The Ninja Gaiden series is one that means a lot to retro gamers, but it made its mark as a staple of the 3D action space when it came to Xbox in 2004. This would spawn a new series of video games that morphed into what is known as the Sigma collection.
Each title builds off the high-action narrative of the last as fans executed some of the coolest ninja moves at the time. However, that series has been dormant for almost an entire console generation, which is what brings us to Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection.
To learn more about the series and Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection, we had the opportunity to interview producer Fumihiko Yasuda about what it meant to the team to have the chance to bring this collection to fans.
Azario Lopez: After the Ninja Gaiden series nearly skipped an entire console generation, what was your reaction when you received the green light to begin working on this collection?
Fumihiko Yasuda: I’ve been waiting for a long time too, so I was really happy. But I also felt the pain of not being able to respond to the expectations of fans for a long time, so when we received the overwhelmingly positive response to the announcement of the Master Collection, I was very relieved.
AL: Over the years, how do you think the action genre has evolved over Ryu’s hiatus, and do you see Ninja Gaiden as a series that builds off of those advancements or instead becomes a franchise that sets the bar for what other action games want to be?
FY: I think there are many games that have contributed to the evolution of the action genre – there’s games like Devil May Cry which evolved its depictions and response alongside the hardware advances, also games influenced by the Dark Souls series which have strong RPG and exploration elements, as well as games like Hellblade with its unique narrative style.
I think that the responsiveness and enemy AI in the NINJA GAIDEN series is quite unique and the quality is in a class of its own. However, this is not something that has been recently recognized in the action space, so I’d like to change that and remind people what this franchise brings to the table.
AL: Do you feel like this collection was made for gamers to be reintroduced to the Ninja Gaiden series as much as it was for the development team to remember what made the series fun to be better equipped for a true new entry?
FY: The NINJA GAIDEN series along with the DEAD OR ALIVE series is Team NINJA’s signature franchises. And it’s been on our minds for a long time that the NINJA GAIDEN series hasn’t been available on the Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One generation of hardware as well as PC, and also the timing fit since we had completed work on Nioh 2.
In addition, the number of staff at Team NINJA who are of the generation that grew up playing NINJA GAIDEN is slowly increasing. So, for our development team we wanted this to be an opportunity for them to get involved once again with the NINJA GAIDEN franchise.
AL: The Ninja Gaiden series has a high level of difficulty that dates back to the entries on NES. While some entries featured multiple difficulties, what do you feel is the best difficulty to get the authentic Ninja Gaiden experience? With games like Nioh 2 being so popular, even with a high level of difficulty, I’m interested in where you fall on the subject of challenging video games and if they should be made easier or not.
FY: They each have their own kind of difficulty, but I think that it is NINJA GAIDEN 3: Razor’s Edge. In NG3:RE, there are a lot of enemies where you can’t easily pull off an Izuna Drop, there are no health recovery items, so it requires players to be on ready and on guard at all times.
For balancing the game, while there are many features that increase the difficulty level such as unrelenting enemy AI, at the same time we are also careful to make sure that the controls response remains smooth. Simply making games difficult isn’t our primary goal as it is to create an immersive game that players can enjoy navigating and overcoming. I think this core philosophy was carried over to the Nioh series and other Team NINJA titles.
AL: In Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, it was possible to interact with the female character’s breasts using a controller. Is there a chance this feature still exists in the collection release? Ninja Gaiden is known for its attractive characters, both male and female; as much as its action, I suppose the question would include, has anything changed visually about the character designs in this new release?
FY: Breast motion is not included, and there are no changes to the character design. However, the costumes added in Sigma Plus and Sigma 2 Plus are included.
AL: How did you take advantage of the hardware for the Ninja Gaiden Master Collection? Will long-time fans quickly feel or see the difference?
FY: Regardless of the different hardware features, we focused on replicating the original games so there aren’t any major changes. But we’ve made adjustments to features like Tag Mission mode in which players previously have felt were really unfair and as a result was not well received in the past. Also, the graphics and stable frame rate have been improved.
The Switch version runs at 720p and the other platforms are 1080p, 60fps. 4K resolution and 60FPS for PS4 Pro, PS5, Xbox One X, Xbox Series X/S, and Steam (hardware requirements necessary). Resolution and FPS may fluctuate during gameplay, and players will of course need to have a 4K TV or monitor to play in full 4K/60FPS.
AL: Will the Ninja Gaiden Master Collection include the Plus versions’ updated costumes and features, or will this mainly include the options from the base release?
FY: It will include the costumes from the Plus versions. Also, bonus costumes such as the Sigma 2 bonus DLC of Joe Hayabusa’s costume, and the save data bonus for NINJA GAIDEN 3: Razor’s Edge of the “Nightmare Brought To Life” costume can be unlocked in the game.
AL: With Team NINJA series such as Nioh, Dead or Alive, and Ninja Gaiden, would you consider working on a new IP in the future?
FY: We are working on various projects, however we have nothing to share at this point. We’ll let you know when the time comes!
AL: You’ve mentioned that you’d love to deliver a new Ninja Gaiden title in the future. Would you see this being a sequel or a complete reboot of the series?
FY: I haven’t thought that far ahead yet, but if and when that happens, we’ll let you know!
AL: Is there anything you’d like to say to fans new and old awaiting the release of the Ninja Gaiden Master Collection?
FY: It’s been on our minds for a long time that the NINJA GAIDEN series isn’t available on the Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One generation of hardware as well as PC, so hearing everyone’s reaction to the announcement of this game was amazing. There is much truth to the fact that Master Collection was made possible by the encouraging comments from our fans. We at Team NINJA are always thinking of ways to bring back the series, and we’ll let you know when we have any news!
Ninja Gaiden Master Collection will release on on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC on June 10, 2021.
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