THE copywriter at Virgin must be in a very, very bad way. This poor creature, in all probability locked up in a dingy office and fed on stale chips and cold tea, has spent so long studying computer games that it's gone insane.
It can now take a perfectly ordinary arcade game plot - Shoot A$, Rescue B$, for example - and turn it into a deeply moving human drama, with a few bargain basement laughs thrown in for dramatic effect.
So Shinobi, a "shoot anything, rescue children" game has been turned into a mixture of Dirty Harry and The Pied Piper.
It seems that some wayward ninja has stolen all the children from the local ninja academy and is demanding a ransom. This isn't acceptable to the good burghers (this has nothing to do with Wimpy, by the way - I did say good) and it's up to you to do the rest. Gosh.
Your initial weapon against all the bad people is a limitless supply of throwing stars; to call them shuriken is, apparently, incorrect. After you save a few children, you get to throw slightly more dangerous things.
Once per stage you can use a very tedious form of ninja magic, which takes ages to do and is really only an oriental smart
At the end of every level - each level has several stages, y'see - you get to meet The Big Daddy who is difficult to kill and will probably kill you first.
Following this, if you have managed to keep some lives, is a boring bit with bouncing ninjas and more throwing stars. It's meant to be a bonus stage, but interest-
Look, let's get this straight - I've nothing against ninjas, not personally at any rate. I mean, I'm ready to believe they're invincible. But then again, when threatened with that metallurgical marvel that is a ninja sword, I'd be apt to believe anything I was told.
But if I was a ninja, which I'm not, at least not consciously, I'd be somewhat annoyed by all the crappy games about the profession. It's a job, innit? Like quantity surveying, or being a turner? How many games are there like The Last Quantity Surveyor, or Bad Dudes vs Dragon Turner? None.
But even as a non-ninja (a nonja?) I'd be peeved about Shinobi. First off, the music is terrible, sounding like it's being played through a sock. Also, the poor disc drive is forced to make arcane gronks and squeaks by the loader; at first I thought it was part of the tune.
The graphics have been carefully chosen to avoid attribute clash, because they're not bad in the ZX Spectrum league. And not merely do we have the de rigeur YASTP 200-line screen, but it's narrower on the sides, too.