According to Yosuke Hayashi, the breast shaking feature is just a fun gimmick. Something that shouldn't steal attention from Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 itself. But I mean, come on. How could I begin a text a like this with anything else than trying to portray the image of a full grown man in a conference room, happily shaking his Sixaxis controller which makes the vast bosom of the screen's fighter wiggle more than a Playboy shoot during an earthquake? But hey, it makes me smile. Even the only girl in the room laughs, but adds with a whisper: "is there not anything for us girls to shake?" An excellent question, and of course something I decide to steal for my impending interview with Hayashi.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is the Playstation 3 version of Ninja Gaiden 2, released for Xbox 360 last summer, and if you've been following the franschise you might know that the (in)famous Tomonobu Itagaki isn't in charge of the development this time around. Instead the torch has been passed on to Yoskue Hayashi, the director of the first Ninja Gaiden Sigma. In this remake we'll be treated to two new playable characters, Ayane and Momihi from Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword. During a short playthrough of the game, Hayashi also mentions some other news: we're going to be playing co-op online, we'll get some cool trophies and new, gigantic bosses will be part of the action experience.
One of these guys shows up during Hayashis demoing of the game. A gigantic statue that tries to smash Rachel (another new character from the first Ninja Gaiden) with its clay fists during an intense fight on a rooftop. Attacks like Flying Swallow and Ultimate Technique is also used frequently and soon the grim statue bites the dust. Of course, Hayashi knows this game by heart, but the difficulty is not as taxing as in the previous games. And that is the basis of my first question during the interview.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is an easier game than the previous titles. Was that a deliberate choice?
- A game always has to have a good challenge. In this game, we've tried to attract all kinds of players, everyone from casual gamers to the ones who are really hardcore, that's why it's easier. We really feel that we've nailed that part, and the bosses in particular are really tough in this game. Genshin is by far the worst one, and he's going to give even the gaming veterans a run for their money.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 also has a lot less violence and blood than Ninja Gaiden 2, why have you censored the game like that?
- Our philosophy was simply that there already are a lot of games that are violent, and that Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 didn't need it. We've looked back on the previous Ninja Gaiden-games and thought about what makes the player thrilled. Just blood and gore is not something that will make a good game in its own, it could even obstruct the experience. That's why we toned it down a bit in this game, and we're happy with the result.
I have to ask you about the breast-jiggling. How did that come about and did you ever consider doing a feature for shaking male body parts as well? Something for the girls, you know?
- (Laughs) No, that never occurred to us. We think that the girls playing Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 will get other things to enjoy, like the fundamentally serious story in the game. We wanted some kind of Sixaxis function in the game, but these are always difficult to implement in an action game. Finally we decided on the breast feature, which is a gimmick that we thought would be fun for young, male players. We were never worried about being regarded as sexist?
What was the biggest challenge during the development with the game?
- We worked the hardest with the online co-op mode. That's something we never done before and therefore we had to build it up from nothing. All the other phases of the development have gone relatively smoothly, but co-op is what has given us the most grey hairs.
What specifically is hard with doing co-op?
- It's not so much a technical issue, the challenge consists of getting the feeling of cooperation just right. When two people are fighting side by side we really want them to feel like a team, not that they just happen to be on the same screen. We really hope that the team feeling will be there for the friends playing this game together in their living room.
What's your relationship with Itagaki these days? How are you going to develop your games different from his way of doing them?
- Itagaki and I really don't have any direct contact, not personally nor in business. He's not said anything about the development of this game, we're making our own title now and we've had a great team who spent a lot of time and energy on it.
Finally, can you give me some gossip about the future? Any news about Dead or Alive 5 for instance?
- At the moment we're studying what the future for fighting games may look like. We have some really exciting ideas that can be used in upcoming titles. I'm afraid I can't give you any details, but we will announce something soon enough...
I say thank you, so does Hayashi and the next interviewer steps in. I take some quick photos, nudge a table and spill some of Hayashis Diet Coke, a mess that the producer cleans up in a second. A pen that got a bit wet is shaked dry by Hayashi, and funnily enough he uses the exact same grip and shake as when he jiggled the virtual breasts a moment ago.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is released for Playstation 3 on October 2.