Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi

From Sega Retro


Shadow Dancer- The Secret of Shinobi.png
Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
System(s): Sega Mega Drive, Sega Mega-Tech, Virtual Console, Steam
Sound driver: SMPS 68000
Genre: Action

Number of players: 1
Release Date RRP Code
Sega Mega Drive
¥6,000 G-4043
Sega Mega Drive
$? 1114
Sega Mega Drive
$? ?
Sega Mega Drive
$? ?
Sega Mega Drive
Sega Mega Drive
Sega Mega Drive
Sega Mega Drive
$? ?
Sega Mega Drive
R$? ?

Wii Virtual Console
Wii Virtual Console
Everyone 10+
Wii Virtual Console
$2.99[9] 34282
€2.49[11] 34282
£1.99[9] 34282
$3.49[9] 34282

Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi (シャドーダンサー ザ・シークレット・オブ・シノビ) is a game created in 1990 for the Sega Mega Drive by Sega. Though it shares a similar name and premise, the Mega Drive version of the game is very different to the original Shadow Dancer for the arcade, Master System and home computers.


A.D 1997, New York City

Having vanquished the evil crime empire Neo Zeed, Shinobi was not heard from again. His combat ninja skills were not needed in a peaceful world.

But a new threat arose. In a reptilian form that lived on vicious instinct alone. The colossal monster moved slowly and quietly, and its attack was relentless. The souls unfortunate enough to live became 'hostages' mass panic swept the streets.

It remained only for Shinobi to take action. The ninja of the shadows. His weapons were stealth and quickness of attack. His only allies when facing over whelming force.

Relying on ninja weapons and magic, Shinobi fought on. Assisted by his faithful dog. This is the story of their defiance..

The story according to the US manual adds extra detail that Joe Musashi (following the events of The Revenge of Shinobi) decided to visit his student, Kato in New York. Shortly after Joe left, Kato learned of the Union Lizard's takeover of an elementary school, in which he decided to assist in the rescuing of the hostages. However, Kato was fatally wounded by a subordinate of Union Lizard, and when Joe raced back in to the US, it was too late - Kato died from his wounds. After this, Joe swore to Kato's mother that he and Yamato (Kato's pet dog) would avenge Kato.

The Japanese version of the backstory differs from the overseas releases, in which the protagonist is not Joe Musashi, but his estranged son Hayate, who was born in 1977 and raised in the United States after being separated from his true parents. Kato (whose full name is Dick C. Kato) was Hayate's foster father in this version and the man who trained him in the ways of ninjutsu. This backstory implies that the events of The Super Shinobi took place sometime before 1977, although there's nothing in the original game to suggest this was meant to be the case.


Controls are virtually identical to other Shinobi games: A performs a ninjutsu move, B attacks, and C jumps. Ninjutsu is NOT selected from the pause menu like with other games. Holding B charges the attack of a companion attack dog (charge meter shown at the bottom of the screen; releasing B makes dog charge forward onto enemy to temporary hold him up. Control layout can be changed in option menu.

Tips and tricks

  • Changing the difficulty level has a big influence on enemy placements and their number. (unlike the other two Shinobi games on the system, where only health, lives etc. are reduced) Bosses remain unchanged aside from a boost in health.
  • The game has a few secret score opportunities e.g. defeating a boss with only one second on the timer remaining (using Ninjutsu) gives a big score bonus. Not using shurikens and Ninjitsu during the pre-boss sections also gives a score bonus.
  • Stage 5 is the only stage without a time limit. One can exploit the respawning Ninjas in room 4 and 5 to accumulate infinite score. Whether this is by design or an oversight isn't clear. However, the fact that this makes all other score techniques obsolete strongly hints at an oversight.


Notavailable.svg Burning Downtown
Notavailable.svg Battle on the Bridge
Notavailable.svg Statue of Liberty
Notavailable.svg In the Darkness
Notavailable.svg Union Lizard


The game is available as part of the Wii's Virtual Console service.

The game was was banned from sale in GermanyMedia:MD UK Box Back SonicEASDH Alt.jpg[12], and still classified to be unsuitable for younger audiences in Germany. Therefore it's missing from the Sega Mega Drive Collection in PAL regions.


