TGS 06: Tenchu Senran Demo Hands-On

Microsoft released a playable demo of the next Tenchu game to kick off the 2006 Tokyo Game Show, exclusively to Japanese audiences. We put it through the paces.

As part of its Bringing It Home campaign to help drum up excitement around this week's Tokyo Game Show, Microsoft released a playable demo of Tenchu Senran for the Xbox 360 on Xbox Live Marketplace earlier today. The demo is only available to those with Japanese Xbox Live accounts, so you might not find it on your version of Xbox Live, but we've got the details for you right here. Tenchu Senran will be the next game in the long-running ninja stealth action series that originated on the PlayStation. Much like previous Tenchu games, Senran tasks you with skulking through medieval Japanese environments, stabbing unsuspecting guards and other enemies in the back while they're not looking. You can use tools like grappling hooks and explosives to help you get around and dispatch foes.

The playable demo offers a look at the game's simple-but-new character-creation system, as well as some new visuals and an enigmatic new ninja character decked out in a trench coat, which you'll see in a port-side stage that has you taking on surly sailors and seasoned ronin. The demo has some promising qualities, but clunky controls and animations, plus graphics that are on par with last-gen Tenchu, don't make this a necessary use of your precious hard-disk space. Furthermore, signature Tenchu characters Rikimaru and Ayame are nowhere to be found here.

Experienced Tenchu players will be surprised to find that the first task Tenchu Senran asks you to do is create your own pair of ninjas. You can choose from a number of male and female faces and outfits, as well as adjust a few different statistics to affect the way your character performs in action. However, this isn't that deep of a character-creation system, as you aren't given a choice of fighting styles, voices, special abilities, or anything like that. You just cobble together a couple of ninja characters and then dive on into the demo's one level.

The controls are roughly similar to previous Tenchu installments, though the camera--which has been problematic in earlier games--seems unfinished here. The camera angle doesn't automatically adjust when you're high up on a ledge, and you need to constantly fiddle with it to make sure it's showing you what you want to see. As in earlier games, your character moves somewhat slowly and is best suited to stealthy attacks rather than head-on assaults. Head-to-head fighting boils down to waiting for an opening in your opponent's defense or just hitting the attack button over and over. It's best to avoid these situations, which is easy to do since enemies will forget about you after half a minute or so if you run around the corner. The onscreen interface and the stealth mechanics in general are just like previous Tenchu games. The same goes for the grappling hook, a mainstay of the Tenchu series, which lets you get out of harm's way or get up on a ledge to plan a deadly strike.

The new stealth kills look quite good, and the game features its signature blood geysers for when foes are killed by these ruthless techniques. To stealth-kill someone, you move in close to the enemy without getting noticed and then hit the attack button. There's a fairly forgiving window of opportunity for surprising foes with such an attack, even when they've spun around to face you head-on.

It takes less than 15 minutes to get through this port-side level (if you know your way around a Tenchu game), which culminates in a brief showdown against the aforementioned trench-coat-wearing character. During the course of the demo, some visual enhancements new to the 360 version of Tenchu are on display, but the game's low-res textures and some stilted animations make it look unfinished and below par for what we've come to expect from the 360. At least the game's got a catchy musical score to it, including a decent Japanese pop song that plays over the cinematic introduction.

Tenchu Senran ships to Japanese retailers in less than a month, so we'll be anxious to see if any of the issues present in this demo will be addressed in the final version. No announcements have been made about plans to release the game in other territories.

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Discussion

66 comments
SaS_Josev
SaS_Josev

Ok I have had the pleasure of getting my hands on this demo via the latest XBOX 360 demo disk. I can tell you that I loved the first two titles for the PSX and hated to PS2 titles. This particular demo alone had me feeling nostalgia for the original titles. Don't let this guy's preview dim your view of the game if you haven’t gotten to play it yet. They've changed just enough and kept just enough for this one to be a solid title for Tenchu fans to consider this a MUST HAVE. Sheathing and unsheathing your weapon, swimming, moving dead bodies, breathing through a bamboo reed, a more accurate and forgiving grappling hook, new ninja gadgets, sharper visuals, and I don't know what this guy's problem is with the camera it worked just fine for me. As for it's shortcomings, hell, its a demo. Also, take a look at the screens they have up, tell me that doesn't look like a cool multiplayer scenario. For my fellow fans, you remember popping the first couple titles into the PSX, and feeling like a badass hopping over rooftops and slicing people's jugulars out? This one delivers that to you again, plain and simple.

