After talking about Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, we asked Team Ninja leader Yosuke Hayashi questions about Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z. First revealed through a teaser video, Yaiba is a zombie killing ninja game developed by Comcept, Team Ninja, and Lost Planet 3 developer Spark Unlimited.
How did you get in touch with Inafune-san and start the Yaiba: Team Ninja Z collaboration?
Yosuke Hayashi: Inafune-san actually came to our company a little bit after he left Capcom. Even at Team Ninja a couple years ago, we talked about it the possibility of having zombies in Ninja Gaiden. But, at that time, even within Team Ninja there wasn’t anybody who loves zombies, so we weren’t confident we could do justice to the zombie side of that equation. Then Inafune-san came and said “How about mixing zombies and ninjas?” We knew that he made Dead Rising and he loves zombies. That was a partner that we could trust with that side of the equation, so that’s where the talk started.
How long have you been keeping Yaiba a secret?
We really wanted to have that as a surprise, so we’re really working hard to keep it a secret from the moment that we actually started meeting. Even those meetings were in secret, as well. It’s been going on for a while.
How did Spark Unlimited get involved as the game’s developer?
We started meeting with Spark Unlimited for Yaiba through Comcept. But, actually from a different route they actually came up with a concept for a Ninja Gaiden game on their own and presented it to us. We knew that they were that passionate about Team Ninja and Ninja Gaiden. When Inafune-san and Comcept said we’re going to work with Spark Unlimited, we kind of knew of them and that they were interested in making a Ninja Gaiden game. We felt if they are that passionate about it, we can probably trust them. Now, we met with them and they feel like three parties are one team.
How do you feel about working with a Western developer for the first time? During the Team Ninja event you spoke very passionately about leading the Japanese game industry.
Looking at Team Ninja and what we need to do is to stay relevant in the future, teaming up with a Western studio is one of the things that we needed to do. We see ninjas portrayed in Western games, and they aren’t real ninjas. There is something off about them. Zombies are a creation of the West. We feel we can bring the authentic ninja-ness and by teaming with Spark, they can bring in the authentic zombie-ness. When we can really come together to make a very unique zombie experience.
Is Yaiba canon for the Ninja Gaiden series?
Yaiba takes place in the world of Ninja Gaiden, but we want it to have its own story. It is not a direct sequel to a Ninja Gaiden game or directly tied into a Ninja Gaiden game. Within the world of Ninja Gaiden, you can have a lot of things going on, and Yaiba is one of those things. And within that we want to have stuff that a Ninja Gaiden fan will enjoy and say, “Oh yeah, that’s cool.” We are definitely planning on that kind of stuff and features in Yaiba, but then it will be its own thing, its own creation.
Ninja Gaiden games are known for having difficult and smart enemies which is in direct contrast to zombies. In zombie games, the setup is one vs. many perhaps something like Dynasty Warriors. How are you going to combine these elements together?
Yaiba takes place in the Ninja Gaiden world, but it’s its own separate thing. We are not planning on just bringing the Ninja Gaiden system and putting a different coat of paint on it and calling it Yaiba. It will have its own sort of system, its own feel, and its own play. Within that, we need to make sure that gameplay will satisfy the Ninja Gaiden fans, but it’s not going to be the exact same thing, we just bring it over. So, we can assure Ninja Gaiden fans that they will feel the challenges in the game, but it will be different than Ninja Gaiden.
Can you give us a hint how?
I don’t think that there are any zombie-ninja games out right now. That’s something that we’re really focusing on making that unique combination, and blowing that up into something that exceeds everybody’s expectation from the combination.
Can you tell us about Yaiba the character? What is he like?
You can probably see the reveal trailer that we put out. You can see what it looks like and get some ideas of the characters from that trailer. But, we are not going out any details yet, please stay tuned. He will definitely be unique.
There are actually little hints in the trailer…