Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen ReviewRando Evans
Remember Tenchu, that series of ninja-stealth games which began in 1998 with great reception in the western world? I think many of us fondly recall those games all the fun times we had dropping from rooftops and slicing open the throats of our enemies with our katana blades. For a while, it seemed like stealth ninja games could do no wrong. And then, somewhere along the line, during the past ten years, the western world lost interest with ninja-stealth assassin games. Enter Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen - a game every westerner must just be pining for. No? Aside from the fact ninja stealth-assassin games are a niche a genre these days, it could also be because we never even saw the release of the first Shinobido game here in the US. Regardless, for those aching for a ninja game for their Vita, you've gotten your wish... though I suppose you should be careful what you wish for.
Shinobido 2 is fairly underwhelming right off the bat. The story overall, is pretty weak typical ninja stuff. The plot really goes no further than ninja clans attempting to take over each other's territory and fighting against one another. The game plays out through a fairly easy to navigate lobby/hub where you are able to take on missions for whatever faction/clan you wish to work for. You'll also be able to check your stats and progress in this area, along with upgrade your weapons and skills. As you do more missions for one particular faction, the more you'll become attached to that faction... though in the end it makes little difference. As you complete missions (from basic stealth kill missions, to mind numbing delivery tasks) you'll notice right away that all these missions get repetitive and are the utmost bland. It will seem like you're doing the same thing over and over again for the 9 hours or so of gameplay Shinobido 2 offers. Sure, with every mission you'll be able to get points to upgrade and receive new weapons and skills, but that sort of stuff is common fare in games now and is not in any way a saving grace for this overall dry stealth-assassin game.
Gameplay comes across in 3rd person stealth assassin stuff we've grown accustom to over the years. Shinobido 2 was the kind of game that was big in the late 90's, and it really feels like this game has come right out of that era (and I am not trying to be endearing when I say that). Enemy A.I. is bad your foes will run circles, each as dumb as a bag of bricks with cotton stuffed in their ears. It's going to be easy to sneak and cut your way through troves of enemies. Every situation seems like it can be handled without even thinking or trying out any sort of real strategy or skill in the stealth department. Even with the semi-loose and imprecise controls, Shinobido 2 will be a breeze. You won't make much use of the touch features on the Vita either, as they are almost nonexistent except in one or two cases.
Graphics and sound won't wow you either. The voiceovers are the typical spiritless fare you'd expect from a mediocre game, whereas music is fitting for background noise and nothing more. To top it off, the graphics aren't any better than a slightly updated PS2 game. However there is one good thing about Shinobido 2 - If Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus isn't enough to feed your ninja hunger for the Vita, and you're really pining for more portable ninjas, then Shinobido 2 will give it to you. Shinobido 2 isn't the worst thing I've ever seen, in fact, if this game had been released in the late 90's, it would have been pretty awesome. Even so, times have changed, and Shinobido 2 just seems archaic at this point. Basically, if you want another ninja game for your Vita, here you go... enjoy.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.