aka: SEGA AGES: Shinobi
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Description official descriptions

You control a shinobi, Joe Musashi, who must battle his way through each level in search of hostages which must be rescued. You have shurikens, kicks and punches to defend yourself with, as well as powerful ninja magic which can clear the screen of enemies in one go.

Each level is broken down into smaller scenes, and hostages are guarded by big blokes who throw swords. Watch out for gun-toting enemy henchmen and ninjas.

Reaching the end of each level will find you battling it out with a boss. These range from 8ft tall giants to helicopter gunships.


  • 忍 - Japanese spelling

Groups +



Credits (Arcade version)

12 People (10 developers, 2 thanks)

  • Sugachan 26
  • Wagamama Kenchi
  • Topi
  • Gyofunori
  • Hanachan
  • Super Haggar
  • Fanta JiJii
  • Yamiagari
  • Shinjuku Otoko
Special Thanks
  • Pachinker Uke
  • Ponchan 25
Music Composer



Average score: 74% (based on 55 ratings)


Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 133 ratings with 7 reviews)

Always in a special place in our hearts!

The Good
I was too young and innocent to go the Arcades back in the day, at least I had this!

The Bad
Yes, you guessed it. It's a poor port to the PC, like so many others back in those days...

The Bottom Line
This platform game is the conversion of Sega’s legendary coin-op. We are the lone ninja with the task of uprooting a terrorist network and rescuing its hostages. In order to achieve these, we have to succeed in five demanding missions.

The graphics are simple and basic, obviously nowhere near today’s standards. However, they give a positive impression and look inviting. The only sound available is a tune heard in the beginning and a few sound effects during playing.

The game is generally faithful to its ancestor’s structure and content. We will explore similar, but smaller, levels and face the same ‘Bosses’ in the end of every mission. The minor enemies are also close to the originals. We will encounter unarmed thugs, pistol carrying guards, ninjas and boomerang throwing hostage keepers. We attack with our throwing stars, punches and kicks. When enough hostages are rescued, we are rewarded with a bazooka and a sword. Once in every level we can use our ‘Ninja Magic’, this powerful aura kills every lesser foe in the screen, and inflicts serious damage to the ‘Bosses’. After the completion of each mission, we enter the ‘Bonus Stage’. There, with our shurikens, we have to put down all the enemy ninjas that are rushing to reach us. If we succeed, we earn an extra life.

There are still some important gameplay differences with the arcade game. Three pushes from an enemy are lethal. We can not throw more than two shurikens at a time. When we are kneeled down and shoot, we rise up enough to get hit by hostile shots. Finally, “Ninja Magic” does not destroy enemy fire.

The game manages to capture the essence and feeling of the original. It is simply addictive. Eagerly, we struggle to overcome difficulties, liberate new hostages and strike the weak points of the ‘Bosses’. The eight available lives may initially look too many, but soon this observation is withdrawn. Although the game does not have the machine’s coin devouring difficulty, it is undoubtedly very challenging. The player has to be vigilant and concentrated all the time. Fast reflexes and accuracy in the controlling of our ninja are enormously important. Without them, great loss of lives will be sustained even in the easiest levels.

After all these years, “Shinobi” still stands out with its playing quality and environment. A highly recommended selection for every friend of this genre, indeed.

DOS · by Iron Lord (40) · 2016

One of the classic platformers, classic arcade game

The Good
So Namco's Rolling Thunder was released in late '86 and introduced the "leap up/drop down" platforming idea, used in Shinobi a year later. You played a spy in Rolling Thunder and play an unmasked ninja in Shinobi and can slip behind enemies and their defenses and beat them. I think Shinobi is an improvement, better background graphics, enemies and bosses and you have short range attacks as well as long, but like Rolling Thunder, the game plays quite fairly, your ninja is quite fast and maneuverable. The game has good, Japanese-rock, background music.

The Bad
I can't think of anything specific, but the game certainly isn't perfect. I can't complain too much about how hard the game becomes later, when so many other games are tough right from the start.

The Bottom Line
A classic arcade platformer, with interesting gameplay, introducing or at least building on some ideas.

