Tenchu: Shadow Assassins: The Stealthily Released PSP Version

By Spencer . February 20, 2009 . 5:19pm

imageWe’ll get this out of the way first Tenchu: Shadow Assassins is not like the Tenchu games of the past. Acquire rebooted the series with a greater emphasis on stealth than swordplay. Rikimaru can’t run around haphazardly throwing smoke bombs and stabbing all of the guards. You have to play it cool and follow specific paths to keep yourself hidden in the shadows. Tenchu: Shadow Assassins feels much more like a puzzle game than it does ninja action.


The change is not necessarily a bad thing since Tenchu is supposed to be a ninja simulator, not Ninja Gaiden. You’re supposed to strike fast and without warning. Sort of like how From Software pulled the PSP version of Tenchu: Shadow Assassins out of a magic bag. That’s the version I’ve been playing.


imageIn the beginning you’re introduced to the mechanics and the controls which had to be revised for the PSP. On the Wii you shake the remote to roll into bushes. On the PSP the same move is done by holding the R button and move the analog nub. Staying undercover is essential. While hidden you can dispatch guards with stealth kills by pressing square and then flicking the analog stick. It’s less visceral than moving the remote and nunchuck on the Wii, but it gets the job done. If a guard spots Rikimaru and he doesn’t have a katana equipped his only option is to retreat in a burst of smoke. After this move is automatically executed Rikimaru’s clothes are tattered warning players if he gets seen again he’s dead. Tenchu: Shadow Assassins is pretty lenient about death, though. By “die” I mean you respawn at a checkpoint.


Once Rikimaru gets a sword he can fight back… sort of because you can’t be the aggressor. Combat comes up as a reaction to being spotted. Rikimaru must slay the guard that spotted him by following a series of button presses which feels like a QTE mini-game. I imagine fight scenes may have been more fun on the Wii since you could wave the remote as if it was Rikimaru’s katana. On the PSP they’re kind of bland and too easy. So, it might be possible to brute force your way to the end of a level in the PSP version, but that would suck all of the fun out of creeping behind your enemies.


image Tenchu: Shadow Assassins also removes the grappling hook, a series staple. Instead of hooking on buildings and spying from a rooftop you need to find strategically hidden boxes to push. Take the first level as an example. One of the cardboard boxes you find is to the right of two guards. To grab it you have to roll in the bushes, blow out the lanterns (done by pressing a button from a pop-up command), roll some more and then you’re at the crate. When you get to the box you can pick it up, put it down, and use it as a stepping stool to climb to the rooftops.


It’s amusing to think that Rikimaru, an ace ninja, could have been defeated if he had no boxes to use as stepping stools.


While this thought may be wildly inconsistent from our concept of ninjas, Tenchu: Shadow Assassins isn’t a regular ninja game. Acquire made a series of trial and error brainteasers wrapped in a ninja theme.


Food for thought:


1.) Rikimaru’s clothes magically sew themselves together between checkpoints.


2.) Not sure if this exists in the American version, but you can turn blood off in the settings. Tenchu: Shadow Assassins can be the least violent ninja game this generation if you want it to be.


3.) Tenchu: Shadow Assassins is the first designed for Wii to PSP port. Acquire successfully rearranged the motion controls without stripping the game. What other Wii games could follow suit?

Read more stories about & & & & & on Siliconera.

  • Aoshi00

    So would you recommend the PSP version over the Wii ver? I’m wondering which one to get, I would like to play it on the big screen but the waggle might be too much. Actually I can also play it on TV by hooking up the PSP to it, but w/ black edges, and the component cable is really short..

    • I haven’t played enough of the Wii version to make a fair recommendation. I like it on the PSP mainly because it’s portable. Also, and this is just from playing a tiny bit of the Wii version, is the controls appear to be tighter during sword fights compared to the Wii. I don’t think you’ll want to hook the PSP version to a TV though. The game looks good on a small screen, but you can see it’s at a lower resolution.

    • Happy Gamer

      i think i agree with spencer altho didn’t try both. i would think the psp would be rather fun tho. i got mine for the wii tho its actually in need more more software than my psp sadly..that and my ps3

    • daizyujin

      Having played the Wii version for about an hour I can safely say that to me the motion controls were awful. I kept messing up on the points where I had to fight back when I was spotted. That being said, I couldn’t disagree with Spencer more. I thought the game was pretty bad. I think I really had more fun with Tenchu Z. It is just too slow and too cumbersome IMHO.

      • Looks like the Wii version is getting pretty bad scores with the reviewers. Good thing I’m getting mine through a friend at Ubisoft so I don’t have to pay full MSRP.

        Yes, I know, brag post.

  • Chow

    I recently saw a full review on it on my secondary television while I was playing something else. It sounds like they seriously ruined the franchise with this game. I was excited about it before, but not any more.


    I could have sworn Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 was a Wii port down to PSP.


    I liked the game on the Wii. The only really problems I had was with the sword battling. While I know it’s an excuse it does force me to not get sloppy when playing and to focus on not getting caught.

  • TTTT

    I would like to see Oboromuramasa ported for wii to psp!

Video game stories from other sites on the web. These links leave Siliconera.

Siliconera Tests
Siliconera Videos