Codex Gamicus
For the PlayStation 2 game of the same name, see Shinobi. For an overview of the series, see Shinobi series

Developer(s) Sega
Publisher(s) Sega
Designer Director: Yutaka Sugano[1]
Engine Engine Missing
status Status Missing
Release date Release Date Missing
Genre Platform
Mode(s) Up to 2 players, alternating turns
Age rating(s) ESRB: E10+
PEGI: 12
Platform(s) Arcade, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, NES, PC Engine, Sega Master System, ZX Spectrum, Virtual Console, Xbox Live Arcade
Arcade system
Media Media Missing
Input Joystick, 3 buttons
Requirements Requirements Missing
Credits | Soundtrack | Codes | Walkthrough

Shinobi (忍 -SHINOBI-?) is an arcade game, developed and published by Sega. It was originally released in 1987 and ported to numerous systems. The game spawned numerous sequels. A re-worked version was released for Xbox 360's Xbox Live Arcade on June 10, 2009 with HD support and online leaderboards.[2] The original coin-op version of the game was released for the Virtual Console in Japan [3] on July 14, 2009,[4] in the PAL regions on October 23, 2009 and in North America on December 7, 2009.[5]


Shinobi is about a ninja named Joe Musashi who has to stop a criminal organization called "Zeed" who are kidnapping the children of the Oboro clan. Through five missions of increasing difficulty, Musashi must make his way to Zeed's headquarters and free all the hostages before confronting Zeed's leaders known as "Ring of Five", which are formidable enemies on their own. "Ring of Five" are the bosses at the end of each level. Below is the list of them.

  • Ken Oh - A gigantic samurai-like wizard who can throw fireballs.
  • Black Turtle - A leader who is piloting or aboard an attack helicopter.
  • Mandara - A Hinduistic guru who is, in fact, cyborg.
  • Lobster - A large samurai with a V-shaped symbol on his head who wields a sword.
  • Masked Ninja - The main leader of Zeed and the last boss, he is a powerful ninja with vast magical and physical powers. His true identity is revealed to be Nakahara, Joe Musashi's mentor. Nakahara's name is a reference to the Musashi-Nakahara Station. His name is meant to be a hint of his true identity as "Nakahara Musashi", Joe Musashi's father.[6]



In-game screenshot.

The five missions in the game are each three or four stages long. Anywhere from 2-9 hostages are being held in each stage; Joe must rescue all of them before he is allowed to finish the stage. The last stage in each mission has no hostages, but instead features a powerful boss character whom Joe must defeat. After completing each of the first four missions the player is taken to a bonus stage, where he can earn an extra life if he is able to kill all of the ninjas jumping towards him. Completing the fifth mission ends the game. Also, once the fifth mission begins, continues are no longer allowed; the player has to finish the game with however many lives he has left at that point. If the player earns a place on the high score board, the number of credits it took him to get that score is displayed along with his score.

Joe's standard weapons are an unlimited supply of throwing stars, along with punches and kicks when attacking at close range. One hostage per stage gives him a power-up. When powered-up, his throwing stars are replaced by a gun that fires large, explosive bullets, and his close-range attack becomes a katana slash. Joe can also perform "ninja magic," which may be used only once per stage and kills (or damages, in the case of bosses) all enemies on the screen.


Another screenshot.

At the end of each stage, the player receives score bonuses based on performance. Completing the stage without using ninja magic earns the player a 5,000 point bonus (except during mission five), and completing the stage without using any throwing stars or bullets (just punches, kicks, sword slashes, and/or ninja magic) earns the player a 20,000 point bonus (including in the final mission). The player has three minutes to complete each stage; remaining time at the end of the stage is also converted to bonus points and added to the player's score. Expert Shinobi players often challenged themselves to see how many stages they could pass with both the "no stars" and "no ninja magic" bonuses. It is possible to beat the game on one quarter in this way with a final score of over 700,000 points; the final score for someone who completes the game on one quarter without trying for those bonuses would be in the neighborhood of 250,000 points. It is also possible for the player to manipulate the points received for rescuing each hostage based on his/her current score. A player will receive 1,000 points for a hostage if the hundreds digit of their score is 0,1 or 2. A player receives 500 points for a hostage if the hundreds digit of their score is 3,4,5, or 6. Players receive 200 points if the hundreds digit of their score is 7,8 or 9. The hostage that grants a power-up does not give a points bonus.

