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Soulstar

Retro Game Club - January 20’ : Shadow Dancer

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Well, it's a brand new year and of course along with that comes a brand new winning entry for the start of 2020 in the form of classic side scrolling ninja action platformer Shadow Dancer (1989). I managed to miss out on adding my own vote, however it was actually going to be Shadow Dancer anyway. Seems we had quite a few votes this time which is good but SD was pretty much a strong winner. This one is definitely a ports type with it being available on numerous platforms including the Arcade, Amiga, Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Master System, ZX Spectrum. After a quick glance on Wiki, it seems that Shadow Dancer is actually the original Shinobi and that the Genesis games are sequels. Someone can possibly ellaborate on that as I'm not too sure. I think I might just stick with the original and try out some ports. I once had the Atari ST version in the early 90's so I might even see what that's like again. 

 

256px-ShadowDancer_Arcade01.jpg 

 

sdancer-1-320x224.png

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I mentioned this in the polling thread, but there's Shadow Dancer (multiplatform) and Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi for Mega Drive. Like ESWAT, I'll probably play both versions, but I imagine I'll spend more time with regular Shadow Dancer because I'll be looking at the different ports and stuff...

 

Also it's worth finding PDF manuals or GameFAQs entries online for whatever version you're playing - many versions only give you one or two buttons and you need to know things like:

 - jumping to higher platforms

 - dog attack

 - super move... er, I mean ninja magic

 

I think most of the commands on consoles are up/down and one of the buttons. Things like the home micro versions (with their one-button sticks) may be different!

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I've never really liked this - played the MD version - and much prefer Shinobi, but I'll give it a whirl on the Switch.

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7 hours ago, ulala said:

Can I play the pal Megadrive cart on an ntsc system?

 

Seems to be a worldwide cartridge, plus having just set up my MD in NTSC mode and loaded up the game with EU region set, the answer seems to be yes. 

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Despite promising myself I'd go back to RE0 and not really being grabbed by SCIV (once again) and wanting to give it another bash, I spent a bit of time playing this today.

 

I can get through the first three sets of levels relatively easy because I had a brief dalliance with the game a couple of months back. Like ESWAT, it's very much a game of progressing slowly and patiently. I do feel that level 4-1 does start throwing perhaps a  it too much at the player at the cost of taking some of the fun out of it but maybe I just need to get better.

 

It's a lovely game and looks brilliant.

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The Megadrive version is my favourite Shinobi game... been a few years since I’ve played it so I’m up for this!

 

It’ll be interesting to see how different the Arcade version is, I’ve only had a quick shot of that many moons ago...

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Interestingly, during AGDQ next week someone will be running through the entire game in 15 minutes.

 

:blink2:

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Just died on room 4 of - what I assume to be - the last set of levels.

 

Those red ninjas are fuckers.

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On 02/01/2020 at 06:22, Soulstar said:

After a quick glance on Wiki, it seems that Shadow Dancer is actually the original Shinobi and that the Genesis games are sequels. Someone can possibly ellaborate on that as I'm not too sure.

 

I made this today. It’s nowhere near as confusing as the Wonder Boy series, but the timeline finally made sense to me when I plotted it out in full.

 

0D4E57C6-09EF-452D-B762-3A135E87B873.thumb.jpeg.b23d2cbb80ab16157995310577842b37.jpeg

 

I’m not very familiar with the series, so I went with what Wikipedia suggested are the main games in the series. I believe the PS2 game is a sort of reboot of the series as well, but I didn’t denote it in the graph for the sake of simplicity.

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I used to work with a brilliant guy called Greg Hounsom. Came from Braintree. Very passionate guy. Worked for Acclaim, Sony, Midway, Crystal Dynamics. Producer on Killzone series and later Tomb Raider. Not in the industry anymore. The Sony years took it out of him I think.

He was a BIG MD fan. Had every issue of "Mean Machines" - had letters printed in it. 

 

"Shadow Dancer" was his game. He brought his Nomad IIRC into the office one day. He said he could finish the game on one life.

Well, I love things like that, and I love it when people can brazenly RULE on a game.

So I called him on it, hooked up the game to a big TV - and he did it. He actually did it. All the way through. Not breaking a sweat. He'd played it so much it was like muscle memory for him.

Quite wonderful to see. So whenever I see that game, I always think of him. 

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I’m hoping my megadrive copy arrives today. 
 

cant wait!

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Quick tip (MD): your magic is restored after each level. So don't feel you have to hang on to it if you're surrounded by red ninjas in, say, 2-2, as once you reach 2-3 you'll have it back again. Note however, this does not apply to the rooms of stage 5. You've only got one magic blast for all of those rooms.

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13 minutes ago, Droo said:

It arrived!

75174047-01F2-4330-8DE5-E88E4706B7A9.jpeg

5F4A62F0-8182-4E8C-95C8-05EF81B1B040.jpeg


looks in good condition too!

