For the first time that I can remember, the WiiWare update was looked forward to by a lot of people. Nintendo’s usually secretive about their plans for their games (as proven way back in ’08, when they pulled an end-around on three companies as retribution for them leaking their updates early), but we knew ahead of time that a well anticipated game – Muscle March – was coming today. We’ll tell you more about that title in a little bit, but that’s the lead title in what might be the best week Nintendo’s had for their download services in a long time.
Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
Original System: Sega Genesis
Original Release Date: 06/01/1991
Price: 800 Wii Points/$8
Alexander Lucard: As much as I really enjoyed the Genesis version of this game, I strongly prefer the arcade game, especially for the first person bonus stage rounds which are oddly missing in the Genesis version but ARE INTACT IN THE MASTER SYSTEM PORT. Go figure.
This is a simple side scrolling beat ’em up where a master of ninjitsu and his trained attack dog run around killing bad guys, evil ninjas and fighting on a platform against a guy wielding magic energy from his fists while the Statue of Liberty stares at you. It’s a well made, albeit simple game that I had a lot of fun with as a kid. It’s not as good as the other Genesis Shinobi titles, but it does have that killer dog going for it.
Mark B.: Shinobi Shadow Dancer is the second game that I can clearly remember beating on its hardest difficulty setting, the first being The Amazing Spider-Man Versus the Kingpin. As such, it’s not hard for me to say that OH YES I liked this game a whole lot. At its core, it’s Shinobi with a dog, and as such, is a bit more in-depth than the original game, but not as in-depth as Revenge of Shinobi. You move in a direction, jump in different directions, kill bad guys and save hostages, at the end of every section there’s a boss to kill, and you kill ninjas in bonus stages that involve sky-diving off of a building for… some reason.
Of the Genesis games, Shinobi Shadow Dancer is by no means as good as Revenge of Shinobi, but it’s easily on par with, if not better than, Shinobi III. The game environments are artistically pleasant and well designed and the game looks pretty cool for a 16-bit title, and it’s a good, solid challenge thanks to the one-hit kills and the abundance of enemies in each stage. Shinobi Shadow Dancer is essentially an updated Shinobi with a dog, but it’s a good update of a classic game, and it’s worth your money, I’d say.
Aileen Coe: Shadow Dancer is your basic beat ’em up wherein you walk right, attack with throwing stars (or sword if you’re in close range) and your dog, and rescue hostages along the way. It’s not especially complex in terms of game mechanics or plot (of which it has virtually none), but it doesn’t really need to be. At eight bucks, it’s not a bad investment. Though you can also find this game on the Sega Genesis Collection, but oddly not in Sonic’s Ultimate Collection.
Christopher Bowen: I really like Shadow Dancer; it’s got very good Shinobi gameplay to go along with the added game mechanic of the dog, which helps out tremendously if used properly. It’s been stated that this isn’t as good as the other Shinobi titles, but it’s still a very good sidescrolling platformer, especially when you consider when it was made. I wish it was a little less expensive than $8, which seems a bit high, but Nintendo’s not going to change their asinine pricing scheme anytime soon.
For some reason, this game couldn’t be released in Germany, the same country that’s screwed up a lot of international releases (like Football Manager), which is what caused Sega to pull the plug on the game for Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection. However, it’s available on the Playstation’s and PSP’s compilation discs, for people that like a little bit more bite for their dollar.
Compared to Muscle March, Shadow Dancer doesn’t seem too exciting, but it’s still a good game. However, it can’t beat a bunch of scantly clad muscle men, a scantly clad muscle woman, and a polar bear in a Speedo chasing after protein thieves. The gameplay looks exciting, and the game is certainly not short of personality. Best of all, it’s only $5. We will have a full review of the game sometime within the next week.
In addition to Muscle March, there’s also some very, very good games that I fear might get overshadowed. DSiWare has some outstanding titles, starting with Dark Void Zero. Younger gamers might not remember, but back in the early 90s, Nintendo had arcade cabinets that featured choice Nintendo titles called the Playchoice-10. For each quarter, gamers were allowed to play a set amount of time – usually five minutes – of up to ten Nintendo games; here is a shot of Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!!, being played via this system. Notice the upper screen? On those old systems, that allowed you to choose the games, and when you had a game chosen, they gave instructions for gameplay. Capcom was developing a game that used the upper screen interactively, but when the arcade system was discontinued, the game was canceled. To advertise their new game Dark Void for the bigger consoles, they’ve released Dark Void Zero in conjunction, as a regular DSi game. The game’s big brother might be getting mixed reviews, but the DS game looks *VERY* interesting. I hope it comes to a system I own, but considering how on-fire Capcom was in those days, this looks like a sure-fire winner. Dark Void Zero is $5, which is the same price as any other NES game on the VC.
In addition, the DSiWare system is also getting Chronos Twins, essentially the little brother of last week’s Chronos Twins DX, which is essentially a marriage of Mega Man and Braid. Chronos Twins is $5 as well. There’s also Me And My Dogs: Friends Forever, an $8 game from Gameloft that seems like a cheap Nintendogs wannabe, Starship Defense, which seems intent, at $5, on beating the tower defence genre into the ground, and the WiiWare has The Amazing Brain Train!, another set of IQ test minigames for $6. Really, though, if you like video games at all and buy any of these three games before you buy Chronos Twins or Dark Void Zero, you either have a young child, or there’s something wrong with you.
In conclusion, this is an amazing week for all of Nintendo’s services. Even ignoring what we all agree is a good game on the Virtual Console, the three top games released this week – Muscle March, Dark Void Zero and Chronos Twins – all cost $15 combined. That’s a lot of quality gaming for less than I personally spend on dinner most nights. Amazing.
Until next week, this is Christopher Bowen, who is now DESPERATELY trying to get his Wii to get online so he can purchase these games. Damn USB dongle…
Christopher Bowen is the News Editor at Diehard GameFAN. He has also written for Talking About Games, Daily Games News and Not A True Ending in his six years of working as a journalist in the industry, and is a frequent guest on the Post Game Report podcast. He specializes in issues relating to industry business, politics and law. Prior to joining the games industry, Christopher worked in IT as a Network Security Engineer and spent four years in the United States Navy, fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom before separating in 2004. He is engaged to Associate Editor Aileen Coe.