Team Ninja’s doing just fine post Itagaki, says Hayashi

By Stephany Nunneley
27 October 2010 14:58 GMT


Team Ninja studio boss Yosuke Hayashi has said that after the initial shock of Tomonobu Itagaki and other high-level members of the development studio leaving the firm two years ago, he and the remaining members had to “rethink” their approach to game development.

Speaking in an interview with Famitsu and translated by 1UP, Hayashi said just because each defector had their own reasons for leaving the company, he didn’t have to follow suit himself.

“I’ve been with Team Ninja ever since I graduated from college, so everything I know about the game business I learned from Team Ninja,”said Hayashi.

“Seeing the people who taught me the ropes leave was something I never imagined happening, and to be honest, I felt like I had no idea where to go next.  [However] it was a chance for not just myself, but for all of us at Team Ninja to rethink our approach to game development. That’s what led us to have the team we have now, the people that stayed on as Team Ninja members.

“We’re in the business of game development, so we just tried our best to concentrate ourselves on that process. Fans were nervous, as they had a right to be, but as long we can release games we’re satisfied with, we’ll be able to build our confidence and players will feed off of that. Koei have been a great support to us, as have a lot of other companies in the industry, directly or indirectly. I really appreciated that they went beyond the competitive forces that drive them to come out and cheer us on — it made me feel like the industry treats all of us on the team as important.”

Hayashi goes on to say he didn’t want the remaining members of the team and new hires to be called the “new” team Ninja, because even though the roster changed, it didn’t affect “what Team Ninja is doing”.

“Calling us the ‘new’ Team Ninja would be turning our backs on that history, and I really didn’t want to do that. That’s why we changed nothing, not even the logo,” he said. “The old Team Ninja had a certain braintrust, a group of a few people, and game development tended to always revolve around them,. That meant we couldn’t really expand our development lines much, but with Team Ninja today, each developer can think for themselves on what they can do to make better games.

“There aren’t many studios that can think organically like that. I really feel like we’re working together and combining our forces to create the best games we can, and in that way, I feel confident in saying that Team Ninja right now is absolutely the most powerful team in history.

“I’ve realized this as we work, but the games we’ve made after they left feel just a little different from Team Ninja games of the past. It’s the personalities of the people behind them coming to the surface. I’m sure there are fans who’d prefer the ‘old’ style, and I think that’s just fine.

“As a fan myself, I’m looking forward to what my senpai [his former superiors – ed] do next, but as for us, we’re going to keep working as Team Ninja. …We want to answer the questions with our games, in the end.”

Under Hayashi, the studio has put out Metroid: Other M, and is currently working on Dead or Alive: Dimensions for 3DS, Ninja Gaiden 3, and a collaboration with developer Kou Shibusawa on the samurai action game Ni-Oh.

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