Fact: we love ninjas. There's nothing cooler than someone sneaking into a secure building, giving the guards a sound kicking, doing a secret mission, then sneaking out without anyone knowing about it. So the fact that Tenchu 4 promises to offer exactly that sort of action makes us excited without even seeing the game.
To be fair, it's worth calming down and putting things into perspective for a minute. After all, the most recent Tenchu games haven't exactly been great. We reviewed Tenchu: Dark Secret for the DS back in issue 12 and gave it a sparkling score of 30%. So why are we getting excited about this one? Because it's being developed by Acquire, the same team behind the original few games in the series (before it became rubbish). As a result, Tenchu 4 is more likely to be a decent game than the poorer efforts of late.
Tenchu Forget About Me
Despite being the fourth main game in the series, this is actually the eighth Tenchu game. It continues the ongoing saga of the two remaining ninjas of the Azuma clan, Rikimaru and Ayame, as they attempt to help keep the peace in feudal Japan.
Each of the ninjas has different strengths and weaknesses. Rikimaru is a male ninja with a dodgy grey haircut. As the head ninja of the Azuma clan, he wields the Izayoi sword which is passed down from leader to leader. He fits into the classic 'strong but slow' category, so while his attacks do huge damage he can be a bit sluggish to control, which, let's face it, isn't ideal for a ninja.
As you'd expect, according to the age-old laws of videogaming, the other ninja has to be speedy but weak. This is indeed the case with Ayame, a kunoichi (female ninja) in the Azuma clan. While she's a nippy young lady with unmatched agility, she's not the strongest of ninjas and so has to rely on her speed and stealth in order to survive and avoid any unnecessary scraps.
Tenchu 4 makes the most of the unique abilities of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, to the extent that pretty much all actions in the game are performed with gestures. To jump, you simply flick the Nunchuk upwards, while waving it left and right lets you dash to 'safe', shaded areas. When you get close to an opponent who hasn't noticed you yet, you can press A to trigger a special surprise kill, which is done by following the on-screen prompt. When you want to throw a shuriken at an enemy you aim with the analogue stick and flick the Remote. It takes a while to get used to but once you do it feels fairly intuitive.
If you get caught by an enemy, you enter a one-on-one battle. This takes place in a first-person perspective, and sees you and your opponent taking turns to attack and defend. When you defend you have to turn the Remote in the direction prompted on the screen, then once it's your turn to attack you (predictably) do so by swiping with your Remote.
Naturally though, this is a last resort situation. Being a ninja involves sneaking around unseen, not getting involved in ruddy great Pirates Of The Caribbean-style swordfights. As a result, the majority of the game still involves stealth, so in order to avoid detection you'll need to rely on every trick in the ninja book. You'll have to hide in bushes, stand in shadows, climb rooftops and blow out lanterns to make sure nobody sees you, and when you're properly hidden your character will be bathed in blackness so you know you're stealthing it up in a proper manner.
The people complaining that the Wii doesn't have enough mature games will be happy to know that Tenchu is pretty grim in terms of violent content. If you manage to successfully sneak up on an enemy you can execute them with a selection of particularly gory deaths. Tenchu 4 looks set to be a cracking title for fans of stealth 'em up games. Not only does it look the part, it's also atmospheric and extremely mature to boot, with some gory deaths throughout.