Shinobi was an original ninja game in which you controlled a special ninja in a high-tech futuristic Japan setting. This game eventually turned into 2003's Shinobi for PS2, and now to its sequel – Nightshade. Nightshade is based on a female ninja working for a secret agency that takes care of mishaps that go horribly wrong (such as a demon world portal opening into the world). As Hibina, you will fight off many different monsters called “Hell Spawns”. These were brought into the world by Akujiki – a demon sword of great power. Shinobi originally defeated it in Shinobi for the PS2, but now shards of it are being used by evil mercenaries to unleash “Hell” unto earth.. finishing what Shinobi started.
Just as in Shinobi, the action is so fast paced and based on hand/eye coordination, that it requires even skilled gamers who have and haven't played the first game to push their limit. But thanks to previous experience with it, I can gladly say that it is much improved over the original system. Your ninja skills vary from dashing in any direction you want, to running on walls, to doing many fast attacks that can devastate anything in your way. Not only does NS have many skills to learn (like the air kick, which is needed for shielded opponents), but it is almost required that you keep them all on easy access as you never know when they could boost your score by thousands of points. Rewards go to those who time everything and do every attack and movement straight after the last, as the higher is your score, the better the grade.
All of the unlockables are based on how many 'secret clan coins' you find. From extra game modes to new characters, costumes, and levels – this means it will keep you going partly just to unlock new items to play with. Game modes include: Mission, Time Attack, and Story, each having varying objectives and difficulties. Mission has you going on different missions (unlocked in Story mode by finding Clan Coins) and doing objectives like “Kill this monster” or “unlock this area”. Time Attack is basically Story mode with a time limit, for the true elite trying to master their skills. Story mode basically goes through the storyline, showing more about Hibina and the real plot of Akujiki's demon power usage. I must include that it furthers the plot of Shinobi, and makes it quite a bit interesting. The story is great, but the only replay value is going back over the game in the different modes, trying to unlock secret characters and costumes (one of which includes the main man with the red scarf...).
There really can't be much in the sound area to describe a ninja. Music can get very repetitive at times, although sometimes it sounds really nice. Voice acting is mediocre, besides Hibina's sleek, stylish touch of a voice. Enemies still make that slicing death scream from Shinobi, although they don't slice in half anymore.. Still, sound is average.
Shinobi's engine did a nice job of showing off all of the quick movement and slicing that he did, but now the engine is at least twice as better. Hibina's outfit has a reflection on it, giving it a nice futuristic look to it, and very detailed weaponry/equipment is holstered on her belt. Hibina's face looks straight from one of Dead or Alive's girls for the Xbox, showing a nice smooth quality skin. All of the enemies are not as detailed though, as the ninjas in later levels all wear gray (they look more like muscle-toting aliens to me..) and they don't even slice in half as the original did (due to the already mature themes and violence). Levels are as detailed or even more detailed than the first installment, with many destructible items and hard to reach places. Graphics are definitely a strong point in NightShade.
Shinobi was a great game for fanboys and newcomers alike. It introduced the old ninja from years ago in a fully 3d world and a lot of high-speed slicing and dicing. Nightshade is a major improvement over the original in many ways, but still lacks in Sound. Rent it first - although hardcore fans should buy it for a taste of the original with many more options and things to chop.