bendall01
bendall01

I have always liked this series (Tenchu), the first Tenchu game was my first game ever on the PS, I still think its a great game. But for people to make such a game with the standards we have today, below par, is probably a let down. People complain about the controls, I'm not going to complain about that because I actually liked the original tenchu characters movement, anyway, what I'm going to complain about is that the developers havn't addressed the fluintness (hopefully that is a word) of the animation of the characters, how one attack proceeds to the next or gracefully landing after an attack in air etc...from what I could see it look like a hack n slash type character movement. Some people compair ninja gaiden to this game, fair enough, they ARE both ninja games arent they? But that game is about cool looking combos, flying up in the air doing 50 flips, chopping alien looking monsters in 2 seconds, it's a fast pased ninja action game. Where on the other hand Tenchu is about careful consideration on how to take out a human foe with deadly force, acurately and quietly. The two games are on extreme opposite sides of how a ninja should work. I say that overall If you are a fan of the series, a true fan, this game shouldn't dissapoint.

Zkela
Zkela

wow, next-gen i aint buyin this nonsense, i loved the first one

slim_jim7007
slim_jim7007

Well i guess i wont get this 1........oh well we still have assasins creed to look forward to.

Uidin
Uidin

Hope they fix those things. But I doubt it. And I to was looking forward to a real ninja game. Even though I loved Ninja Gaiden, it's not a real ninja game, as kenerhai pointed out. A "Thief" like ninja game would rock...

ice_blade_77
ice_blade_77

Sad to see Tenchu continue on its long, slow road to death.

mythrol
mythrol

Shame. I loved the first Tenchu. Too bad all the other ones, and mostlikely this one, will suck. How can you be 1 month from launch and still have a non working camera?

kenerhai
kenerhai

woooooow, after watching the horrible looking combat in the trailer i was dissapointed. I thought that with the power of the 360 they might make a decent tenchu this time. but that combat looks like some ps1 garbage. i really had high hopes this time. guess itll just have to be a rental. its a shame though that there really isnt a true to form ninja game. Ninja gaiden was not a ninja game, Ryu was not a ninja. Ninjas dont take on tanks and hellicopters. ninjas kill silently from the shadows. sigh. why cant someone make a cool ninja scroll game.

mikedude_01
mikedude_01

"NIHON O HANASURUKOTO GA CHYOTTO GA DEKIMASU." In completely broken Japanese, you've managed to say, "I can speak a little Japan." Going by this preview, Tenchu still sucks. Can't there ever be a cool game with ninjas? Ninja Gaiden (a freakin' awesome game by the way) is not what I'm talking about.

chocolatechips
chocolatechips

looks kinda gay the only tenchu i enjoed was the first one in ps1

chuamishael
chuamishael

this game rockS! you can play up to 4 ninjas at the same time!!

Lambo
Lambo

looks like crap

Bloodhawk_DX
Bloodhawk_DX

Japan only? If I can't try it for myself... then I honestly don't care.

Po77InAtOr
Po77InAtOr

Wait. This is why Xbox 360 supports 1080p now right? For incredible textures and animations like these. I'm getting all misty eyed, it's bringing me back to my PSX days. The 360 really has come "full circle" and started reusing game engines from 1995.

vgguy
vgguy

I recently downloaded and played the demo, after playing through it several times a can say that this game is strictly for Tenchu fans. I myself have been a fan of the game since its release on the playstation. The graphics i know aren't the best looking, and I don't really think much is going to change at its japan release in october. I actually enjoyed the demo very much. And I'm very excited to play the final game with the Co-op feature which I think will be super fun. But as i said. this is coming from someone who is a fan of the series, and someone that is looking past the graphics, and looking more towards the new features and new story.

RufustheMage
RufustheMage

Why does this game look really bad....wtf is going on. Tenchu lost it's flavor a LONG time ago...this isn't helping MS at all.

TOP-DOG-TENCHU
TOP-DOG-TENCHU

Who here can speak JAPANESE? Ive been learning it for 3 years. NIHON O HANASURUKOTO GA CHYOTTO GA DEKIMASU. Thats Romanji.

