Interviews// Ninja Gaiden 3

Posted 28 Sep 2011 13:59 by
Games: Ninja Gaiden 3
It’s Ninja Gaiden, Jim, but not as you know it. Team Ninja is looking to take a different direction with Ryu Hayabusa’s latest hardcore hack and slash adventure. Rather than make him a lean, mean, mindless killing machine, he’ll be seeing the consequences of his own actions as his sword slices through his opponents at close range.

Lone enemies will cower in fear and plead for mercy as you have the choice to either cut them to pieces or psychologically break them. A cursed arm allows you to dash around and instantly kill all baddies in a given area when charged up.

Everything is a lot more close up, visceral and brutal, which is funny given that a lot of the over-the-top features from past Ninja Gaiden games - decapitations and falling limbs, for example - have been stripped out. Apparently keeping them in takes away from the immersive experience that the Japanese studio wants to present. Localisation Project Manager Peter Garza explains the reasons behind the changes.

SPOnG: This is the first Ninja Gaiden game led by Team Ninja head Yosuke Hayashi. He’s been the designer for the Ninja Gaiden Sigma re-imaginations beforehand. Working on an original title like this, how does his approach differ from Tomonobu Itagaki’s?

Peter Garza: I wasn’t at the company when Itagaki was there, so I can’t say first-hand. But the people in Team Ninja, they definitely respect the work that Itagaki did. The team has been grown from his foundations. But I think they’re looking at maybe taking a more immersive, less ‘video game’ style approach now. We’re definitely looking at the landscape of the games industry, and where it might be going in the future.

SPOnG: Of course, one of the things you aim to do is to show a more ‘human’ side of Ryu Hayabusa. Why did you decide to do that?

Peter Garza: The original concept for this was the question, ‘what does it mean to cut someone down with a sword?’ There are a lot of Western shooters where you’re killing enemies from far away. But with Hayabusa’s sword, they’re only a metre away from you. Trying to portray that side - that sense of visceral brutality - was the core concept for Ninja Gaiden 3.

In order to do that though, you need to be able to empathise with the character and make him less of a mindless killing machine and more of a human. That’s the way that games are going in general, there’s a more immersive storytelling experience rather than just the mechanics over some visuals. We want to show Ryu Hayabusa as a character and let people go along with him on his journey as we delve more into the ‘dark hero’ side of things.

SPOnG: So there are times where Hayabusa is second-guessing himself at the thought of killing people, then?

Peter Garza: Well, he does what he has to do as a ninja. He has to throw away his own thoughts and feelings to carry out his duties and what he’s assigned to do. So it’s not so much about second-guessing his actions, but it’s about dealing with the consequences that happen - both in terms of gameplay and in terms of story too.

SPOnG: I remember the reveal of the game at Tokyo Game Show last year, and the poster of Ryu Hayabusa with blood on his hands. It was hinted that this blood could have come from his enemies or himself - Ryu hasn’t turned emo all of a sudden, has he?

Peter Garza: No no no! We’re definitely not making him emo (laughs)! We want to show the consequences of his actions in a mature and adult way, but still within the style of a Ninja Gaiden game. So it’s not like he’s going to be navel gazing or cutting his arms or anything like that.

SPOnG: One of the new elements of gameplay is stealth killing. Hasn’t that been a long time coming? He is a ninja, after all...

Peter Garza: The stealth sections are in there to add a little spice. It’s not going to be the core element of the gameplay. They’re just in there to change up the pace and the tempo. If you keep that high tension combat up all the time, you’ll get used to it or lose the impact of the high action sequences.

But yeah, he is a ninja and it makes perfect sense for him to be doing that kind of stuff, but the high-impact gameplay is still very much at the core of what we’re doing here.
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Games: Ninja Gaiden 3

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