Tenchu (Shadow Assasins)



TENCHU – Shadow Assassins is once more set to the backdrop of feudal Japan and again stars Azuma Clan ninjas Rikimaru and Ayame, sworn to protect and serve Lord Gohda by any means necessary, which, of course, means that the two regularly carry out assassinations ordered by their leader. The game’s storyline, presented convincingly through a series of well-choreographed and acted in-game cinematics, deals with the political struggles that Gohda faces, eventually resulting in the kidnapping of his daughter, Princess Kiku. Scarred Rikimaru and curvy Ayame are deployed out into the world to search for the princess and to dispose of any enemies who stand in their way. The cinematics regularly spotlight battles against guards and ninjas and effectively define the characters of the two ninjas, who are both ruthless in their pursuit of the princess. Basic character animations can be stiff, but the the models themselves look great and many of the levels they inhabit come to life with architectural detail and effects. I was particularly wowed the first time I made my way through a stormy night area in which the rain poured down in sheets and flashes of lighting in the background temporarily illuminated the entire stage. Portable players will definitely like what they see and the framerate generally holds up.

The downside on PSP is that the detail comes at the expense of load times. Not a big issue on the Wii iteration, the handheld version is full of long loads, both before and between levels, that really break up the momentum of the action. I’m confident that the developer could have better streamed the challenge-filled environments to gamers on-the-go better than it has, which