With Sigma 2 approaching and Metroid: Other M announced; speculation on Team Ninja's capability have surfaced, prompted by the resignation of former leader Tomonobu Itagaki, back in June 2008.
As noted by Jim Sterling, when talking about the release of Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2: "If it's a success, it will be a strong statement about former Team Ninja chief Tomonobu Itagaki and whether or not he was truly essential to the franchise's quality
." This is the opportunity for Koei Tecmo and the new Team Ninja boss, Yosuke Hayashi, to demonstrate that not much has been lost and that the development studio will keep on releasing quality products (let's just not get into the infamous DOAX.)
Personally, I think Sigma 2 won't serve to benchmark against the Itagaki era, when the team is vastly familiar with the process if we remember Ninja Gaiden Black and Ninja Gaiden Sigma; the latter one already with no direct input by Itagaki. Not to mention that the game already has a clear concept, a vision that formed its style and established mechanics that move the gameplay. So, according to previous efforts, PS3 users will be in for a blast with this expansion, either way.
That's when Metroid: Other M comes to the picture, as the first true game by Hayashi's Team Ninja, which aside from the usual "insightful" comments such as: "it's going to suck because team ninja is involved" and "I bet samus will have big boobs"; the game is a complete question mark. And while on the headers Itagaki is always the only one mentioned, other key members left with him. Here is a little list:
Yoshifuru Okamoto - Game Producer
Hiroaki Matsui - Art Director
Katsunori Ehera - Game Director
Yasushi Maeda and Takuro Sasaki - Lead Engineers
Kazuki Motosa - Animation Lead
Masato Onishi - Cinematics Lead
Takafumi Inamori - Audio Lead
And quoting Matsui "...the guys from the level design team
Which leaves the current Team Ninja with brand new personnel on key positions. Then again, Metroid: Other M, is being developed in conjunction with Project M. And that could make Ninja Gaiden 3 or Dead or Alive 5 the actual first effort, on their own, by the "new" Team Ninja.
All of that, at the end, was to ask the very same question: Do you think they'll be able to stay on par?