SHINOBIDO / Spike / PSP
 
 
Shinobido is a clear attempt to clone Tenchu; it's Tenchu's "Honey Crunchin' Oats", so to speak. It particularly aims to emulate the lo-fi style of the first two Tenchu games on the PS1, which is actually something of a worthy cause, since the series as of late has devolved into a lot of poo. Unfortunately it does a really, really bad job.

Mostly it's the fault of a janky, clunky gameplay engine; I've taken to calling it "Clunkchu" for short. Instead of the sprawling levels seen in even the first Tenchu game, Clunkchu divides things up into a shit ton of really tiny "bite-sized" levels. To save time and resources, however, most of them inexplicably take place in The Void. Outside of the 3 or 4 streets in the village you're using, everything else is some giant pit that you're free to fall into. Aside from cutting down on stealth approach possibilities, this also ends up being the death of most enemies, who seem unaware and unconcerned that these yawning chasms are all around them.

An even bigger problem than that, though, is the camera. One of the things that makes every Tenchu game tick, PS1 games included, is the ability to move the camera with the 2nd analog stick. Obviously that isn't an option here, but Clunkchu can't come up with an adequate compromise. All you can do is push R to re-center the camera behind your ninja, and the L button lets you focus on an enemy when one is close enough. Letting you rotate the camera with these two buttons would have been a hell of a lot more helpful.

The graphics are below-standard even for the PS1, and the animations are equally clunky and weird. In battle, your main man Goh does this weird thing where he jumps on the enemy and scissors their head while doing a handstand on their shoulders and kind of humping their skull gently. The first time I did it I thought it was leading to some sort of cool fatality ... but all he does is apparently bust a nut in his ninjer pajamas then get shaken off, and then has to stand there frozen with embarassment for a few seconds while the enemy gets to wail away. Tough fetish to have.

The handheld Tenchu games are an awful lot of shit, but somehow, this game manages to be even worse. It looks like a combination of budget garnered by begging for change outside the 7-11 and lack of talent mixed with lack of giving a shit.
 
 
 
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