Arcade · by Andrew Fisher (695) · 2018

A “modified port” of the original game

The Good
In Shinobi, you play a ninja who goes around killing members of the Neo Zeed organization with your shurikens while rescuing children, who are guarded by huge dudes that wear purple outfits and throw swords at you. There are five stages with four levels each (three in the first stage). The fourth stage is where you defeat a boss, which will take numerous hits to kill. Now and then, you have the opportunity to play a bonus stage, where you must kill off ninjas before they decide to jump down at you. The levels get tougher as you proceed.

The Master System port retains the same gameplay as the original version, but there are a few changes to the port. One main difference is the life bar that depletes every time you make contact with an enemy or the bullets that he fires at you. This life bar is useful if you don't really want to restart at the beginning of the level whenever you get killed. Another difference is when you rescue one of the children, you get a freebie such as a new weapon (swords, nunchakus, etc.), power-ups, more life, and maximum life.

In my opinion, the graphics are much closer to that of the coin-op version, despite the low resolution and the number of colors that the game uses. They even look good when you are walking through neighborhoods, shipyards, valleys, and temples. The characters and bosses look good, and they act as they should.

The sound is very good, especially if you have the FM chip included in the SMS. I like the sound when you decide to jump to a different platform, whether you jump up or down. I also enjoyed the sound that can be heard after rescuing a child.

The Bad
The music gets boring after a while, since it is the same background music for each level. The coin-op version has some nice tunes that could have been translated over to the SMS port, rather than just having the one tune while you are fighting off ninjas. If this was so, than the translated tunes would have sounded great with the FM chip.

I have no idea how to use ninja magic like in the coin-op version, as well as other ports. The ninja magic is useful for defeating bosses at the end of each stage. SMS users have to put up with hitting them with shurikens or some other weapon, which is slow compared to the ninja magic. Then again, there are only two buttons on the Master System's control pad. Button one is used for shooting, while button two is used for jumping. If there was a third button, then it would certainly have been used for ninja magic. Yes, using ninja magic in the SMS version is impossible.

The Bottom Line
Shinobi for the Master System is a decent port from the coin-op version. You can do the same things that you can do in the coin-op version, minus using the ninja magic to defeat bosses. In both versions, you have to kill anyone that stands in your way and rescue the children, who will award you with something in the SMS port. There's also a bonus stage where the objective is to kill ninjas before one of them jumps on you.

SEGA Master System · by Katakis | カタキス (43051) · 2005

[ View all 7 player reviews ]


1001 Video Games

The Arcade version of Shinobi appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Arcade Version

In comparison to the original arcade version, there are a few missing features in the TurboGrafx-16 version (the status of the other home conversions is unknown): the machine gun, the bonus round and a few enemies (including the boss of the second mission).

Hidden messages

The Amiga version contains this message to crackers, hidden within the game code:

Fuck me! I never thought you would do it!! Bet it took a long time though!

By the way, the only way to crack this game is if you have at least 4mb of fast ram... theres a hint! Are you enjoying this, by the way? Me (Richard Aplin) and Tim (the programmer) thought we might give you a little challange... I reckon I'll hold you off for about a week. Oh, by the way Quartex, you told me at the SAE party this would be EASY.. Well is it? I'm sure POPULOUS was easy too! (hehe)

Well, obviously you weren't fooled earlier!! I'm impressed! Not a bad bit of hacking.. but the best is yet to come!! Hehehehehe.. Just wait, cos now it gets REALLY good..

If you are reading this message on a pirated version of Shinobi, may all your days in prison be computerless!


Shinobi in Japanese means: stealing (into); spy; sneak thief; surreptitious visit to house of ill repute. The Chinese character displayed on the title screen and throughout the game is the character for Shinobi in Japanese.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Macintrash.

Wii added by sgtcook. SEGA Master System, NES added by PCGamer77. Nintendo Switch added by Kam1Kaz3NL77. Atari ST, ZX Spectrum added by Martin Smith. Arcade added by Pseudo_Intellectual. MSX added by Игги Друге. Xbox 360 added by Ben K. Amiga, Amstrad CPC, TurboGrafx-16, Commodore 64 added by Katakis | カタキス.

Additional contributors: Katakis | カタキス, chirinea, Игги Друге, Cantillon, Patrick Bregger, Thomas Thompson, Jo ST, FatherJack.

Game added July 4th, 2000. Last modified September 17th, 2023.