Tecmo seemed to have its priorities a little backwards at this year’s E3. True to the developer’s form, the biggest setup at the Dead or Alive maker’s booth was a stage for their booth babes, decked out in Kasumi and Rachel (from Ninja Gaiden) costumes to strut their ample stuff, leaving less space open to the actual games. Despite this setback, MyGamer went out to explore Tecmo’s forthcoming software for all available systems.
Dead or Alive 4
Platform: Xbox 360
Release: Holiday 2005
The biggest news story dealing with DOA4 is the brand-new online clan feature, allowing bands of players to form cooperative groups. How this will be implemented is not yet known, but with Team Ninja’s newfound experience with Xbox Live gained from DOA Ultimate, Tecmo’s signature development team must have something sleek up their sleeve. The amount of possible online spectators has been upped dramatically, coinciding with the hardware leap, but no specific details have been relinquished as of press time.
New characters Kokoro, Eliot, and a Mystery Wrestler (who could be Lisa from DOAX) will join existing favorites like Kasumi and DOA3’s Christy, and along with new fighters and combat styles; the core-fighting engine is being re-tooled for an unprecedented amount of complexity, making for the most advanced DOA game ever made. The leap in technology and gameplay mechanics should be quite noticeable, especially for players of the series and those familiar with its traditionally button-mashing style.
DOA4’s graphics, however, don’t seem to be quite up to par with its expanded online modes and countering system. In a trailer of in-game footage, the visuals underwhelmed many journalists, especially when compared to the previous efforts of Team Ninja on the current generation Xbox. Hopefully Tecmo will be able to iron out gameplay issues and tend to the lackluster graphics in time for its debut, scheduled to launch with Microsoft’s new console at the end of the year.
Fatal Frame III: The Tormented
Release: Fall 2005
Tecmo’s third Fatal Frame title puts the player in the role of Rei Kurosawa and Kei Amakura, another set of young girls embarking on a nightmarish adventure complete with a magical ghost-fighting camera – the camera obscura. Throughout the game the player will accompany the two heroines across both normal and hellish dimensions, similar to Silent Hill’s durable dual-reality mechanic. Miku from the first Fatal Frame will also return as a playable character, to help Rei and Kei uncover the mystery of the ominous House of Sleep and its deadly tattoo symbol.
The camera, used primarily as a weapon in previous games, will have more uses this time. Taking pictures of the player’s surroundings and collecting clues will shed light on the mystery, opening the game up to a higher degree of adventure than before. Ghosts are promised to be even more disturbing than in the previous iterations, with more realistic facial expressions and mannerisms.
Release: September 2005
Tecmo’s PS1-era Deception series has been revived on Playstation2 with the new moniker Trapt. The classic dungeon trap game has been overhauled and brought to the next generation. The player assumes the role of Queen Allura, a member of the royal family who has been framed for the murder of her father, the King. Seeking vengence on her enemies, she returns to the court to set fatal traps ready to ensnare those responsible for her misfortune.
Gameplay is part action, part strategy, involving the proper placement of deadly traps to deliver painful retribution to her foes, creating a grim torture-type feel. Few gameplay details have been divulged so far, with only a couple of modes such as Story, Survival and Bonus Story revealed.
Ninja Gaiden Black
Release: September 2005
The rejuvenated Ninja Gaiden series is back in black, and on current generation hardware no less. This upgrade from the first Gaiden Xbox game is more of a special edition than a proper sequel, since the core game from 2004’s title returns along with an Xbox Live scoreboard. The original’s Story Mode is supplemented by new difficulty levels such as Ninja Dog for the gameplay-challenged, and Very Difficult Master Ninja, for those who like getting crushed by computer opponents.
Various mission modes provide more variety than the original’s non-stop ninja action, in the form of time-based missions, endurance battles, boss encounters, and other unspecified tasks. New cinematics offer more eye candy, and the inclusion of Hurricane Packs 1 & 2 for the offline game beef up the game’s existing gameplay options to an even higher degree. More bonus content is promised, including an unlockable version of the original Arcade game of Ninja Gaiden, titled Ninja Ryukenden. For the Ryu Hayabusa fanatic, Ninja Gaiden Black looks to be chock-full of shiny new goodies, yet retains the same ass-kicking recipe of the original for both those without Live, and the Tecmo completist.
Tecmo Classic Arcade
Release: Summer 2005
Someone at Tecmo finally recognized the potential of cult classic Tecmo Bowl to still be enjoyed by today’s gamers, resulting in the retro compilation Tecmo Classic Arcade. Along with the popular NES football title, Tecmo classics appearing in their first Xbox outing include:
Solomon’s Key Swimmer
Bomb Jack Tecmo Cup
Pinball Action Strato Fighter
Senjyo Star Force
Accompanying the classic games are the requisite accoutrements of nostaligia, such as old-school posters and the games’ original manuals. While a few titles on the lineup are decent enough to warrant replaying, the game wasn’t shown in playable form on the show floor, leaving the emulation up in the air. Even though the Xbox is the most suited for mass emulation of older systems, classic compilations developers have been known to run into the occasional roadblock, impinging on the games “arcade perfect” authenticity. MyGamer will have more details about Tecmo Classic Arcade’s performance as and when more information is released.