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Robert Anderson
Robert Anderson

Tenchu Stealth Assassins

Tenchu: Stealth Assassins[a] is a 1998 stealth video game developed by Acquire for the PlayStation. The debut entry in the Tenchu series, it was published in Japan by Sony Music Entertainment Japan, and by Activision in the West. Following Rikimaru and Ayame of the Azuma ninja clan as they complete missions for their employer Lord Gohda in Sengoku-era Japan, the gameplay involves the player guiding their chosen character through missions, the aim being to remain undetected while either avoiding or quietly killing enemies.

Tenchu Stealth Assassins

Production began in 1996 as Acquire's first project, with the aim being to create a then-uncommon game using only 3D graphics, in addition to focusing on stealth over action. The team faced multiple technical challenges, and director Takuma Endo ended up taking on multiple roles within the production including scenario writer. It met with positive reception from game journalists, with praise focusing on its mission design and focus on stealth. It was also a commercial success, selling over one million units worldwide by 2003, and having estimated sales of five million across all versions by 2019. A sequel, Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins, released worldwide in 2000.

Tenchu released in Japan on February 26, 1998.[19] Sony had no plans to release Tenchu outside Japan due to its stealthy depiction of ninjas clashing with the action-oriented Western portrayals, but American publisher Activision was impressed by the game and successfully pitched for the rights. The Western version was co-produced by Yamamoto and Larry Galka. Galka remembered Tenchu being seen as a big risk for Activision due to its gameplay innovations and setting.[7] The Western version included two more levels "Cross the Checkpoint" and "Execute the Corrupt Minister", and alternating layouts for missions.[3][7] In addition, there were technical improvements to polish the graphics and stabilize the frame rate.[20] Asakura returned to compose tracks for the new levels.[18] An early version of the new level "Cross the Checkpoint" has a female boss character looking like a young girl, which needed changing to make her more mature so it would pass Sony's approval criteria.[3] A further addition was the level editor and cheat menu, which Hisamatsu remembered as a challenging addition as they needed to incorporate it onto the limited spare space on the game disc.[9] Bug fixes carried on past the new year.[21] In the United Kingdom, the game was censored to replace shurikens with throwing blades due to laws prohibiting kunai use and display.[22][23] The game released in the West on August 31 in North America and during October in Europe.[1][24] The Western version was released in Japan on February 22, 1999 under the title Tenchu: Shinobi Gaisen, with cover art drawn by manga artist Hiroaki Samura and a new opening.[20][25] This version released in the budget "The Best" series on November 11, 1999.[26] A standalone expansion compiling one hundred user-created levels was released in Japan on that same date under the title Tenchu: Shinobi Hyakusen.[27]

The game received "generally favorable" reviews, according to review aggregator Metacritic.[28] It was ranked as the 54th-top game of all time by the staff of Game Informer in 2001: "Tenchu: Stealth Assassins showed the gaming world that it takes more than just dark clothes and pointy throwing objects to make it as a ninja. Forcing players to learn and utilize stealth techniques to not only excel, but merely survive, Tenchu is a challenging, nerve-wracking game that leaves you screaming in frustration, then crawling back for more."[39]

Tenchu was one of a number of titles released in the late 1990s that codified the stealth game genre, alongside Thief: The Dark Project and Metal Gear Solid.[7] The success of Tenchu helped establish Acquire as a company, though it would also limit their titles to a Japanese aesthetic for some time.[6] Activision demanded a sequel for Western players, which Acquire developed under the title Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins. The title released in 2000, with Acquire acting as its Japanese publisher.[6][37] Following Tenchu 2, Activision acquired the Tenchu IP and gave development of the next title Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven to K2.[11][40] Acquire would not return to the series until 2008's Tenchu: Shadow Assassins.[13]

The game takes place in Feudal Japan, and revolves around two characters; Rikimaru (力丸) and Ayame (彩女). They are members of the Azuma ninja clan, who are loyal to Lord Matsunoshin Gohda. The Ninja clan serves his lord as spies and assassins to maintain the safety and honor of the Gohda province.

