- Developer: JKM CORP LTD
- Publisher: JKM CORP LTD
- Platforms: XBOX and PC
- Release Date: 10/14/2020
- Price: 23.99
So if anyone watched my video review for this title you heard me struggle to get it done, so hopefully this written review does a better job at informing you more about the release. I don’t want to leave out the emotions in my written review either though so I’ll start out with it here as well. In the early 90’s I was a lonely and depressed kid and my only real escape was in video games and comic books. I’m sure a lot of you can relate to that, and it’s amazing how these things provide sort of a security blanket for us. They give us an escape from reality when some of us have rough moments. Shinobi was an escape for me though. I’d go to an Arcade near my house and pump quarter after quarter into the machine. I think the owner realized what i was doing and started just leaving the machine open when I would arrive so I could keep using my same quarter. I’d be the only person in there, and I guess he could probably tell what that machine done for me. The moment I saw this I got really emotional because it took me right back to my love for Shinobi, and what it done for me. “Shadow Gangs” just delivers right from the start that 90’s arcade feeling. I was taken right back to Shinobi, Double Dragon, Bad Dudes all those games I knew and loved. JKM just did an amazing job at capturing that, and I can say with ease this was the best modern retro title I’ve played this year. It is just a nearly perfect videogame that is a must for retro fans gaming collections. I really hope this gets a physical release from Limited Edition or one of these other limited run indie release teams. Let’s go away from how I feel about it though and get down to talking about this amazing game.
You play the role of Dan the current ninja order master. Your mission is to rescue your family from the Shadow Force crime organization, whose members are known as the Shadow Gangs. On the bottom right of the screen it will tell you just how many you have left to rescue, and you must rescue them all to advance to next checkpoint or to end the level. The levels are timed so it is important to explore, and learn their locations. There are 5 Missions and each has 2 levels. So ten levels in total. Each Mission area also has a epic Boss battle. You must beat each mission area with only three men and two continues. It’s okay if you die after beating a mission though because there is a mission select option to pick right back up on the mission you died on. If you die on a boss or second level of a mission though you have to play that entire mission over. It can be really challenging even on easy. So you will be playing some over and over trying to learn where the ninjas are hidden or learn enemy placement to avoid taking damage from them. Will even play some over learning Boss attack patterns. So I could see maybe people not fans of playing levels over or difficult games giving up on this early. That would be sad though because they would miss out on a really amazing game. Sort of like Dark Souls it has that feeling of accomplishment when you beat a boss or stage. It’s by no means as difficult, but it feels really good still to see what comes next.
The bosses in this game are just epic and remind me of pop culture characters like Freddie Mercury and Lex Luthor. Every time I made it to a new one , and they kicked my ass I couldn’t wait to make my way back to learn just how to defeat them next time. It didn’t always work that way though I died a lot. I never really got frustrated though, because it was so much fun. I did how ever get frustrated with the controls at times though. The way it works you have one attack button and one jump button. There is two other buttons but it’s the bumpers one does your special screen clearing special move the other drops a powerful landmine. The attack button either shoots or throws ninja stars until something gets close to you then it either kicks or uses a sword. I wish you could determine this on your own, because it leads to a lot of cheap death especially from above from jumping characters. Would been nice to choose to swing sword or jump kick with a button or throw projectiles when i wanted to. I understand though the original wasn’t like that though. Still would been cool to see the improvement added to modern though. Would have improved the experience and added so much to the combat. I can most times rack up a lot of things that need improved though or cons, and this is the only thing I could say about this title. It is just really perfection in my opinion. This is one of those games you could throw it into an Arcade cabinet right now throw it in an arcade and i don’t think anyone would notice it wasn’t from that era. I think most people would think wow I missed out on this one back then.
So let’s talk about the powerups a little. One of the powerups will give you your Ninja suit and a Uzi. This will allow you to shoot at enemies instead of throwing Ninja stars. It is a huge improvement because bigger enemies will swat down your stars, and they can\t do that to bullets. So you will want to try , and not die to keep this ability going because it makes it so much easier. There is also extra lives to be found, and even a drone that will fly above you and shoot as well. This is another one of those you will want to hold on to as long as possible. There are also special attacks where it flies around the screen killing everything. I usually tried to save these for the bosses, as well as the land mines. Both are very powerful attacks that seem wasted using through the levels unless you just have to because you’re surrounded. There are also Bonus levels that you can find hidden through levels or you go to directly after finishing a level. One you have a Uzi and you have to shoot at enemy ninjas trying to steal pickups from you. They are on a top and bottom level so you have to shoot normal or push up to hit them on higher level. To be honest I’m not sure what you are rewarded, because I never was able to beat one of these. They almost had me wishing for a cursor to move around like a rail shooter because I just couldn’t master this control system. There was also a level where Ninjas jump out of windows and you have to stop them from escaping. To be honest I can’t tell you what you get for this either, because this was super difficult as well. I look forward to getting it down though, and mastering it but due to time and needing to get this review out I didn’t have time to master it yet.
I’m going to close this review talking about the sights and sounds of “Shadow Gangs” I just really loved this art style. It really captured that 90’s arcade look, but with a modern upgrade. It looks like 80’s/90’s titles like “Double Dragon” or “Bad Dudes” but looks so much better as well. The colors are so bright, and everything is masterfully detailed. I can’t think of a game that delivered that look and feel in this genre so perfectly. The music is really rad as well. I read it took 5 years to make this soundtrack, and I believe it. It’s so well done, and adds to the action with 90’s style guitar rifts just blasting through your speakers or headset. The sounds of the game are great as well. It really sounds like a classic arcade beat’em up. I can’t express enough how you should have this in your collection if you were a fan of any of the classics I’ve named during this review. Shadow Gangs is a rare gem, one of those games that hit me emotionally. I’ll never forget the first time I played it, and I’ll come back to it over and over again. I can’t express how grateful I am to JKM for making this work of art, and sharing it with me. Thank You.
- Beautiful classic Arcade style graphics.
- Really Epic enemies and Bosses.
- Flawless level design. Really encourages exploration and looks amazing.
- Challenging game play. Easy to learn but difficult to master.
- Fast paced action and combat.
- Some modern gamers may find it too difficult for them and quit to early.
- Controls all though smooth don’t always respond like you would like them to. They stuck to the original concept though so I get it, but would loved to seen the old style approved upon.