Nightshade offers raw action for cool ninja’s. Without asking, you get the babe for free!
Not so long ago, we could enjoy playing Shinobi, a game that was blessed with an immense range of uncomplicated action. Yet it wasn’t “fun for the whole family”, because a lot of gamers found Shinobi hard and unfair. Even I went bananas when I couldn’t get pass that stupid boss level, or when I died in that one crucial level. Not that the levels where that hard, but the lack of save points really spoiled the fun. Believe me, there’s nothing more frustrating than dying in front of the last enemy, because you had to start all over again.
Sega must have thought they could do better, and they began working on Nightshade. Nightshade is better known in Japan under “Kunoichi: Shinobu”, but because that name is far to difficult to pronounce for the average civilian of the west, Sega changed it a bit. Does Nightshade also have other improvements? Luckily, the answer is yes! They have listened to our complaints and there aren’t any problems with savepoints this time. Every level is split up in different sections; therefore, you don’t have to play a level again from the beginning if you should die an unhappy dead. This doesn’t seem spectacular, but it improves the fun a lot.
Every time I’d put Shinobi in my PS2, I got the feeling I’ve somehow already seen it before. The levels were all look-alikes and became boring after playing it a couple of hours. Did they lose there inspiration back in Japan? The lack of variation in the environment did ensured that the action never became slow. Nightshade has the same boring environments, yet it offers us a few unusual missions. In the first level, you have to fight ninja’s on top of a stealth bomber and further on in the game, you will have to avoid missiles by jumping from trucks. There’s more variation in Nightshade, and that’s one heck of an advantage.
Like I’ve said, the game mostly stays loyal to the old and boring levels of Shinobi. Some levels are just transferred from the first game. That’s because the mighty sword Akujiki, which was destroyed in Shinobi, is still powerful. The weapon was broken in pieces and spread over the world, but it still attracts evil things. You have to make sure nobody except you collects the pieces. Therefore, you have to travel in well-known places.
The lonely Shinobi from the first game is exchanged for a hansom babe. Unfortunately, Hibana doesn’t come near the coolness of the former Shinobi. She’s introduced as a bitter and cool person, but she never stops wining about the stupid misfortune in her life. After hearing “This really isn’t my day” five times I just wished the hero from the first game came back. He was cool and quiet: the perfect game character.
The moves are mainly the same as in Shinobi, though you can also perform a kick to break the defence of an enemy. It really gets fun when you can perform Tate-combo’s. If you let ninja’s meet your perfectly shaped sword, they will stand still for a few seconds. If you kill a lot of ninja’s, they will die a perfectly orchestrated dead. Kill more ninja’s for an even nicer movie of their dead. The points you score with this combo’s are added up in the total score in a level.
If you look at both games individually, you have to admit Nightshade is better than Shinobi. Nightshade offers you some improvements but the game still has to deal with the same problems as Shinobi did. The save points make the game a lot more accessible, yet nothing nobody changed the returning boringness. The graphics are just a mess, but this approves the fast gameplay. You won’t find signs of slowdown and the action is always accurate. Nightshade is a game for people who believe in hard level bosses, harsh action and more of these elements from the time you had to play games without savegames. Younger and inexperienced gamers will only run away screaming and crying.