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Theodore Smith
Theodore Smith

Shinobido Way Of The Ninja

Shinobido has the player take the role of an amnesiac ninja who wakes to find himself lying on the bank of an unfamiliar river. In fact, everything is unfamiliar, as the man finds that he can no longer remember his identity and has no memory of his life or situation up until the point of his regaining consciousness. Finding only a sword lying next to him on the ground, the man stumbles across an isolated and seemingly derelict shack, only to have an arrow shoot past his head and lodge itself into the shack's outer wall. Startled, the man scans the trees and undergrowth surrounding him, but then notices a letter attached to the arrow. The letter states that the person who wrote it is simply a "concerned bystander," and further identifies the amnesiac man as "Goh," a ninja of the Asuka clan, which was wiped out the previous day. The letter informs Goh that his memories and soul have somehow been stolen and placed within eight mystical stones which were scattered during the initial attack on the Asuka ninjas' village, and then further scattered by people who have located and claimed the stones.

Shinobido Way of The Ninja

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Using the run-down hut as a base-of-operations, Goh must locate the stones to reclaim his memory and discover the truth regarding the destruction of the Asuka ninja. However, this monumental task would prove impossible without the assistance of powerful and knowledgeable allies, and Goh is advised by the mysterious writer of the letter to gain the trust and protection of one of three powerful warlords and charismatic leaders within his proximity. Goh is further advised to begin his search in Utakata Castle, where the kind and noble Nobutero Ichijo resides. Ichijo and the Asuka ninja apparently together maintained peace throughout Utakata. With the destruction of the latter, Utakata now appears on the brink of war as ambitious neighbouring warlords and religious leaders turn their attention towards the vulnerable province. Goh must decide whether he will trust Ichijo, or instead ally himself with one of the other leaders vying for control of the region.

The player takes control of the Asuka ninja, as Goh, "The Crow", who conducts various missions and tasks, primarily stealth-based, for one of three warlords competing for Goh's allegiance. Missions include assassination, escort duty, protection, theft, kidnap, and various other clandestine operations at the request of the lords, and are delivered by a mysterious individual who shoots a message-carrying arrow into the wall of Goh's shack, the usual method of notification, used throughout the game. Generally, several missions will be available to the player at any given time, and will sometimes involve locating and claiming one of the eight stones containing Goh's memories and soul, after gaining the trust of a particular lord, who will advise of the stone's whereabouts. The character is guided by the mysterious "Onji", who helps him in his search for the truth, for his memories and for the greater evil that threatens Utakata.

As a ninja, Goh is swift, agile, and silent, and can use these attributes to his benefit during missions. Although Goh is a capable combatant, he will generally be at a disadvantage in a straight sword fight, as his opponents are larger in number and are often more skillfully trained in direct kenjutsu than he is. Goh will encounter heavily-armoured rival ninja, skilled yojimbo, ronin warriors, and large groups of an opposing lord's regular guardsmen, who will often call for reinforcements or sound the alert if they become aware of Goh's presence. It is very much in Goh's favour to utilise stealth tactics to avoid detection, such as crouching behind ledges and walls, climbing across rooftops, and sneaking through canals. Such tactics will allow Goh to accomplish his tasks with minimal interference, or until the enemy can be picked off slowly and silently, one-by-one.

Witnesses can also be problematic for Goh. Should Goh choose to accept a contract from one lord against another for whom Goh has worked on other occasions, the second lord will feel personally betrayed and likely request their troops hunt down and execute Goh. This can become especially tedious if said lord consistently contracts rival ninja or barbarians to attack Goh's hideout. Failure to fend off these attackers will result in Goh's hard-earned money and items being stolen by the enemy, although successfully remaining hidden and earning an "Invisible" rank at the end of each mission will prevent this from occurring to some extent.

After the Tenchu series was lost to rival Japanese developer From Software, Acquire began development on a new series with similar style and gameplay values in an effort to retain its stealth/ninja genre fan base.

