Team Ninja has been around since 1995, and has always been at the forefront of fast-paced fighting titles. Through its immensely successful Dead or Alive series, and more recently with Ninja Gaiden, Team Ninja continually seeks to push the boundaries and is renowned for over-the-top graphics and attention to detail.
We reviewed Ninja Gaiden II back in June, and we still maintain that you're not going to be able to find a better ninja combat game out there now. There's so much to like about action titles that put you in the thick of combat and require you to really hone your skills in order to survive.
So what is it that makes Ninja Gaiden II such an explosive title? We fired a few questions their way - and to our astonishment the entire team took the time to reply!
GP: Ninja Gaiden is well known for its high difficulty level. Is the sequel the same or even more difficult? Also are there any easier options for the more casual gamer?
Team Ninja: Satisfying both the casual gaming crowd and the hardcore gamers out there is one of the goals that the Ninja Gaiden II team has put the most effort into. That’s why we’re including four different levels of difficulty, and in each one the game is designed to behave differently depending on the type of gamer it’s aimed at. Since you’ve had a chance to play, we hope you’ll be able to see that we have fulfilled this very important promise.
GP: We know chopping off enemy limbs plays a bigger role in the sequel. Can you please go into detail of the effect cutting off body parts has on the gameplay in Ninja Gaiden II?
Team Ninja: In designing the enemy AI in the game, it was important to incorporate cultural aspects of Ninja, or the warrior code. When in battle, all combatants have a goal to eliminate their enemies and move on to the next target. As an enemy soldier, if there is knowledge of failing at that task (losing a limb, etc.), the enemy will become more dangerous and sacrifice his life to finish his goal… and not have to return to his superior as a failure. In Ninja Gaiden II, once you have removed a body part, you can use the “Obliteration Technique”. With a simple press of the Y button near the damaged enemy, you can perform a very stylish move to finish off the enemy and take him out of his misery. Be careful though, if you act too slowly, the enemy may decide to implant an exploding shuriken in your gut.
GP: Beyond the single-player game, is there anything else that will keep the player coming back? Multiplayer? Downloadable content etc?
Team Ninja: The multiple difficulty levels are incentives to keep playing and explore how the enemy interactions change with each increasing difficulty level. NGII has always been about a lone super Ninja, Ryu Hayabusa, on his personal quest – so multiplayer gameplay just doesn’t make sense for this game. Two aspects of the game will keep friends connected through the game – Ninja Cinema and Leaderboards. We have multiple tiers of leaderboards that you can compare vs. your friends or the global community on Live. There is great incentive to keep up or exceed your friends scores… or try to make it to the top of one of the global leaderboards. Ninja Cinema is a new feature that allows gamers to record their play and upload to the leaderboards. This is great way to see how the best players in the world play… and a chance for you to share your accomplishments with other fans of the game. There is also a great set of downloadable content… which you can access from right in the game startup menu – themes, pics, videos and costume packs so far. We’ll have a few more coming later this month.
GP: We know it's an Xbox 360 exclusive, but the original Ninja Gaiden eventually made it's way to the PS3. Are there any plans on bringing the sequel to PS3 in the future?
Team Ninja: No, we won't be doing a Sigma or any other kind of edition, in fact Sigma was developed by another person at Tecmo, and looking at that, we say it felt like they took what we made four years ago and just kind of added toppings on, and it was almost like this weird chimera of a game - one thing here, one thing there. From a game design standpoint I don't think it worked well at all. So, Ninja Gaiden II is the definitive version of Ninja Gaiden as far as we’re concerned.
GP: What tweaks have been made to the gameplay or controls?
Team Ninja: Through the introduction of the dismemberment of enemies, we’ve been able to dramatically deepen the intensity and strategy of combat, as well as the feel of slicing through enemies. Gamers who play Ninja Gaiden II will enjoy even more aggressive and flashy combat then ever before.
The enjoyment the player feels from dispatching enemies is also leagues ahead of what was found in Ninja Gaiden. It’s like night and day. Play Ninja Gaiden II, then go back and play the first one, and I think you’ll understand. Another big change is the health regeneration system which is a combination of auto health regeneration between battles, and semi-permanent damage that can be healed at save stations. The save stations are also more plentiful in this game… and you can use the D-pad as a quick menu to change weapons and ninpo or access health items.
GP: How many weapons are in Ninja Gaiden II and how do they change the way you'll fight? What are some of your favourites?
Team Ninja: The eight main weapons that we have in Ninja Gaiden II are all unique, and they all have their own attractive features. It’s like the difference between characters in a 1-on-1 fighting game, and we have strong feelings for each of them. If we had to choose two to recommend, they would be the claws and the dual katanas. The claws, called the Falcon’s Talons, are a perfect match for high-speed Ninja battles, as they are cool and vicious. Using the blades mounted on his hands and feet, Ryu can use the claws to quickly make mince-meat of his opponents. The dual katanas are not only incredible weapons, but they have an important role in the story of the game as well.
GP: What aspect of making Ninja Gaiden has been the most fun for you?
Team Ninja: If we had to choose, we would say it was the ability to finally realize our vision for Ninpo Magic Attacks. The visual effects and enemy damage you see in this game is incredible. We are extremely happy with how the game turned out, as we feel we were able to make it a high-quality piece of entertainment with a definite theme running throughout. We firmly believe that all of the gamers out there will enjoy it.