Team Ninja “Rethinking” What The Ninja Gaiden Series Means

By Ishaan . June 28, 2012 . 12:32pm

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge on Wii U will be a better game than Ninja Gaiden 3, Team Ninja head, Yosuke Hayashi, insists. Speaking with the New York Daily News, Hayashi said that, with Razor’s Edge, Team Ninja simply intend to make a good game.


“The concept for the Wii U version of Razor’s Edge is for it to be its own action game, an action game that doesn’t try to be anything else,” Hayashi says. “It just tries to be its best.”


Why didn’t they do this in the first place? Hayashi has given a couple of reasons for this. Speaking with Gamasutra at E3, Hayashi stated that Ninja Gaiden 3 simply tried too hard to cater to western tastes instead of playing to Team Ninja’s own strengths. When discussing the game with the New York Daily News, Hayashi gave a similar reason: trying to follow industry trends.


“We looked at the game industry and how things were shaping up, and we felt we couldn’t get left behind,” he shares. “And we had to advance ourselves. And that was the idea behind some of the changes in NG3.”


Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, however, will incorporate feedback gleaned from Ninja Gaiden 3, Hayashi says. He adds: “And we re-examined what the series was, what the game was, what people want. We’re going back to rethinking what the series means.”


Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge will add a character and weapon development system by which you can upgrade Ryu’s weapons and abilities. It will also bring back dismemberment, add new enemy types, multiple weapons, and new Ninpo. Nintendo, not Tecmo Koei, will publish the game this holiday season.

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  • shion16

    Oh really?

    then why dont you FIX THE PS3/360 VERSION!?

    • A patch can only do so much.

      It can’t perform miracles.

      • shion16

        I know, but they could release a second version, like Ninja Gaiden Sigma.
        I really love NG2, i could spend more money to get that experience once more

        • British_Otaku

          They haven’t got into the habit of releasing Ninja Gaiden games twice on the same system. It is more likely that we will get a PS4/Xbox740 remake on the lines of Ninja Gaiden Sigma (based on a game from the prior generation).

        • Anime10121

          Hopefully, since the “Sigma series” has become unnecessary since 3 released on both platforms at the same time, they will release the WiiU version as an updated port for the PS360 later as a “Sigma” release (although its extremely doubtful considering its being published by Nintendo). 

    • MrSirFeatherFang

      I know they can’t change the PS3/360 versions, but there are so many glitches, slow downs and such that NEED to be fix…

  • SirRichard

    It’s funny that “following industry trends” led to an absolutely miserable game, eh?

    I’m honestly getting the feeling that they’re overthinking this. Ninja Gaiden was revered for being relentlessly hard, even unfair, but also for being fast, intricate and visceral. It shouldn’t be too hard to look back to Ninja Gaiden II and go “Yeah, we should do more of that”.

    At least they realise they’ve gone off track, and here’s hoping the next instalment turns that around.

    • Testsubject909

      I have no idea if I’m the only one here in Siliconera but when Itagaki left, now keep in mind, I’m not a fanboy of the guy, I actually don’t really care much for his work compared to some other greater game designers, developers, directors and producers (Really, Itagaki for me was mainly the high end distributor of fluff. DOA while a fun fighting game to me was all about the high kicks, Xtreme was all about just volleyball, relaxing and bikinis and the new Ninja Gaidens, I never really regarded as a standard of action gaming and preferred to poke at it’s failings but still enjoyed it for what it was)… Where was I going with this? Oh yeah.

      Now, I’m not sure if I’m the only one but. After Itagaki left, when the trailers for games were coming out… Was I the only one who felt there was always something off, lackluster or missing?

      … And then when the fan feedbacks and reviews came out, realized that there were indeed problems, not just minor ones but some big ones, in those games?

      It’s something I’d fear seeing from Kojima Productions or Platinum Games. A company that has a lot of gifted and talented people, but who are quite accustomed to following the vision of a central person and when said central person departs, loses focus or loses that spark…

      You could see it in the behind the scenes look of Metal Gear Rising. Without Kojima, the director was lacking focus and just couldn’t bring a proper product which then pushed them to call in Platinum Games.

      In any case. For Team Ninja, I’m going to remain steady and just wait. To date, none of the games they’re announcing look all that… enticing to me.

      • SirRichard

        That is a worrying aspect of a lot of studios, I find, and I also think that say what you will about Itagaki, his departure definitely hard a marked effect on Team Ninja’s output and it’s clear that the studio has sort of lost its way without him. Hopefully they’ll begin to pull that back.

