Enter the Video Game World of Shinobi Ninja, Get FREE Music!
Words by Joanna Buffum
When we first heard about the New York City-based band Shinobi Ninja, we were a little skeptical…”Shinobi” basically means “Ninja” in Japanese. So the band’s “Ninja Ninja”? Or maybe the name is a reference to Joe Musashi, the Shinobi Ninja of Sega’s classic Shinobi Series? In which case, we’re listening…
And guess what — they sound great! Blending the lilting melodies of reggae with the volume of metal and the rhythm of hip hop, Shinobi Ninja is like an out-of-control house party. These six crazy neon-wearing kids go by old-skool names like Maniac Mike, Baby Girl, and Terminator Dave, and seem to inhabit a cartoon universe where normal rules don’t apply, but maybe video game rules do. They thrive on live interaction with their fans, from stealing beer out of the crowd’s hands at outdoor college shows to inviting people up on stage to show off their beatboxing skills.
With this combination of animated energy and live swagger (like Gorillaz, only far far more manic) it’s not surprising that Shinobi Ninja recently incorporated their music into a virtual realm to provide fans with a multi-media adrenaline rush.
In a fantastic use of 21st century technology, the band created an iPhone app, Brooklyn to Babylon: Shinobi Ninja Attacks! in February. You select a band member to represent you and battle your way through the streets of New York City like it’s 1997 and you’re on your living room floor with a Nintendo controller. The mission? To conquer ridiculous caricatures of New York’s finest, like fist-pumping bar hoppers and creepy muggers, with instruments that morph into medieval weapons at your convenience. The goal? To ultimately find the mythical Club Babylon where you play the craziest concert of your life. At the end of each level, the player is rewarded with free Shinobi Ninja songs and music videos. The smartphone game can even sense if you are at a live Shinobi Ninja concert with its super high-tech awareness – also known as a GPS – and automatically rewards you with even more free music and promotions. Clever!
Remember the days when music came from a shiny round disc in a jewel case? Well, those were always kind of crappy, but it was kind of nice to be able to touch what you bought, right?
In a weird way, it’s like Shinobi Ninja found a way to put digital music back in our hands — the excitement that used to come from flipping through a CD booklet or slipping a record out of its sleeve is generated in a different way as you barrel through a tangible landscape of songs and kung fu. If you beat the game, the prize is a free copy of their debut album The Video Game EP, out on June 29th.
And just to avoid inevitable confusion, the album name is The Video Game EP, and the iPhone app video game is called Brooklyn to Babylon: Shinobi Ninja Attacks! Phew. These Ninja Ninja guys are the best.
Download Shinobi Ninja’s “Rock Hood” FREE!
Stream The Video Game EP
Watch Shinobi Ninja performing “Rock Hood” at SXSW