Retro Game of the Day! The GG Shinobi
Shinobi for Game Gear, Sega's OG portable System, released in 1991.
Oh, poor little Sega Game Gear. Don't know if you really qualify as "little," I mean the thing was rather huge especially if a small-ish kid was trying to play the thing. Even so, Sega's 8-Bit portable system has not been treated too kindly by history. Like the console Sega Master System which (indirectly) preceded it, this device has been largely forgotten and nearly escapes most modern lists when discussing retrogaming nowadays. Fear not, wistful Game Gear fans, for Retro Game of the Day has you covered...
In spite of the rest of the universe's neglect, some would say that the Game Gear actually sported some pretty decent software during its heyday. GG Shinobi would have to rank up there among the best it had to offer.
The game was basically a sized-down sequel to an earlier Sea Genesis 16-Bit hit, The Revenge of Shinobi. Big shoes to fill - especially since there was a significant hardware downgrade to contend with. Sega handled the job quite well, and rather than rehash what had come before, we got a whole new adventure.
I must shamefully admit at this point that I've never got too far with this game - in fact, many of the Shinobi games pretty much sent me home crying after a point. I think the only one I properly trounced was Revenge - but every other iteration (including this one) showed me the door. I guess I used up all my ninja skills on the Ninja Gaiden NES games - to be fair, I never owned a game gear myself, and so I didn't ever put in the appropriate time necessary to put GG Shinobi through its paces.
At any rate, the game closely resembles the Revenge mold with a few twists - round order is now selectable (Mega Man fashion) and when you beat a level, you free a captive ninja who will join your team. Each ninja has a unique special ability (Pink Ninja - ahem - can throw bombs and stick to ceilings, while Blue ninja is a master of the grappling hook, and so forth). This is very cool and mixes the whole Shinobi formula up quite a bit.
To wrap up, as I've never got too far through the game I can't promise that it's a completely fulfilling experience, but based on the game's pedigree I will give it the benefit of the doubt. In fact, when i have some free time (oh, in about 4 or 5 years from now.. you know, when I am in prison, or something) this and GB Zelda are near the top of my play-through list!
Make sure to download Headcase Games' original release of iFist while it is still FREE for the holidays!
(iTunes Link Here)