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After 34 years, classic ninja game gets fully remade as new roguelike

PCGamesN asked all about Shadow of the Ninja - Reborn at GDC 2024, discussing how this classic platformer is getting a roguelike makeover.

’90s side-scrolling platformers still very much have a place in modern videogames. The likes of Shovel Knight, Cyber Shadow, and the Messenger stand tall as modern platforming goodness, but there’s still room for the classics, too. This is exactly what Shadow of the Ninja – Reborn wants to prove, as it’s dropping as a full-blown reimagining later this year. The best part? It layers some incredibly cool roguelike concepts on top of the original.

A remake of the 1990 platforming classic, Shadow of the Ninja – Reborn will introduce a whole new generation to the ninja game. The original team is coming back and revitalizing the visuals, adding new weapons and tools, and revamping the two-player co-op gameplay.

We spoke with publishing producer at United Games Entertainment Felix Wagner about the release, and how it’s adding an all-new roguelike element, the item shop, to the new version of the game. You’ll need to unlock the likes of a gunpowder gun, cannonball, and shurikens for long-range attacks, with a giant club and machete offering up-close combat options.

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You’ll only have what you pick up for that one run though, and if you manage to beat the game (now six stages with a plethora of levels in them, instead of the original’s five) you’ll unlock those weapons in the shop, meaning you can add them into your potential arsenal for your next go around. This combines with multiple level paths and a steep difficulty curve to unite the old-school nature of arcade games with modern roguelike sensibilities, which Wagner says is what the team at Tengo Project is going for.

“With roguelikes, they kind of are the natural evolution of arcade games,” Wagner explains. “It’s generally a simple gameplay loop that you can get into, but then it’s layers on top of this that add to the replayability.”

If it sounds like this rework of Shadow of the Ninja – Reborn wants to take over all your time, Wagner assures that the classic design is still very much front and center, with no more roadblocks.

“There’s no grind, there’s no weekly unlocks or anything like that. It’s just you get the game, you don’t have to download the latest patch. It’s definitely a mix of gameplay and the kind of ease of getting into it,” Wagner adds. “You don’t have to invest a lot of time to be able to play.”

You’ll find Shadow of the Ninja – Reborn over on Steam right now, with a release slated for later this year.

We’ve also got all the best roguelike games and free Steam games for you to check out while you wait for Shadow of the Ninja – Reborn, which is currently estimated to come out in Q4 2024.

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Interview conducted by Ed Smith for PCGamesN at GDC.