Codex Gamicus

Shadow Dancer (シャドー・ダンサー?) is a side-scrolling action game released by Sega as a coin-operated video game in 1989. It is the arcade sequel to the original Shinobi. The player takes the role of a ninja who must thwart a terrorist plot with the help of his canine companion. A heavily altered Mega Drive version was also released in 1991, titled Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi (シャドー・ダンサー ザ・シークレット・オブ・シノビ?).


The player takes control of a ninja who must thwart a terrorist plot to plant time bombs in various parts of a city. The game has four rounds, with the first round consisting of three stages and the remaining rounds of four stages each, for a total of 15 stages. The first few stages of each round has the player collecting the time bombs that are being guarded by the terrorists. In order to complete these stages, the player must collect all the time bombs and then reach the exit at the end. The player will then confront a boss at the final stage of each round. Between rounds the player will participate in bonus rounds where the player must shoot at ninjas falling from a building from their character's point of view.

Gameplay screenshot.

The play controls and rules are identical to the original Shinobi. The player can shoot shurikens, jump between higher or lower levels, walk while crouching, and even perform a ninja art. Like in the original Shinobi, the main character's attacks become stronger as he disarms bombs throughout each stage. The main addition to the game mechanics is the companion dog accompanying the main character. By holding the shoot button and then releasing it, the dog will bite the nearest enemy, allowing the player to attack him while he's vulnerable. However, if the player takes to long to attack the enemy while their companion dog is attacking, the enemy will harm the dog and he will turn into a small harmless pup for a limited period. The player is allowed to continue at any round after losing all their lives. If the player continues, their character will receive an additional ninja art.

Home versions[]

Mega Drive / Genesis[]

The Mega Drive version of Shadow Dancer, fully titled Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi, was released on December 1, 1990 in Japan, with subsequent releases in North America and Europe. The Mega Drive version was rereleased as Virtual Console game for the Wii and is included in the Sega Genesis Collection for PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable.

The main character's identity, originally a nameless ninja in the coin-op game, differs between the supplement materials of the Mega Drive version. In the Japanese version, the ninja was given the name Hayate (疾風?), who is identified as the biological son of Joe Musashi from the original Shinobi, whereas in the English localization the ninja is actually Joe Musashi himself. The companion dog is named Yamato (大和?) in both versions. According to the back-story of both versions, the main character sought to avenge the death of a man named Kato, who was Hayate's mentor in the Japanese version and Musashi's student in the English version.[1][2]

While the basic gameplay remained basically unchanged from the original coin-op game, the Mega Drive features all new stages and bosses, and a slightly different objective: instead of looking for time bombs, the player must now rescue hostages scattered around each stage. The bonus rounds were also changed from a first-person minigame to one in which the player must shoot down ninjas below them while skydiving from a building.

Other versions[]

A Master System version of Shadow Dancer was released exclusively in Europe and Brazil in 1991. Unlike its 16-bit counterpart, this version was a direct port of the coin-op game. The coin-op game was also ported to various home computer platforms by U.S. Gold.


The Genesis version was reviewed in 1991 in Dragon #172 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 5 out of 5 stars.[3]


  1. Shadow Dancer at Sega of Japan's Virtual Console website (Japanese). Sega.
  2. Sega. Shadow Dancer. Sega Genesis. Level/area: Instruction manual, page 2.
  3. Lesser, Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk (August 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (172): 55–64. 

External links[]