year is 2096 and Earth is polluted and war torn. The remaining
colonists have only one wish, to leave the barren planet Earth and
rebuild their lives on Extrevius 328, an off world colony that is
rumored to be the promised land.
Joseph B. Tenka is from Extrevius 328, and the planet is far
from the paradise that was promised. It is actually a corporate
conglomerate manufacturing plant for deadly warriors, known only
as Bionoids. Tenka has been listed for transformation into a
Bionoid, which is a half man - half droid, and that prospect does
not please him one bit. In fact he dons a warfare suit and goes
berserk, then sets off to destroy the corporations plans. The
story is explained by some rather nice FMV cut scenes throughout
Tenka is a first person perspective shoot-em-up that is set over
20 large sprawling stages. Each level is mission based and is
described by a mysterious female talking computer named Zenith.
The briefing is accompanied by a graphical display of your
is set in an enclosed world that features curved walls, domed
roofing and multi level floors. Narrow twisting corridors rise and
fall leading to high open areas and appear as graphically smooth
There are a couple of minor irritations that I feel must be
mentioned concerning the scenery. Some of the areas are dimly lit
which add to the atmosphere, but others are so dark that you often
believe you are venturing into the unknown when in fact you are
actually stuck in a corner attempting to walk through a solid
Also, you feel a little cheated when after completing a well
designed level you find that the very next mission is staged in
exactly the same surroundings with only a few slight variations.
The enemies on the other hand are splendid. Rather than the
usual 2D sprites, the enemies are constructed entirely of texture
mapped polygons which give them a true 3D appearance.
The movement of the Bionoid Aggressor soldiers are so
realistic as they march back and forth, patrolling well guarded
areas. Once alerted to your presence they will dive for cover,
dashing out into the open with guns a-blazing.
The Aggressor varies wildly in ability from individual to
individual. Two distinct attacks make the Aggressor a tough
opponent. They are all equipped with standard rocket launchers and
rapid-fire lasers. However, be aware that not all Aggressors carry
rockets and those that do only carry a finite supply - when they
run out, the laser is all they have.
They constantly fire their laser guns while strafing
sideways, making them a difficult target to hit but occasionally
they will crouch down for a few seconds and prepare to launch a
highly destructive rocket in your direction. This is the time to
cause them as much damage as possible before throwing yourself out
of the way of the oncoming missile.
Brain Eaters are disfigured heads with spiders legs that race
towards you at a tremendous speed. They are another remnant of the
gene experiments and a nasty piece of work that will attempt to
bite all intruders.
The best defense is crouching and pumping a few shots into
its head but it can also be slowed down by shooting its legs off
one by one. This provides an amusing reaction as the Brain Eater
loses balance and can now only run around in never ending circles.
You may now approach the creature and view the amazing detail of
this mutation before putting a bullet into it's head and
splattering the surrounding scenery with blood and brains.
The Robotic Freezor is a laboratory droid used mainly to
administer anaesthetic. The company now uses these droids as a
defense mechanism, utilizing their Freezing shots to temporarily
stun any adversaries, thus leaving the way open for an attack by
another droid or bionoid - in conjunction, they can be lethal. The
Freezor has a tough metal shell which may take a few shots to
dispatch and results in a bright explosion that looks a little
blocky and is the only effect that spoils the otherwise splendid
The Hibernator is the smallest of the bionoids but makes up
for his lack of mass with an excess of speed. With two attack
moves, Hibernator makes full use of his caustic poisonous bodily
fluids by spitting them at any foe in the vicinity. Hibernator
spits in both a single and a spray form, the latter covering a
wide arc around him. In addition, upon his death, the fluids
explode from his body which must also be avoided. Due to his speed
and natural tendency to circle adversaries, Hibernator is a
difficult creature to shoot cleanly. The best way to attack him is
to spray an arc of bullets towards him with the rapid fire weapon
or alternatively, attempt to circle him with mines.
