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Deja Vu Gaming by cyke Written on 18th August 2002

Well, I certainly wasn't expecting that.

Somewhat bored and at a loose end while staying at my folks place for the weekend, my boredom led me once more to the attic bedroom which has rapidly become junk central. I've been slowly making my way through reading about 6000 DC and Marvel comicbooks and tidying up and dumping many leftovers from my life. My harsh clearout took me today to my old Sega Master System. It was time for it to go to the console graveyard in the sky. Also known as "my bin".

An addict like me couldn't resist opening the box though. I didn't have a reason, you just don't not look at these things.

It's like the time I was a passenger in a fast moving vehicle when the driver, who was a real car "buff" rotated his neck like an owl to look at a parked car we'd just passed. The fact he was doing high speed and had sole responsibility for the wheel, and by relation, our lives had nothing to do with it. As we mounted the pavement and narrowly missed going through a bridge wall, I thought to myself "fuck" (well, what did you expect?). Suddenly though, I can understand the loss of concious control. That little Sega box deserved a good looking at.

You know, like when you go to look at the dead body at a funeral. Last respects, that sort of thing.

Inside was the unique little machine and a couple of games, one of which was Shinobi. I had completely forgot that I ever owned it, and I still can't recall now how it ever came into my possession.

A little sweat broke out on my brow.

I felt the need.

A plan broke out in my head.

Ten minutes later I'd found the power box (which was in my Amiga 600 box somehow), had hooked her up to an old tv, everything was plugged in, then power, and life was breathed into the Master System.

I have to tell you, she powered up and loaded Shinobi as if she'd been doing it every day for the last 5 years. Because that's about how long it's been since she was last looked at. Sturdy workmanship at the Sega plant was paying dividends before my very eyes!

And there it was. The title screen of Shinobi.

Within the first minute of play, I became aware of the strangest sensation. It felt as if I...could it be? Yes...I do...I can't believe it...

I KNOW THE F*CKING ATTACK PATTERNS. I'm firing off shots to hit targets that are about to come on screen, I'm dodging attacks with ease, sensing where they will come from and when, I'm charging through levels without pausing, cutting my way through the resistance without hesitation or need for input from my brain. My fingers know what's needed when.

The moment comes for my special magical attack and my brain rebels "it was something complicated" it warns me, but whats this? fingers have held down button 2 until shinobi stands still in contemplation then BOOM button 1 has been hit and everything on screen drops dead. In the still moment afterwards I wonder is this what it feels like to be Jedi? To be psychic?

Enough thought! I'm plowing through end of level bad guys like "Ken Oh", "Black Hawk" and while the mighty "Mandara" gives me problems it's only because pixel perfect rapid fire is needed, earning him the respect of being the second hardest boss in the game. Sliding effortlessly through the fourth level I obliterate yet another guardian.

And while my fingers are dealing out the requisite death, and my smile is making me look like a victim of some form of rictus, my brains taking notes for this article.

Like the Green Ninjas. Highly trained killing machines, sadly their years of training didn't teach them to block low as everything you fire below their groin gets past their swords which are held high.

Gaining a new weapon like grenades saddened me momentarily. I recalled their limited range when thrown. Then immediately I crouched and rolled them, increasing their range without the impact of a throw. Spooky.

I haven't played this game in years. I swear to you. It was one of my favourite games in my youth, and I played the arcade version, this version and the Amiga version heavily, but this is uncanny. I spent 7 years in high school and I don't remember a damned thing. But I can remember on the pipes level in stage three to duck immediately when jumping down onto ground level to avoid a shot from a gun carrying foe. Oh, I can't remember why, but I know to do it.

So how far did I get? The second stage on the final level, which is where things always got hard, and the difficulty increased rapidly. In my best days getting here was respectable enough, and now here I was.

It's as close to an out of body experience as if I've got and I'm pleased to report there wasn't any bright light beckoning me to come closer.

Needless to say, the Master System has had a reprieve. And I'm off to Ebay just out of curiosity to see if there are any good games going cheap....


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