Shinobi (SMS) Walkthrough

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Shinobi (SMS) Walkthrough

~by tankMage (January 2020)


This guide was created specifically for Shinobi on the Sega Master System. Many of the names of enemies, magic, and weapons were taken from the manual, but there were a few instances where I had to make names up, especially for things that appear near the end of the game. Players should know that they only get a few lives and there is no way to continue the game if you run out of lives or decide to turn the SMS off.

1. Basics

Here are some of the basic concepts of Shinobi.

a. Controls 

Moving: Use the D-Pad to walk left or right.

Duck: Press Down on the D-Pad to crouch.

Jumping: The 2 Button makes Joe jump. Press a direction along with 2 to make him jump in that direction. Hold up, then hit 2 and Joe will perform a super jump that allows him to leap on top of things like roofs and crates. Press Down and 2 to make Joe drop down from certain surfaces.

Attacking: The 1 Button makes Joe Mushashi fire his long range weapon. Pressing 1 near an enemy will result in a melee attack.

Using Magic: To use a spell you must first acquire one from a bonus stage, then defeat 10 enemies (the spell icon will flash once the last enemy is down), next hold the 2 Button.* Joe will jump, then stand facing the player after landing, press 1 to activate the spell while still holding 2.

*Note: Spells can only be cast in the order they were acquired.

b. Ranged Weapons

Joe will throw or fire a weapon at any foe that’s more than a few steps away from him. Ranged weapons are listed below from weakest to strongest. Both the knife and shuriken can be blocked by certain enemies, but stronger weapons can punch through defenses. Saving certain hostages will upgrade Joe’s ranged weapons.

Shuriken: Joe’s most basic projectile. It will take a couple of shurikens to take out stronger foes like green ninjas.

Knife: A bit stronger than the shuriken, but enemies can still block it with their swords or shields. Has a faster rate of fire than shurikens.

Bomb: This weapon is unique in that it is thrown in an arc and bounces towards a foe before exploding. Crouching and pressing 1 will make Joe roll a bomb along the ground. The explosion from this weapon cannot be blocked. 

Pistol: Basically a bomb that’s fired in a straight line. Has a faster rate of fire than bombs.

c. Melee Weapons

At close range Joe will use a melee attack to dispatch his opponents. Unlike ranged weapons, hostages will award the player with a specific melee weapon, rather than a linear upgrade.

Punch/Kick: Joe’s default weapon, quite weak, but effective nonetheless.

Sword: Has more power and range than bare hands. It’s also a great melee weapon, because it’s fast.

Nun-Chaku: Has a slower wind up than the sword, but more reach.

Manrikugari Chain: The chain has long reach and is nearly as fast as the sword.

d. Bonus Stages

Rescuing a hostage may give the player a chance to earn extra points and a magic spell after completing a stage. In each bonus round, the game transitions into a first person view and the player must hit ninjas that run around in the background with a shuriken. Use the D-Pad to aim and the 1 Button to shoot.

The ninjas will jump to a closer platform and eventually kick Joe, ending the round if you take too long to hit them. Try to hit the ninjas when they stop to jump to the next platform. You only have to survive the round to win, so focus on taking out ninjas that are threats. Bonus rounds get very difficult as the game advances.

e. Magic

Spells are acquired by successfully completing a bonus round. Hold 2 and press 1 after landing to cast a spell. You will need to kill ten enemies in your current stage to be able to use a spell. Spells cannot be used against bosses, so fire them off whenever you get the chance.

Metal Binding: Freezes enemies on screen. The icon resembles a rope or chain.

Eight Hands Magic: Clears the screen of enemies. The icon for this spell looks like an after image of Joe.

Invincibility: Represented by an outline of a ninja, this spell will make Joe invincible for a while.

Flying Squirrel: Allows Joe to fly. Not very useful until later in the game and getting hit will cancel the spell. Looks like a blanket.

Lightning: Works like Eight Hands, except it’s lightning. A lightning bolt icon represents this spell.

Tornado: Creates a tornado around Joe that destroys everything it touches. A tornado icon is used for this spell.*

*Honestly, I never managed to get this spell, the later bonus rounds are very tough and you only get a shot at them once in the game. Going from the description, it looks like it would be helpful in the final stages.

f. Powerups and Hostages

Hostages can be found scattered throughout each stage, often guarded by enemies. Simply walking over a hostage will count as a rescue and Joe will be given one of several rewards each time be frees a captive. It’s very easy to spot hostages and they are never hidden, so a cursory investigation of each stage is enough to find them all. The possible prizes for saving a hostage are as follows:

Points: The player gets 10,000 points. Points count towards extra lives, which are really helpful in Shinobi.

