SEGA Master System

Shinobi is another of SEGA's old-skool heroes with the character of Shinobi been synonymous with both SEGA's arcade and home machines.

Originally Shinobi was released in the arcades 1987, developed by Team Shinobi who also made other classic games like Golden Axe and Streets of Rage. The version on the Master System was a port of the arcade original with some changes to the gameplay most notably the use of a life bar rather than one hit deaths.

The games popularity meant that it was ported to many consoles and computers such as the NEC, Commodore Amiga and ZX Spectrum.

Shinobi has appeared on every SEGA system except the Dreamcast (baring emulators) and is still alive today on the Playstation 2 and Gameboy Advance, DS.

Shinobi European Case
Shinobi European Case

Case Quote

"You are a master Ninja. Standing against you are the meanest group of terrorists ever to take up guns and martial arts' weapons. But you have a secret... Ninja Magic!"


Shinobi - the name means stealth. It is one of the qualities that you have, learned in a lifetime of training and discipline passed on in your family from father to son over the decades...Ninjutsu.

You are Joe Musashi, the Master Ninja. Your hands and feet are lethal. With shuriken, sword, nun-chaku and other weapons, you are virtually unstoppable.

In addition to being a ninja you are also a deep cover agent for the government and called upon when the nation is at stake.

The mission is to bring down the Ring of 5 - a terrorist organisation of 5 evil Ninja's whose abilities match your own.

The Ring of 5 has captured the children of the world's leaders holding them hostage in different locations around the world. Each is guarded by karate thugs, deadly mercenaries and the meanest martial artists in the world.

Rescue these hostages and take out the Ring of 5's henchmen and then defeat a leader of the organisation. They have might on their side but prove your skill with shuriken and you will earn Ninja magic to aid you.


Shinobi is an action platformer with pockets of strategy needed to overcome the odds. That description better fits the more intense arcade version perhaps. You proceed throughout each stage taking out the enemies and rescuing the hostages to eventually reach the exit.

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Generally each stage scrolls from left to right with some that will include progressing upwards and downwards also. Before you can leave through the exit, all of the hostages must be rescued and each stage contains between 5 and 8. As each is rescued a Bonus or Power-Up is awarded.

The D-Pad moves Shinobi left and right across the screen. Down is used for crouching and crawling when used in conjunction with walking. Pressing Up is used for leaping to different areas and casting spells.

Button 1 is your shuriken (throwing weapon) and Button 2 is for jumping. You have 2 types of jump. You have your regular jump plus a "super jump" which allows you to reach other platforms or levels in a stage. This is done by pressing Up and jump. This is an essential part of the game but note that this jump can not be done everywhere.

Button 1 and 2 together activates a Ninja Magic spell. Described later.

Shinobi Shinobi Shinobi Shinobi Shinobi

Joe Musashi's Moves

Mushashi has two sets of weapons: weapons you can throw (shuriken) for defeating enemies at a distance like ninja stars or bombs, and weapons for close range combat like a sword or chain.

At the start of the game your default weapons are a single ninja star and punch or kick. These are powered up as you rescue more hostages. Shuriken upgrades are:

Stars 1 - You can fire one Ninja star. Another can not be fired until it impacts something or goes of screen.
Stars 2 - You can fire multiple Ninja stars.
Knives - Knives move at double the speed of starts across the screen.
Bombs - Bounce across the floor until they reach an enemy.
Bullets - These are the quickest and most powerful.

Close combat weapons are:

Punch / Kick - Least powerful. Some enemies require two hits to defeat them.
Sword - Chop chop. Some stronger enemies will require two chops to defeat them.
Nun-Chaku - Wrap these around your enemy. Makes a whoosh sound. Enemies killed with one hit.
Chain - Makes a satisfying cracking sound. Enemies killed with one hit.

Other Power-Ups

Shuriken Power-Up - See above.
Life Up - Increases the size of your energy bar.
Life Max - Restores energy to maximum.
10,000 Points - extra points.
Bonus Stage - Access to the Bonus Stage. Detailed below.


As you enter each stage you will see a coversheet of the current mission showing the location of the Rings of Five leader's hideout, his name, picture and some writing in Ninja Ryu code.

