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Nightshade is the 11th game in the Shinobi series and follows the exploits of a female ninja named Hibana. The game is a sequel to the 2002 PS2 game Shinobi.
Nightshade's missions are linear, and each one culminates in a battle against a challenging boss opponent. The core of Nightshade's gameplay is hack and slash, with accumulating combos on spawning enemies about the level. Using Hibana's arsenal of a katana (the primary weapon), short daggers (achieve less damage, but score a higher combo multiplier), shuriken (long range projectiles), and various ninjutsu spells, the game challenges the player to achieve as high a score as possible while eliminating the opposing threat.
Nightshade also includes aspects of platforming. With Hibana's ability to dash in mid-air, the game requires the player to use this ability to bypass holes and hazards. Game mechanics restrict Hibana to only a double-jump and an air-dash before she falls, requiring the player to strike enemies in mid-flight to stay in the air. By doing this, the player combines accuracy and timing to stay in the air continuously, or fall to their death.
If the player has a completed save file from Shinobi then Hotsuma, the protagonist of the previous game, is available as an optional playable character. He differs from Hibana in that he does not use daggers like her and is only able to use Akujiki, the sword he used in the previous game. Hotsuma plays exactly as before with the same arsenal of moves and operates under the same mechanics as he did in the previous game. He must always be finding and defeating enemies to feed their souls to Akujiki, or the cursed sword will devour his soul instead and kill him.