Due to the Dual Shock controller not releasing until partway through the Playstation’s lifespan, there were several games that had “analogue support”, except, not really. Tenchu 2 was one such game, which is unfortunate given its genre. Movement is stilted, slow, and imprecise, and using the left joystick doesn’t give you that freedom of movement you’d hope it would. Of course the camera is out to kill you as well, with the left joystick doing nothing, leaving you to rely on a semi-functional free-look button. Tenchu’s trademark stealth kills are fun and satisfying, but if you ever find yourself in direct combat with an opponent you’re in for a painful slog of button mashing and praying your attacks don’t go screaming off into a wall…
Basically what I’m saying is that Tenchu 2 feels like a giant sack of missed opportunities, several of which can be attributed to it simply being a product of its time.
See, as a kid I never thought about any of this stuff, I just had fun swinging a katana. I never thought about how bad the controls felt, or how bad the AI was, or how strange the stealth detection was, or how badly designed the levels felt. As a kid, I just thought, hey, ninjas!
Story / Value: 7.0
Not going to lie, I have no idea what the game’s storyline is. I mean, I’m sure it has something to do with ninjas… and masters and… bad… people… There was a thing at the beginning that explained the state of affairs and I can’t for the life of me recall what it said.
What I will give points for is offering multiple characters to play through the campaign with, as well as a surprisingly fleshed out mission editor. In fact, the only thing saving this metric from a solid 6.0, I’d say, is said mission editor! You get all the tools you need to make simple missions of varying types. You can choose to create assassination missions, escort, rescue or recon missions, all with their own restrictions and parameters. Enemies can be given pathing AI’s, and for what it is everything feels very robust. I can easily say I had more fun with the mission editor than I did with the actual game itself!
To put it bluntly, the visuals are bad. Draw distance is about 10 feet in any direction making outdoor missions horrible to play through, textures constantly bend and warp, and environment are bland as can be. Still, this was about what was expected from PS1 games at the time, so it’s hard to knock it too much. Main characters are animated pretty well, and the over-the-top blood spatter is fun to watch.
There’s not much music in the game, and what is there can be summed up as “Generic Feudal Japanese Music”. Still, it never offends, and isn’t distracting.
The sound effects fare better than the music. Something about the sounds of swords slashing and clanging really stuck with me as a kid, and playing the game again they’re just as I remember. Add in some hilariously bad voice acting and you’ve got a game that’s actually pretty fun to listen to.
Afterthoughts / Fun: 6.3
Tenchu 2 comes from an era of PS1 games that, while quite relevant for their time, I believe just don’t hold up well today. This includes other classics like Tomb Raider and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Resident Evil. I remember having a great time with Tenchu as a kid, and I was willing to give it every chance as an adult. As it is, I just find the game too frustrating to enjoy. Poor visuals emphasize technical limitations that are only made all the worse by a mediocre control scheme.
Dat mission editor tho…