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Tenchu: Stealth Assassins

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Title Screen

Tenchu: Stealth Assassins

Also known as: Rittai Ninja Katsugeki Tenchu (JP)
Developer: Acquire
Publishers: Sony Computer Entertainment (JP), Activision (US/EU)
Platform: PlayStation
Released in JP: February 26, 1998 (original), November 11, 1999 (Shinobi-Gaisen)
Released in US: September 1998
Released in EU: October 1998

EnemyIcon.png This game has unused enemies.
DebugIcon.png This game has debugging material.
SoundtestIcon.png This game has a hidden sound test.
LevelSelectIcon.png This game has a hidden level select.
RegionIcon.png This game has regional differences.

Tenchu was the first ever 3D stealth action game, and the first of three groundbreaking titles that made 1998 a historic year for the genre.

Debug Mode


Tenchu features a rather comprehensive debug mode, which among other things allows you to modify NPC paths and even set up a pseudo-2 player game.

To activate it in the U.S. and Shinobi-Gaisen versions, pause the game, then press and hold L1 and R2 simultaneously. While holding L1 and R2, press Up, Triangle, Down, X, Left, Square, Right, Circle. Release L1 and R2, then press L1, R1, L2, R2. The 'PAUSED' should disappear and you'll hear a noise. Once you unpause you can press L2 and R2 simultaneously to open the menu.

You will have to re-enter the code when changing levels.

Layout Enemy


This option allows you to place an enemy and configure its AI, establish pathfinding nodes and control it with the first or second controller.

Add chooses a NPC to place. The next four choices determine its behavior:

  • The second choice specifies which AI package it uses when idle, including an option for player control.
  • The third selects the NPC's reaction upon seeing the player (either approach to confirm or stand around staring).
  • The fourth selects its behavior during combat.
  • The last selects its behavior when the player retreats.
The effect seen when selecting a target for path placement

Remove deletes the selected NPC.

Reset places the enemy at its start position at 100% health. It will be immobile and unresponsive until activated by selecting Go.

Clear all enemies does exactly what it says.

Report displays the number of placed actors, including the player.

Select camera owner list placed actors by number, with the player being actor 0.

Path settings has three options:

  • Select selects the nearest NPC to be programmed, displaying a fiery explosion effect on the selected actor.
  • Add places a pathfinding node.
  • Reset does ???

Layout Item

Similar to the above, but with items. The only options are to place them one at a time or remove them all.



Save and Load allow you to save/load data to/from the disk (does not work) or memory card (works perfectly).

Reload stock images does ???

Load stock layout resets the stage layout (enemy and item) to the default.
Stealth Assassins Shinobi-Gaisen
What does it mean? TenchuSGDebugPrint.png

Toggle debug print displays some numbers that can be expanded by pressing select. The Shinobi-Gaisen re-release has an extra line with colored text.

Play stage music plays the music for the current stage from the beginning of the track.

Test music is a music test, including cutscene voiceovers.

Stop music stops playback.

Event update does something, but from the player's perspective it's only restarting the stage music.

Animation update has a currently unknown effect involving cutscenes.

Animation test plays a cutscene and skips the player to the part of the level where it occurs. Since the cutscenes are activated when entering the area in which they play, the scene will play twice unless it has already played (e.g. stage intro scenes will have already played).

Charge Item

This option gives you 10, 100 or Full (infinite) of any item in the game except Ninja Armor, including some that are otherwise unobtainable. These unobtainable items (named below in bold) all share an unseen inventory icon (Tenchu the world.png).
List of items
Menu option Item name Note
Smoke Smoke Bomb
Makabisi Caltrops
Fire Grenade
Jirai Mine
Kusuri Healing Potion
Kaginawa Grappling Hook
Gun Echigoya's gun.
Yumi Bow Used by generic archer enemies.
Kaen Flame The effect seen when the player gets lit on fire.
Dokudango Poison Rice
Rikimarukochan Shadow Decoy
Gosikimai Colored Rice
Happou Super Shuriken
Ninken Dog Bone
Nemurigusuri Sleeping Gas
Kaengeki Fire-Eater Scroll
Kawarimi Resurrection Leaf
Goshinfuda Protection Amulet
Manebue Decoy Whistle
Hensin Chameleon Spell
Shinsoku Lightfoot Scroll
Lightning Bolt Used by the final boss.
The World A teleportation spell, aimed like the grappling hook.


