Round one of Master Ninja Tournament nearing end

First portion of Tecmo's Xbox Live Ninja Gaiden championship will wrap up Friday, June 4.

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Since the E3 2004 debut of round one of Tecmo's Master Ninja Tournament--the online skills competition featured in the company's top-selling ninja action game, Ninja Gaiden--record numbers of ninja enthusiasts have flocked to Xbox.com to join in the fray. Registration for the online tournament broke records for having the highest number of registrants through Xbox.com for an Xbox Live online tournament to date. More than 1,000 users have already posted their tournament scores online after two weeks of competition, and Tecmo expects that number to double by the time the first round of the tournament ends Friday, June 4.

"The Master Ninja Tournament has gone above and beyond our expectations and sets a good precedent for online games to come from Tecmo," said Tecmo general manager John Inada. "With the successful launch of Ninja Gaiden came this huge community of Ninja Gaiden fans. The Master Ninja Tournament allows these gamers to show off their ninja skills and hours of hard work to other Ninja Gaiden fans around the world, thus enhancing their overall Ninja Gaiden experience."

The first round of the Master Ninja Tournament is open to any Xbox Live subscriber with a copy of Ninja Gaiden. By downloading a key through the Live service, players can then unlock a worldwide scoreboard that displays the top karma scores of those who have played through the entire game on the normal difficulty level. The top three winners of the first round will win a custom-made wooden sword signed by the head creator of Ninja Gaiden, Tomonobu Itagaki, and will move on to the online regional playoffs happening in late July. The top 100 ranked contestants in round one will win "Master Ninja" T-shirts, while the last 100 ranked players will win dubiously branded "Ninja Dog" T-shirts. Anyone else in between will have the opportunity to win Ninja Gaiden wristbands.

The second and third rounds of the tournament will require participants to download additional content, creating new challenges within the game. The top competitors in those rounds will eventually be brought to the finals, which will evidently be held at an "undisclosed European location." For more information on everything Master Ninja-related, check out the tournament's official Web site.

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