It's the stealth of Tenchu that makes it so original and appealing. Using the R1 button, the player can hide or flatten out against every wall he or she encounters. Approaching a corner in the latter fashion will cause the game camera to swing around to see if anyone's waiting for you there, preferably with his or her back to you. But that's not the only way to set about town. Both characters are well equipped with a grappling hook and a never-ending supply of rope. When the hook is selected, the perspective goes first person and a thin, red target appears in the center of the screen. Once fired, the hook shoots forward and the player is yanked quickly along after it. What's the advantage? Running along the far less populated rooftops is a much faster, if less confrontational way of moving about. And it's extremely cool.

A full 3D game in the Tomb Raider spirit, Tenchu focuses on stealth and attacking unseen over straight action. Not being spotted leads to higher scores and better equipment. To aid in this, you can not only creep about and hug walls, but also use your grappling hook.

Tenchu: Stealth Assassins is a stealth game released for the Sony PlayStation in 1998, in February in Japan, March in Europe, and August in North America. The North American version is a localized port from Japan and co-published by Sony Music Entertainment Japan and Activision. Known for its stealth gameplay and its feudal Japan setting, it was one of the first games that simulated the actual experience of being a ninja, incorporating elements of fantasy and mythology and used motion capture for character animation.

Tenchu: Stealth Assassins is about assassination and stealth, as the name implies. You play as one of two ninja: Rikimaru, a scar-faced, white-haired ninja armed with a sword, and Ayame, a female ninja who uses wakizashi as her weapons. The two play differently, with Rikimaru being stronger, but Ayame being faster and having more combos. Both are equipped with grappling hooks, which let the ninja climb up and down rooftops, adding some fluid movement and flow in action/adventure games not seen at the time. All levels take place at night, due in part to graphical limitations of the PlayStation. The two ninjas also use other tools, including poison rice treats, smoke bombs, sleeping potions, explosives, and throwing stars to get past dogs and guards. There is a puzzle element to the game, as the objectives are vague enough to tell the player what to do, but don't really explain what steps need to be taken, unlike contemporary stealth game Goldeneye.

Tenchu: Stealth Assassins is an action-adventure stealth game developed by Acquire and published by Sony Music Entertainment Japan in Japan and Activision in North America and Europe for the PlayStation in 1998. Tenchu is known for its stealth gameplay and the eerie settings of feudal Japan. Tenchu was one of the first ninja games to incorporate stealth, a very crucial aspect of ninjutsu. However, aside from featuring traditional martial arts in battles, the game incorporates elements of historical fantasy and Japanese mythology.

The short answer to this is yes; it definitely did not hold back on the action. However, as with most stealth games, the fun came from the stress of having to stay hidden and perfectly timing your attacks. The weapons you were presented with elevated the gaming experience that much more. For example, the grappling hook allowed players to hang from roofs and land a successful kill. Then there is just the fact that scaling ledges made for an immensely fun time in 3D.

Tenchu: Stealth Assassins, created by Acquire, was released in 1998 on the PlayStation home console, just a few months before Metal Gear Solid in Japan, earning it the title of the first 3D stealth game. Even though it was the first 3D stealth videogame and boasts an 87 on Metacritic, how well does the title hold up?

The stealth in Tenchu focuses on two main senses, sight and sound. Enemies can see a great distance in front of them but are quite oblivious to enemies above them. Therefore, verticality is crucial to successful stealth. The player can easily climb atop a roof and run through a compound crawling with threats unhindered.

The sound portion of stealth was hit or miss. If enemies located a player, they could alert each other from a considerable distance. However, a player could easily sprint up behind the enemy and attack without being heard. Considering the crouch walk in Tenchu: Stealth Assassins is abysmally slow, this may have been intentional.

So how is Tenchu related to Sekiro? FromSoftware bought the rights to Tenchu in 2004. Both titles have a few similarities. Each game largely focuses on stealth and utilizing grappling hooks to traverse their large, sandbox style maps. They also share a similar aesthetic, but a graphical comparison is laughable due to the age of Tenchu: Stealth Assassins. Though Sekiro is a Souls game at heart, it clearly has taken inspiration from the Tenchu series.

While Tenchu: Stealth Assassins does not control as well or look as visually appealing as newer stealth titles, it is an excellent game and can be a lot of fun. Tenchu combines a lot of key elements that make stealth games great: open sandbox environments to explore and the option to avoid needless confrontation. I rate Tenchu: Stealth Assassins an 8/10 and highly recommend it to stealth game enthusiasts and those looking to become ninjas. 041b061a72


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