Another nice touch is the inclusion of location beacons,
rather than the usual map system, this allows the player to drop
flashing cones in the areas where you have explored, which show up
on the on screen radar. With the inclusion of intelligently
designed lighting and slick animation, Tenka excels in the
music is pulsating heavy rock score that works quite well with the
shoot-em-up genre. I didn't mind listening to the deafening tunes
when plodding through endless tunnels blasting away at the enemy
but when the game reaches certain tension points it became a
little distracting. A touch of silence, broken only by the superb
sound effects would have been much more atmospheric.
main thrill from playing Tenka is destroying the enemies and to do
this you are given a single multi-purpose gun rather than a
varying selection of weaponry. The first weapon he will come
across is a single shot gun that has a low damage capability, so
he must use this to hold back the enemies until enough green cubes
have been collected to upgrade to a double shot gun. Now this
weapon can take out the Bionoids in a couple of blasts and if
Tenka should find the further upgrade, a rapid fire machine gun,
he should stroll through the opening levels. Eventually the action
on Extrevius 328 will become a little frenetic and to succeed to
the later levels, Tenka must arm himself with the more powerful
weaponry available, such as the laser gun, which can be upgraded
There are also missiles, grenades and mines which, when
discharged, will clear a room in seconds. Each weapon features a
digital counter which lets you know how much ammo remains. During
upgrading a helpful laser sight will be attached to your gun which
allows you to precisely aim at certain enemies from a group of
potential targets, thus taking out the most dangerous threats
Keeping a watchful eye over the on-screen information is
vital to your survival. A small heart beat monitor is surrounded
by a red band which records your present state of health. Boosts
for your health are a rare commodity, therefore special attention
must be taken to your radar which offers advanced warning of enemy
positions. The radar is surrounded by a blue band which represents
the strength of your armor. This can be boosted by the collection
of armor power-ups which are thankfully in abundance.
Progression is achieved by the usual shoot-em-up routine of
collecting colored keys to unlock sealed sections of each level.
Once you have completed your mission, an exit door will unlock to
allow you to escape from the sector.
The missions are divided into four categories.
The first style of mission is the aforementioned collection
of colored keys.
The second involves Tenka retrieving coded data or pass
cards, then installing them into a computer terminal.
The third sets a task to destroy selected reactors or
Your final set of tasks involves a race against the clock,
collecting and defusing bombs that are littered throughout the
Control of your character will be fairly straightforward to
those who have played first person shooters before, however there
are one or two extras that are worth a mention.
Tenka can look up and down. Now this didn't
quite work in Dark Forces causing a great deal of frustration when
aiming a enemies above and below. It does work with Tenka because
of the inclusion of the laser sight which cuts through the dark,
targeting not only individual enemies but which part of the body
you wish to hit.
Tenka can jump and crawl. Jumping isn't
unusual to this genre but there are only a few games that include
the ability to crawl. Once again Dark Forces included this motion
but it was really only a 'duck down' movement. In this game,
crawling allows you to lie flat on the floor and sneak up on your
enemy undetected. During one of the later levels I was struggling
to pass a Bionoid Aggressor who kept blasting me with missiles.
Lying flat on the floor, I crept up and took him out with a
grenade first time.
Tenka can strafe. Why, oh why do developers
not listen to the people who play these games. Listen! Strafe does
not work when one shoulder button must be combined with the D-pad.
It's too fidgety. It doesn't feel right. You shouldn't have to
think about strafing left or right. USE TWO SHOULDER BUTTONS!
Tenka can run. Yes, Tenka can run but not
very quickly. Tenka can also stick. Stick to the walls when racing
against the clock and time is of the essence.
is a worthy first effort from Psygnosis in the shoot-em-up genre.
There may be one or two flaws with the design but nothing that
couldn't be easily corrected in future projects. As it stands
Tenka has more than enough good points to be recommended as a
highly entertaining shooter.
Tenka promised to be the next generation Doom shooter but in fact
it turns out to be the next generation Alien Trilogy. Set in
similar surrounding of a network of dark tunnels, Tenka is packed
with atmosphere and varying missions. Once the annoying single
strafe button is perfected the gameplay becomes quite challenging