Series Resuscitation – Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
For those of you who love ninjas, stealth action video games, or third person action games I hope you remember the incredible series of games in the Tenchu series. The series had three American installments on various Playstation consoles; Tenchu: Stealth Assassins, Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins, and Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven. There was even a larger, less story driven title on the Xbox 360 under the title Tenchu Z.
For those of you who don’t know, this game focuses on a pair of ninjas; the katana wielding archetypal ninja, Rikirmaru, and the more fiery, female ninja, Ayame. In the sequels to the game, you could also play as Tatsumaru, a former member of their clan, and Tesshu, an assassin for hire. Each game is broken up into levels with specific missions that could be anything from “kill everyone” to “avoid detection.” You try to bypass or eliminate all of your enemies in the least noticeable way to get to your objective, be it a target or a location. At the end of the level, you get graded on your performance, and if you get the title Grandmaster, you unlock new weapons and tools.
The level objectives of the games vary, from typical “defend your lord from impending evil” to bloody revolution, and while all of them were ok, only Tenchu 2, which many of the fans of the series considered inferior, had a truly memorable story and complex characters. The last installment was on Xbox 360, which didn’t really touch on any major story, or even put you in the place of your beloved character’s because you could create your own.
This series has stagnated and this is how I’d breathe life back into Tenchu: Stealth Assassins.
First, lets look at the characters, which in any game are important in creating the experience. Now, you could have another game where you created your own ninja, but that didn’t feel as awesome as it should have in Tenchu Z. What I suggest is four teams of two representing different major storylines. For the Azuma Ninja you have the traditional Rikimaru and Ayame. For the forces of Lord Meio, or for Chaos in general, you would have the original enemy Onikage, and a female counterpart named Kali. Third, we’d have the Lords of the Burning Dawn, a throwback to Tenchu 2’s ninja revolutionaries, Tatsumaru and Lady Kagami. Finally, with the popularity of Tesshu and his more money centric take on assassination, He and a female counterpart would be the most neutral of the groups.
Instead of breaking the game into levels, I say have several different nations that can be explored in sandbox fashion. This can be done very well, as Arkham Series of Batman games demonstrated, to have both stealthy and combat oriented sections in a sandbox game. Each faction would have their own story and set of contracts.
Each group would have similar abilities that can be unlocked through leveling up and earning Grandmaster sigils in different missions. Then each faction would have a few unique abilities that are done through completing tasks, not unlike how Watchdogs does a lot of the rewards. Finally, there would be individual special abilities that would be obtainable through maxing out your XP, completing all the other tasks, and completing a story made just for the character.
Your ninja arsenal would be about the same, with a few expansions put in place for those gamers who really get into the experience. Blowguns, for instance, would have different kinds of blowdart, not unlike Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. Shuriken would be target area sensitive, so you could potentially kill an enemy if you are a good enough shot. Lures and distractions should abound, everything from the fire works and poison rice (fans of the series, you know what I’m talking about!) to costumes, noise-makers, and shadows that you can manipulate to distract the enemy.
Weapons and Armor should be upgradeable and customizable. Different kinds, colors, and styles should apply to your upgrades, as well as a special style that can only be unlocked by specific characters.
Tenchu Z has an online multiplayer that was partially versus and partially cooperative. I think this mode should stay in play, but there would have to be at least three more. First, I would want a version of Wanted, the ground breaking and highly entertaining versus mode from the Assassin’s Creed Games. In this mode you were assigned a target out of your opponents. Each opponent is assigned a target as well. You are then dropped into a map filled with bots that both look like you ad your opponents. The goal is to kill your target as many times as you can, in as professional a way as you can, while avoiding and neutralizing the enemies that are hunting you.
The second would be a straight cooperative mode which would allow you to play in a cooperative campaign. This would be a kind of training mode for young ninja’s and would play out in narrative fashion, perhaps allowing for character creation. If you have ever played the cooperative portions of the Splinter Cell games, you know what the aim would be.
Finally, I think there should be a Scorched Earth mode of online play. Basically, you are dropped into on of the nations from the game with a target and a lead. You have to kill your way to your target, and every 24 hours, the nation with the most kills wins and the world resets.
So that’s where I would take this series and I think it’s fantastic! Do you agree? What did I do wrong? Hit me up in the messages below.