        It’s a reflection of corporate culture in general, I think. One guy up at the top controlling everything, and if that guy goes then people are likely to get lost and not know what to do. Probably more pronounced in Japan than it is in the West, given the horror stories about average workdays and all.

        • Testsubject909

          Currently in the team I’m with, nevermind the fact that we’re stuck in a rut in pre-production, or rather pre-development, I feel we’ve got something along the lines of 3 or so leaders in the group with different visions, that’s already a pretty good solid base if ever the team eventually splits or grows large enough to tackle multiple projects…

          Mind you, since we’re all in one project right now though. We’re butting heads like madmen.

          edit: One guy at the top helps keep everything very fluid… So with the pressing need to make games asap to keep up with demands, expectations and the market, I’m not surprised it’s how this works for a few companies out there.

  • DongT

    catering to western tastes? why would they do that when the first 2 games were critically acclaimed in the US? probably to reach a wider audience though from what i’ve seen changing a game to bring in more people usually alienates the long time fans.

  • Andrew Austin

     “we tried to cater to western tastes” is such an insulting scapegoat. I wonder if they said the same thing after their Metroid abomination? Hayashi, you’re just too soft to be developing Ninja Gaiden games. You cut out most of the violence from Sigma 2 and attempted to make players feel bad for killing terrorists in 3. Just admit your ineptitude and let someone else take the helm.

    • Actually, most of Other M’s problems can be attributed to Nintendo, not Team Ninja. It’s a common misconception that Team Ninja were responsible for the issues that people had with the game.

      • Testsubject909

        Yup… I still don’t know how to feel about the fact that the story was written by one of the creators of the original Metroid game.

        • I can completely understand where Sakamoto was coming from, but he made the mistake of not taking into account that Metroid Prime was the ideal representation of Metroid in the west, which is where its largest audience is. Cultural differences were at the root of most of Other M’s problems. I’m confident that another game along those same lines by the exact same team would fix every issue people had with Other M.

  • Seems like a total slap in the face releasing such a drastically different version of the same game on a console that nobody has yet.

    • Pope The Rev XXVIII

       Or cares about

    • That’s how I felt after reading it too. I was going to pick up NG3 when price went to $20, because I love Ninja games in general but after these comments I won’t.  So what does that make people who bought your current game, beta testers? So uncool.

      • I know right? I was also planning to buy it at lower price too but after this, I’ll just skip the whole game altogether.

  • Testsubject909

    To Team Ninja:

    Let me help you with this rethinking:

    The original Ninja Gaiden trilogy on NES was a breakthrough of sort with perhaps the most memorable animated scene and story sequences told in, at the time, what would be best described as movie-like cutscenes. That was the fluff that presented the game and got people’s attention and involvement in the story but moreso then that, the core and pure meat of the game was… It’s gameplay. Hard, difficult, at times cheap, at times fair, gameplay with tons of sub-weapons similar to Castlevania in concept but with greater freedom of movement and abilities (like climbing walls) that felt more like being a nimble ninja.

    Each iteration of the original trilogy, past the first, attempted to push the envelope further. With new sub-weapons or new effects such as shifting weather and the likes.

    The trilogy gained it’s reputation for being a balls hard game that provided no hand holding and treated each player equally and in that way, fairly.

    The next trilogy began with a revival of the series and a return to that much totted difficulty setting, rubbing your lack of skill in your face to taunt you further. Negative on paper, but a lot of people tend to react to this with hurt pride which only instigates them to fight back, mind you, I didn’t say all. The game came back with it’s similar take on the NES era and when it moved on continued doing much of the same.

    The fluff in this case, to keep people’s attention, was not the cutscenes which was common by now, but the massive amount of gore and dismemberment system, the core of the game though was still it’s difficulty and action gameplay that had it’s own variety in the form of multiple weapons and “sub-weapons” that appeared in the form of ninjutsu which were now specials.

    The second iteration in the series did much of the same as well, the port had some improvement though lost much of the fluff that people loved so much (I’m talking Sigma here), losing the gore though keeping the dismemberment and adding new chapters to maintain new attention and provide new extra content to further reinforce it, new weapons were added as well and the game was given a facelift despite a lower polygon count in the form of less enemies to be found, a proper camera control was eventually integrated as well which removed some of what many would deem cheap difficulty.

    The third… I can basically say there were 3 faults:
    1: Lack of fluff. Nothing kept people’s attention, cutscenes are nothing new and it lost it’s iconic gore but was given nothing in compensation to replace it. The Sigma iteration provides new content that makes up for the lack of continuous fluff in the form of sputtering blood (which I say I prefer, not a big fan of continuous gore for the sake of gore)

    2: Lack of a basic challenging difficulty. Difficulty is part of what made Ninja Gaiden so popular in the first place. While yes, you could provide harder difficulty settings, the point is still that the basic difficulty setting in itself should, by default, challenge a person to fight like a Skilled Ninja. Lose that base and people’s first impressions will be quite unfavorable.

