Earlier this week, Team Ninja set up a temporary dojo in San Francisco to share news and game time with Ninja Gaiden 3 and Dead or Alive 5 on the PlayStation 3. Of particular note was the first hands-on demo of Ninja Gaiden 3’s multiplayer offering in the form of 4v4 Team Deathmatch and Battle Royale modes. It’s a bold move to add a competitive multiplayer mode to a melee-based action game, and I struggled to think of a comparable product out there; it definitely stands on its own in the action genre. My favorite touch: when struck by a deathblow, you can fight off your attacker by mashing the buttons, and then choose to “die with honor” via seppuku.
After a lengthy playtest, we were granted some face-to-face time with the team’s Head Ninja, Yosuke Hayashi. Here we chat PlayStation Move support in NG3, working on the Vita, and how many actual ninja are on Team Ninja:
PlayStation.Blog: A focus at today’s event is multiplayer. The format for successful multiplayer shooters is well established, but there are strikingly few melee-based action games which incorporate 4v4 online multiplayer. What do you think is the core recipe for success?
Yosuke Hayashi, Head, Team Ninja: The Ninja Gaiden series is traditionally for a single player and there’s no multiplayer modes for action games. That is one of the reasons we decided to do so, because there isn’t any such thing in the market.
PSB: There were some cool co-op missions in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 for PS3. Did that set the stage for this competitive multiplayer mode, and will we see something similar in Ninja Gaiden 3?
YH: NGS2 had a co-op mode, and we’ve always been thinking about adding a multiplayer mode into NG3. Of course, a co-op mode is less difficult to implement than a multiplayer mode. NG3 has a multiplayer competitive mode, as well as a co-op mode, so you can enjoy both.
[It was also revealed at the event that new NGS+ will feature new controls and challenge modes, as well as incorporating some styles and features from Ninja Gaiden 3.]
PSB: At Gamescom this year, you spoke to my colleague James Gallagher about how you were looking to integrate PlayStation Move into Ninja Gaiden 3. How is that coming along?
YH: Ninja Gaiden 3 has a so-called “Hero Mode”, where the system can assist you in protecting your character from attack. Making NG3, we’ve been focusing on the feeling of cutting somebody. By having the Move, that helps the player feel the action of killing someone.
PSB: Sounds like fun. [laughter]
PSB: We put out a call about talking to you, and there were a lot of questions about blood and violence in NG3. What’s your take on their importance? Are people too focused on those aspects over the gameplay?
YH: The reason why people focus on the blood on violence is maybe because the ninja has a very cruel aspect. Now we are focusing on the violence, but focusing less on the blood.
PSB: Have new games in this genre, like, say Bayonetta or God of War III, done anything that made you think, “oh, that’d be a great fit for Ryu?”
YH: Games in general have improved and changed a lot since Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, but action games haven’t changed that much. So, we are thinking about making action games, and we are trying to make the genre more updated like other games. That’s why we’re focusing on the story and the online modes.
PSB: Ryu Hayabusa is clearly the focus here in NG3, but will there be other playable characters? In the spirit of the Sigma games, i’m sure many fans would like the option at some point for a different character and the change in gameplay it brings. Personally, I was a fan of Momiji and her halberd weapon in NGS2.
YH: Sigma is kind of a sister game to the Ninja Gaiden series, and after releasing NG3, we may consider releasing a Sigma game for it.
PSB: Will Ninja Gaiden 3 feature 3D support?
YH: We aren’t thinking about supporting 3D, no.
PSB: Please talk about your experience developing Ninja Gaiden Sigma+ for PS Vita.
YH: It’s been a long time since we lauched the first Ninja Gaiden Sigma on the PS3. The new title is called Ninja Gaiden Sigma+, which means we’ll be able to add new things onto the game.
PSB: Finally, how many actual ninjas do you have on Team Ninja?
YH: We have over 200 members on Team Ninja, enough people for the production of Ninja Gaiden 3, Dead or Alive 5, and Ninja Gaiden Sigma+ for Vita — at the same time.
PSB: I think that qualifies you all as ninjas, then.
YH: We have a lot of ninjas. [laughter]
Ninja Gaiden 3 will be out for PS3 in March. Ninja Gaiden Sigma+ will become available for PS Vita in the “launch window,” and before NG3.