Interview: Team Ninja’s Yosuke Hayashi

While scouring the floors and seeing the sights of E3 2011, Team Ninja was nice enough to invite us in for an in-depth look at Ninja Gaiden 3, their upcoming – and intensely bloody – sequel for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (and possibly Wii U). Headed by Team Ninja’s own Yosuke Hayashi, who also helped lead the blood-thirsty charge on Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, Metroid: Other M, and Dead or Alive: Dimensions, we break out our intellectual katanas and pick his brain on what fans can expect when the game launches later this year.

Would you like to give us a little background information as to where this game fits in the series?

Ninja Gaiden 3 is taking a stab at showing Ryu Hayabusa as a Japanese dark hero, a dark hero that only Team Ninja could make.

Is this entry going to pick up directly after the previous installment left off?

It’s connected in a way that deals with Hayabusa dealing with the many people he’s killed in the past — he’s a killing machine and in Ninja Gaiden 3, he’ll face the consequences that come with doing that.

Ninja Gaiden has always been known for its legendary difficulty. Obviously you’re going to continue this trend, but will you offer easier modes for those who may feel intimidated?

Hardcore fans wear the difficulty as a badge of pride, so we’re looking for Ninja Gaiden 3 to satisfy hardcore fans with a challenge, but we’re also looking to make the game accessible to more people; people who have never been part of the series. It seems there are many groups of people with different skills. We’re looking at making the game respond to the different kinds of skills players bring to the game and to craft challenges that will fit everyone.

Will fans see the return of any familiar characters, aside from Ryu Hayabusa?

Of course, Ryu Hayabusa will return as the main character, but the story also deals with his past, as he’s killed so many people, so fans will definitely see familiar faces.

Are you looking to wrap up the series with the third game or are you looking to expand beyond that?

Team Ninja is linked with Ninja Gaiden – they’re inseparable. We are who we are because of those games. Looking ahead though, we can’t say one way or another. The team right now is focused on making the game the best it can be.

Will you be incorporating Kinect support?

Looking at the kinds of actions you would perform in Ninja Gaiden 3, the kinds of controls and play style we have, we don’t feel the Kinect works well with that. It doesn’t make the game fun. We have to concentrate on making the game fun, and if new technology makes the game fun, then we’re all for that. The core has to be the game.

Can you give us a little information about the way mowing through enemies will feel with the improved gameplay mechanics? Is that mainly a graphical augment?

The steel and bone segments are a concept for making the combat and killing someone more visceral. In the past, when you cut enemies, there was no reaction. We’re trying to improve the combat in Ninja Gaiden 3. We wondered what it was really like to cut someone down, when the blade is in muscles and bones, and when you can feel it get stuck in your opponent’s body. That kind of visceral violence is what we were trying to portray.

Can you go a little in-depth with the co-op segments? Would lesser-skilled players be able to play off of more expert players in order to reach a common goal?

Co-op is definitely something you can use to learn from another person and we will definitely be offering new challenges for the online space. We hope that people will keep coming back and playing online as well, it’s definitely a place where you can hone your skills.

What kind of multiplayer modes will be available aside from cooperative campaign mode?

In terms of multiplayer, we can’t reveal much right now. We’re looking at it, but we’re more focused on looking at honing single player, as that’s what fans know and love. We’re exploring multiplayer options, but we want to make sure they’re not there just to have multiplayer. We want to make sure we primarily satisfy the Ninja Gaiden fans.

Thank you so much for your time – we can’t wait to check out the game!

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