Reset position places you at the stage's starting point.
Jump position displays some XYZ coordinates that can be modified with the Dpad and L1/L2 (enter with start), but this doesn't seem to do anything.

Restart event restarts the entire stage.

Raise dead fills the player's health, including resurrection if dead.


Displayed when selecting the information option.
Change, reload, or instantly clear the stage. This also displays information about layout and score. You can supposedly choose between English, French, Italian and (in Shinobi-Gaisen) Japanese, but it makes no difference.

Unused Enemies

Note: Adding any enemy that does not exist in the current stage layout will cause the music to stop playing for some reason.

Rikimaru & Ayame

The NPC versions of Rikimaru and Ayame rescued in stage 3 are on the enemies list for stage 0.


This guy shows up in the enemies list for stages 1 and 5. If controlled manually, you can dash by pressing X.

Tuzi KatanaL

An invisible guy who shows up in the stage 2 enemies list as a floating purple sword and a flat, black polygon. He has 80 or 120 hp depending on difficulty. Controlling this NPC reveals that it plays identically to Hanbe (the first stage's miniboss) and was likely just a palette swap.


The bear fought at the end of stage 3 is listed twice in stage 8's enemies list. They are identical and displayed with incorrect textures.

Region Differences

There are three major revisions of Tenchu, of which two are Japanese exclusive. The initial release lacked many features later seen in the western-exclusive Stealth Assassins, and Shinobi-Gaisen, the 1999 Japan-only deluxe edition.

Options menu

Japanese v1 Stealth Assassins
TenchuOptionsJ.png TenchuOptionsU.png

Character select

Japanese v1 Stealth Assassins
TenchuChSelectJ.png TenchuChSelectU.png

Tutorial results

Japanese v1 Stealth Assassins
TenchuTutorialResultJ.png TenchuTutorialResultsU.png

Item select

Japanese v1 Stealth Assassins
TenchuInvJ.png TenchuInvU.png

Stage results

Japanese v1 Stealth Assassins
TenchuResultJ.png TenchuResultsU.png


Japanese v1 Stealth Assassins
While the Japanese version map is a bit prettier, the U.S.'s is more useful. TenchuMapU.png

Tutorial introduction

Japanese v1
In the Japanese version, the messenger from stage 2 is present in the training room to give you a lecture.
Stealth Assassins
In the U.S. and later releases, you instead get a streamed video of the same speech (a blatant re-dubbing of stage 2's ending cinematic)...
...and the training room is left barren.
However, he can still be added in the U.S. version with the debug menu, under the name Ryoujyu Katana. His textures were replaced with... something else, making him nearly unrecognizable.

Stage select

The original Japanese release's stage select uses the stage intro background instead of the U.S. version's map and arrow. More significantly, stages 4 and 5 are not present in this version, having first been added to the U.S. release.

Stage 1 boss

Japanese v1 Stealth Assassins
In the original Japanese release, you must fight and kill both Hanbe and Echigoya at the same time.
Rooks rike you chose da wong potty to cwash.
In the U.S. version, after killing Hanbe, Echigoya flees during the cutscene and hides elsewhere in the stage.

Other changes not documented in screenshots:

  • A 180 degree somersault move (R1 + X) was added.
  • Each stage had only one layout compared to 3 in Stealth Assassins/Shinobi Gaisen.
  • The draw distance was extended noticeably.
  • The the original version's HUD was simpler, with the ki meter floating off to the right of the HP bar rather than having its own spot.
  • Enemy HP bars were changed from blue to red.

Tenchu: Shinobi-Gaisen

The second version to be released in Japan incorporates all of the changes made for the U.S. release, and then some.
To do:
Embed yt video here
Immediately upon startup, the player is greeted with a new intro FMV.
Would have been nice to have this in the U.S. version.
Detection in the special stages results in an instant game over.
Shinobi-Gaisen's most significant new feature is its level editor, as well as some special stages made with it.
Screenshots of the editor in action:

TenchuEditorSG.png TenchuCutsomSG.png

Other changes:

  • Some camera angles in cutscenes were changed.