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Nightshade

Shinobi's hero, Hotsuma, might have done an impressive job of ridding the world of demons and monsters, but it seems they always come back. What's the point, eh?

Wisely, Hotsuma is sitting it out in Nightshade, which is set after Shinobi. Instead, you take control of agile female ninja, Hibana, who's got all Hotsuma's moves and more.

Nightshade begins with you standing atop a stealth bomber, travelling at breakneck speed through the city as enemies converge around you and missiles are launched from other ships. Despite having the same 'kill everything on screen to open up the next bit' basics, these on-rails action sequences break up the regular hack 'n' slash sections.

HANDS FOF TATE
The 'tates' make a return - a combo system that rewards you for killing lots of enemies within a set time. The more you can get, the better the cutscene showing off your prowess. And combos top up your Chakra bar - the energy used for all sorts of special moves, including the extremely cool stealth dash.

The fighting is complex, but the learning curve is feeling much gentler than in Shinobi. Initially you can get through using basic sword attacks, but then you have to combine them with jumps, then with dashes and then shield-busting kicks to beat the rapidly spawning demons. You're graded at the end of each level - the better you fight, the more you unlock - and tates are vital to getting high grades. It's lucky, then, that stringing together 12 kills is as satisying as guzzling down a cream-topped hot chocolate on an icy winter's day.

Whether the game keeps up the good work, we'll have to wait and see, but for all-out leaping, slashing action, Nightshade is looking very good.

Nightshade will be dashing your way on 5 March

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