Life Up: Increases Joe’s max health by two bars.

Life Max: Fully restores your health.

Power Up (Ranged): Increases the power of Joe’s long range weapon, changing it from shuriken to knife and so forth.

Power Up (Melee): Increases damage from punches and kicks.*

Bonus Stage: Unlocks the shooting gallery round at the end of certain levels.

Sword: Equips Joe with the sword.

Nun-Chaku: Gives you a pair of Nun-Chaku.

Chain: Short for the Manrikugari Chain.

*Note: You will get the same message for picking up a melee powerup as you do for grabbing the ranged one.

g. Level Select

Usually I wouldn’t put something like this in the “Basics” section of a walkthrough, but considering the lack of a Continue feature of any sort, some players may wish to use this to skip the levels they have already played through.

Press Down, Down, Left, Right, Up, Up, then Start on the Title screen to bring up the level select.

2. Walkthrough

This game is divided up into sections according to the boss. Every section is composed of several short levels. The boss of each section is separate from the rest of the stages.

a. Ken Oh 

Level 1

The first stage of Shinobi will allow you to familiarize yourself with the basic workings of the game. Get used to pressing Up and jumping to get on top of rooftops and other high places. Take time to rescue all of the hostages as well, especially the one near the end, who will refill your health.

Most of the enemies here are easy to deal with. Duck, take cover, or prepare to jump over a bullet if you see a guy with a gun. There is one gunner hiding behind a crate that is difficult to hit since only the top of his head is exposed. Either drop down on him from the roof above him or carefully aim a shuriken at his head.

The sword and shield fighters (Mongo) are the main obstacle in this level, because they will block your shots and throw their swords at you. Duck when you see one of these guys, since they always throw at chest level.* Wait until they throw their weapon to fire or take them out with a close quarters attack. Watch out for their swords, which return like boomerangs.

*I’ve also seen Mongos throw their swords at ankle height later in the game, so be ready to jump.

Level 2

Duck and throw some stars as soon as the stage begins. This will take out the guy running at you and protect you from the flying sword that comes from the Mongo behind him. Crab walk over to the Mongo so you can defeat him and watch out for the gunners behind the crates. Pop up and throw a star at the first gunner, then walk over to the one sitting down and stab it. 

You will encounter your first Fly Ninja, who is clinging to the wall just above the gunners. Carefully walk over to him and attack the moment he drops down. The rest of this stage is fairly basic, just keep an eye out for Fly Ninjas. You can hit many of them with the shuriken if you stay on high ground. The first boss is just beyond this stage.

Boss: Ken Oh

The first of the bosses, this guy just stands on the right end of the screen and shoots slow moving clouds of flame at Joe. One flame travels high, the other comes in a bit lower. Dodging them is a bit tricky, but you can do so reliably if you try to jump over the low flame.

Ken Oh himself is covered in thick armor from head to toe. His only weak point is the slit in his helmet that allows him to see. Jump up and fire off a shuriken or knife just before Joe hits the apex of his jump. Depending on how many Powerups you collected, it will take about 4 to 6 hits to kill him. The main trick to this battle is precise shooting, so pay attention to how you fire, rather than trying to shoot quickly.

b. Black Turtle 

Level 1

Two thugs will come at you the moment the stage starts, so attack right away. Mongos are very common in this stage; proceed carefully to avoid being struck by a thrown sword. After going forward a bit, you will see a Mongo by a hostage and another one in the upper right side of the screen. Ignore the first hostage for now and take out the Mongo in the upper right so you can drop down on the gunner below it. From there you can safely defeat the first Mongo and rescue the hostage.

The last part of this stage is pretty rough, because you will have a Mongo and gunner shooting at you. You can use the Metal Binding Magic to freeze these guys if you have it, or jump up and pick off the Mongo from afar. This section is actually harder if you have the bomb, but you can get through it by hopping over the enemy’s shots very carefully.

Level 2

Overall, this level is pretty easy. It may seem like you’ve reached a dead end after you jump onto the second floor of the area, but you can actually jump to another floor by pressing Up and 2. Jump from the crates on the far right to avoid leaping into a bunch of bad guys when attempting to get to the third floor.

The Mongos are placed rather deviously in this area, so be ready to duck or jump while going forward. There’s a somewhat secret hostage on the fourth floor of this stage that will give you a nun-chaku. To reach it, jump while on some crates on the right side of floor 3. 

Level 3

Tip: In true ninja fashion, Joe Musashi can walk on the water in this stage, use this to your advantage.

The first part of this stage is made up of pillars jutting out of the water. Frogmen will spring out of the water and slash at you with swords when you jump onto a pillar. To avoid damage, jump on the very edge of each pillar and inch forward to trigger the Frogmen, then crouch and attack them. The Frogmen usually come in from the right, so they are fairly predictable.

