We went hands on with the TGS demo level of the Wii-exclusive Ninja game.
The Tenchu series has long been a PlayStation and Xbox only affair, now Acquire is developing this ground up version for the Wii. The level playable at the Tokyo Game Show, had the player controlling returnee character ‘Rikimaru’, a lethal Ninja with a scary looking face mask.
The Wii controls implemented seemed to work reasonably well. As you would expect, the control stick on the Nunchuk moves the character, with Z and C controlling strafing and camera reset. The A and B buttons on the Wii Remote were context sensitive “do everything” buttons. Depending on where the player was standing, a button press would either make Rikimaru press against a wall or attack an enemy. A quick shake of the Wii Remote would make Rikimaru dash from one hiding spot to another, whilst avoiding the enemies' gaze. There didn't seem to be any directional precision to this waggling. The level’s path seemed to be mapped out with this eerie black smoke, so the character would always know where to roll to next.
Other motion controls were for jumping and throwing. A flick in an upward movement would cause the player to jump. As jumping is a very small part of the game it seems there will not be any wrist fatigue problems.
A quick press of down on the direction pad enters throwing mode, a simple flick forward would then unleash a shuriken or other equipped weapon.
A rather fun ‘weapon’ was the cat. Used for distraction, players can actually control the animal and even make it pounce on an enemy.
This should be attempted at a distance though, as being spotted by an enemy meant an instant game over.
The kill animations were pretty brutal; Rikimaru would stab his enemies in various directions, through the chest, side of ribcage, and sometimes even break their necks with his bare hands. My only complaint at this point would be that there seems to be no way of controlling any of these attacks. I found myself just walking up to a conveniently positioned enemy and pressing A to watch a seemingly random animation. From information gathered from various fact sheets, I found it is supposed to be possible to choose many different ways to kill an enemy, although from this demo it wasn’t that apparent.
Tenchu 4 also sports some nice graphical flourishes, which make it stand slightly above than the average Wii game. For example inside the authentic looking Japanese house near the end of the level, there are several polished wooden floors that reflect the environment and characters in a realistic way. Character models are excellent and are probably among the most detailed seen on the system as far as realistic human characters are concerned.
Some other aspects of the graphics are not quite as good however, leaving a feeling of inconsistency. The environments are hit and miss, and there isn’t much detail or too many embellishments throughout the level.
As this is an incomplete build it can be forgiven, but I do hope Acquire adds some more polish and a little bit more detail to give the levels more life.
Tenchu 4 is currently slated for a 2009 release in North America.