    3: Lack of variety. Each iteration had something to help lose the monotony of a singular setup, sub-weapons in the original helped to alter strategies and feel of the gameplay and in the latter trilogy, for the first two games, the large variety of weapons and special ninjutsu helped also provide this variety.

    These are the three largest flaws I can find right off the bat, immediately upon looking at the series as a whole in less then 10 minutes…

    That said, I fail to see how catering to the west caused the first and third problem to appear. Gore and violence is something that I’d think should be regarded as a commodity for the west, as such appealing to them would indicate you’d make things violent. A quick look at mainstream popular games that has a lot of adrenaline rushes (basically action games or FPS and whatnot) reveals a lot of gore, blood and violence.

    As for the third. Again, a look at those games provides, typically indicates a desire for such variety or customization options. Yes, you can pull the argument that for shooters, all the guns are nearly the same, but it’s just the presence of those options, even if useless, itself that can make just a bit more of a difference.

    So… Did I miss anything?

    • MrSirFeatherFang

      Yes the normal difficulty was easy. hard or above slowly became a nightmare…

  • DarkWaterClone

    If you want to give the fans what they want then how about a true Ninja Gaiden game like the one on the NES. I would pay good money for a hard old school sidescroller game like that today.

    • I don’t see any fans asking for that. Just for a game that’s as good as Ninja Gaiden Black. :P

      • Testsubject909

        I have, they’re in a minority though, obviously. Similar to how old time Castlevania fans want a challenging linear game like the old NES games.

  • GibbRS

    I’m curious if they have any storyline or “decision point” changes in mind for Razor’s Edge.

    NG3 was abysmal, so far beyond redemption that I’m not sure they can save it short of re-starting from scratch.  It’s the only game I’ve traded into Gamestop in the last several years, because I was tired of looking at it sitting on my shelf laughing about the $60 it took from me.

    It’s possible the game could be cool if they do the following:
    1.) Rewrite the entire storyline
    2.) Have Ayane in the game for more than 20 seconds (playable would be great kthx)
    3.) Get rid of those non-decision decision points.
    4.) Have lots of weapon types which drastically change the combat (I think they did this in a DLC patch but I had sold the game already)
    5.) Make Momiji playable
    6.) Have actual characters in the multiplayer mode, like Ryu, the red masked dude, Rachel, Ayane, Momiji, maybe some of the enemies.

    • MrSirFeatherFang

      The weapons each have their own pros and cons, but the actual moves commands were pretty spot on the same for each weapon. The Eclipse Scythe was a total boss killer (both in Trials and the Story)

    • ZBaksh386

       co-op between actual characters would have been better

  • Solomon_Kano

    For catering to western tastes? That’s why NG3 sucked? I can’t say I’ve played a western action game quite like NG3, so I’m not sure what kind of assessment he did to reach that conclusion.

    Whatever. It’s good that they realize that 3 wasn’t the way to go. We’ll see what effect this realization has though.

    • Arrei

      To be fair, they didn’t claim that it sucked because it was western, they claimed it sucked because they sucked at making it western.

      • Solomon_Kano

        I didn’t say he said it sucked because it was western either, so I’m not really seeing your point.

        Article: “Hayashi stated that Ninja Gaiden 3 simply tried too hard to cater to western tastes”

        My comment: “For catering to western tastes?”

        • Arrei

          You suggested that he believes NG3 sucked because it catered to western taste, didn’t you? According to the last article about this, it was because they tried to cater to western taste but failed at it. The former would be deflecting blame, but the latter is admitting they messed up.

          • Solomon_Kano

            I based my comment off of the exact part I quoted from this article. I haven’t read the last article.

            I know they’re admitting it, I’m not trying to say they’re deflecting it. My second sentence does suggest that, but what I’m trying to say is that their supposed “westernization” of it didn’t really make it like any western games. That was the purpose of my third sentence.

  • Domii

    Yeah ok, like we haven’t heard that excuse a billion times before. I would have believe Team ninja more if they would flat out say that NG3 sucked and that they messed up bad.

  • pinta_177

    are this guys completely retarded?, re-thinking ninja gaiden series?, the only thing the are doing is bringing back all the things that made this series so fun in past titles, and that is exactly what they should have done in the first place, that is what we fans wanted, jesus christ, itagaki should go and give this hayashi dude the beating of a lifetime

    • There’s no reason to lose your cool like this. If you want to make a point, there are better, more productive ways to do it. Read our rules, please:

      • Domii

        Ahhh let him go Ishaan, the guy made me laugh so hard I almost dropped my phone lmaooo.

