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December 29, 2003
Nightshade - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
5/3/2004AtariSega Overworks1$79.95

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Visuals are impressive
Poor Sega. During 2003 the company released many original and exciting games on all platforms but struggled to sell in the quantities one would expect. Perhaps the Sega name is still ringing sour with less educated gamers after the failure of the Saturn and Dreamcast. But software isn't hardware, and some of their games have been extremely impressive. Nightshade, which has been named Kunoichi in Japan, is a side story to the moderately successful (both commercially and critically) Shinobi on PS2 and allows gamers to live out the events following Hotsuma’s victory over Hiruko’s evil minions.

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Sonic, Tails and Knuckles...
Like all things, victory is fleeting, and an evil such as Hiruko’s is not so easily vanquished. Just as Tokyo begins the slow and tedious process of repairs, a new rift opens between Earth and the demon realm. Unwilling to take such supernatural threats lightly, the Japanese government enlists the talents of Hibana, a skilled female ninja (known as a Kunoichi) with a keen understanding of both martial and mystical arts. As Kunoichi, players will battle countless demonic foes within a wide assortment of unique urban environments spanning rooftops, construction sites, industrial factories, and more.

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She's a babe...
It could be argued that this game is a sequel to Shinobi, and indeed it plays very similarly, although there have been several enhancements to the gameplay. Nightshade allows you to fly higher, move faster, and dole out even more damage. The combat system has been enhanced to provide more attacks, and more action while in the air while an improved “Tate” system supports unlimited combos and a wider variety of attacks. Speaking of which a new addition to the game is a kick which you can attack enemies with while in the air to ensure the combos continue. As you perform combos new “Chakra Gauge” fills up allowing you to perform powerful ninja magic. Finally it is possible to use consecutive stealth dashes to surround your opponents and unleash the deadly “Shadow Dance”.

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Is that a boss?
Another change to this game is the reduced difficulty. Shinobi bacame insanely difficult during the boss encounters and towards the end of the game and that's something which Overworks are levelling out for this game. By stringing combos together in the game, which will become a crucial element to success, you will also be able to unlock a wide range of extras in the game which may include artwork, movies, new characters and more - although the developers haven't confirmed anything yet.

Nightshade really is shaping up as a great follow-up to Shinobi. The gameplay is being refined and modified for the better while the graphics and sound have also been polished further.