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Follow the path of the ninja.

Many years ago, Rikimaru and Ayume were rescued as orphans by Master Azuma Shiunsai, the leader of Lord Gohda’s Azuma ninja. Master Shiunsai gave his new apprentices the only upbringing he could offer: a life of lethal secrecy in a a world of shadows; the life of a ninja.

As they grew into young adults, Rikimaru and Ayume became essential members of the House of Gohda, even defending it from overthrow at the hands of a neighboring samurai lord. Each of the Azuma ninjas have served Lord Gohda with their lives and with their honor, delivering midnight messages to neighboring states and punishment in the shadows to those who turned against him.

Now the period of bitter wars and great turmoil in 16th century Japan has seemingly come to an end. The Azuma ninja clan recently conducted the traditional ceremonies to end their year of mourning for the tragic death of Rikimaru.

Meanwhile, the land of Lord Gohda celebrated the passing of the fourth season of peace since the defeat of Lord Meioh. Only the Azuma ninjas know the truth about Lord Meioh’s disappearance into a portal after he was defeated. It was a secret that even Lord Gohda did not know…

Well, anyway.
Despite what the manual’s disjointed introduction reads, super-freakin’-cool ninjas Rikimaru and Ayame both return for more stealth killing action in Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven, the third installment of the Tenchu ninja assassin video game series. Each character has his/her own unique style and progresses through the nine single-player missions differently, with varying objectives, ninja items, and such. Some of the ninja items include throwing stars, land mines, poisoned rice balls, magical swords, flaming arrows, invisibility cloaks, explosive throwing stars, fireworks, and of course, the almighty grappling hook. Enemy starting positions change each time players restart a level, and enemies behave differently depending on their weapon and emotional state (for example, if they see one of their compatriots laying dead on the ground with his head twisted around backwards, they’ll act accordingly).

The story line is pretty typical feudal ninja samurai magic-in-the-forest fare, but it’s entertaining enough. Not that it really makes a difference, because the game is exceedingly fun to play. While the split screen vs. and co-op two-player modes are also a lot of fun, the reduced visibility makes playing the game much harder. Overall, it’s a fantastically fun game to play, and it never seems to get old. I still think that the trick where you can cling to the ceiling and drop down on unsuspecting foes is the coolest feature that I’ve ever seen in a video game… well, maybe not as cool as the ability to jump while holding your skateboard in T & C Surf Designs: Wood and Water Rage


Age: 26
Sex: Male
Weapon: Izayoi sword (The Sword of the Azuma. It is passed down from generation to generation to the worthiest of Ninjas.)
Bio: Leader of the Azuma Shinobi-ryu ninja sect. His thoroughness, patience and bravery have earned him the honor of the Izayoi sword according to the sect's master Shiunsai. Terrifyingly focused and withdrawn, Rikimaru's sense of destiny and composure give him the strength to take on missions that most would consider acts of suicide. Rikimaru is not quite as fast as Ayame but his strength is far superior.

Age: 22
Sex: Female
Weapon: Short Swords (Two powerful blades that provide the perfect compliment for her remarkable finesse and lightning speed)
Bio: Bold yet quick, silent yet cunning, Ayame has been trained since childhood as a ninja. As sharp with her tongue as she is with her sword, Ayame uses an acrobatic style of ninjitsu to overcome obstacles living or dead. She adores Gohda's daughter Kiku as if the little girl were her own sister. Ayame is the fastest of the three characters but also the weakest in terms or strength.

Age: Unknown
Sex: Male
Weapon: Hand to Hand Combat + Surgical Pin
Bio: Doctor by day, hired assassin by night. He belongs to an underground vigilante group called "Muzen" that will murder for money, but only if it serves justice. Tesshu is the slowest of the three characters but also the strongest. One important fact to keep in mind is that Tesshu's highest ranking is that of "Master Assassin" compared to "Grandmaster" for the other two characters.

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