  • MrSirFeatherFang

    Ugh, will they incorporate feedback from popular gaming sites or the actual people who played this game? Since you can’t change the core gameplay on the PS3/360 version you could at least fix the glitches.

  • Nemesis_Dawn

    I only played the demo of NG3, but that was enough to realize they had ruined the series. At a certain point, I actually tried to see if I could survive by just mashing a single button and, unfortunately, I managed to clear out the room with minimal damage to myself. Not to mention, QTE have no place in a NG game. 

    On the other hand, though, the trailers for it seemed off and every news article that came seemed to make me feel less and less sure it was going to be something worth playing. Kinda the same way I feel about the DmC trailers. With both, it went from, “Hmmmm…that looks…not good, but I’ll give it a shot,” to “This is getting very worrying” to “I want no part of this game.”

  • Jirin

    The thing that made the first XBox Ninja Gaiden unique was, besides the insane difficulty, the amount of freedom you have.  You can do by your own control the kind of things that most games only let your character do in cutscenes.

    If you do something unique, and it’s popular, it’s popular because of the ways it’s unique, not because of the ways it’s the same as everything else.  How has a big company like this not realized that yet?

    • Because Itagaki left, and Hayashi wanted to do something completely different.

  • Syltique

    They messed up big time with NG3, but I’m still totally willing to give them another chance.  It sounds like they realize what they’ve done wrong.  And even with how painfully disappointing NG3 was, there were still some flashy moves, some neat levels and a few genuinely interesting boss fights.

    I just hate that he felt that they were getting left behind.  Rather than left behind, Ninja Gaiden has actually been way, way, way out front.  The only action game that has been able to compare to it in the west is Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.  if they wanted to add in more cinematic elements while still retaining their trademark combat, they should look at that game because it pulls it off with flying colors.

    The multi-player in NG3 was awful.  The complete lack of menus, of readable move lists, of weapon upgrades, of even any other weapons at all, of any kind of enemy variety besides humans; it was just all really a horrible call.  And to be clear, this isn’t a new thing for this guy.  He’s been basically trying to do this in Sigma, and Sigma, and now his first truly original Ninja Gaiden.

    So now he’s finally letting that vision go.  Fantastic.  I’m anxious to see Ninja Gaiden 4.  And I would love to hear Itagaki comment a bit on this game, and his situation with THQ.

    • Solomon_Kano

      Yea, it’s kinda baffling to me that they thought they were behind when, along with DMC, Ninja Gaiden was one of the series to beat in the genre. Western action games have so many differences from what the NG series is about anyway, that I can’t imagine how looking to the west ever would’ve benefited this series.

      Actually, the aforementioned Lords of Shadow aside, how many western action games have come out since NG2? Capcom includes FPS and TPS games when they talk about Resident Evil’s “action”, but those aren’t actually action games. I can’t picture what series Team Ninja felt they were behind.

      That said, it’s good to see that they got over that. Hopefully, Ninja Gaiden 4 can give us an evolution of what they were doing with the series prior to 3. There were some good ideas there, but the execution was awful. Now that they’ve taken the criticism into account, I’m very interested to see what direction they go in with 4.

  • l777l

    Giving story and characters more depth was not a bad idea.

    • Godmars

      But not giving stealth or non lethal options, especially when some enemies begged not to be killed, wasn’t.

      Wold love to see someone try a ninja title where boss fights were either a big long battle, or a multi-level puzzle which resulted in a one-hit kill.

      • MrSirFeatherFang

        Funny thing was, there was no option to spare your victims. To continue, you HAD to kill them lol. I was standing there for literally a minute before I killed him lol

        • l777l

          I would’ve done the same if I hadn’t been informed that there is no option to spare them.

          • British_Otaku

            I’m speaking from the outside (meaning I’ve played few NG games) here but how would the concept of sparing enemies make sense? For one, all of the prior games from the NES trilogy to the current Xbox (360), PS3 and DS games enforced that enemies want you dead infinitely and that you should kill them.

            Having enemies which waver in their resolve throws the prior games of the same franchise, genre and systems into doubt despite them carrying on something fundamental. Sparing them doesn’t have a place in NG, if the first Xbox NG made stealth a priority or rewarded/recommended avoidance of conflict, perhaps it could be written in as an excuse for having another type of experience(exclusive techniques) or external bonuses for no killing (cutscenes, concept art and such) instead of seemingly out of place.

