Raised together within the Oboro Clan, Hotsuma and Moritsune were seldom apart during their youth. Being the younger of the two, Hotsuma looked up to Moritsune, and considered his older brother to be a superior warrior. Eventually, the Oboro Clan commandment was revealed to the two boys after they discovered Akujiki, the evil soul-stealing sword that would be used in the ritual to decide the clan's leader. The commandment deems that the next clan leader must be determined by a duel to the death between the eldest clan heirs-in this case, Moritsune and Hotsuma. Aware of their destiny, the brothers trained incessantly, instructed by their foster parent, Kobushi.
Shinobi is a 3D action-adventure game viewed from a third-person perspective. The player guides protagonist Hotsuma through eight levels that each consist of two sections and a boss battle. Gameplay consists of quickly moving through levels and killing enemies. The game does not feature checkpoints, but allows the player to continue from the start of a boss battle should they die.
Combat is hack and slash-based, involving large numbers of recurring enemies. Hotsuma's sword, Akujiki, is his primary weapon. Akujiki feeds on souls, initially devouring those of the enemies he kills, then that of Hotsuma himself if he does not kill any enemies for too long. This leads to an emphasis on killing all enemies in a battle as quickly as possible. To ensure that Akujiki's hunger remains sated, Hotsuma can kill four or more enemies with no more than a few seconds between each kill to perform an exaggeratedly violent "TATE" attack that will release more souls for Akujiki. The mechanic of jumping from enemies after dispatching them adds an element of platform gameplay.
Hotsuma can also use shurikens to briefly paralyze his enemies. Three types of ninja magic are available to him: "Ka'en", an area-based fire attack; "Kamaitachi", a ranged shock wave attack; and "Raijin", which grants him invincibility for a short period of time.
Source: Wikipedia, "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shinobi_(2002_video_game)," available under the CC-BY-SA License.