The Ninja Gaiden Master Collection is coming in just a few short months, promising to brutalize a whole new generation of potential ninja (and Ninja Dogs). With that thought, we began to wonder what got the developers at Team Ninja interested in bringing the ultra-hard action games to a whole new generation. So we spoke with producer Fumihiko Tasuda about how fan support brought the project about, how some of those same fans are working on the project, and how they’re making its sharp-looking combat look even better for modern consoles.
Joel Couture, Siliconera: What made the time feel right for a revival of the Ninja Gaiden series? What got you interested in creating the Ninja Gaiden Master Collection?
Fumihiko Yasuda, Producer for Ninja Gaiden Master Collection: The Ninja Gaiden series, along with the Dead or Alive series, are Team Ninja’s signature franchises. It’s been on our minds for a long time that the Ninja Gaiden series hasn’t been available on the Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One generation of hardware as well as PC, and also the timing fit since we had completed work on Nioh 2.
In addition, the number of staff at Team Ninja who are of the generation that grew up playing Ninja Gaiden is slowly increasing. So, for our development team, we wanted this to be an opportunity for them to get involved once again with the Ninja Gaiden franchise.
What do you feel originally drew people to the Ninja Gaiden games? Why do you think players enjoy such difficult titles?
Yasuda: The combination of the quick, responsive action of Ryu Hayabusa and the unrelenting enemy AI established the high speed battles that I think most impressed players. Also, in addition to the sense of accomplishment when you finally defeat a powerful enemy after many attempts, there’s the exhilaration and the responsiveness of the pristine action which I think players enjoy.
How does it feel to be returning to these games you worked on in the past? Is it nostalgic? What sorts of memories is it bringing up?
Yasuda: It felt great to go back and I felt impressed by our work. When Ryu Hayabusa was showing up on our dev team monitors, it brought back memories; both the good and bad…[laughs]
You have been with Team Ninja for many years, and have worked on several Ninja Gaiden titles in different capacities. How has your work on the series affected your design philosophies for future games?
Yasuda: It’s had a huge impact on me. Especially with the Nioh series, there’s a big Ninja Gaiden presence in the action design, and I am certain it will have an influence on our titles moving forward.
Are you changing or seeking to improve any elements of the games? Or are you trying to keep them exactly as players remember them? Why are you changing or not changing the games?
Yasuda: We’ve focused on keeping with the game features and action elements in the original games, so we really haven’t made any major changes. However, we have been able to improve the resolution and stabilize the frame rate to match the improvements in hardware specs. In particular, 4K resolution and 60FPS for PS4 Pro, PS5, Xbox One X, Xbox Series X/S, and Steam (hardware requirements necessary). Resolution and FPS may fluctuate during gameplay, and players will of course need to have a 4K TV or monitor to play in full 4K/60FPS.
And even though we didn’t include online multiplayer, Tag Missions can be played in single player mode, and some of the unreasonably difficult parts have been adjusted. However, we haven’t made any adjustments that make the game easier to clear, so we hope everyone is up for the challenge!
What challenges are you facing in porting the game to the different systems? How are you overcoming those challenges?
Yasuda: Actually, each of the games in the collection were designed without giving much thought to being remastered, so we had a hard time, therefore we worked on NG3:RE, Sigma 2, then Sigma, going in reverse order. Also, the program structure of the PS Vita games- Sigma 2 Plus and Sigma Plus – were well organized, so we were able to use that source code effectively. Also, we’ve resolved the Sigma Plus and Sigma 2 Plus issues of the framerate drops and difficulty of inputting certain commands!
If the Ninja Gaiden Master Collection is successful, do you think you may be interested in exploring other past Team Ninja properties? Any more collections or new titles?
Yasuda:Yes, I think it’s possible. One of the reasons we are able to work on this remastered version is because of the interest in the Ninja Gaiden series expressed by all our loyal fans. Team Ninja will dedicate ourselves to working on new projects, so we hope you will continue to voice your support.
Ninja Gaiden Master Collection will be available on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC on June 10, 2021. A Ninja Gaiden Collection Deluxe Edition is immediately available for pre-order.