 

 

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At the time Shadow Dancer felt like a decent sequel to Shinobi despite it having arguably less character and more brutal gameplay with its larger sprites, claustrophobic levels and very little breathing room in general - exemplified nicely with its bonus levels being literally a gang of dudes jumping down on top of your head from a tall building. I always liked its change of musical pace even though its OST is nowhere near as strong as Shinobi's iconic soundtrack (little is though to be fair). I've never gotten close to beating it and find it really frustrating to play via emulation these days because the input lag situation with my available options for MAME somewhat sucks the fun out.

 

The MD version is a great little game, really tightly designed and like ESWAT does a lot with its 512K ROM size. I never owned it as a kid and only got around to properly sitting down and playing it some time last year.

 

Working out strategies for level progression was great fun but I didn't manage to beat the final boss; his main attack seemed reasonably avoidable but I never quite cracked doing him without taking a hit.

 

The music of the Statue of Liberty / Final level seemed cut from the same cloth as 2-2 of the arcade version and is incredible to my ears, a true stand out Mega Drive classic. The bonus levels were a missed opportunity in this version though with the best option being to ignore them completely.

 

I'll see if I can get back into the MD game and cross it off my list once and for all. As a kid I was pretty disappointed with the SMS port, ending up taking it back to the shop and exchanging it for Cloud Master.

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9 minutes ago, ulala said:


looks in good condition too!

 

 


no manual sadly. But it was only a tenner. 

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Had a quick blast. Harder than I remember - finished first level including fairly cheap first boss. 
 

Dog is pretty useless though...

 

It’s pretty slow, PAL-wise too. 

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Got really vivid memories of playing this on a cab in the chippy round the corner from my nans when i was a kid, so was quite eager to play it again to be honest, not sure I've touched it in years. 

 

Feels a bit stiff in mame, couple of frames off every now and again, but maybe im just awful at it. Eventually got to 3-4 but trying to time those jumps in the sewer in 3-3 is getting to me a bit and then brigette neilsen just keeps doing me in. Good game, although i think im going to struggle beating it without some serious save states or dozens of credits. 

 

These retro game clubs dont half make you realise just how much years of work/kids/booze have really depleted reaction time tbh 

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32 minutes ago, Wonderm said:

These retro game clubs dont half make you realise just how much years of work/kids/booze have really depleted reaction time tbh 


And just, well, the ageing process 

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2 hours ago, Wonderm said:

These retro game clubs dont half make you realise just how much years of work/kids/booze have really depleted reaction time tbh 

 

I used to think this too until I got back into using real hardware and a CRT. It's really bought home how even a couple of frames of lag was enough to convince me I'd lost some basic skills. 

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3 hours ago, Wonderm said:

These retro game clubs dont half make you realise just how much years of work/kids/booze have really depleted reaction time tbh 


Ha!

 

Not me, Guv. I’m as with it as I was when I was...

 

zzz... zzz... zzz...

 

...  what was I saying?  Where am I?

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I have a feeling that this game is a lot shorter than I imagined, it’s definitely more arcade game than home console game

 

there is a useful level select on the MegaDrive version

 

(a+b+c together and start)

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I've just completed the original 1989 arcade game, and I must admit I have very mixed feelings about the game.

 

It's a really accomplished game, tech-wise. The game runs on Sega's System 18 board, which apparently is a beefed-up System 16, and it really shows. It's not a graphical showcase like Super Scaler games, of course, but there is some impressive sprite work here, and the vaguely gamelan-like soundtrack is really interesting and a real step up from the original Shinobi soundtrack. Gameplay-wise, the addition of your dog as a weapon to distract enemies is an interesting touch; level design is good as well--there's a surprisingly amount of variation throughout the four chapters, and you don't really know what to expect at every level.

 

It sounds interesting on paper, but in practice it's a very frustrating game. Like with the Mega Drive ESWAT, the game reminds me of Ghosts 'n' Goblins, as it's not really an action game, but a puzzle/strategy game that just happens to be structured upon an action game template. Timing, reflexes, and anticipation are important skills, but there is not a lot of freedom to advance through the levels and the game is not forgiving at all.

 

What makes it especially annoying is that Joe Musashi himself doesn't feel like a ninja. He controls really stiffly, and what's worse--he's really fragile. If you're hit, that's it: you have to start again from the beginning of the level. Bosses in particular feel cheap: every boss battle starts off really abruptly, and they quickly become incredibly tense (in a bad way), as any mistake will cost you a life.

 

In many ways, I feel like it's a better game than the arcade ESWAT, but it's much less fun. I don't think I'll play it again, but I'm looking forward to the Master System port and the Mega Drive game.

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Clocked this last night, it had been annoying me. I normally don't spam credits on mame just to get through games but had to on this, i was struggling too much. Think it was a mixture of slight lag and being a bit shit in the end. 

 

Anyway afterwards i was thinking about just how long it had been since i first played it and now I've finally cleared it. Fucking years! I might start going through all the other old games i got nowhere near finishing and start using some save states. 

 

Good game i think, albeit pretty unfair at times. Wouldn't mind trying the saturn one next, never even played it. 

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