Each location is a stage. The game has 5 missions in total and all missions except Mission 1 have four stages. They are:

Mission 1 - 3 Stages Boss is Ken Oh Mission 2 - 4 Stages Boss is Black Turtle Mission 3 - 4 Stages Boss is Mandara Mission 4 - 4 Stages Boss is Lobster Mission 5 - 4 Stages Boss is Masked Ninja

Shinobi Missions


Mission 1 - Ken Oh

Shinobi Mission 1 Round 1 Shinobi Mission 1 Round 2 Shinobi Mission 1 Boss: Ken Oh

Mission 2 - Black Turtle

Shinobi Mission 2 Round 1 Shinobi Mission 2 Round 2 Shinobi Mission 2 Boss: Black Turtle

Mission 3 - Mandara

Shinobi Mission 3 Round 1 Shinobi Mission 3 Round 2 Shinobi Mission 3 Boss: Mandara Shinobi Mission 3 Boss: Mandara

Mission 4 - Lobster

Shinobi Mission 4 Round 1 Shinobi Mission 4 Round 2 Shinobi Mission 4 Round 3 Shinobi Mission 4 Boss: Lobster

Mission 5 - Masked Ninja

Shinobi Mission 5 Round 1 Shinobi Mission 5 Round 2 Shinobi Mission 5 Round 3
Shinobi Mission 5 Boss: Masked Ninja Shinobi Mission 5 Boss: Masked Ninja Shinobi Mission 5 Boss: Masked Ninja Shinobi Mission 5 Boss: Masked Ninja

Whenever Mushashi touches an enemy or is hit by a projectile he will loose some energy (life) and there will be a slight loss of control as he recoils. This can be rather irritating as he could flinch backwards down a bottomless pit! He dies when his energy is depleted. You gain] the game with three lives and every 100,000 points will gain you an extra life.

Bonus Stage

The Bonus Stage is an opportunity to earn Ninja Magic spells to aid you in your missions.

You move a pair of hands using D-Pad left and right across the bottom of the screen. Use both buttons to throw Ninja Stars at any of the marauding Ninja's coming at you.

There is an infinite amount of stars and for each shot down you will earn 500 points. If a Ninja should reach the front the stage is lost exiting with "YOU FAILED".

By defeating all of the Ninja's you are rewarded with a spell. A single blue ninja will also race across the screen during the stage and by killing him you will receive two spells instead of one.

Bonus Stage Bonus Stage Bonus Stage (Failed)

Bonus Stage

Ninja Magic's

Ninja Magic


Ninja magic grants several special powers. To be able to use it you must first eliminate 10 enemies in a stage. When the leftmost tile of your magic collection flashes, it means you are able to use Ninja Magic. You can carry up to 4 ninja magic tiles in the order that you won them.

To activate Ninja magic press and hold Button 2 and then press Button 1. Mushashi may jump, fire and before.

In total there are 6 different types of Ninja Magic.

Shinobi Magic
Metal Binding Magic

Metal Binding Magic
Halts the movement of all enemies on screen.


When using this magic you are invincible. Musashi will blink on and off.

Eight Hands Magic

Eight Hands Magic
Using this will copy yourself eight times and go on to destroy all enemies on the screen.

Flying Squirrel Magic

Flying Squirrel
Allows you to fly through the air for a short amount of time. Use the D-Pad to control the direction of your flight.

Lightening Magic

Lightening strikes and destroys your enemies.

Tornado Magic

Tornado Magic
Creates a whirlwind around Musashi to destroy all enemies in his path.

Cheats and Tips

Level Select

From the title screen hold D-Pad Down-Left together with Button 2 and you will be able to select a mission and stage to start from.

Other Versions

The original arcade version of the game was released on SEGA's System16 arcade board which powered many of its arcade hits of the day.

It is notorious for its difficulty and sharp reactions were needed. The Mandara boss in particular was a total bastard. Unlike the console version, there was no life bar instead having one hit kills which made it somewhat addictive because the action got intense.

Shinobi Arcade Version
Shinobi (Arcade Version) Shinobi (Arcade Version)

It is playable using the System16 arcade emulator or with the latest versions of MAME.

It has since been released on Xbox Live Arcade and included with the Mega Drive Ultimate Collection for Xbox 360 and PS3 as an unlockable game.


In typical SEGA fashion the games sequels split. For more information about other games in the series check out the Revenge of Shinobi Feature which is one of the direct sequels to this game.

Revenge of Shinobi - Mega Drive
Revenge of Shinobi - Mega Drive Revenge of Shinobi - Mega Drive

The latest game in the series is Shinobi for the Nintendo 3DS released in 2011.

The only other Shinobi title released for the Master System entitled The Cyber Shinobi also known as Shinobi Part 2. It was released after Alex Kidd in Shinobi World.

It offered some of the gameplay of the original and was set in a futuristic 21st century where you control the grandson of Joe Musashi attempting to destroy Cyber-Zeed - an organisation constructed from the remnants of Zeed.

Unfortunately it did not sit well with fans of the original game criticising its easy difficulty and unresponsive controls. Reviews often described the game as dull.


Perfect! This game can be played with the Dega or KEGA Fusion Emulators which can be downloaded from the Master System Emulators page.


Shinobi - Games of the Month (January 04)

Revenge of Shinobi Feature - Mega Drive


All the sprites from all the games!

Shinobi at SEGA16

An overview of the game.

Shinobi on Nintendo 3DS

The official website of the latest game in the series.

Master System SEGA!

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