View Full Version : Ninja Gaiden: The Interview

06-26-2003, 09:48 AM
Ninja Gaiden: The Interview
We fire two handfuls of questions at Team Ninja's head ninja.

June 25, 2003 - Ryu Hayabusa has been a favorite for many Dead or Alive fans in recent years, but soon we'll all get to see the old-school ninja take center stage in the 21st century update to Ninja Gaiden. The mystery around Ninja Gaiden is so thick you couldn't cut it with a hot buttered katana. All we know about NG right now is that it'll feature Ryu, he'll wield a bunch of cool weapons like nunchakus, swords and throwing stars and he'll be able to run on walls here and there. And really, that's enough to keep most fans on the hook waiting for this game this holiday season. But there are plenty of questions about Ninja Gaiden that demand answers.
We took the liberty of assaulting Tecmo's Team Ninja Executive Officer and General Manager Tomonobu Itagaki with the best questions we could muster. Basically, anything and everything that hadn't been revealed to the world at E3 was fair game. Our intentions were good, but as you'll see in a minute, the road to frustration, in this case, is paved with good intentions. A baseball player that gets three hits in 10 at bats over the course of his career will be a Hall of Famer. An interview the scores three answers to ten questions yields the words you're about to read below.

IGN:Team Ninja has shown a talent for implementing simplified, but complete control systems. Describe how we'll control Ryu's actions in Ninja Gaiden. Is there an enemy lock-on system? How do you pull off acrobatic moves? How difficult will it be to pull off an 88 hit combo?
Tomonobu Itagaki: Ninja Gaiden will make use of all of the buttons and thumbsticks on the Xbox controller. The left thumbstick will control the main character Ryu Hayabusa. Out of the four face buttons, A, B, X, and Y, two will be used for attacks using the primary weapon, one will be used for the secondary weapon, and one will be used to jump. In other words, there are 3 attack buttons and 1 jump button. The representative primary weapon will be a Japanese katana sword, and there will be other available primary weapons such as the nunchaku. The representative secondary weapon is the shuriken throwing star, and other projectile weapons such as the bow and arrow also fit into this category.


In the demo shown during E3, only one button was utilized for the primary weapon attack. However, we at Team NINJA determined that this was not enough to achieve the depth of action game that we were striving for. We made some final refinements to the control system after E3 and greatly increased the attack techniques for the Primary weapon.

The right thumbstick will be used to control Hayabusa's first person view. The stages in Ninja Gaiden will feature an unprecedented amount of detail once complete. Since we were even able to introduce multi-leveled stages into a 3D fighting game, diligent players should be able to visualize how complex and mysterious the stages in our 3D action game, Ninja Gaiden, will be. Plus, these stages contain countless monsters and enemies. Players will need to explore the stages swiftly while at the same time defeating enemies. The right thumbstick should come in very handy when doing this.

You've asked about acrobatic moves; the commands for the moves themselves are very simple and smooth. The true point in playing this game is not in performing moves; rather, it lies in chaining moves together to defeat enemies, and solving mysteries in the game. Unsubstantial games tend to be stingy with their resources, setting up difficult commands for every move, but this is completely nonsense. The reason why the commands in Team NINJA's games are all very easy and intuitive is because we have prepared an abundant amount of resource content in our games.

IGN: What does the green jewel in the upper left corner of the screen mean?

TI: I'm afraid that's still a secret!

IGN: Okay, no problem. We understand the need to maintain a little mystery around such a highly anticipated game. Moving right along, Ninja Gaiden might have the best camera system we've ever seen. Describe how your experience with the DOA fighting games lead to the intelligent camera system in Ninja Gaiden.

TI: Thanks for noticing! (smiles)

One of the key elements of an action game is the camera engine supporting its camera work. One of our main tasks during the year 2002 was to complete our camera engine. We were able to perfect a camera system that allows the player to control Hayabusa perfectly using only the left thumbstick. Poorly-made games that use a camera often require the player to control the camera's position using the secondary stick, but our action game is not like that at all. The player should not have to worry about an incompetent cameraman!

Above I mentioned that the first person view control is assigned to the right thumbstick; the reason this is possible in the first place is because the excellence of NINJA GAIDEN's camera system doesn't require the thumbstick, making it free for the player's use.

IGN: How are you developing Ninja Gaiden to appeal specifically to the North American audience?
TI: We are simply making it the most amazing action game in the world.

IGN: Yeah but there's got to be more strategy than simply "make it great." I mean you're here to answer our most burning questions right?

