Team Ninja Head: Ninja Gaiden 3 Was “A Japanese Hamburger For The West”

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Team Ninja head, Yosuke Hayashi, feels as if their latest game, Ninja Gaiden 3, may have been a misguided effort. “It seems like we made a Japanese hamburger for the West,” Hayashi told Gamasutra in a recent interview at E3.


Ninja Gaiden 3, which is the first game in the new series to not be headed by Tomonobu Itagaki of ex-Team Ninja fame, was released earlier in the year to a poor reception in the west. Hayashi feels that, perhaps, he and his team didn’t emphasize their own strengths enough, and tried a little too hard to cater to western tastes.


“Maybe as a Japanese developer, we need to make good Japanese food… and that’s what people are wanting from a Japanese developer,” Hayashi suggests. Later, he states: “We really felt that we need to emphasize our strengths as a developer and push those further, moving forward.”


The problem with Japanese companies, Hayashi shares, is that many are struggling to simply remain afloat in today’s market. It’s also a question of resources. Team Ninja don’t have the resources that a larger developer like Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed team might have. Going forward, Hayashi feels that Team Ninja need to offer a different kind of entertainment from what western studios that strive to emulate Hollywood put out.


“If we can find the people that enjoy that kind of entertainment, then we can win,” Hayashi believes. “We can be successful.” He emphasizes in a later quote: “We’re not going to offer burgers anymore, but we’re going to offer you damn good sushi.”


Meanwhile, Ninja Gaiden 3 may soon find a chance to redeem itself. An updated version of the game, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, with improved AI, the return of dismemberment, and new weapons, will be published by Nintendo for the Wii U this holiday season.

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Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.