Lost In Translation/Shinobi

From ExoticA
Shinobi marquee.
Shinobi Title Screen.
Shinobi control panel.
Manufacturer Sega
Released 1987
8-way Joystick
3 Button(s)
Main CPU 68000 (@ 10.000 MHz)
Z80 (@ 4.000 MHz)
Sound CPU Mono
YM2151 (@ 4.000 MHz)
Raster (Horizontal)
320 x 224 pixels
60.00 Hz
6,144 Palette colours
Screens 1
ROM Info 18 ROMs
1,049,600 bytes (1.00 MiB)
MAME ID shinobi · shinobi1 · shinobi2 · shinobi3 · shinobi4 · shinobl

About The Game

Shinobi is an horizontally scrolling platform arcade video game beat-em-up where the player takes on the role of Joe Musashi, a Shinobi Ninja, who must fight his way through 5 tough missions - each made up of between 3 to 5 stages - in his quest to rescue the kidnapped Ninja children of the Iga clan; now hostages of an evil Ninja syndicate called "Zeed". To complete a mission, the player must rescue all of the kidnapped children on each level, with the number of hostages remaining displayed on a meter in the bottom left corner of the screen.

The Shinobi Ninja begins each level armed with either 'shuriken' throwing stars or a gun for long-range attacks; and a Samurai sword for close-range combat. In addition, the Ninja also has one 'Magic Attack' per level; a smart bomb which kills or damages all on-screen enemies. A points bonus is awarded whenever a level is completed without the Magic Attack being used. An end-of-level guardian awaits the player at the end of each mission, and each takes several hits before it is killed. Once a boss is defeated, the player is taken to a bonus stage in which a large number of Ninjas will try to 'jump' from the back of the screen to the front to attack the player. A bonus life is awarded if the player manages to kill all of the Ninjas without being attacked.

Shinobi was a huge success for Sega, and deservedly so. Its perfectly realised blend of platform and fighting action and is as fine an exponent of the 'easy to get into, difficult to master' game-play ethic as video games have seen.

Additional Technical Information

Players : 2

Control : 8-way joystick

Buttons : 3 (ATTACK, JUMP, MAGIC)


Shinobi was one of the many names given to the ninja in feudal Japan. Its literal translation is 'stealer-in'; a reference to what Ninjas specialized in above all else. By employing any number of tricks such as stealth walking and staying upwind of any guard animals, the Shinobi went undetected about his mission. On a more devious level, the Shinobi was also a master of disguise, and would often 'steal in' to village communities disguised as a local, or into enemy palaces disguised as a wandering priest.

Marilyn Monroe's face appears on several posters in the Mission 1 second stage.

In 1988, Star released a bootleg of this game.


FD1094 317-0049
  • Runs on System 16B hardware.
FD1094 317-0050
  • Runs on System 16A hardware.


Scoring in this game is very easy. Each enemy is worth 100 points with the exception of the Purple Guard and the Sword Throwing Guard which are worth 500 points. The bosses are 5000 points apiece. NOTE : The Purple Guards and Sword Throwing Guards are the ones that guard the hostages.

In addition to getting points from killing enemies, you can also score points for time left on the clock after you complete a level. You get 30 points per second of remaining time.

You can also receive special bonuses at the end of each level for certain actions :

  1. If you don't use your ninja magic, you get a 5000 point bonus.
  2. If you only use your Ninja-to sword (no Shurikens or gunfire), you get a 20,000 point bonus.

Tips and tricks

Unless you are continuing, each game begins at 'Mission 1' and will have everything you need to complete each mission. Each level must be completed within 3 minutes, and all hostages must be rescued before you can exit the level. If you are killed, all hostages rescued prior to your death will still be recorded as rescued. In addition to mêlée attacks, you will also be able to use a specific Ninja Magic attack once per level. These magical attacks kill everything that is on the screen but you will be awarded a point bonus if you manage to complete a level WITHOUT using your Ninja Magic. The three Ninja Magic attacks are :

  1. Multiple-Attack Magic : Allows you to gain lightning-fast speed to attack up to 12 times at once.
  2. Tornado Magic : Brings about a magical tornado to blow your enemies away.
  3. Lightning Magic : Causes the air to crackle with electricity and destroys your enemies.