The bosses on missions 1 through 4 can be defeated without shooting or throwing stars, granting the player the 20,000 points bonus for each. It is very difficult to do this on bosses 2-4, but with patience, it can be done.
The boss on mission 5 (Masked Ninja) can also be defeated exclusively with close range attacks but no points bonus beyond the standard time bonus/end of game bonus is awarded.

Since most enemies appear in the same place on each level, it is possible to master the game by memorizing their locations and devising patterns to defeat them.

Home versions[]

Shinobi was released by Virgin Games to the following home computer platforms in Europe: versions were released for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Commodore Amiga, and Atari ST in 1989. A PC Engine version was released exclusively in Japan by Asmik on December 8, 1989.

Sega themselves produced their own home version of Shinobi for their Master System game console. It was released in Japan on June 19, 1988, with subsequent releases in North America and Europe. The gameplay from the original coin-op version were altered for this version. Instead of the one-hit kills from the arcade game, the player now has a life gauge that allows Musashi to sustain more damage before losing a life. While the player can still rescue hostages in this version, it is now an optional task and not mandatory to completing any of the game's stages. However, rescuing hostages is still necessary for the player to upgrade weapons or replenish energy. Additionally, rescuing certain hostages is a requirement to access the game's bonus stages. The Ninja Arts abilities are now obtained from completing these bonus rounds and the player may hold up to four stock. The input method of performing these Ninja Arts is also different as well. The player can use between four different close-range weapons, four long-range weapons, and six ninja arts.

The Nintendo Entertainment System version of Shinobi was released by Tengen exclusively in North America as an unlicensed release in 1989. It features the same gameplay changes made to the game as in the Master System version.

The original coin-op version is available as a downloadable video game on the Xbox Live Arcade service, as well as on the Wii Virtual Console.

Sequels and related games[]

In 1989, Sega released a follow-up called The Revenge of Shinobi as one of the first titles for their new Sega Mega Drive game console. In Japan this game was called The Super Shinobi.

An arcade sequel called Shadow Dancer was also released in 1989. Shadow Dancer retains the same gameplay as the original, but gives the main character a canine companion.

Other Shinobi sequels also appeared for the Game Gear, Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, and, most recently, the PlayStation 2 in a new storyline involving a new character named Hotsuma.

Alex Kidd in Shinobi World is a parody of Shinobi with former Sega mascot Alex Kidd as main character, released for the Sega Master System in 1990.

Shinobi is an extreme gear in Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity where it was said to have belonged to a ninja.

The arcade version of the game is available as an unlockable extra in the Sega compilation Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection, and on the Wii's Virtual Console. The Virtual Console version has certain things edited out (such as the Marilyn Monroe posters in Mission 1 Act 2)


  1. Okunari, Yosuke. Album notes for Legend of Joe Musashi: SHINOBI Music Collection, p. 7 [booklet]. Japan: Wave Master (WM-0626~9).
  2. "SEGA Vintage Collection 2 to be Made Available This Summer!". Sega. 2009-05-11. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  3. Sega's Virtual Console page for the arcade version of Shinobi
  4. Nintendo Japan's listing for Shinobi as part of Virtual Console Arcade (a bit of scrolling is necessary for the citation)
  5. Classic Rayman and Street Fighter Games Lead a Luminous December Lineup. Nintendo (2009-12-07). Retrieved on 2009-12-07
  6. Okunari, Yosuke. Album notes for Legend of Joe Musashi: SHINOBI Music Collection, p. 5 [booklet]. Japan: Wave Master (WM-0626~9).

External links[]

ca:Shinobi (videojoc) el:Shinobi fr:Shinobi (jeu vidéo, 1987) sv:Shinobi (spel)