Although the game is only 30% complete, VU's upcoming Red Ninja: End of Honor looks to give both the stealth action and ninja game genres a welcome new twist. If your curiousity is piqued, defintely give a read to the FAQ below:
RED NINJA: END OF HONOR
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What type of game is Red Ninja: End of Honor?
A: Red Ninja is a third-person action adventure game set in 16th century Japan. It is currently being developed for the Sony PlayStation 2 and Microsoft’s Xbox.
Q: What is the story of Red Ninja: End of Honor?
A: Set in 16th century Japan, the power of the samurai class is fading and the use of the Ninja has become necessary to hold any political power in this chaotic time. Shingen Takeda and Nobunaga Oda are at the center of this struggle. The player takes the role of Kurenai, a young girl whose father is the master weapon smith for Lord Takeda. Kurenai’s world is destroyed when she and her father are attacked by the deadly Black Lizard Clan, who murders her father, steals the plans for his newest invention and brutally hangs her by a wire, leaving her to die. Miraculously, she survives. Rescued by Chiyome, the head ninja for Lord Takeda, Kurenai is adopted into the ninja clan where she obtains complete mastery of her new weapon, the wire that was used to hang her. Kurenai has pledged her undying loyalty to her new family. She now lives to avenge her father’s death and will go to any means necessary to destroy the Black Lizard Clan.
Q: Who is developing Red Ninja: End of Honor?
A: The game is being developed by Tranji, an all new development studio formed by veteran Japanese developers Opus and New Corporation.
Q: What is its current state of development? How many people are on the development team?
A: The game is 30% done in terms of development. There are 30 people on the development team not counting additional outsourced resources.
Q: How long will the game be? And what type of missions will the player engage in?
A: The game will consist of 8 levels. Each level will have a unique mission that is taken from the storyline. For instance, your first mission may be to assassinate a rival clan member or to set explosives to take down the rival’s buildings.
Q: Why did you decide to make the Tetsugen “wire weapon” the lead characters main weapon? What are the characteristics of this weapon? Has this type of weapon been used before in a game?
A: When you think of ninja games, they are typically either all stealth kills or non-stop combat but all feature swords and shuriken. Our goal was to create a game that had actions and elements players had never seen before. A wire that tethered you to an enemy was something that hasn’t been done before. Other games have transport zip-lines that pull you towards an enemy or the enemy towards you. But you’ve never seen it used as the weapon. We took the main idea of the wire connecting the player to an enemy and then defined its actions by the head attachment equipped. There are two different head attachments, the Blade and the Fundo (Japanese for iron weight). The Blade is for slashing and impaling, the Fundo is more about bludgeoning and entanglement. For instance, if I have the Blade equipped, I can impale an enemy and pressing the attack button again, rip out the blade doing damage to the soldier. If I use the Fundo, I entangle the enemy. I can then jerk on the wire to knock him over and drag him around, using the taut wire to damage other enemies. Also, players must use the physics and tension of the wire to effectively defeat their enemies. A wire with very little tension will do almost no damage to an enemy but once the player gets the wire to maximum tension, that’s when limbs start falling off!
Q: How will enemy-AI behave in game? Will the game favor scripted sequences for a cinematic feel, or will it respond directly to the player’s specific actions and skill level?
A: We are working towards an AI system that will respond to the players’ choices. For instance, if the player uses Kurenai’s wall run ability to get her out of the enemies reach on a higher ledge, the soldiers will call for projectile guards such as archers to continue the attack on Kurenai.
Q: What kind of enemy AI will the player encounter? What kind of variations will there be in how they fight, or how they are armed?
A: There will be two different types of melee combat enemies and two different types of projectile enemies. The main weapons are sword, spear, arrows and guns, with each having unique attacks. Then there is a fifth enemy type which will challenge the player by having a move set similar to Kurenai, the Black Lizard Clan Ninja. Leaders for the soldiers will also exist in levels. They are much more difficult to defeat than normal soldiers. Defeating the leader will of course affect the soldiers under their command.
Q: What technology is the game’s engine running on? How easy/difficult has it been working on both the closed platform technology of the Xbox and PlayStation 2?
A: The game is running on a proprietary engine developed by Tranji with use of a relatively new middleware called Quat. The lead programming is being done for the PS2 with a follow up SKU for the Xbox. The integration of this game engine has been relatively smooth seeing as it was designed to be a multi-platform technology.
Q: Will we see a demo released prior to the game appearing on store shelves? Any type of public beta test people can look forward to?
A: Yes, we are planning to release a demo.
Q: In what ways will Red Ninja: End of Honor innovate the third-person action genre?
A: We want to provide players with a deadly and exciting combat experience with the Tetsugen (the wire) but also deliver an iconic character that players will respond to and continue to play. Most of these games tend to focus on standard weapons like guns and swords for example. However, with the introduction of the wire mechanics, we’ve introduced a new strategy, a weapon that can be used strategically to navigate environments as well as destroying enemies.
Q: What is the release date for Red Ninja: End of Honor?
A: Red Ninja will be released in the fall of 2004.
Q: What will Red Ninja: End of Honor be rated? What will it cost when released?
A: Red Ninja: End of Honor is currently pending a rating by the ESRB but we expect the title to be Mature. We don’t have a final cost yet, but we anticipate it will be competitively priced.
Thanks very (very!) much to Pamela Thomas at VU for the info and art. We're going to follow this very promising title through the development process up until its release in Fall 2004 for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
- Greg Wilcox