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Shinobi - ARC - USA - Marquee.svg

Arcade - USA - Marquee.

Developer Sega
Publisher Sega
Published 1987-11-16
Platforms Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Arcade, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, MSX, NES, Master System, TurboGrafx-16, ZX Spectrum
Genres Beat 'em up, Platformer, Platform shooter
Themes Action, Martial Arts, Science Fiction, Ninjas
Series Shinobi
Multiplayer Alternating versus
Distribution Commercial

Shinobi is a cross between a platform shooter and beat 'em up with a ninja theme developed and published by Sega for the arcade in 1987-11-16. It was built for the System 16 board and then ported to the majority of platforms of the day, though, strangely, not the Genesis.

In the game, you play the ninja Joe Musashi who must fight his way through various stages rescuing hostage children who have been kidnapped by a terrorist organization named Zeed.



My first memory of Shinobi was at the arcade room in Lakeland Arena in the late 1980s. Since my parents never game me quarters, I never played it myself, but I enjoyed watching other people play it. I thought the game looked pretty cool, but nobody who played it ever got very far into the game. Very rarely someone would beat the first boss, and only once did I ever see someone beat the bonus round. Years later, with the help of Sega arcade emulator, I was able to play the game through by giving myself tons of credits. I now see it as an important platformer, but unfairly difficult.


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4 4 7 6 4

Best Version: Arcade

— This section contains spoilers! —


  • The game is technically advanced for the day.
  • The graphics and animation are well made.
  • Yasuhiro Kawakami composed a good soundtrack for the game.
  • Ninjas were really popular in the late 1980s, and this game delivered. There are ninja stars, swords, guns, and scary Japanese bosses, etc. The various ninja magic animations are especially cool.
  • I like that merely touching an enemy doesn't kill you like so many other games at the time.
  • The depth mechanic where you can jump from the background to the foreground is a cool trick and it makes the stages more interesting.
  • One of the Marilyn Monroe posters has an oddly-placed mole as a joke.


  • Only being able to take a single hit before dying isn't unusual for an 80s action game, but it's still pretty ridiculous.


  • Like most arcade games, Shinobi is meant to eat quarters. In the later stages, the game play becomes extremely unfair. There are all sorts of enemies that dart across the screen faster than most players can react requiring dozens of failed play-throughs before you can memorize the game.


Box Art





Longplay - Arcade.
Longplay - NES.

Play Online

Arcade, Master System, MS-DOS, PC Engine, NES


Strong female character?FailThere are no women.
Bechdel test?FailThere are no women.
Strong person of color character?PassEveryone is Japanese including the hero, Joe Musashi.
Queer character?FailThere are no queer characters.


Language Native Transliteration Translation
English Shadowgate
Japanese Shinobu Ninja


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