Mechakucha
Mechakucha

This demo was really bad. No wonder they Japanese aren't excited about xbox.

rad_2xl
rad_2xl

Not a big fan of Tenchu. I like NG better.

TheTrooperUK
TheTrooperUK

Ok here's how I feel about this whole xbox japan issue.................while I am aware that MS are certainly desperate to crack the Japanese market, its realy starting to iritate me that they are trying to "whoooo" the japanese by giving them exclusive content and almost outrightly snubbing the western gamers already supporting the console.......it may not be intentional by any means (strategic I would say), but it sure does seem to leave a bitter taste in my mouth considering I do enjoy the 360 and certainly enjoy what it has to offer.....AND CURRENTLY OWN THE CONSOLE and expect to atleast be treated equaly as a result (if not rewarded for taking the £300 plunge). The fact that a region (Japanese gamers) seems hellbent on avoiding all things 360 is reason enough to start realising that its realy not going to work out for Microsoft in Japan.........Japanese gamers are patriotic to the core......and so they should be....the only next gen console's on their agenda's will be all things Sony and Nintendo........now I can confidentaly say that there will not be any Japanese gamer posting a coment on this blog that would disagree........would there? Cheerse all....let it be known that I do not intend to offend anyone.

WESLY_SNYPES
WESLY_SNYPES

Rai Please shut the hell up because it says nothing about the PS3. Go back to your PS3 fanboy forums where you have relevancy.

ultimate_zero
ultimate_zero

well, looks like its bout that time. the time to create me a japanese account, just gotta learn japanese first though.

dyne12
dyne12

damn wish i had a japanese xbl account

Rai
Rai

a port of tenchu 3...at least 360 gets the crap version...I gues theyre saving the real upgrade for PS3...

kenerhai
kenerhai

Tenchu dosnt have a very good track record as of right now, so lets hope that perhaps this new game might give the series a breath of fresh air.

_LEGIONS_
_LEGIONS_

but it's just me, but I didn't like that demo at all

jd14
jd14

cool....

TintedChimes
TintedChimes

Looks like samurai warriors for some reason.

hitman90
hitman90

The game may not look like the best thing ever, But the Demo IS fun, I've played it about five times already.

hardturok
hardturok

it's bad that looks like a PS2 game, but there's some time to fix it. Let's pray it comes to America.

Sanguis_Malus
Sanguis_Malus

Very annoying !!! Improve the graphics, the camera, the controls and be creative enough to move the series forward. I have always liked the idea of the Tenchu series and the characters are great but unless things change for the better I will be skipping this title. The guys that are putting this out are lazy, uninspired and not very talented ! It was not acceptable for the last generation of consoles but it is not even worthy of the 360 if it does not shape up. They ought to be ashamed for putting out such sub-standard and inferior product !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Metalnoid
Metalnoid

I hope dont see this the release date of Tenchu, because it looks like very poor, like a PS2 game with this low-res texture japan. :S

Dolacide
Dolacide

Rushed out game to make a quick profit. Sad.

Hellisunreal
Hellisunreal

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

centuryslayer
centuryslayer

"What are they thinking to get rid of the established characters???? Now instead of having a good game with some kind of story and history, we'll have a good game with generic characters? By letting us create characters I think we lose a sense of connection. Tke a look at the screenshots, Ugh all we need are ninjas with green and pink hair." As seen in the trailers both Rikimaru and his Brother are back, and about the hair, you can change the colour ANY way you like, so if you want a pink haired ninja you can do that, but if you want a normal hair colour that is also possible. Personally I kinda hope we DON'T get to play as Rikimaru, he's way to powerfull now, but I hope he participates in the main storyline alot (because he's so cool) And I hope to god they keep the offline coop and add online coop aswell. This is one of the few games I'm looking forward to for the 360.

Icekxg
Icekxg

Well, I can say that I'm a complete Tenchu fan, I loved everyone in the series...but man does it look like they've butchered this game! WTF From Software? Oh well, I guess we'll have to wait and see if Spike decides to make a Shinobido 2 for the 360 and bring it over to America.

JediJon04
JediJon04

I loved Tenchu 2, but this is like a sad excuse to continue the license. GG Microsoft.

dyne12
dyne12

i can not wait this game had better come over to the U.S. market and fast i love tenchu games one of the best psx and ps2 series. i just wish this was on ps3 instead of 360 but thats fine. im defenitly going to buy this when it comes over.