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: Shadow Assault (2008), a downloadable game. An unrelatedpuzzlegame 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!:
Action Girl: Ayame, Rin and in Tenchu Z you can make a female character who would become this.
Corrupt Church: Surprisingly they are corrupt Buddhists. Don't see that often.
Dead Character Walking: Original has a player-accessible Debug Mode that can cause all sorts of amusing glitches when abused: If you jump into a Bottomless Pit and then use the debug menu to teleport back to the beginning of the level after you drop to 0 HP, you'll be essentially invincible and all enemy attacks go through you. However, this also gives you the same Super Drowning Skills the enemies suffer from, but thanks to the debug menu, you can teleport yourself out of the water as well and revive yourself on command: depending on how long you let your character drown before you revive then, their lower torso might disappear entirely or they might turn completely invisible with only their weapon floating in the air.
Level Editor: Tenchu 2. Later implemented in Shinobi Gaisen and Time of the Assassins.
Master of Disguise: An unlockable item in the earlier games. It allowed one to transform into a mook or innocent civilian for a short amount of time, or after delivering a kill. It and the Invisibility Cloak have the same effect with the difference that while the invisibility lasts for a shorter amount of time and you can only carry 1, it allows multiple kills for its duration while the disguise item lasts longer and you can carry up to 3 of them, but it wears off instantly if you kill someone with it active.
What Measure Is a Mook?: the player can often hear the mooks utter some lines while hiding in the Shadows. That includes lines as "The doctor said I should stay away from dangerous business for a while" (said by a ninja of all people) and "I need to cut down on my drinking, or my wife will be mad at me again". Though that might not be intentional. You could feel sorry for mooks getting murdered seconds after saying "I'm sure tonight will be completely uneventful".
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)".
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 HardEuropean 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.
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.
Sword Over Head: Lord Gohda is engaged in a sword fight with his uncle, who has led a revolt against him. Being the good and noble lord Gohda hesitates after disarming him, and lowers his weapon. His uncle then shoots him. It is then that the player controlled Rikumaru steps in, cuing a boss fight. After the fight, the trope occurs again, with Rikumaru poised over the uncle. Being a ninja, Rikumaru slashes, but Gohda leaps in and takes the slash to his back. The uncle, touched by this, proceeds to scamper off and kill Gohda's wife and kidnap his daughter. Nice guy.
Later, during the battle against Tatsumaru, Rikimaru hesitates to strike down his former friend, who takes the opportunity to slash Rikimaru's face, scarring him for the rest of the series.
You Killed My Father: Shiunsai reflects on how Tatsumaru killing him was fate after he killed his father. Slightly subverted in that he never knew it, so it was not personal.
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.
Magical Eye / Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Rikimaru's Dohjutsu. Sealed in his right eye by Shiunsai because he "was not ready at the time", it allowed him to overcome Tenrai's evil power. Worth noting it seems to have been Ret Gone afterwards, as no further mention of this ability is ever done.
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.
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.
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 (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.