Having had nothing to say on the subject all year, Microsoft has finally broken its silence about the Ninja Gaiden's Master Ninja Tournament for Europe, revealing that it will run from August 2nd to September 2nd, and that ninjas will be fighting to win a trip to Tokyo and katanas signed by Tomonobu Itagaki amongst other things.
For those with no idea, the Master Ninja Tournament is the online component of Ninja Gaiden. However unlike most Xbox Live titles, this isn't directly competitive in-game, but rather a way of comparing your skills at the whole of the game and beaming them up for all to see.
A leader board then, effectively, but in actual fact a bit more than that - high completed game 'Karma' scores are the key, but, as we've seen with the planned Hurricane Pack of downloadable content, developer Tecmo is willing to up the ante every so often and force you to relearn the game in a new, harder guise.
Which is fair enough - Tecmo always wanted to make a game of skill to push back the limits of our patience. And we have a feeling though that the eventual winner of the European leg (chosen on or around September 6th, based on the leader boards recorded at the end of the tournament period) will probably feel like it was worth it - as he or she and a friend recline in comfy seats on a flight to Tokyo, where the Master Ninja Tournament World Championships will run between September 24th and 27th, and where the winner will also receive free hotel accommodation and a meal-a-day to boot.
It's not all cuts and bruises for the runners-up, either. There will be three wooden katana weapons signed by Itagaki (worth 100 - the swords, that is; Itagaki is probably worth a bit more), 75 T-shirt and wristband sets and another 75 T-shirts, catering for some 154 combatants. And given how tough Ninja Gaiden can be, we'd imagine that anybody who can beat it over here stands a fighting chance of standing amongst that 154. If you're up for it, you can sign up here. Sign-ups will be open until August 26th.