Developer Valhalla Game Studios Format Wii U Release 2014
Zelda and Splatoon may have stolen the headlines, but Devil’s Third was perhaps the most surprising of all Nintendo’s E3 announcements. A shooter/brawler hybrid from Tomonobu Itagaki, designer of Ninja Gaiden and creator of Dead Or Alive, it was first greenlit by now-defunct publisher THQ.
Nintendo seems an unlikely partner for this type of game. What convinced you it was the best company to work with? I just wanted to work with people who loved Devil’s Third with all they had. And Nintendo said to me, “Let’s shape Devil’s Third into a great game together!” And there’s one more thing I want to say. To you all, I might appear as a guy that just kind of fits with wearing sunglasses or gambling while having some drinks, while some people view Nintendo as a company only interested in making family-friendly videogames featuring Nintendo characters. But it’s dangerous to measure the value of things [or] try to predict the future with such a stereotyped mindset. All you’ll get are weak answers.
So, then, how can we find out the real personality of a man or a company? Let me tell you the answer: heart. A company is just a collection of people. Therefore, a company must also have a heart. I’m working on Devil’s Third with a Nintendo producer, Mr [Hitoshi] Yamagami. And alongside Mr Yamagami there are many other fantastic artists and artisans at Nintendo. Every day we are going back and forth, arguing and laughing. What else could be more exciting? Only this passion can create a new future and great games, you see?
You’ve been known for your work on Xbox, and to a lesser extent PlayStation, during the past decade or so. What’s it like making a game on Wii U? When I first announced I would make a game for Xbox, I was asked hundreds of times, ‘Why would you make a game for a console like Xbox? Are you out of your mind?’ Now we have this nice convenient tool called the Internet and all those questions from interviewers and my answers are archived. I encourage you to go take a look at them.
Now, I have a question for you. Do you know anyone who would ask me right now, ‘Why did you make games for Xbox?’ No one, right? Because you guys living in 2014 understand that I made the right choice. Whatever, let me put it a different way. All I do is make games, for videogame fans, on the hardware I want to work with.
You worked on SNES games at the start of your career. How does Nintendo today differ from then? Nintendo is now much more open than in those days. The hardware team, software team, everything – even management.
Think about it. Two decades have passed. It’d be strange if things didn’t change, don’t you think? Now, together with Valhalla Game Studios, Nintendo is working on the development, launch and operation of a totally new game. Nobody can stop those who have passion. Now’s the time to show our stuff!
Your games are notoriously difficult. How do you intend to balance that with Nintendo’s more family-oriented audience? There are two different cases: sometimes Nintendo will say, “We’ll leave everything to you, Itagaki,” and then sometimes they’ll say, “Whoah, this is too difficult! Enough is enough!” [Laughs] See? Development is fun, isn’t it? Working on different things every day; thinking differently every day. But it’s easier said than done. There is one thing that never changes, though. It is [the desire] to make a game of a new genre for people to enjoy – that passion. For that passion and for that goal, it will often lead us to argue, and it will often lead us to embrace. And then we’ll go for a drink!
Itagaki is known for his trademark brand of melee combat, but shooters are a new avenue for him
Devil’s Third has used three different engines during production; the finished game will be powered by Unreal Engine 3
TOMONOBU ITAGAKI CHIEF TECHNICAL OFFICER, VALHALLA GAME STUDIOS