I Learned Something Today: Shadow Dancer

When I first considered the ramifications of a huge, shadowy evil organization going on a rampage, taking over airports, city streets and bridges and then taking civilians hostage and strapping them with explosives just to add insult to injury, the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team was number one on my speed dial.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t taken into account that any group with enough nefarious technology to make manholes erupt in columns of flame and equip their female capos with weapons like spinning, heat seeking blades of death and improbable body armor wasn’t going to be fazed by normal, everyday counter-terrorist experts; what was needed to make the streets safe again was a young ninja with a gigantic wolf-dog named Yamato, a penchant for revenge and the ability to use ancient, secret ninja magic.  At that moment, I realized that I needed to learn the lessons of Shadow Dancer.

The Lessons of Shadow Dancer

  1. Release the hound
  2. Boomerang manhole covers < Shuriken
  3. Ninjas don’t need stairs
  4. Magic is for bosses

Contrary to what you might expect, a skin-tight armor plated merrywidow does not impede combat effectiveness.

Release the Hound

I learned something today.  If you’re ever hiding behind cover and overwhelmed by gunfire, the best way to deal with it is to wait for your trusty canine companion to ready himself and sic him on your assailants where he can immobilize them until you dispatch them.  Although you might be worried about him being shot, don’t be.  It’s a verified, if not well known fact that once a dog begins his charge towards a  enemy, he will be invulnerable unless the target is protected by special shielding (like manhole covers).  If you’re not convinced, keep in mind that when you release your hound, he will be enveloped in an eerie blue-white glow and develop the general characteristics of a comet at perihelion, blinding any potential shooters.  Even if he does take damage, remember, he’ll just turn into a useless puppy until you can locate a token to make him big again.  Thanks, Shadow Dancer!

Boomerang manhole covers < shuriken

I learned something today.  I had thought that a piece of metal with multiple prongs like a shuriken would be easily defeated by a thug wielding dual manhole covers that not only functioned as shields but as gigantic yo-yos of death.  I was partially right.  Most thugs who have mastered the art of chucking manhole covers with enough side-spin to return to them are quite adept at deflecting a carelessly tossed ninja star.  However, it turns out that if you use your pattern recognition skills, you can time your throw, duck under the incoming manhole cover and still score a bulls eye, keeping you, your dog and your city safe. Thanks, Shadow Dancer!

Despite the inflagration around us, my dog's fur remains lush and white like driven snow.

Ninjas don’t need stairs

I learned something today.  While Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes taught me that ninjas are masters of concealment and surprise, I had no idea that they were able to control the very forces of gravity, leaving stairs to lesser martial arts masters like Shao-Lin monks and Chuck Norris.  When the time comes to take out the ninja equivalent of Red Shirts scaling your building, the proper technique isn’t to lean over the edge and toss shruiken like a shooting gallery, rather it is to leap off the edge of the building and SHOOT ALL NINJAS!  Now I know that if my high-rise office is ever under siege, silly European ideas of defense like boiling oil and rocks are nowhere near as effective as a leap of faith followed by a flurry of star-throwing…and knowing is half the battle.  Thanks, Shadow Dancer!

Magic is for bosses

With Harry Potter and Percy Jackson out there slinging spells like there’s no tomorrow, I figured that if I was in a tough spot, pinned down by manhole covers, bullets and earthquake debris that the best answer was to utilize my ninja magic and call forth a meteor storm or twin tornadoes.  While it did wipe out all of my enemies, my following battle against a charging subway train filled with bad guys didn’t end well because I hadn’t learned my lesson – magic is for bosses.  No matter how tempting it is to phase in and out of existence milliseconds at a time, striking down multiple enemies, the right approach with your run-of-the-mill terrorists is a patient approach.  Falling prey to the instant gratification of sending a wave of fire across the screen to strike down your opponents will only eliminate your chances of moving on.  Now I know the error of my ways: ninjas aren’t wizards and their store of mana is limited and only for the direst of situations… like a boss fight.  Thanks, Shadow Dancer!

If you want to do real magic, you don't use a wand. You use a sword. And kanji.


Despite the advancement of things like kevlar body armor reinforced with ceramic, thermal-and-night-vision scopes and flash bangs, the use of paramilitary forces to combat terrorist organizations only goes so far.  When you’re dealing with an unknown, well funded entity who manages to take over an entire city, you need a ninja…and not just any ninja.  You need one with a dog; one who prefers the elegance of a throwing star; one who eschews stairs and fortress warfare in favor of free-fall kill fest; one who knows the ancient ways of ninja magic.  Be wary, SPECTRE – I know how to fight you now, so my home town is safe! Thanks, video games!

I Learned Something Today – Who says that video games can’t teach you life skills? Sure they may get you put in prison or banished from society, but they are skills nonetheless. We take an over-the-top look at some of the potential applications of what video games have taught us.


Giant Bomb (images)