The hd duo bhd be­hind d dis­cuss core gamers, col­lab­o­rat­ing with western stu­dios, and rais­ing new talent af­ter al­most three decades mak­ing games

Early show­ings of Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z have re­ceived a cool re­sponse from Ninja Gaiden play­ers – the Miss Mon­day trailer in par­tic­u­lar has been crit­i­cised for its misog­y­nis­tic tone – but there’s no doubt­ing the talent be­hind it. Com­cept’s Keiji Ina­fune has been in some way in­volved with ev­ery ma­jor Cap­com game since the early ’ 80s, from Mega Man and Street Fighter to Dead Ris­ing and Lost Planet. Yo­suke Hayashi, the younger of the pair, rose through Tecmo Koei af­ter di­rect­ing DS ti­tle Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword and the PS3 re­make of Ninja Gaiden. To­gether they bring a world of ex­pe­ri­ence to a ti­tle that’s be­ing han­dled half a world away by Spark Un­lim­ited. We ask them about the value – and chal­lenges – of in­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion, and about how the ex­pec­ta­tions of core play­ers can bur­den a de­vel­oper’s cre­ativ­ity.

has al­ways been a se­ri­ous and chal­leng­ing se­ries – games for con­nois­seurs of ac­tion ti­tles. Has that limited your au­di­ence over the years? Yo­suke Hayashi I don’t think it has nec­es­sar­ily shrunk the au­di­ence or made it a niche. I feel with the ac­tion and fight­ing games Team Ninja makes, [the] dif­fer­ence be­tween core play­ers and play­ers who are just start­ing in the games has be­come more pro­nounced. But I also un­der­stand that we need to make games that are more ac­ces­si­ble to both ends of that spec­trum. One of the things with Yaiba is that it’s dif­fer­ent and it’s a new Ninja Gaiden, so it’s a chance for us to tr y some new things and to think freely about those is­sues. Of course, Team Ninja tried a num­ber of ex­per­i­ments with dif­fer­ent styles of play in in an at­tempt to broaden the au­di­ence for the game. They weren’t well re­ceived by longterm se­ries fans – at least the most vo­cal of them. How suc­cess­ful do you think they were, given what you were tr ying to achieve? YH For Ninja Gaiden 3, we did try new things. We thought it would be im­por­tant to tr y some dif­fer­ent things in the num­bered se­ries. We knew that we should tr y to get new fans into the se­ries who hadn’t played it be­fore, so we tried some dif­fer­ent takes on pre­vi­ous Ninja Gaiden ac­tion. I think we were able to [earn] some new fans, and people who had never played Ninja Gaiden be­fore were able to en­joy Ninja Gaiden 3. But at the same time, I think we were not able to give the core fans the ex­pe­ri­ence they ex­pected, and it re­ally struck home to us what it means to be a Ninja Gaiden game for the core fans. Luck­ily, we had the chance to make Ninja Gaiden 3: Ra­zor’s Edge and we put those lessons into Ra­zor’s Edge. I think that’s been widely ac­cepted by the core fans, so I’m pretty sure they’re back in the fold. We know mov­ing for­ward where we need to go with the se­ries, and what we need to keep as a Ninja Gaiden game. For Yaiba, it’s a com­pletely dif­fer­ent game, so the chal­lenges are in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent area. For us, it’s a good chal­lenge to have – to be able to think freely about all kinds of dif­fer­ent ideas. we’re go­ing to make a solid, re­spon­sive game that will feel good to ac­tion fans, but it per­haps needs to be open to a dif­fer­ent, wider au­di­ence.

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