Tecmo Koei Europe is set to launch the highly anticipated Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z next year on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and prior to release they are keen to ensure that players know there’s a reason to keep hold of the current-generation consoles. Playable at the Eurogamer Expo last week, Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z proved to be too much for many to handle, and Electronic Theatre recently sat down with Yosuke Hayashi and Keiji Inafune to find out why.
Set in the Ninja Gaiden universe, Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z is a brutal and visceral rendition of Team NINJA’s infamous action videogame experience. With Keiji Inafune, creator of the Onimusha series, in the position of producer it’s a very different experience to the core Ninja Gaiden titles, and below Hayashi and Inafune explain exactly why that is and how it came to be. Electronic Theatre will keep you updated with all the latest details on Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z and other forthcoming titles from Tecmo Koei Europe.
Electronic Theatre: Can you tell us the story of how Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z came about?
Yosuke Hayashi [YH]: Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z is sort of a new challenge for the Ninja Gaiden series. Coming up with a different take on a Ninja Gaiden gamer; a different take on the series so far.
Keiji Inafune [KI]: It has a new lead character, Yaiba Kamikaze, who you [see] get split in half [at the start of the videogame]. And there’s several things that we are trying to try to do differently this time around: it has this comic book art style as well as his enemies are actually zombies. That’s a new element, we haven’t faced zombies in a Ninja Gaiden game before and the lead himself is very different from Ryu Hayabusa, our normal lead character. Yaiba is much wilder, rougher and just a very different personality than Hayabusa and also. He’s half cyborg; he has a cyborg arm, and half of him is cyborg and that also lends itself to some different kinds of gameplay. So it’s set in the series, in the world of Ninja Gaiden but it’s a different take on the games.
Electronic Theatre: So obviously we’ve already seen Hayabusa in it and it’s a Ninja Gaiden videogame. How does it fit into the series, where does the story fit?
KI: So we haven’t set it officially in one, you know, spot within the Ninja Gaiden timeline. It does take place within the world of Ninja Gaiden and the Hayabusa that you see here is the Hayabusa that you played in past Ninja Gaiden games, as well, but it’s not a particular sequel to any of the games that take place.
Electronic Theatre: So the combat system; Ninja Gaiden’s famed for being challenging. Is Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z going to be of the same ilk?
KI: So we really haven’t wrestled with that very deeply but we do think it’ll be a little bit less [difficult] than Ninja Gaiden but it’s also going to be different to Ninja Gaiden so there will be a challenge there for players that want a challenge. You’re taking on zombies which, you know… hordes of zombies coming at you, it’s going to be a different kind of challenge than players have had before.
Electronic Theatre: Obviously it’s a very violent videogame and the art style is very unique. Is there a clash between art and violence?
KI: Actually we think they work pretty well together. There are certain things we can do now because it does have a different kind of art style and we think they play off of each other very well, so you’ll see the amount of blood that we have coming off of the game is not realistic. It’s very much over the top, but it works really well with the comic book style. So we think they work really well together, they complement each other.
Electronic Theatre: There are a lot of gamers in our audience in particular that always want the most realistic imagery possible – the most realistic graphics – is that going to be a hurdle do you think for Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z or… ?
KI: We know that a lot of people are looking for realistic graphics, but I think there’s something about being believable and something that people will get into, and it will be real for this game. If it makes sense for this game – and there are actually things that we can do because of this art style that will make it seem real – I know that sounds kind of strange, but it will seem real for this game. People will be able to get into it and it will make sense to be in this style, so it’s not just about making things photo realistic and having, keeping physics and relations correct and things like that. It’s about making this universe come to life as a cohesive presentation here. And we think that this art style… we can do that with this art style. People will look at this, and they’ll have fun.
Electronic Theatre: [To Keiji Inafune] You have worked on some amazing titles, and classics over the years. What made you decide to come to Ninja Gaiden?
KI: You can probably tell that I like action games. Ninjas are obviously a great outlet for action and that’s something if you can see, coming after, you can see a connection with like Onimusha, a samurai, now we have ninjas and ninjas are really just like one area that can sort of like symbolise Japanese games. So I’ve wanted to make a ninja game for a long time so I’m really happy to finally be able to make a ninja game and bring it to life.
Electronic Theatre: Obviously, Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z is going to launch after the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Is that going to impact the audience at all?
YH: We’d originally, from the beginning planned on it being an Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 title and we wanted to be able to reach the largest audience that we could. At that time, and now it’s different, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. So rather than, putting a little bit of paint on the graphic and making it look a little better and putting it out as a next-generation title, we focused on making a solid game that a lot of people, that are out there now, that a lot of people can enjoy. So it was designed from the start as a PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 title and we’re sure that a lot of people will be able to have fun with it as such.
Electronic Theatre: With the Xbox 360 and the Xbox both having struggled in Japan. Where do you see the Xbox One sitting?
YH: We don’t know either. We’re really curious about what’s going to happen. It’s going to be up to Microsoft how well they push it in Japan. It’s going to be up to Microsoft and the third-party developers if they are going to support it and how much Microsoft supports us in those efforts.