Recently, Simon had the chance to shoot off a few questions to Masanori Kuwasashi, game designer/creative director behind the future Xbox title 'Tenhcu: Return from Darkness". Here is what was said.
Q. Going back a few years how did the Tenchu series begin, what inspired the team to create a stealth Ninja title? Why do you think the time is right for the series to move to the Xbox console?
The first and foremost reason to bring the series to the Xbox was because of the hardware capabilities. We were very impressed by its graphical power, memory space and the networking capabilities. We were excited to see how Tenchu would work on Xbox Live and how it would look using the power of the Xbox.
Q. Until now the series has only appeared on Sony consoles and has been quite successful, do you think that players from those consoles will move to the Xbox version of the game and what new features besides the obvious such as Xbox Live will they find which has enhanced the franchise?
The Xbox version contains two new stages, new bosses to fight, new cut-scenes and new abilities that the player can use. An extra layer of polish was added all over and we have also added new features like restarting, and continuing from where your character has died. The appeal of being able to play together online is also another reason for owners of previous versions of Tenchu to want this new version on Xbox.
Q. It has been announced that the Xbox title will feature multiplayer co-op missions. Can you give an example as to what players may have to undertake together and will this be supported by split screen on the same console, or via System Link and Xbox Live as well. Will the multiplayer co-op missions follow the same path as the single player campaign?
Yes, the Xbox Live missions will also be playable on split screen together. The co-op missions will not follow the same path as the single player campaign. They are separate unique missions designed around the idea of performing "Co-op stealth kills" by having two players sneak up on enemies at the same time. The visuals for these coop stealth kills are very fun to watch. We've created new versions of these co-op stealth kills for Return from Darkness.
Q. Xbox Live is going to be heavily supported by the title. Can we expect downloadable content in future months after the games release and if possible can you discuss what game modes the title will support ie will it be something like a generic deathmatch mode/capture the flag or something completely new that gamers haven't seen before?
Yes, the game is heavily supporting Xbox Live. We are particularly happy with the co-op mode because of the coop stealth kills. The game will require you to cooperate with one other sneaky ninja to accomplish missions by timing actions and talk with each other using the voice functions to time actions together. It's easy to get frustrated with another player and that's what the VS mode is really for. Once you try cooperating with someone that doesn't cooperate well, then you can battle it out in the VS mode to unleash your frustrations. In VS, the player will be able to select from 20 different characters to fight with, each with their unique moves. We currently have no plans to make downloadable content.
Q. In the game you get to play as three characters, do players get to choose who they want to be initially, do they have varying storylines and what new weapons have been added to the Xbox version for these characters?
The player first chooses from Rikimaru and Ayame. Once both storylines are finished, then the third character Tesshu becomes available. All three characters have different storylines. One item that we've added for these characters is an item called a "viper drink" - it allows you to increase you attack strength for a while but it will lower your energy by drinking it.
Q. Two more levels have been added to the single player campaign for the Xbox title. Have they been interspersed to the storyline or added on to the end? Can you give any idea of where the new missions will be set and what tasks players may have to undertake?
The new stages have been interspersed to the storyline. One will be set in a huge Samurai Mansion and the other will take place in a Deserted Temple. The content of the missions will vary depending on the character the player is playing. For one character it could be "kill all enemies" but for another it could be "find out who sent you the secret message."
Q. The stealth genre has exploded in recent years with many new franchises hitting the market and they always seem to be highly anticipated. What do you think makes Tenchu stand out from the crowd and continue to be successful in an increasingly crowded marketplace?
The intrigue of Tenchu has always been that it is the most authentic ninja game out there. The ninja needs to use stealth, and so it is a stealth game as well. What makes Tenchu stand out from the crowd is the mystique of the ninja universe, the actions and non-actions surrounding the ninja within the game and the way the game makes you feel like you are the ninja.
Q. With the extra power of the Xbox at your disposal, what graphical enhancements have been added to the game and can we expect the game to support 5.1 Dolby surround sound?
The Xbox version uses higher polygon counts for each character within the game. We have added specular lighting to the characters as well. A lot of polish was redone graphically to the background art. We've also been able to create taller buildings and that is something that couldn't be done without the extra power of the Xbox. The game will support 5.1 surround sound.
Q. The game is said to have varying mission paths and different objectives depending on how the missions are carried out by the player. How many endings are going to be in the final game and do you have any idea how many different paths a player can take to get to the end? How will this be carried out, will it be based on objectives completed or for instance the way a player takes out an enemy i.e. is it different if a player takes down an enemy in a stealth manner or in a violent confrontational manner?
Each mission has been designed so that you have many ways to accomplish your mission or to reach the goal. Rikimaru will have two different endings. Ayame has two as well. The player will get to see the different endings depending on how he chooses to accomplish one of the missions towards the middle of the game.
Q. Finally is there anything you want to say to your fan base waiting in anticipation for the games release?
We are very excited to deliver Tenchu: Return from Darkness on Xbox. The new missions and Xbox Live are very fun. We have also added some cut-scenes to existing stages in the story mode and so we hope you enjoy the game in full.