Few developers in the gaming industry have such a carefully crafted image as Tomonobu Itagaki, head of Team Ninja and creator of the Dead or Alive franchise and Ninja Gaiden's next-gen evolution. Qais Fulton and I happened upon him at Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, where Itagaki, draped over a couch as the image of cool itself, kicked out the jams on the latest build of Ninja Gaiden II.
We had some time afterwards to ask the notorious developer some questions about his newest title, developing for Eastern and Western audiences, and more. Hit the jump for our Q&A.
Linde: Was there anything in particular that you wanted to bring to Ninja Gaiden with the sequel, or anything that you're particularly excited about or pleased with?
[Everyone laughs, because everyone loves bloodshed.]
So if you're asking why I made this game the way it is, it's because I looked at games like Gears of War, Halo, the good FPS and racing games out there -- and obviously I think my fighting game is the best -- but I wanted to be able to stand on common ground and have a good rivalry with the other Western developers that are making those games.
It's kind of like the space race between the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. When the US was able to go to the moon with the Apollo program, that basically ended all further space development at that point. That was about as far as you could get. The reason is because the Soviet Union lost, that was sort of the turning point. Using that metaphor, I believe that Dead or Alive is the only series so far that was able to take people to the moon.
I think that Virtua Fighter has been able to achieve -- to get out of the atmosphere, maybe. Unfortunately I think the new Tekken game is probably going to crash and burn after launch. I'm not saying that because I'm happy, I don't want to see the fighting game genre be like that. I want it to succeed more, but that's just the truth. So now you have Capcom trying to start a new space program with their game.
The problem is that the 3D fighting games we've done in the past have been the rocket development programs, that's what we're shooting for. Our 2D games are more like supersonic airplanes flying in the atmosphere. So Street Fighter IV is sort of like trying to strap a rocket to an airplane and trying to make it to the moon. I wish them luck for the sake of the game and the industry, but we'll have to see how it turns out.
Itagaki: I do think that I'm throwing a big rock into the pond of controversy, and I have thought about how the resulting ripples are going to effect things, but the thing is it's not just me, right? People all over the place -- little pebbles to giant boulders are being thrown in this pond. And it's impossible to predict how that'll turn out.
I'm just focused on creating the game how I see fit based on my own vision. There's a group in Italy now who wants to overturn the centuries-old position that black cats are bad luck, so they're trying to protect the black cats, and I'm like 'have you ever thought about what it feels like to be a black cat?'
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