Shinobi for Sony PlayStation 2 (PS2)
The first game in the series since 1995's Shinobi Legions for the Sega Saturn, Shinobi for the PlayStation 2 is a departure from the side-scrolling action of previous games. Gameplay now takes place in a world of fully rendered 3D graphics, and the hack-and-slash action has more in common with Devil May Cry than it does any of the former Shinobi titles.
Longtime hero Joe Musashi (star of all the previous games in the series) has been replaced by Hotsuma, a lean, mean fighting machine who can run on walls, zip around the screen with a speedy stealth dash maneuver, and slice foes in two. He wields a sword, uses magic (fire, shock waves, and invincibility), and throws shurikens. To paralyze several enemies at once, he can pull off a special Shuriken Burst, which is available when at least eight shurikens are on hand.
Throughout the game's 16 levels of play (each level containing a boss), Hotsuma will spend most of his time running and jumping from place to place, battling ninjas, helicopters, sword-wielding dogs, giant spider creatures, and other enemies. Gameplay, which takes place in the demon-filled streets of a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, is largely linear, but it is not always 100 percent obvious where to go next. Killing a certain number of enemies and/or finding and destroying stone pillars opens gateways to new areas.
To keep the carnage moving at a steady pace, Hotsuma's sword has a vampiric need for blood. If players go too long without clearing an area of enemies, the Slash Gauge will become depleted. Once the Slash Gauge is empty, a lack of killing will begin depleting the Life Gauge. The Life Gauge is also depleted by contact with enemies, of course, but finding Yang (little glowing dots) will replenish at least some of Hotsuma's health. Other items to collect include extra Shurikens, hidden tokens, and Makimono (otherwise known as magic).