Sometimes two Frogmen hide between pillars, so keep attacking as you inch forward even if you think you’re safe. Stay crouched at the last two pillars so you can shoot the Mongos and gunner to the right without being hit.

Boss: Black Turtle

How many ninjas can you fit into a helicopter? Apparently, the answer is ten million, because the ninjas that jump out of the helicopter in this battle seem endless. In fact, they are endless and will basically distract you from your real target, which is the nose of the helicopter. 

Stand in front of the nose of the heli and fire your weapon. This should hit any ninjas that hop out of the doors and damage the helicopter when it gets low enough to be hit. Keep an eye out for rockets fired by the helicopter (try to jump over them) and keep the jumping ninjas under control to win this battle.

c. Mandara

Level 1

Stay on the lower part of this stage if you want to save all of the hostages. Start shooting right away to take down the two green ninjas that charge you when the level begins. The green ninjas can block weak weapons like the knife and shuriken, so kneel and shoot them if you don’t have a bomb or pistol.

You will encounter thugs with bazookas here, they are not much different from gunners aside from the fact that they can fire in an arc as well as straight. Watch out for the usual Mongos in this area.

Jump up onto the higher tier when you get to a cave guarded by a few jumping ninjas to make defeating them easier.

Level 2

You cannot jump down from the pipes in the entrance to this stage. The gunners in this stage are really annoying, since they lay on their stomachs and all of your shots will fly over then. Hop over their shots and towards them, then crouch and get them at melee range to defeat them.

You should see a darker blue section of pipe at the far right end of this area after getting the Life Max hostage. Jump down from the dark blue pipe to the lower section, then head left. You’ll see more dark blue pipe after fighting a few bazooka dudes, jump down from it and double back right.

The Mongo by the section of pipe that bends downward is a pain, just get close to him and hit him with a close range attack. Hop down from yet another section of dark blue pipe and go left. This next part is a bit tricky, because it looks like a dead end when you hit the wall on the left, but you can actually jump down from here to an area with giant boxes. 

Jump up and shoot to take out the Fly Ninjas and go into the cave to the right.

Level 3

Two green ninjas will drop down on you from both sides, crouch and kill one, then quickly turn and defeat the next. You will run into a different type of green ninja that will charge towards you and jump back in the level. Stay low and attack them.

Look out for jumping ninjas just past a Mongo before the end.

Boss: Mandara 

Mandara has two phases and is perhaps the toughest boss in the game. Do not touch the electric beam on the left side of the screen at any point in this battle or you will die instantly.

Phase 1

The first phase is the worst part of this fight and quite possibly the most difficult section of the game. You will need precise timing and a little luck to get through this. 16 statues stacked on top of each other to form a 4×4 block will slowly glide towards Joe Mushashi. You will have to destroy these statues before they push you into the electric beam on the left. 

The weapon you use on these statues doesn’t really matter as it will always take four hits to destroy each statue. In order to fire quickly enough to clear away all the enemies, rapidly press the 1 Button to fire your weapon while pressing Down on the D-Pad repeatedly. This should force Joe to shoot an extra bullet or shuriken, which will make it possible to eliminate the statues more quickly. You should start firing and inching towards the statues in the beginning of the fight to ensure you do enough damage to survive. If the statues get too close, take a step or two back just after you fire a bullet to reposition yourself.

This method is tricky and it may take several tries to beat Mandara’s first phase, but it does work. Another way to defeat the statues is to fire four shots at the lowest statue, then immediately jump and start shooting the one above it as it falls. Remember to stay a few body lengths from the statues so your shots connect more quickly. After all of the statues are gone, Mandara’s second form will appear to the right.

Phase 2

While the first part of this battle requires precise timing, the second half is really easy. A giant face will move up and down along the wall to the right, spitting boulders at you. He will always spit a boulder that bounces high into the air when he reaches the top of the screen, then spit a boulder that rolls on the ground when he touches the floor.

You will have to jump over the boulder that rolls on the floor, but you can ignore the one that bounces as long as you stand about five steps from the beam to the left. Jump and fire a shot at the red orb on the face’s forehead to damage him. The pattern is really easy to learn, so just focus on staying alive in this part of the fight and get hits in when there’s an opening.

d. Lobster

Level 1

Duck, then shoot the green ninja that comes at you and step forward, then turn and attack the jumping ninja as soon as the action starts. The rest of this stage is pretty easy, though you may want to use magic when you get to an area by a building that’s guarded by two Mongos and a yellow ninja that throws bones.