          • l777l

            Part of the idea is that Ryu is much stronger than his enemies and that they, in their terrorized states pose no threat. But this killing is made part of not only the gameplay but also the story.

            To make that clear, I haven’t been asking for stealth myself; I would also consider it a departure.

      • l777l

        I appreciate stealth and non-lethal measures. The right places to include it depends on individual games and context, however. If a character is written as not merciful, then that can make perfect sense and be appropriate.

  • Well, at least the explained it a little better than shrugging and saying “well, the westerners…”

    NG3 had some good ideas, just terrible execution.  Beefing up the story aspects?  Good idea!  Making a cliched plot that is almost impossible to take seriously, but also isn’t humorous in the slightest bit?  Bad execution!  Aiming for a more cinematic approach to the action to spice things up a bit?  Good idea!  Doing the same QTEs over and over again?  Bad execution!  Trying to make the game accessible so newer players can actually enjoy themselves a little?  Good idea!  Putting in so many room-clearing techniques and insta-kills that a player will likely go to sleep while playing on Normal or Hero difficulty?  You get the drift.

    I played through the game and don’t think it’s really all that terrible.  I’m still looking forward to what Team Ninja has got for us in the future.  Hopefully they just nail the concepts.

    • Anime10121

       I have never seen so much truth in one statement before, hats off to you sir:)

  • Jonathan Keycross

    I´m not sure what say…it surprises me that the team reached a state that they aren´t sure they knew about a franchise they were supposed to be familiar with since the beginning.

    I hope they find what they are looking for, but I´m more of the idea the only thing they did wrong was to make a game the team didn´t approve. I feel they asked themselves “is this western/japanese enough?” when what really matters is to ask themselves “is this really a Team Ninja game?”

    At least that´s the feeling I got when I read the Interview.

  • Nitraion

    Don’t need to Re-thinking just Re-play Ninja gaiden 1 and 2 and Re-deem the mistake what went wrong….

  • thaKingRocka

    Some of the changes felt like streamlining; some felt like reductions. There’s a big difference. :( I actually enjoyed NG3 despite its shortcomings. It was still better than most action games.

    “Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge will add a character and weapon
    development system by which you can upgrade Ryu’s weapons and abilities.
    It will also bring back dismemberment, add new enemy types, multiple
    weapons, and new Ninpo.”

    I can’t say I really missed upgrading weapons. However, I did thoroughly miss karma and its usage with regards to ultimate techniques, so if the return of upgrades also means the return of the currency with its risk/reward system, then I’ll be very happy.

    I don’t really care about dismemberment. I don’t care about new enemy types. I like having access to some other weapons, but I generally don’t use them, so I didn’t mind their absence. My problem with the ninpo was not the lack of variety so much as it was the length of animation and its lack of visual clarity. I could barely see when the dragon picked guys up in its mouth and I didn’t really like the fire effect much.

  • Guest

     Trends are just that: trends. They are fleeting. They are casual. Stick with what you are good at and what made fans buy your games in the first place.

  • Souji Tendou

    “We looked at the game industry and how things were shaping up, and we
    felt we couldn’t get left behind,” he shares. “And we had to advance
    ourselves. And that was the idea behind some of the changes in NG3.”

    Some….. what? It’s not just some, the changes was too much, NG3 doesn’t even feel like a NG game, it’s like some random hack ‘n slash game featuring Ryu as the main character and having mostly similar movesets to NG(1)/NGII.

  • DarthSithZero

    The NG series needs more content(char, weapons,level, extra minigames), Dismember in all consoles, Better and deep story

  • Repede91

    Hayashi seems pretty gung-ho about the direction for NG moving forward (the pre NG3 format). Makes me wonder if he/Team Ninja didn`t initially want to make the changes that were present in part 3. Pressure from the higher ups at Tecmo Koei perhaps, in order to have more global appeal?  

    • I’m sure Team Ninja are under a lot of pressure from Tecmo Koei, seeing as how they’re effectively their only dev team that has a global appeal.

      • Repede91

        When you put it that way it`s almost like they are being punished for being successful.

  • davidvinc

    Are these games remakes of the NES games? I only got the first one for the NES and that game was crazy hard. I never did get to see the end of the story presented to me in the cutscenes.

    • Testsubject909

      No, they’re their own trilogy.

  • Setsu Oh

    ? wtf? about the speed? nothing? its slow as a mario!

  • s07195

    So I’m using Google Chrome, and although the article title appears in the URL, the title of the page on the Tabs says Ninja Gaiden 3 Wii U Will Be A Better Game.

    I certainly hope so.

  • Ricky__Spanish

    I don’t know who they were listening to but NG fans all wanted the same great action game we had before. They blame the west? That’s bullshit

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