How about a change in direction. You've said this is your interpretation of the Ninja Gaiden franchise. What have you changed about the franchise?

TI: First of all, a game's faithfulness and legitimacy as a sequel should be defined, not on the basis of story, but rather on gameplay. This is the way of thinking of the hard-heads of the world.

When comparing on the basis of gameplay, the Ninja Gaiden that Team NINJA is currently developing is completely different from the first 3 games; 100% different.

The previous 3 games had gameplay that suited that age. Rather than reflexes, they focused more on remembering the patterns of enemy attacks; they required memorization. It was not about how to kill a group of enemies that fell from the sky all of the sudden; it was about memorizing when the group of enemies would fall in order to proceed in the game. In Japan, we call these sorts of games "Oboe-ge" (meaning "Memorization Games").

On the other hand, Ninja Gaiden made by Team NINJA is much more dependent on the player's reflexes. Swift decision making in every situation is much more important than memorization. For this reason, the response to control input on our game is much quicker. I'm sure everyone knows how Team NINJA games have feather-touch control, and Ninja Gaiden will be no exception.

By examining the gameplay in this way, you can see how the two are completely different. In other words, the previous 3 installments in the series were action games for the 20th Century, while our new Ninja Gaiden is an action game for the 21st Century.


IGN: What kind of different ninja-powers --the kind that use the fireball icons in the upper left-- will Ryu have?

TI: This, too, is still a secret at the moment.

IGN: Secret?! But everybody saw you kill hordes of enemies with devastating fireball attacks at E3. What's the big secret?

How about this. Describe how you'll upgrade your weapons and attacks in the game?

TI: You'll just have to wait and see!

IGN: Okaaaaaay. We've seen shots of several new characters. Who is the lady with pink scales and what's her story? Who is the big mechanical man with the half metal/half flesh face? Who is that purple energy being wearing the samurai armor? Who is the blonde woman? Who is the sleepy-eyed dark-haired woman? Is Ayane in the game?

TI:I don't want to disappoint the players by giving away the story just yet!

IGN: Now see here fellow! We've seen screenshots with Ayane in 'em so all we need is a little elaboration on your part.


IGN: Fine then, whatever. We've seen caves populated with demons and an industrial train yard with heavily armed soldiers. What environments will we be playing in?

TI: I'm pretty sure that whatever you can imagine will be there! (smile)

IGN: What in the name of Sho Kosugi is that supposed to mean? We're not here to imagine. We've been having graphic, almost lifelike daydreams about Ninja Gaiden (among other things) for years now.

Okay, since we're being so forthcoming and all that, let's talk about Ninja Gaiden online. If it's not downloadable content, head to play or stat tracking --all of which have been done before-- how is Ninja Gaiden going to do something revolutionary with Xbox Live?

TI: Let me give you the details once it's completely finished.

IGN: Uh huh, okay. How about puppies? Do you like puppies?

TI: You'll just have to wait and see

IGN: Oh yeah, well I bet a cute fluffy white puppy with a pink nose could chop Ryu into crunchy little ninja-bits right about now. What do you think about that?

TI: This, too, is still a secret at the moment.

IGN: Exactly.

IGN would like to thank Mr. Itagaki for his time in answering our questions about Ninja Gaiden. We mean that with three-tenths of our hearts.

-- Aaron Boulding


06-26-2003, 09:51 AM
I died laughing when they asked do you like puppies. Good stuff. Isnt that article for insiders only?

06-26-2003, 10:01 AM
Originally posted by AlBoogy
Isnt that article for insiders only?

Nope because I was abe to get to it.

06-26-2003, 10:20 AM

I really like what he was saying about how the games all about reflexes and action. Chaining up your combos and stuff to kill an enemy! I didn't know there was a bow in this game either. I think this game, along with TFLO, is going to sell tons of Japanese Xbox's.

06-26-2003, 12:45 PM
Originally posted by Dre

I really like what he was saying about how the games all about reflexes and action. Chaining up your combos and stuff to kill an enemy! I didn't know there was a bow in this game either. I think this game, along with TFLO, is going to sell tons of Japanese Xbox's.

I'm sure M$ is thinking the same thing, Dre.

06-26-2003, 01:21 PM
Yeah good one by the way !! Ninja Gaiden is the most anticipated for 2003 and it's proof really that i'm in good target for it. :p

06-26-2003, 04:26 PM
muuuuuust get NG :D *adds to his xmas wish list*