Itagaki: The Kikizo Interview 2005

Our latest, extensive chat with the Team Ninja boss reveals new information on Code Cronus and DOA4, his opinion on EA, and thoughts on recent projects.

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In the time since we last spoke with Team Ninja's charismatic leader, Tomonobu Itagaki, his Tecmo production studio has released two Xbox Live updates to one of last year's best games, Ninja Gaiden, and successfully rolled out the groundbreaking online 3D fighter, Dead or Alive Ultimate (with the third and final launch taking place in Europe this Friday).

So it's fair to say that Itagaki-san - who plays a role as producer, director and often programmer on his titles - has been busy. Of course, we're more interested in what he'll be showing us next. We're pretty sure that next up, Dead or Alive 4 is headed to Xbox 2, and the endlessly enigmatic Dead or Alive: Code Cronus is also a dead cert for the next Microsoft system.

We already learnt a few new details on Cronus and DOA4 in our previous Itagaki interview, but they are both projects we were lucky enough to get new snippets on, in this latest chat at Tecmo's Tokyo HQ. We also discovered his blunt opinion on EA, got a little update on DS and PSP plans, and discussed DOA: The Movie - and naturally, DOA Ultimate.


Kikizo: When did you first start working at Tecmo?

Tomonobu Itagaki: I started in 1992. The first game I worked on was a soccer game. Originally, I wanted to be a [traditional] writer, but I didn't have talent in that field. I could have been a pro gambler. My family and girlfriend stopped me though...

Tomonobu Itagaki, Producer - Team Ninja, Tecmo, Ltd

Kikizo: How and when did the concept for the original Dead or Alive come about?

Itagaki: At the time, Tecmo wasn't doing so well. Our name wasn't really known, and our finances were rather shaky. The management asked for a Virtua Fighter-style game - only better. Timing was a big part of it; VF was considered the pinnacle of gaming excellence at the time. If Gran Turismo had been released around that time, I would have been asked to make a GT-style game instead.

Itagaki describes Kasumi as a "softer" character than Ayane

Kikizo: The original Dead or Alive arcade game ran on Sega's Model 2 hardware, why did you choose this for the game?

Itagaki: At the time, Model 2 was the most advanced arcade system for thirdparties. Model 3 would have been great, but Model 3 was Sega's flagship board, so we couldn't have used it. If we were talking fighter jets, Model 2 was the Messerschmitt BF109E, while the Model 3 was the Focke-Wulf FW-190!

Kikizo: The version of Dead or Alive 1 in Dead or Alive Ultimate is based upon the Saturn version. Why did you base the remake on the Saturn game instead of the Model 2 original, the PS1 version, or Dead or Alive++ [which ran on Tecmo hardware]?

Itagaki: The quality of the Saturn game was the best, we think. It's my personal favourite. It was the first game I fully produced, as well, so it has great personal significance for me.


"The quality of [Saturn DOA1] was the best, we think"

Kikizo: Fighting games have long been considered a genre that is strongest in the arcades. The first two DOA games had arcade versions - why did you opt to make the third game onwards console-exclusive? Have you ever thought of going back to the arcades?

Itagaki: There are three reasons. Firstly, timing. It takes a year to create an arcade game, and another year to port it and add all the special stuff. If I concentrate on a consumer version, I can spend the most time making the game as good as possible. Secondly, the market situation. The arcade game market in the West and even here in Japan is very poor. It seemed silly to waste time on an arcade version in this current market.