There are no known differences (the Japanese release also displays English text), same ROM is used for all regions. Only music is optimized for PAL system, the gameplay is slower than intended.

Production credits

Source: In-game credits

Digital manuals

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<div style="width:Expression error: Unexpected < operator.px; padding-left:2px; padding-top:5px; padding-right:2px;">Steam manual

Magazine articles

Main article: Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi/Magazine articles.

Promotional material

BeepMD JP 1990-12.pdfBeepMD JP 1990-12.pdf

Print advert in Beep! MegaDrive (JP) #1990-12: "December 1990" (1990-11-08)

BeepMD JP 1991-01.pdfBeepMD JP 1991-01.pdf

Print advert in Beep! MegaDrive (JP) #1991-01: "January 1991" (1990-12-08)


Physical scans

Mega Drive version

Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
78 №41, p68[2]
73 №1990-12, p26[13]
68 №, p85[14]
63 №111, p76[15]
63 №3, p44[16]
58 №116, [1]
80 №20, p54/55[17]
89 №28, p71[18]
82 №30, p96[19]
80 №1991-01, p40
90 №3, p94[20]
90 №12, p122[21]
84 №1, p81[22]
59 №1, p80[23]
90 №10, p26/27[24]
79 №3/91, p139[25]
82 №9, p38[26]
90 №18, p32/33
80 №23, p54
89 №6, p28[27]
83 №18, p67
83 №25, p44
78 №18, p88
Sega Mega Drive
Based on
23 reviews

Mega Drive, US
ShadowDancerSoS MD US Box.jpg
Mega Drive, US (Sega Classic)
ShadowDancer MD US Box Classic.jpg
ShadowDancer MD US Cart.jpg
Mega Drive, EU
ShadowDancer MD EU Box.jpg
ShadowDancer MD EU Cart.jpg
Mega Drive, JP
ShadowDancer MD JP Box.jpg
ShadowDancer MD JP CartTop.jpg
ShadowDancer MD JP Cart.jpg
Shadowdancer md jp manual.pdf
Mega Drive, AU

Mega Drive, BR (cardboard)

Mega Drive, BR
Secretofshinobi md br cover.jpg
ShadowDancer MD BR Cart.jpg
Secretofshinobi md br manual.pdf
Mega Drive, CA
ShadowDancer MD CA Box.jpg

Mega-Tech version


ShadowDancer MegaTech Cart.jpg

External links


Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
Shadow Dancer- The Secret of Shinobi.png

Main page | Comparisons | Maps | Development | Magazine articles | Region coding | Technical information

Games in the Shinobi Series
Shinobi (1987) | Shadow Dancer (1989)
Sega Master System
Shinobi (1988) | The Cyber Shinobi (1990) | Shadow Dancer (1991)
Commodore Amiga
Atari ST
Amstrad CPC
Commodore 64
ZX Spectrum
IBM PC compatibles
Shinobi (1989)
Sega Mega Drive
The Revenge of Shinobi (1989) | Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi (1990) | Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master (1993)
Sega Game Gear
The GG Shinobi (1991) | The GG Shinobi II: The Silent Fury (1992)
Sega Saturn
Shinobi Legions (1995)
Nintendo Game Boy Advance
The Revenge of Shinobi (2002)
Sony PlayStation 2
Shinobi (2002) | Nightshade (2003)
Nintendo 3DS
Shinobi 3D (2011) | 3D Shinobi III (2013)
Shinobi related media
The Super Shinobi & Works (1989) | Shinobi Original Soundtrack (2002) | Legend of Joe Musashi: Shinobi Music Collection (2009) | Shinobi 3D Original Soundtrack (2012) | Kunoichi Original Soundtrack (2014) | Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master (2015) | The Revenge of Shinobi (2016)
Shin Shinobi Den Hisshou Kouryaku Hou (199x) | Shinobi: The Rise of Hotsuma (2002) | Shinobi The Complete Guide (2002) | Prima's Official Strategy Guide: Shinobi (2002) | Kunoichi Koushiki Guide Book (2003) | Kunoichi Perfect Guide (2004)