N IN JA THEORY
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.