Shadow Dancer is a side-scrolling action game produced by Sega originally released as an arcade game in 1989. It is the second arcade game in the Shinobi series, following the original Shinobi itself. The game was developed on the Sega System 18 motherboard hardware. Home versions were released for the Master System and various home computers. A remake was also developed for the Mega Drive/Genesis titled Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi.
The play mechanics of Shadow Dancer are not much different from the arcade version of the original Shinobi. Like its predecessors, the controls of an eight-way joystick and three buttons (attack, jump, and "ninja magic") and almost all of the player's moves from the original Shinobi are present here as well. The biggest change to the play mechanic is the addition of a canine companion that follows the player around. When the dog barks towards an enemy, the player can sic the dog on the enemy by pressing the attack button while crouching, allowing the player an opportunity to attack the enemy while he's being bitten by the dog. However, if the player takes too long to attack the bitten enemy or the enemy has a strong defense, then the dog will be hurt and he will turn into a harmless pup and will remain in that form until the player gets his next time bomb or finishes the stage. The dog does not appear during boss battles.
The player's weapons consists of an unlimited supply of shurikens which he throws from a distance and a sword which he swings when an enemy is near him. When the player collects a certain time bomb in each stage, it will his replace his regular shurikens into stronger fiery versions, as well as his sword into powerful punches and kicks, for the remainder of the stage or current life. The player can also use from one of three random "Ninja Magic" spells that will clear the entire screen of enemies. Normally, these spells can only be used once per stage, but if the player loses all of his lives and gets a Game Over, he will restart the stage with two spells when he continues. Likewise, he will restart with three spells from the third continue and onward. If the player completes a stage without using shurikens or spells, he will be awarded with bonus points.
Between missions, the player will participate in a bonus stage where he must shoot down (from his character's perspective) an army of ninjas dropping down from a building. If the player successfully completes a bonus round, he will be awarded with an extra life.
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