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Video Coverage
(See Latest Videos & Video FAQ Here)
PLEASE DO NOT DIRECT LINK TO ANY MEDIA FILE ON KIKIZO
DescriptionDur.SizeDetails
Dead or Alive Ultimate (New)
Direct feed gameplay: Ryu Hayabusa VS Lei Fang on castle stage (640x480, 2Mbps, 60fps)
0.57m 11.9 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate (New)
Direct feed gameplay: Catsuit Tina VS Xbox Kasumi on wildlife stage (640x480, 2Mbps, 60fps)
0.57m 11.7 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate (New)
Direct feed gameplay: Lei Fang VS Bass on drawbridge stage (640x480, 2Mbps, 60fps)
1.01m 12.6 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate (New)
Direct feed gameplay: Lei Fang VS Jann Lee in electric chamber (640x480, 2Mbps, 60fps)
0.53m 10.8 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate (New)
Direct feed gameplay: Zack VS Jann Lee in burning theatre (WOW!) (640x480, 2Mbps, 60fps)
0.55m 10.2 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate (New)
Direct feed gameplay: Ninja Gaiden Ryu VS Jann Lee in night city (WOW!) (640x480, 2Mbps, 60fps)
0.54m 11.0 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate (New)
Direct feed gameplay: Bass VS Zack on drawbridge stage (640x480, 2Mbps, 60fps)
1.00m 12.4 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate (New)
Direct feed gameplay: Hitomi VS Bass in snow cavern (WOW!) (640x480, 2Mbps, 60fps)
0.56m 11.5 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate (New)
Direct feed gameplay: Xbox Kasumi VS Bass in wrestling ring (640x480, 2Mbps, 60fps)
0.55m 11.2 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate (New)
Direct feed gameplay: Awesome 4-Player Tag match in night city (640x480, 2Mbps, 60fps)
1.29m 18.8 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate
Utterly awesome, extensive, beautiful story sequence showing the girls in their earlier years... (640x480, 1.8Mbps, 60fps)
5.08m 49.1 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate
TGS Showfloor gameplay - Hitomi bikini vs Hitomi schoolgirl in the awesome burning theatre stage (640x480, 1.8Mbps, 60fps)
0.54m 11.5 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate
TGS Showfloor gameplay - Helena vs Hitomi on rooftops stage, falling to street level (640x480, 1.8Mbps, 60fps)
1.15m 15.8 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate
TGS Showfloor gameplay - Gen Fu vs Lei Fang in breathtaking thunderstorm courtyard! (640x480, 1.8Mbps, 60fps)
1.07m 14.2 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate
TGS Showfloor gameplay - Ayane vs Hitomi on temple, falling to dragon chambers (640x480, 1.8Mbps, 60fps)
0.45m 9.45 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate
TGS Showfloor gameplay - Gen Fu vs Hitomi in African wildlife stage (640x480, 1.8Mbps, 60fps)
0.22m 4.46 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate
TGS Showfloor gameplay - Gen Fu vs Jann Lee in aquariam stage (640x480, 1.8Mbps, 60fps)
1.37m 20.9 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate
TGS Showfloor gameplay - Gen Fu vs Leon at the, er, discoteque (640x480, 1.8Mbps, 60fps)
1.08m 14.7 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate
TGS Showfloor gameplay - Gen Fu vs Tina on the drawbridge, falling to the forest (640x480, 1.8Mbps, 60fps)
0.51m 10.6 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate
TGS Showfloor gameplay - Lei Fang vs Tina in the Japanese garden (640x480, 1.8Mbps, 60fps)
0.32m 6.61 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate
E3 2004: Direct feed trailer - this also happens to be very similar to the game's realtime intro (640x480, 1.5Mbps)
4.14m 32.24 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate
E3 2004: Conference version of trailer (640x480, 1Mbps)
2.43m 20.69 MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate
The second trailer, with incredible new environments and awesome Xbox graphics.
WARNING: Kasumi gets naked in this trailer! (320x240, 2Mbps)
3.38min 25.3MB WMV
Dead or Alive Ultimate
E3 2003: Awesome direct-feed trailer showing the characters from DOA 1&2 fighting on Saturn DOA1 and Xbox-quality DOA2 backgrounds. (320x240, 1Mbps)
2.22m 19.46 MB WMV



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