Assuming you’ve ever played a Tenchu game in your life, Rikimaru – the white-haired protagonist of the series – shouldn’t need an introduction. Along with his partner Ayame, Rikimaru defined PSOne-era stealth action months before Solid Snake got around to it, and since then he's ninja'd his way through over a dozen games. Not too bad, considering the first game's ending made it look like he died in a cave-in.
Like Rikimaru, Ayame's been synonymous with ninjitsu since the Tenchu series' inception in 1998. Faster and overall just a little bit cooler than Rikimaru, she was a cool, relatively realistic-looking heroine in an era when polygonal female protagonists were largely defined by the enormity of the crude pyramids that passed for their tits. She also wields a mean pair of daggers, which serve no purpose whatsoever in 3D Dot.
A young kunoichi who first appeared in 2005's Tenchu: Fatal Shadows, Rin essentially became Ayame's sidekick after her village was destroyed, leaving her with a thirst for vengeance. Also, while the other Tenchu characters are described as if they simply belong in the game, Rin is the only one to be acknowledged as having "managed to wander into Dotnia, somehow."
A doctor who moonlights as a nigh-indestructible mercenary, Tesshu first appeared as a not-so-secret character in Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven. In the Tenchu games, he fights bare-handed, kills foes with acupuncture needles and bone-snapping martial arts, and can soak up damage like a lethal sponge. Here, however, he looks cute and swings a giant sword, just like everyone else.
Like the rest of these cameos, Shippu looks too interesting to not be from somewhere. Turns out he's from Onore no Shinzuru Michi o Yuke, a ninja-themed PSP puzzle game that came out in Japan last year and whose title roughly translates to "Conquer the Road of Your Beliefs." It looks kind of awesome, so we're holding out hope that this dot-ified version is the harbinger of an impending US release.
More tenuous “cameos”
The following aren’t as clear as the previous, considering that they’re not direct references to From’s own games, but it’s hard not to think of them as intentional callouts to other franchises.
The only difference between SantaFunk and the regular Santa avatar (Santavatar?) is a slightly more animated walk, making him marginally more funky than his non-funkified twin. But it’s hard not to notice that, despite his plain-old-Santa appearance, SantaFunk shares his name with a certain jetpack-wearing Santa variant who was the most enigmatic and sought-after figure from Sega’s ToeJam & Earl games.
We could be completely wrong about this one, but the Heroine's (possibly) skimpy red-and-purple armor and winged helmet are very evocative of an iconic character who's even more iconic in Japan: the valkyrie-like Soldier from the Dragon Quest/Dragon Warrior series, specifically the one introduced in Dragon Quest III.
Above: With our luck, it's probably actually someone from King's Field or something
There's no sly callout and the color palette isn't quite right, but this is just too obvious: how many videogame succubi have you seen that have little bat wings growing out of their heads? We've only seen two, so if this nameless sex-demon wasn't at least inspired by Darkstalkers' Morrigan and/or Lilith, we'd be very surprised.
May 13, 2010
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