Level 2

I won’t go into great detail about this level, because there’s really not much to say. You will have to deal with a jumping ninja right away, so be ready to react to him. Gunners in this stage are placed in clever locations, but you can avoid being should if you stay low and scroll forward cautiously. 

Finally, there are lethal pitfalls in this stage, but it’s not hard to jump over them.

Level 3

The pitfalls in this stage are much harder to clear and you will need to stand on the edge of the platform to make most of the jumps. On top of that, enemies that hop in from the right and left side of the screen will often harass you as you try to jump. 

Go extra slow here and keep an eye on the edge of the screen. Prioritize defeating enemies, especially the jumpers, before attempting to leap from one spot to another. You will also have to deal with sword throwing Mongos, so be extra cautious. Flying Squirrel and Invincibility magic really come in handy in this stage if you have either spell.

Boss: Lobster

Remember how difficult Madara was? Well, Lobster is nothing like him. In fact, he’s easier than the first boss. He will run towards you, wagging his sword up and down. Just back away, jump, and take a shot at his head when you reach the peak of your jump. Lobster may block your projectile with his sword, but you can get the timing down pretty quickly if you pay attention to its pattern.

Hitting Lobster will knock him back, giving you some breathing room. About five or six good blows will put this boss down.

e. The Masked Ninja

Level 1

Green ninjas and one of the yellow guys will swarm you at the start of the level. Try to duck and get to the middle of the screen, then counterattack. After dealing with them, jump onto the wall and walk along it.

Be careful if you jump down from the wall, the dark brown areas of the ground are deadly pits. You will see a hostage with a Mongo next to her, walk right a bit more and drop down some distance from the Mongo, because he will back up, knocking you into the pit if you try to jump down next to him. Keep going forward along the wall, taking out more green ninjas to get to the end of this stage.

Level 2

This stage is a nightmare thanks to the flying ninjas that attack from odd angles. The best I could do to keep from being hit by them was jump and fire a shuriken every few steps in hopes of catching one in mid air. I’ll do my best to describe this stage in detail.

The first flying ninja comes in from the upper right after you take a few steps forward. Jump and shoot him. Be ready to jump, pivot, and fire after you take a few more steps forward, because a flying ninja will come in from behind. After that, you just have to defeat a jumping ninja.

Be ready to jump, turn and fire again when a stone lantern appears on the screen, because another flying ninja will swoop in from behind. Jump and fire off a shuriken after hopping onto the lantern, because a flying ninja will come straight towards you after you land. Drop down from the lantern and start shooting as soon as you touch the ground to take out another flying ninja that will bounce off the lamp in front of you.

You will have to hop immediately and fire at another flying ninja behind you after jumping on top of the second lamp. Defeat the bone thrower below the lamp and shoot as soon as you step forward to defeat yet another flyer. 

More flying ninjas will assail you when you get to the rock with a Mongo and a Hostage. This time duck and shoot as you walk forward to take them out. The area below is protected by more Mongos and a green ninja. The only way I got past this was to drop down in front of the first Mongo, take the hit, and focus on killing everything. 

From there it’s actually safer to rush past the lamps as the flyers will miss you, just take out the jumping ninjas or they will be a problem. If you have magic, use it in this stage.

Level 3

This stage is nowhere near as bad as the last one. The guys with kenpo sticks can be dangerous, but you can beat them pretty consistently if you duck and attack. You will need to super jump to upper floor to proceed from the beginning and drop down in a few areas. Aside from that, if you got through the previous stage, you can get through this without issue.

Boss: Masked Ninja

This is it, the final showdown! The Masked Ninja is fairly tough and requires precise timing to beat, but he’s not as bad as Mandara. With that in mind, he will change tactics after taking a few hits and has four phases, which are as follows:

Phase 1

This guy starts out by jumping around with a protective shield that will repel your attacks. He can can kill Joe pretty fast by just jumping into him, but there’s a trick to beating him. Walk up to him and punch him in the face when he lands. Your positioning is very important, since you will shoot at the Masked Ninja if you are too far away or get hit if you get too close. About three hits will send him into his next phase.

Phase 2

The Masked Ninja will spin around like a tornado and fire blades of air at different heights. Stand in one spot and shoot at him, then duck and hit him with a close range attack when he gets into striking distance. He will back away after being hit and repeat the pattern. A few good kicks will begin the third round.

Phase 3

The boss will jump high into the air and create a clone that follows him every time he lands. Walk under him when he jumps, turn, and throw a shuriken at the boss. This should allow you to end this phrase without even being hit if you can master the pattern.

Phase 4

Ok, this phase is strange. The Masked Ninja will run towards you, kick you, then run past you. Let him do this, then start shooting him when he runs past you and keep it up. The shots should hit him and stun lock him until he dies… and that’s it. Enjoy the great ending.

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