Mixed or average reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 33
  2. Negative: 2 out of 33
Buy On
  1. 100
    An exemplary model for anyone who misses the constant, uninterrupted gameplay that made great 8-bit and 16-bit games the classics they have become.
  2. 90
    The challenge may be too steep for some, but it’s ultimately rewarding for determined gamers.
  3. The extremely high level of difficulty will leave some gamers a whimpering heap in the corner... But if you don’t mind a challenge, expect an extremely fun, rewarding experience.
  4. If you can get past the cheap deaths, bottomless pits and no save points, you’ll have a great time with this remake of a classic.
  5. Game Informer
    If you want nonstop action with the right amount of difficulty and ingenuity, toss back a few shuriken with Shinobi. [Dec 2002, p.117]
  6. Perhaps the best and certainly the most unique thing about the game is Hotsuma’s thirsty-for-blood sword, which keeps the action at a brisk pace by forcing gamers to keep moving and keep killing.
  7. Unapologetic about being old-school hard... It’s a rude awakening to how soft and cuddled the masses have become toward games that demand as much from them as they do from the game-makers.
  8. If you're looking for a great action game, with absolutely no thinking required go pick up Shinobi, right now. You won't be disappointed.
  9. An extremely difficult, linear, yet well-polished game. While it has its flaws, the game design is excellent, and the graphics are nice.
  10. 78
    I'm not sure if there's such a thing as "too hard," but if you don't have any problem with that designation, it belongs on Shinobi.
  11. The problem is that the game feels like one continuous palette-swap, and with the exception of difficulty, there is little to differentiate one level from another. And don't get me started on the camera.
  12. Those looking for a game with lots of challenge and a distinct sense of style would do well to check out Shinobi.
  13. It’s incredibly fun, and incredibly addicting. It’s just too bad that the camera system is incredibly flawed.
  14. Bags of style and tons of good ideas - all crowbarred into a game that's slightly too monotonous to sustain them. [PSM2]
  15. 74
    A decent tribute to its source material, but fails to capture its best qualities.
  16. This game is hellaciously hard. So much so that I can't even think of the words to describe how difficult Shinobi becomes halfway through. [Dec 2002, p.220]
  17. netjak
    If it looked nicer, and was a bit more player friendly, I'd probably be buying this one. But as it is, it feels like the developers just wanted to make this hard enough so that you couldn't beat it on a rental time span.
  18. Completing Shinobi is not an issue, but doing it with the style deserving of the series certainly is. Achieving those impressive A rankings will keep the dedicated occupied for the foreseeable future. Given the lack of alternative modes and the shortness of the main game, this fact will probably be lost on those who prioritise completion over mastery.
  19. Strictly in terms of gameplay, it's a work of art...Unfortunately, Shinobi stumbles in its level and enemy design. [Dec 2002, p.152]
  20. For today’s player, Shinobi will quite simply be too frustrating to see it through to the end. Sad but true. Making this one for the masochists of yesteryear.
  21. Entertainment Weekly
    Ultimately devolves into the same hack-and-slash tedium seen in the old Sega Genesis games that inspired it. [10 Jan 2003, p.77]
  22. I don't think even the greatest purist will care for the save system.
  23. This otherwise solid game is simply too relentlessly tough on the outside to be worth the journey of frustration to its creamy center.
  24. PSM Magazine
    There are plenty of cool moves, and the lead character is lots of fun to control, but boring level design and highly repetitive gameplay steal a lot of this potential hit's thunder. [Dec 2002, p.40]
  25. Play Magazine
    It's a challenging, fun game, but Shinobi is not what it could, and should, have been. [Dec 2002, p.65]
  26. Cheat Code Central
    It will likely frustrate the hell out of you but only if you let it. Once you get into it, it's hard to stop.
  27. Shinobi is, in a word, average. There are other adjectives I could throw at it, such a repetitive and frustrating, but I think average describes it best.
  28. There's very little need for strategy and the gameplay may grow weary to some, but it does manage to have tons of style, challenge and action to spare.
  29. A severe disappointment. Mediocre visuals and audio relay the game’s imprecise controls. Lacking innovative level design, the game is uninspired and extremely brief.
  30. We are captivated, taken by Hotsuma's grace of movement, the clarity of his sword's simplistic song, the will of the wind that fills his scarf. But far too soon, much like the programmers responsible: we’ll forget.
  31. 42
    Virtually no health power-ups + enemies that can attack you from offscreen = hurling your game pad at a wall. [Dec 2002, p.66]
  32. We're hugely disappointed in this utterly botched effort by Sega. What should have been the revival of a classic franchise has been turned into a poor rip-off of a Capcom title that wasn't even the dog's bollocks in the first place.

Awards & Rankings

#17 Most Discussed PS2 Game of 2002
#11 Most Shared PS2 Game of 2002
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 43 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 43
  2. Negative: 5 out of 43
  1. Oct 6, 2018
    The PS2's "Shinobi" was part of a series of revivals (Rygar, Contra, Mortal Kombat, etc.) released in the early 2000's. It was also the firstThe PS2's "Shinobi" was part of a series of revivals (Rygar, Contra, Mortal Kombat, etc.) released in the early 2000's. It was also the first title to emulate the fast stylish action of "Devil May Cry". The game is structured like an old-school arcade game. It features linear levels that conclude with a boss fight. However, the catch is you have to keep killing to keep your health bar from dwindling down to zero. This is a tough game and unfortunately, the camera system isn't up to speed with the on-screen movements. It's also too repetitive. Yet, despite its flaws, "Shinobi" is good, challenging fun. I would rate it with a 7.6 out of 10. Full Review »
  2. Mar 3, 2017
    While it certainly isn't the best Shinobi game (that honor goes to Shinobi III), it's in the top five for sure. Personally, I'd rank it as myWhile it certainly isn't the best Shinobi game (that honor goes to Shinobi III), it's in the top five for sure. Personally, I'd rank it as my third favorite. The Shinobi series had been dead for a while, owning to the fact that the Sega Saturn game failed to live up to the standards set by Shinobi III. But in 2003, Sega surprised the world by unleashing a 3D hack and slash platformy action version of Shinobi on the PS2. And man, it's good! Tough as nails as expected of the Shinobi series, with a silly plot, even sillier enemies, and amazingly well done music. It's also pretty cheap to get a copy these days, whether you got physically or digitally for PS3/PS4. Please check it out for some classic arcadey fun! Full Review »
  3. Jan 28, 2013
    HACK AND SLASH GOODNESS! This game did NOT make it to the Dreamcast, however it made up for it by being on the PS2 instead (marking the startHACK AND SLASH GOODNESS! This game did NOT make it to the Dreamcast, however it made up for it by being on the PS2 instead (marking the start of hack n slash games across all other 6th generation consoles). This is now on PSN , so I recommend purchasing it.
    The storyline CAN be a bit slow if you're not too speedy with finishing each level (the story is divided into cut-scenes that are shown AFTER completing a level).
    The camera can be annoying. The game CAN be hard, but REMEMBER that without this game, alot of hack n slashers like Ninja Gaiden / Bayonetta wouldn't exist (Ninja Gaiden: Black Edition even nodded to this game via an unlockable costume).
    Full Review »