Is there any end to the console-based Ninja mania? First it was the PlayStation 2 version of Shinobi, which brought many a gamer to tears due to its difficulty. Now we have Ninja nightshade and Shinobi’s “sister” title, Nightshade. For those PS2 gamers who don’t have an Xbox to get their Ninja groove on with, Nightshade offers a generally entertaining Ninja experience.
Nightshade plays out like an anime title in almost every way. For starters, there’s the story. It’s a pretty basic tale of hellspawn, mercenaries and robots bent on trashing a Tokyo that’s still recovering from the last demonic invasion. The Japanese government has had quite enough of this inter-dimensional nonsense, and so they enlist Hibana, a female Ninja, to do a little housekeeping. Hibana is a mix of lethal skill and attitude and she’s ready to hack, slash, kick and super-power her way through the opposition. As you begin each level, the story unfolds in some nicely animated cut scenes that are fresh out of the anime playbook. I mean seriously, when was the last time you saw stealth bombers roaring above city streets and zipping between skyscrapers? Or Ninjas fighting it out on the deck of said bombers? And that’s just the first mission! Needless to say, fans of anime will probably enjoy the basic, yet well-illustrated storyline.
Tates are the key to combat and the core of Nightshade’s gameplay. To complete a Tate, you have to attack all the enemies on screen, saving the group leader (typically a simple mini-boss) for last. As you slash, kick or shuriken through each member of the enemy group, your strikes become more powerful, until finally you can deliver serious hurt to the boss. Complete a perfect Tate in the allotted time (sorry, there’s no clock, you have to play it by feel) and you’ll earn bonus points while being treated to Hibana making one of her wise guy comments that punctuate the game’s passable collection of dialog. While Hibana’s (and everyone else’s) voice acting is somewhat limited, it serves its purpose to flesh out the tone of the game.
- Gameplay: 7
- Graphics: 7.5
- Sound: 7
- Replay: 8
- Overall: 7.2
- Ninja action best enjoyed as a rental.
— Craig Falstaff