TGS 2005: Tenchu Ninjitsu Gaiden Hands-On

We played a little of this mobile Tenchu game at the Tokyo Game Show 2005.

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Tenchu Ninjitsu Gaiden
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TOKYO--Tenchu Ninjitsu Gaiden looks quite a bit like the original Tenchu game on the PlayStation, and considering that it's on mobile, that's quite an amazing feat. There are slight concessions for the platform, a close draw distance, and otherwise limited environments, but the game still feels exactly like Tenchu.

If you're not familiar with the franchise, Tenchu is a stealth action game that prioritizes moving quietly around the environment and killing enemies who are unaware of your presence. While some stealth games can be played aggressively, the gameplay pretty much dissolves in the Tenchu series if you make too much noise and alert all the enemies to your presence. The level we played of Tenchu Ninjitsu Gaiden looks quite a lot like the first level in the first Tenchu game on the PlayStation, although it isn't the same one because it is both smaller and laid out a little differently. The main character is also different, sporting an atypical gray spikey haircut instead of the standard ninja cowl. We saw only this single character in this game, even though the console versions generally give you the option to pick from two.

One of the major gameplay elements in the Tenchu games is the ability to grapple around rooftops. The level we played was a small, ancient-looking Japanese town that had low flat rooftops, which made it easy to sneak around and look down on the people below. As you climb around the rooftops, a small number onscreen indicates the proximity of the nearest patrolling guard, with 100 being that you're right on top of him. The objective is to sneak near the guards from above, drop down behind them, and perform a one-hit kill. If you don't manage to pull off the one-hit maneuver but kill them anyway, then you return to your rooftop perch and look for the next victim. The animations for the one-hit kills in Tenchu Ninjitsu Gaiden are slightly different from those found in the console versions, but they work very well--even better, almost. For instance, for one of our kills, we jumped off the rooftop onto a guard's head, and the view changed from third-person over-the-shoulder to a 2D side-view completely in silhouettes. You see your player silhouette land on that of the guard's and then brutally murder him, all in front of a blood-red-colored backdrop.

Like its console predecessors, Tenchu Ninjitsu Gaiden lets you pick up items that you can use to make your stealth game all that better, including smoke bombs and other distraction devices. All in all, this game looked excellent, and we were happy to discover that they're planning to bring it to North America sometime this November.

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