Inafune And Hayashi Discuss Yaiba, Next Gen and Zombies

Ryan King


Keiji Inafune and Team Ninja leader Yosuke Hayashi join forces to work on Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z.

Published on Jun 21, 2013

Games industry legend Keiji Inafune and Team Ninja leader Yosuke Hayashi were both present at E3 to discuss the project they're working on together along with Spark Unlimited, Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z. We had a quick chat catch-up with them after playing through the bloody title - our report on how the game plays will be online later today.

Where did the idea for Yaiba come from after Ninja Gaiden?

Inafune: I originally came up with the idea for Yaiba after I left Comcept and I was thinking of a game that mixes ninjas and zombies. And I thought that would be a cool game. I respected the Ninja Gaiden series so I took the idea to Team Ninja and said hey, maybe I could do a new take on Ninja Gaiden. Team Ninja got on board with that as well and it was really good timing for Team Ninja as well because they had thought of zombies themselves, and so the match worked out really well.

So just thinking of the concept of ninjas and zombies, what would make that cool? What would make it look cool, play fun? That’s really the core idea for Yaiba and the crazy things you could do with zombies, using zombies as weapons comes from the humorous aspect of zombie entertainment… zombie movies, zombie games, they always have something funny about them.

That sense of play is something the zombie idea brings to Ninja Gaiden, so that’s why we decided to go in this direction. It wasn’t necessarily to make it different from Ninja Gaiden but it all sprang organically from ninjas and zombies.

Successful games in recent times are those that focus on narrative - The Last Of Us, Tomb Raider, Call Of Duty, BioShock and so on. What about games that focus on arcade-style fun like Yaiba? Does the industry still have room for those games?

Inafune: We know that Call Of Duty is major and BioShock Infinite is huge but there are still a lot of fans that have something for retro games and other games from the past. Every generation has its own games and trends. So people who know games and know its history as well, I still get people coming up saying “Mega Man, Mega Man, make another Mega Man, I want another Mega Man”, you know?

So it seems there are still people who are looking for something else. There’s still an audience for games like this, an older style of arcade game where it’s mindless fun cutting up a bunch of enemies. Maybe it’s not the biggest genre right now but there are still people who enjoy that. For us, we want to make something that’s different, something that will stand out in that aspect. We’re not following trends, so maybe that gives us a chance to stand out.

Was there anything in the feedback following Ninja Gaiden 3 that influencd Yaiba?

Hayashi: Yaiba is separate from Ninja Gaiden. Yaiba is its own thing. So it will be different than Ninja Gaiden, so that’s one thing we really want to make clear. It’s not a direct sequel from Ninja Gaiden 3 or anything like that. Of course, looking at the feedback from Ninja Gaiden 3, just as developers, that’s getting feedback and that will inform the decisions on the next game that we are involved with but again, Yaiba is really its own thing.

The combat system for Yaiba is accessible and easy to understand, more so than in Ninja Gaiden. How do you keep it feeling rewarding and deep for the player over the course of the entire game?

Hayashi: Thinking of those systems is just what game developers do. That’s the question that we have to deal with. It’s just a matter of a bunch of creative people talking about the systems and coming up with the right balance for that game. It’s just what game creators do. The difficulty of the demo here at E3, it is a little lower than Ninja Gaiden games but we know that there are a lot of people that are going to come to Yaiba from the zombie side of things or the art style, if they see it and think hey, what’s that, that’s cool.

If those people don’t know or aren’t familiar with the technical side of Ninja Gaiden, if we made Yaiba a similarly difficult game, then they’re going to be disappointed and quit after two seconds. So it’s important for us to offer that accessibility and still offer a challenge for Ninja Gaiden fans who want that challenge. It’s going to be a different system to Ninja Gaiden but it should still have a sense of challenge.

Now that PS4 and Xbox One have been announced, what are you expecting from the next generation of console gaming? I’d like to hear both your answers on this.

Inafune: As a developer, I’m really excited to take on the challenge of making games for that hardware. When PS3 was announced, when the last generation was announced, there was a lot of looking at how do we make games look nicer? How can we make games look a lot better than the previous generation? I don’t really feel that pressure right now. I don’t think that should be focus right now. It should be about finding new kinds of games with the features that the hardware offers. That’s the real challenge for this generation. It’s not just pushing the graphics but finding new ways to interact with games, finding new kinds of games to create for these platforms.

Hayashi: The hardware cycles have been about upping the performance of the hardware and the presentations this week at E3 seem to be on the same road as that, upping the specs. We really hope to see new kinds of experiences on new platforms. It’s not just about specs. It’s about games themselves and what kind of games people can come up with to run on these platforms. We’re optimistic a lot of creative games will come out in the future.



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