Some General Game-play Guidelines

  • Joe is strictly a one-hit, one-kill character, so you must avoid all enemy attacks or risk losing a life.
  • As you become more practised at moving around, you won't have to rely on your distance weapons (throwing stars etc.) and can use your ninja sword for close-up kills; the advantage of this is that you can gain the 20000 point bonus. This also applies to the use of Ninja Magic.
  • Many of the enemies in the later missions will swarm Joe and attack in numbers, it's vitally important to learn to attack-and-jump as quickly as possible otherwise you will be quickly overun.
  • Your main goal is, of course, to rescue all the hostages to exit the level; and although three minute time limit initially seems quite generous, should you delay too long with the enemies, the time will quickly run out.
  • It's important to become good at the Challenge Levels, since this is the only way to gain extra lives. The Challenge levels will require you to take out around thirty ninjas who are trying to get to your position. There is no real hard and fast strategy other then take them down before they reach the second platform. Challenge Levels occur at the end of every mission.
  • Ninja Magic is a great thing. You must remember, though, that you can only use it once per level. This means you should only use it when you are totally surrounded by enemies and have no other means of escape.
  • All bosses take eight hits to defeat. Of course, you will have to hit them in the right place for that hit to register.
  • Stop Gunners : In levels with Bazooka-toting enemies (Rounds 3-2), push one of them against a wall about ten times (always pushing on his direction, never stopping), you'll see then that all Bazooka men and Gun men are no longer able to use their weapons against you.
  • Extra lives from hostages : In game are special hostage, you can get 1UP instead points from them. These hostages are : 2nd hostage on stage 2-2, 1st hostage on 2-3, 2nd hostage on 3-1, 5th hostage on 3-2. What you must do to get 1UP instead points? When you get hostage you must have 3 identical digits at end of your score (don't count last digit which is always 0). Example : 70000, 100000, 109990, 68880, 141110. 1UP icon will appear instead points icon over hostage.


  1. Shinobi (1987)
  2. Shadow Dancer - Kage no Mai (1989)
  3. The Revenge of Shinobi (1989, Sega Mega Drive)
  4. The Cyber Shinobi - Shinobi Part 2 (1990, Sega Master System)
  5. GG Shinobi (1991, Sega Game Gear)
  6. GG Shinobi II - The Silent Fury (1992, Sega Game Gear)
  7. Shinobi III - Return of the Ninja Master (1993, Sega Mega Drive)
  8. Shinobi Legions (1995, Sega Saturn)
  9. Shinobi (2002, Sony PlayStation 2)
  10. Nightshade (2004, Sony PlayStation 2)


Designed By
Noriyoshi Ohba
Sugachan 26
Wagamama Kenchi
Super Haggar
Fanta Jijii
Shinjuku Otoko

Cabinet and Artwork


Box art for the The Sales Curve port of Shinobi.
Sega Master System (1988)
NEC PC-Engine (1989)
Nintendo Famicom (1989)
Sinclair ZX Spectrum (1989)
Commodore C64 (1989)
Atari ST (1989)
Commodore Amiga ("Shinobi", 1989, The Sales Curve)
Amstrad CPC (1989) [64 ko Cassette version]
Amstrad CPC (1989) [128 Ko Disk version]
PC [MS-DOS, 5.25"] (19??)
Tiger Handheld LCD Game (19??)

Soundtrack Releases

Album Name Catalogue No. Released Publisher Comments
Shinobi Original Soundtrack STF-0010[1] 2002-12-05 Sten Och Flod CD version.
The Way Of The Exploding SID CZCD 027[2] 2007-07-20 Binary Zone Interactive 2 CD version.
Legend of Joe Musashi: SHINOBI Music Collection WM-0626~9[3] 2009-07-23 Wave Master 4 CD version.

Screen Shot Comparison

Title Screen

Sound Comparison

Platform Song Titles Sound Source
Arcade "Mission 1 BGM" "Stage Clear" "Boss BGM" "Boss Clear BGM" "Bonus Stage BGM" "Continue / Name Regist" "Mission 2 BGM" "Mission 3 BGM" "Mission 4 BGM" "Mission 5 BGM" M1 v0.7.8a6
Commodore Amiga Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Uade v2.12
Commodore 64 / 128 Yes No No No No No No No No No reSID-fp v35
Atari ST Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Jam v2.0b
ZX Spectrum (AY) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes GEP v1.63
Sega Master System No Yes No Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes GEP v1.63
Nintendo Entertainment System Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes GEP v1.63
NEC PC-Engine Yes Yes No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes GEP v1.63

External Links


The contents of this page are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
The sources used include MAME (version 0.113u2) and history.dat (revision 1.28 - 2008-10-18).
Please see http://www.arcade-history.com for credits.