Interview: Team Ninja Boss Yosuke Hayashi

Our first chat with the new leader of Team Ninja, on Itagaki, Sigma 2, the Koei Tecmo merger and Ninja Gaiden 3.

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Kikizo: Are you considering the possibility of bringing Sigma 2 back to Xbox 360 as a sort of Ninja Gaiden Black type release, or as downloadable content, so that Xbox fans get the new content too?

Hayashi: I am sorry for our Xbox 360 fans, but this one will be PS3 only. As much as I would like to take that as sort of a compliment, saying that we should share the wealth with other consoles, I think it's more or less too old by the time Sigma 2 hits the market and enough people have played it already on the Xbox 360. The total audience of Ninja Gaiden fans and actions gamers will probably just be wanting more, so at that point, we have to open up a new chapter, not just repackage all the updates for the other audience and calling it Black. At that point we're going to have to push ourselves to the next level, and we are better off giving both audiences an entirely new game - I think our time and energy will be better used that way.

Kikizo: Tecmo is a medium-sized game company, but their the quality of product is often way ahead of some of the bigger names in the industry, and is ahead of many other Japan studios. Why do you think this is?

Hayashi: This kind of touches on the personality and characteristics of a Japanese person, and Japanese culture. You know, Japanese people are not very 'direct', in a good way - they're a very 'indirect-response' culture. They can't say: "Yeah, I don't really like what you put out right there", they say it in a different way. So maybe at other companies, they don't find that sense of confidence to criticize. Most places in Japan, one person comes up with an idea and everyone else just sort of ends up agreeing with it without really putting forth their opinions. That's probably one of the strengths of Team Ninja; we've come together, working for so long, that we don't have to hide anything, and we're not afraid to criticize each other's opinions and ideas - and, maybe, that creates a better 'workflow'.

Kikizo: Do you think Japan's ability to create global hits in gaming is getting better or worse?

Hayashi: I think we all can agree that Japan has fallen behind. I think it's an issue about balancing good international ideas and the struggle to keep up with technology. Japanese people may have great ideas, but they haven't been able to follow through with the technical aspect of it. Ideas-wise, I mean, who can beat Nintendo and their products, right? However, back in the day, all the ideas were easier to develop into games because of the hardware limitations. I think there are still a lot of great ideas on paper, but in order for it to be a globally success, it can be difficult for companies to step up to the new technologies.

Kikizo: Itagaki-san had previously said that Ninja Gaiden II would be the final game in the series. Do you think you will go back on that and make a Ninja Gaiden 3 and beyond?

Hayashi: Regardless of what Itagaki-san said before, in time, what the consumers, the gamers are looking for is going to be the next chapter - the future of an outstanding series. We feel that we're in a position of being able to make that call, and to provide pure entertainment that's going to be enjoyed by action gamers and our fans. That calling is already there - we feel it, and therefore we will continue to work towards a future for the series.

Kikizo: Thanks for this interview, Hayashi-san.

To check out some of the other stuff Tecmo has got coming up, be sure to visit this feature.

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