Published on July 15th, 2012 | by Nichomaxwell2
A Review of Shien’s Revenge: How About SHEEN’s Revenge?
Year: 1994 // System: SNES // Publisher: Vic Tokai // Developer: Almanic: // Designer: Go Nagai // Genre: Action/Rail Shooter
>>>Titled Shien The Blade Chaser in Japan, Shien’s Revenge was a first-person rail shooter in which you decimated countless creatures and soldiers across major time periods from the eyes of a ninja. The story is something of a typical affair: male and female ninja fight side-by-side, female ninja gets kidnapped, male ninja goes after perpetrator. Crafted by the famous manga/anime artist Go Nagai, Shien’s Revenge meant to utilize a traditional plot in justifying unique game play.
It sort of worked, but it wasn’t anything to get allNarutoabout…
Shien’s Revenge is all about timing your attacks and defensive maneuvers. With the screen scrolling on its own, all you have to worry about is the enemies that pop up.
Using either the SNES mouse or the traditional controller, you move around your dagger and can switch up the speed with which you wield it. Do you slash at a medium speed in hopes of controlling your blocks as fireballs rain down upon you, or do you swing as hard as you can in order to deflect widespread projectiles? Aside from controlling your blade, you can perform two extra ninja techniques: ninja magic which eliminates all enemies on-screen (or rack up serious damage), and ninja stars which you throw at distant targets. What bugs me is that ninja stars do no damage whatsoever to enemies right in front of you (which is stated in training), but it appears to be something of an arbitrary rule that ensures you swing your knife around to attack. Of course, it’s not like you’re not using your knife enough as a defensive tool. Honestly, it’s entirely possible to go without using your ninja stars at all. It’s only pertinent that you kill enemies close up and final bosses, both of which ninja stars do little to no damage to.
I do like the mouse interface. Based on the setup of your cursor, this game was obviously meant to be more responsive to the SNES mouse than to the controller. Granted, you can move your cursor as quickly with the controller’s D-pad, but with the mouse you obviously feel more empowered because you control the precise speed and angle of your slices and blocks. In other words, the heightened sensitivity of the mouse movements were meant to get as close to lifelike motion as possible. This would’ve been a perfect game for the Wiimote. This game was Fruit Ninja before Fruit Ninja was…well, Fruit Ninja! A light gun could also be used for this game, and in ways brought the developers closer to the game they wanted to create in terms of controls, but a gun wasn’t the same as a shuriken or blade, downplaying the connection to the game’s environment and desired simulation.
So this was a simple game with a big ambition of transforming you into a ninja. It was also a pretty difficult game. Fortunately there was a password system in place, even if the passwords had to be written down because they were long and convoluted strings of nonsensical letters and numbers smushed together. Given that you had six long levels, each one capped off by a huge boss with a hefty life bar, and only had five continues (or lives) with which to beat the game, you were eternally grateful for the password system.
Okay, not eternally grateful, because that would imply you’d want to play the game forever. Which is probably the farthest thing from the truth.
Back to the difficulty. Enemy shots are hard to ward off mainly because of controls. Ninja stars don’t always seem to register impact…even if they make direct contact with a distant enemy…and you really need lightning reflexes to alternate between attacking and deflecting shots in the blink of an eye in order to stave off the onslaught. Ninja stars are nearly a waste of your time because you have to let down your guard temporarily to throw your stars at enemies far away when your biggest threat consists of the guys sneaking right up on you. This is almost too much multitasking. Fortunately you have a lot of health, so you can make a few mistakes and still move on to the next section. And it’s nice that they give you a penalty-free training mode in which you may hone your skills. You can practice over and over with the ninja guru guy providing feedback based on your performance. He can be a little mean, but hey! If you don’t succeed in his training, then you may very well refrain from playing the main game.
The time periods are designed respectfully with the appropriate models for soldiers and creatures that fit those areas. However, they are only skin changes…the levels turn repetitive near the end because the attack patterns are the same: guys in the far back snipe at you, while enemies up front try to clobber you with their blades, batons, or rifle butts. This sort of limits your strategy and gives you an underwhelming set of tasks to master. Not that you’d want TOO much on your plate, but even with how fast this game demands that you react, you can easily get bored. I’ve never heard of a ninja getting bored. And this one tried to be a faithful ninja simulation!
That slight jab aside, Shien’s Revenge tried out a nifty approach to the ninja genre, and it made excellent use of the SNES mouse. But in the end it could only amount to nothing more than a repetitive FPS version ofNinja Gaiden…with different time periods. Also, I can only imagine this would have been an awesome title to incorporate a two-player campaign, especially with Aska playing a major role in the prologue. Then again, the whole point of the single-player campaign is to rescue the kidnapped Aska…so, yeah…but given how important she seems to be, perhaps a separate two-player mode featuring her as the second player would have been cool. Like, the campaign could’ve been an episode from her and Shien’s past that displayed their awesomeness as ninjas working together. But I digress…
Challenge: 5/10: Difficulty is a bit too much with the enemies sometimes moving a little too quickly for you to respond. Also, each sequential level is more of the same, but with more soldiers and firepower flooding the screen.
Handling: 7/10: This was especially responsive with the mouse interface, and I can only imagine it was a blast to play with the light gun (even though guns and ninjas don’t jive together), BUT the ninja stars were underwhelming in how you almost didn’t need them in order to progress.
Innovation: 7/10: First-person ninja premise was a cool idea, and you had a nice range of ninja-style attacks- knife, shuriken, and magic…but otherwise this was a rail shooter dressed up as a ninja game. Still, the incorporation of multiple controller types into the game engine was well-done.
Core Experience: 6/10: Training mode helped warm you up, and it was definitely a nice means of getting you used to the game play without either making a training mode mandatory for you to play the game, or leaving you completely oblivious as to what you do in the overall game. But basically, what you see in training IS the game. No new tasks that you need to master will pop up throughout the course of the game…ever… That’s not bad, but I think of games like Gun.Smoke, which was essentially a rail shooter except with an avatar you could move around from a top-down perspective. Gun.Smoke required that you only shoot stuff, but they made it so that you had to avoid new dangers (boulders rolling down from the sides of a mountain) and overcome new obstacles (brave a river which harbors machine gun men that pop out to surprise you). In Shien’s Revenge each level was just more of the same that merely progressed its difficulty through adding more stuff on-screen…Okay then….not very exciting, but okay…
OVERALL: 6.3/Decent: This was a great idea, and I’m sure that it received more attention and garnered more praise in Japan because the famous Go Nagai spearheaded the project. But in the end, Shien’s Revenge only manages to be fun for a few rounds before its repetitive and sometimes tedious game play defeat the point of playing any further.