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Shadow Dancer (シャドー・ダンサー), known as Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi on Master System covers, is an action platform game developed by Sega for the Sega System 18 arcade system in 1989. A port of the game was published by Sega for the Sega Master System, and ports to several home computers were published by U.S. Gold. Alongside The Revenge of Shinobi, this game was the first sequel to Shinobi.
The young Ninja battles together with his faithful pet dog. In the center of the city, a group of terrorists are committing known to man, including the planting of time bombs throughout the metropolis. Our youthful hero and his canine companion courageously set out to gather all the explosives placed by the evil gang and annihilate the syndicate that manipulates them.
At the time of release, Shadow Dancer was not strictly affiliated with Shinobi in terms of plot, though the set-up is very similar to the original arcade game. The naming of the characters varies between home versions of the game, as do their motives.
Shadow Dancer expands on the gameplay seen in Shinobi, being a side-scrolling action game inspired by the likes of Namco's Rolling Thunder. The original game's moveset remains in-tact, however rather than saving children, the task is to defuse bombs. Most notably, Shadow Dancer adds an AI-controlled dog which can be used to take down enemies.
Master System version
Shadow Dancer on the Master System retains a lot of the arcade game's content, but simplifies the graphics and sound to better suit the hardware. Level layouts are slightly different, and the decision to use sprites similar in size to the arcade version means that fewer enemies can appear on screen at any one time. Sprite flicker is a common sight, and entire sections of levels are removed to save space.
The most striking omission in the Master System version of Shadow Dancer is the dog as an active character, but it is still available as a game mechanic. When a valid target is onscreen, the player must crouch. While crouched, the ninja magic icon will slowly transform into a a dog head. When the icon is completely full, it will move to the target enemy's location. Pressing attack will cause the dog to appear out of nowhere and attack the enemy. If no valid target exists, the icon will not move and pressing attack while crouched will perform a normal attack.
Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum versions
The Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum versions of Shadow Dancer share similar cutbacks and are likely based on the same code. Both versions opt for a more zoomed-in look than is perhaps ideal, introducing extra vertical scrolling. Music is nonexistent (save for the title screen if running on a 128kB Spectrum) and sound effects are limited. Both also omit some backgrounds, presumably to save space.
The Amstrad uses more colours but the Spectrum runs in a higher screen resolution.
Commodore 64 version
On the Commodore 64, Shadow Dancer has no in-game music. While the backgrounds are simplified considerably on the C64, an attempt was made to retain the parallax scrolling, which is missing in most home versions of the game.
Amiga and Atari ST versions
Images created the Amiga and Atari ST versions simultaneously, targeting the ST first and then porting the game's contents to the Amiga, where minor improvements would be added. Sega did not give the team access to the game's source code, so sprites were copied from a video of the game and touched up in the Atari ST version of OCP Art Studio.
As was to be expected, the two versions are very similar, however the Atari ST omits the introduction sequence to save space. Parallax scrolling is missing in both versions, as are the intermission screens.