinobi, The Cyber Shinobi, Shadow Dancer The Secret Of Shinobi, The GG Shinobi, The GG Shinobi Part II The Silent Fury, Shinobi III Return Of The Ninja Master, Shinobi Legions


Example of: