How Shinobi’s Parry Button Controls The Game’s Flow

By Kris . July 21, 2011 . 6:05pm

The last Shinobi games Sega published were Shinobi and Nightshade, both for the PlayStation 2. Both those games featured a different take on the series from their side-scrolling predecessors. When we spoke to him about Shinobi on the Nintendo 3DS, we asked producer, Stephen Frost, what aspects the development team picked up from both styles of Shinobi games for the 3DS title.


“We liked things like the [PS2 version’s] scarf…Hotsuma’s scarf,” Frost told us. “The way it moves, it’s very memorable. It’s very artistic. And we knew from the get-go that we wanted to have a very unique style for this game, and so we brought the scarf from the PS2. But fundamentally, most of the moves, enemies and bosses…ideas for certain things…a lot more of that came from Shinobis 1, 2 and 3, and we went from there.”


Frost elaborated on this by discussing the game’s combat. Shinobi’s combat is based on the combat of the side-scrolling games, but is designed to be more complex. The core of this is the game’s new parry button.


“You know, in the old Shinobi days — [we had] one-hit kills for the most part. We needed to have something a lot more complex than that,” Frost said. “So we added in the juggles, the combos people expect in a more traditional action game. We added in a dedicated parry button. In the past, we’ve had sort of parry systems in Shinobi but not really a dedicated button for it, so we put it in a button.”


Shinobi’s parry button is just that — a parry button. When I went hands-on with the game at E3, I initially made the mistake of trying to use it like a block button. This doesn’t work. You can’t hold the button down; parries need to be timed, and if you don’t time them properly, you get hit. Getting hit means losing your multiplier. In Shinobi, the higher your multiplier is, the stronger your attacks are, and the higher you can jump. The game encourages you to avoid getting hurt.


“The whole thing about this game is your rhythm, your flow from enemy to enemy,” Frost said, elaborating on the parry system. “Later on in the game, you get in a lot of situations where you’re jumping toward enemies and they’re throwing stuff at you. Normally, you would get hit, but the parry system in this game is that in almost all circumstances, you can perform it. Even in mid-jump, you can perform the parry.”


“Doing the parry resets your moves,” Frost revealed, “so you can do the parry, then jump out of the parry in mid-air. That lends itself to some very interesting platforming appliance later on.”

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  • Exkaiser

    Hmn, the multiplier system sounds a lot like the Tate system of Shinobi and Nightshade, so perhaps they drew a bit more from them than they’re letting on!

    For those who didn’t play them, the key mechanic of both games is that you have a sword that gets stronger with each enemy you kill- but the bonus will dissipate in a short period of time, so you have to kill each enemy in a given room in a short enough time to maintain the damage bonus. Efficiently avoiding enemy attacks (because time spent getting hit is time spent not killing things) and striking without bouncing off their defenses, and flowing from enemy to enemy, in other words.

    Meanwhile, cancelling your actions in midair with a parry has an almost fighting-game ring to it, though it wouldn’t be the first platformer to have something like that.

    Anyways, everything I’ve heard about the game has got me pretty pumped.

    • Wow, I never thought of that, but you’re right! Maybe they didn’t even realize it themselves, but it definitely is similar to the cursed sword concept.

      Personally, I wish they’d borrowed a little bit more from those games. I loved the PS2 Shinobi to death. Frankly, I like it better than Shinobi 3. Still haven’t gotten around to Nightshade though. Is it good/better?

      • Exkaiser

        Nightshade’s good, but it’s a little weaker than Shinobi on a number of levels. Graphically, it’s less distinct- a lot cleaner overall, and Hibana’s techno scarf isn’t as striking as Hotsuma’s scarf- and the really satisfying shots after a long combo have the enemies just falling down and disappearing, instead of sliding in half and falling apart in gory style.

        Gameplay-wise, there’s a bit too much of using enemies as platforms to cross pits (like using the homing attack in 3D Sonic games), and too many side rooms where they trap you and have you kill upwards of 50 enemies before you can leave. It also feels a bit easier than Shinobi, at least comparing each game’s Normal modes.

        There’s still the bonus unlockable characters (in addition to Joe and Hotsuma’s brother, there’s naturally Hotsuma himself and one or two new ones) which shake up the gameplay, and the bonus challenge rooms are pretty fun.

        It’s not a better game, but it’s not a bad one, either. It’s just a little less distinct, less sharp than Shinobi.

        • Mmm…it does sound interesting though, going by some of what you mentioned. Just a question of picking the game up and plugging the PS2 back in…

          Thanks for the impressions. I might actually go and do it one of these days, haha. I’ve been wanting to replay Shinobi for ages as well. :p

          • Exkaiser

            Reminds me of how I need to get back to my Hard mode run of Shinobi and maybe- just maybe- finish getting enough crests to unlock Joe.

          • I never did manage to do that… I don’t remember where it was but I got stuck on one of the platforming sections halfway through the game and never managed to cross it. Shinobi was the good kind of pain though. :p

  • BelmontHeir

    Considering the shaky state of many 3DS games these days, I’m glad this game is on track and sounding pretty cool.

  • Yesshua

    Actually, I think this is way cool.  I like pretty things, I like 2D platformers, and I like the sound of how the game encourages fluidity.  I’m not quite convinced to the point that I won’t wait for reviews, but I’m getting there.

  • This looks pretty sick. Definitely keeping an eye on this, because the 3DS needs all the love it can get.

  • XypherCode

    cool system! :D

  • dragoon_slayer12

    II still remember fighting spider man and running the roof tops to fight the twins in the club of revenge. Hopefully this will be as memorable as the genesis titles.

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