Video Game / Tenchu

Live By Honor. Kill By Stealth.

Tenchu is a series of stealth based games that features a ninja duo from the Azuma clan. It started in 1998 and has had several sequels across various consoles that expand its story. The story starts with a demonic sorcerer named Mei-Oh trying to take over the land of Lord Gohda whom the two ninja, Rikimaru and Ayame serve. The series is rather liked amongst those who have played it and some games contain a humorous dub version of the story that is completely different.

Aside from the games listed further below, the Tenchu franchise also include these titles:
  • Tenchu: Time of the Assassins (2005), a PSP game set after Wrath of Heavens. Includes the largest selection of playable characters to date and the return of the Level Editor (with online-sharing capabilities).
  • Tenchu: Dark Secret (2006), a Nintendo DS game set after the second game. Deals with the titular ninjas trying to protect a Distressed Damsel from an Evil Overlord who she was arranged to marry.
  • Tenchu: Shadow Assault (2008), a downloadable game. An unrelated puzzle game that borrows the series' setting and characters.
  • Even though not developed by Activision, Return of the Ninja, released by Natsume and Ubisoft (The former released for USA, the later for EUR) for Game Boy Color borrowed a lot of elements from Tenchu series. And the cards you obtain through playing through stages or trading with friends adds to this referencing!

These tropes are like you, weak and twisted. I fear them...NOT!:

Tenchu: Stealth Assassins

Tenchu: Stealth Assassins (1998), focused on an apparent series of unrelated missions carried over by Rikimaru/Ayame by orders of Lord Gohda. Half-way through, Onikage makes his appearances and the protagonists are dragged into hell itself to save Gohda's daughter from Onikage's master, Lord Mei-Oh. The original Japanese version was an Obvious Beta with clunky controls and graphics, so the western version was reworked, while adding two new stages and three different selectable enemy layouts. Eventually the Japanese market got an Updated Re-release under the subtitle Shinobi Gaisen, and with the inclusion of a Level Editor. Tenchu: Shinobi Hyakusen (1999), A japan-only Mission Pack made of 100 fan-submited levels created with Shinobi Gaisen's Level Editor.

  • Artificial Stupidity: Dead bodies are effectively "out of play" in this game. Guards and civilians can walk down a bloodsoaked street littered with corpses without being alarmed.
  • Breath Weapon: The fire-eaters scroll and the cultists.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Ayame understands Captain Balmer's Spanish, but she always responds in her native tongue.
  • Catch Phrase: Ayame has the Post-Mortem One-Liner "you won't ___ where you're going."
  • Cult: The Manji.
  • Debug Room: Debug Mode
  • Evil Weapon: Mei-Oh's sword, Shichishito. Besides being a somewhat Empathic Weapon with cursed powers, it also has electric attacks.
  • Flower from the Mountaintop: A mission was to obtain a flower that can cure Princess Kiku.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Balmer, the foreign pirate. The english version is not that bad (though the thick Cuban accent certainly doesn't help), but the Japanese original on the other hand...
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Ayame tells the King of Hell that she's not impressed with him, after Backflipping into Hellmouth. She actually says, "SHUT UP AND TELL ME WHERE KIKU IS!"
    Rikimaru: Your guards are dead. And you are next.
  • Seppuku: One of the missions involves executing a corrupt minister, but if the player is using Rikimaru, he will plead with the minister to take the honorable route and perform seppuku, which he will and Rikimaru will assist by decapitating him. If the player chooses Ayame, she will insult and agitate the minister until he lashes out, resulting in a boss battle.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Features really quite pleasant and soothing classical guitar BGM, while you drop onto hapless mooks and decapitate them.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Whereas Minister Kataohka will honorably commit seppuku if Rikimaru confronts him, he'll challenge Ayame, stating that he will "not allow a woman to scold (him)".
  • Storming Thecastle: Mission 9.
  • Stripperiffic: The secret armor for Ayame.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Enemies can't swim, but Rikimaru and Ayame can. This gives the player a major advantage they can exploit.
  • Teleport Spam: Mei-Oh. Hoo-boy does he loves teleporting around...
  • Updated Re-release: A curious example. The first Tenchu released in Japan is quite unlike the one overseas gamer experienced. The overseas edition added many features, such as the mid-boss battle at the first stage, extra stages, opening movie, as well as the cheats. This was later remade back in Japan by the name of Tenchu: Shinobi Gaisen, featuring extra difficulty levels including the Harder Than Hard European Extreme, as well as different language audios.
  • Warmup Boss: Echigoya is reeeeeally slow both moving and shooting, telegraphs every attack he makes and has a rather mediocre life bar.
  • Worthy Opponent: Senjuro Akechi.

Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins

Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins (2000), Prequel to the first, focus on the two characters' graduation into ninjas and their first assignments serving Gohda. Introduced the Level Editor mode (later used in Shinobi Gaisen) and the traditional third character.

Wrath of Heaven

Tenchu 3: Wrath of Heaven (2003), direct sequel starting where the first game left out. Each character has its own individual and independent storyline, which are quite different and contradictory between them. It all boils down to the Big Bad's attempt to rule Gohda's realm. Later got a remake for X-Box titled Tenchu: Return from Darkness, with added stages and online capabilities.

Fatal Shadows

Tenchu: Fatal Shadows (2004), Interquel set between the first and third game, focusing on Ayame's mission on enemy territory and the exploits of a former ninja, Rin, looking for the ones who burned down her secret ninja village.

Shadow Assassins

Tenchu: Shadow Assassins (2008), finally continuing forward the plot. Got an Unexpected Gameplay Change, with fights represented in first person.

  • Demonic Possession: Implied in the end that Onikage has possessed Ayame.
  • In-Name-Only: the play style is barely like the other games at all— While stealth is key, combat amounts to "If you have a sword, play a minigame, if you don't have a sword, don't get seen again, or it's game over."
    • Perhaps it's subjective, but the sword fighting mini game on Wii is so ABSURDLY difficult that you might as well just press restart. You get under a second between the indication of the sword's direction and the time in which you have to block, if you get hit once you lose, even on early levels enemies seem to have an unreasonable amount of health, and if you don't block exactly perfectly more than a couple of times your sword breaks and you also lose. Nintendo Hard doesn't begin to describe it. Then there's the X-Box Live DLC game Shadow Assault, being a Puzzle Game with nothing but the setting and characters from the series.
  • Kill the Cutie: Kiku.
  • Kill Us Both
  • The Mole: Someone within Gohda castle appears to be acting as one for the Big Bad
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Rikimaru is forced to stab through Princess Kiku to get to Onikage, who was holding her hostage. Princess Kiku more or less orders Rikimaru to it, but it's implied Rikimaru is now no different from his mortal nemesis.

Tenchu Z

Tenchu Z (2006), a distant sequel set some unknown time after the other games. Rikimaru is now a NPC and your teacher, since you can create the protagonist. Only game in the series to make use of a character creation system. Also the only one Ayame has missed the cut.

Alternative Title(s): Tenchu Stealth Assassins