Shadow Dancer: The Secret of the Shinobi


Catalog# G-4043

Capacity 4M

Price 6,000円

Released 01/12/1990

  • 1 Player
  • Action
  • Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
  • Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi


The year was 1997. Following the demise of the Neo Zeed Crime Empire, the world had finally found peace – a peace that would ultimately become short-lived. Unknown to all, a new league of evil was about to wake from its slumber; bigger, stronger and more deadly than before. Its name – Union Lizard.

In a plot for world domination, the villainous regime selected New York City as its initial target.

No stone was left unturned as streets were reduced to ruin in one fail swoop. The lights of the big city had been extinguished, illuminated only by the flames that laced the horizon. Those citizens lucky to survive the anarchy were captured, held prisoner by their cold-blooded captors as terror reigned supreme.

Seemingly, all was lost – but there was hope. Armed with magic, a machete and shurikens a mysterious ninja rose from the shadows. Accompanied by his faithful canine companion, the duo took to the streets to return order to the city and overturn the sinister Union Lizard, in what would come to be known as the Secret of Shinobi.

A big thanks to @megabitesblog for the overview, comments and notes on this game.


Originally conceived for the arcades, Shadow Dancer’s 1989 Sega System 18 coin-op release was far removed from what would come a year later on the Mega Drive. From plot, to level design, graphics and sound, Shadow Dancer’s home console release represented a complete overhaul of the arcade experience. Although retaining the core characteristics of the arcade original, the Mega Drive port was, in essence, an altogether different adventure and all the better for it.

In a feature that differed from others in the Mega Drive Shinobi series, Shadow Dancer was a one hit per-life affair, requiring the utmost attention to enemy and boss attack patterns.

Providing somewhat of a lifeline, players were supplied with unlimited shurikens and the canine attacking capabilities of Yamato, who in a carefully timed attack possessed the lightning-fast ability to grapple and paralyse enemies.

Shadow Dancer’s crisp graphics and precise level designs were surpassed only by the game’s slick, tight and responsive controls. Accompanied by a fast and frenetic soundtrack, and a fine tuned difficulty arc, the title provided one of the great early examples of the Mega Drive’s arcade gaming potential – one that today continues to be regarded as one of the Shinobi series’ most daring and original releases.


Although Shadow Dancer has come to be regarded as the third title in the Shinobi saga, its 1989 arcade release actually places it in line as the second release in the series, pre-dating The Super Shinobi on the Mega Drive by just a month.

In Shadow Dancer’s Mega Drive release, a level could not be completed until a specific number of hostages had been rescued. In the arcade, these hostages were replaced with bombs that had to be disarmed.

The manual in the Japanese release identifies the game’s central protagonist as Hayate, the son of Joe Musashi, whereas the English translation describes him as Joe Musashi himself.



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