After the events of the previous game, the Asuka ninja successfully rebuilt their village. The story begins when Goh receives a letter from the Amurita Faith leader Lady Sadame stating that the Fudo province lord Kagetora Akame hired the Taraba ninja leader Kabuto to steal her documents. Utakata lord Nobuteru Ichijo plans to marry the daughter of the neighboring lord, Princess Azami, but her father will only accept, if Goh eliminates the Kenobi ninja. On the wedding day, mysterious bandits attack Ichijo, but are stopped by Goh who is then sent to investigate. Goh finds out that three samurai generals have been betraying Ichijo, captures one of them, and discovers that Miroku, Sadame's priestess, was responsible for the wedding incident. The documents he retrieves from Akame were Sadame's diaries stating that the Amuritha Faith is just her creation. Goh heads to Miroku's convent, defeats her, then suddenly vanishes. In the morning, Zaji and Kinu search for Goh at the convent, but they find nothing but dead bodies of Miroku and her followers. Kinu, in a sad voice, says that 'he left us again'.

End of the Muromachi period - the late 16th century: The power of the Ashikaga government is on the decline after the Ōnin/Bunmei civil war. Civil unrest is on the rise and conflict rocks province after province. Even Utakata, long peacefully ruled by the House of Ichijo, is now threatened. It was thought that the combined protection of the House of Ichijo and the Asuka Clan would preserve the peace in Utakata. But this time of peace came to an end when the Asuka ninja clan was destroyed in a single night.

The provincial lords, who had been watching and waiting for an opportunity to strike at Utakata, wasted no time in making their moves. And they were accompanied by rival ninja clans hoping to take the place of the Asuka Ninja. Besieged by rival governments and ninja clans, Utakata stands on the brink of war...

The players take the role of Goh the Crow, an amnesiac ninja and the sole known survivor of the Asuka Clan, which was exterminated the night before. With no one to trust but the letters of a mysterious "bystander", and three warlords vying for his loyalty, Goh must decide how should he act, how should he use the warlords and what should be his goals in the war-torn land of Utakata. Things will become increasingly difficult however as rival ninja clans descend to Utakata, and an enigmatic one-eyed ninja comes hunting for his blood...

After the Tenchu series was lost to rival Japanese developer, FROMSOFTWARE, AQUIRE began development on a new series with similar style and gameplay values in an effort to retain its stealth/ninja genre fan base. ACQUIRE apologized on its official website that, due to circumstances beyond their control, there was no planned North American release.

The level hub is your home in the middle of a forest, from where you can purchase and equip various items (along with health potions and weapons, there are all the usual tools of distraction), read your post and the local news (which helps you ascertain how happy/pissed off everyone is with you), and tend to your garden. The garden's a little ninja playground, which you can reshape as you see fit - and occasionally have to defend by butchering barbarians who come round to pinch your equipment. Another thing you can do here is send things to your warlord employers, which again contribute to their levels of respect for you (assuming they need some "confusion weed", obviously).

Trouble soon arises though, because while Shinobido builds on Tenchu, it doesn't really do anything to fix it, and some of its own choices are a bit dim (well, everything's dim in the world of the ninja, but you get the point). Combat, outside of stealth kills, remains fairly poor. You can perform a three-hit combo with your sword using the square button, with new moves later on, but in general you'll just want to leg it, and getting away when you're spotted is a pain and upsets your quest for perfect stealth. It's like accidentally nudging a domino too early, and then having to hide behind a tree until somebody's set them all up again.

That's more of a problem with being a ninja though, and I guess I have no better solutions than Acquire's anyway, but it could certainly have done something about the camera, which is as incontestably awful as ever. You can dip into a first-person view using R3 to help, but for the most part you'll use third-person. Since you spend a lot of time on rooftops, you're constantly wrestling with it trying to get a good view of what's happening below, and it's even more frustrating in the close confines of alleyways and interiors. There's an L1 lock-on to help with surveillance, but it's like a plaster on a stab wound.

Generally the controls are all right, if a little clunky and archaic. There's still no analogue control - you're either running or not, and the modifiers for creeping and running faster are on R1 and circle respectively - while combat controls see you refusing to switch direction in between quickly-strung sword combos, and inventory management (especially while sidling along a wall) is ninja-esque only in the expectations it has of your fingers. Fortunately the bread and butter - stealth killing - rarely frustrates, even when you're trying to leap and kill from a distance, but as with Tenchu it's not so much the core thrill that upsets the player, it's everything else. Leaping onto someone's head and dispatching them inches from another guard is fine, apart from the moment of panic when the animation ends, the camera's facing you rather than following you, and you've got to figure out whether it's left you exposed. 041b061a72


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