03/08/2022

๐Ÿฅท Shadow Gangs Dreamcast Review 8/10 "More Ninja Action Than You Can Shake a Katana At!" ๐Ÿฅท @ShadowGangs @WaveGameStudios #IndieGames #GameDev

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The next step on WAVE Game Studios’ quest for Dreamcast world domination, Shadow Gangs is a 2D platformer (mostly) that takes a lot of inspiration from the arcade classic Shinobi, in terms of visuals and gameplay.

You are Master Dan, a ninja master who sets out to take down a ninja army and rescue his family in a plot that’s so ninja-centric that it feels like it was written by Godfrey Ho. Good. 

The game comes in a well-presented package, which I’ve now come to expect from WAVE, a gorgeous, full-colour manual with tasty artwork in a jewel case – of which there are Japanese and PAL variants.

With music that features sampled, wailing guitar and MIDI-style drums and instrumentation, it casts your mind back to a very specific time, and reminded me slightly of the recently released Metal Slug X soundtrack from Wayo Records, in tone, at least.


The visuals are sharp and feature good-sized sprites for you to dodge and take down as you make your way through the stages rescuing your ninja companions as you do so. The levels are well-designed and pleasantly vertical as well as horizontal, and the strict time limit on each one means that you’ll certainly be finding the quickest routes through – several times I ran out of time infuriatingly close to the end, meaning that I had to yank my socks up so hard that the toes ripped and my feet went straight through them. Dan can also transform from his standard shuriken-throwing self into a red-robed, uzi-brandishing ninja, which is cool. 

The form of gameplay feels quite classic and very close to the aforementioned Shinobi, although with a lot more going on and a modern polish. The wailing rock music that soundtracks your rescue mission always keeps the energy up, and the various bonus stages and boss battles add variety to the romp.


I loved the grandiose narrative announcements whenever a new stage is introduced, “THE CITY”, “THE BRIDGE” and of course, “COLLIN”. The self-awareness that bleeds through the game in aspects of the design gives it a lightness of touch that takes the edge off the cheekily saucy difficulty.

Whilst this is a solid run-n-gun title that plays clear homage to the titles that have influenced it, it didn’t feel like a Dreamcast game in the way that Xenocider or Intrepid Izzy did, possibly due to the genre from which it hails.  That said, this is a highly polished release that will definitely appeal to those arcade-heads out there that still can’t get enough of parallax-scrolling backgrounds, classic rock, ninjas, and simple, addictive gameplay, which I assume is all of us?


You also may find that the main Mr Bad Guy is familiar?

Developer – JKM Corp


Dreamcast Purchase Link: https://www.wavegamestudios.com/shop/shadow-gangs

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