In a recent cleaning of my old bedroom I was reacquainted with my Game Gear, yet not the games somehow. It reminded me that I recently became aware of GG Shinobi II, the 1992 sequel to one of my favourite platform/action games, and a few eBay moments later I secured myself a copy. It’s pretty interesting to play a game like this with the benefit of hindsight, with my eyes and mind trained as a game developer.
The game is littered with dumb enemies, which are lots of fun to dispatch. There’s almost no A.I. of any sort, with enemies running back and forth, or just repeating a behaviour on a timer. Structured a little like the Mega Man games, you beat the levels to unlock extra weapons/skills, and use these to help explore the environment or defeat enemies. Simple stuff, in retrospect, but just enough exploration and challenge to keep the game interesting. The compact nature of the game and the non-linear structure actually appealed to me more than more complex titles like Revenge of Shinobi or Shinobi III.
The lack of definition in the graphics is a great benefit to the experience. I don’t need to see the expressions on the enemies as I slice them in half, and my different coloured ninjas are entirely different people as far as I’m concerned. With the fuzzy Game Gear screen, what is implied is just as effective. In the last decade there has been a heavy push for increased definition, and without care it disrupts more than it contributes towards the immersion.
Also, two decades after the fact, the green ninja remains my favourite.