Tomonobu Itagaki Interview: Dead or Alive Ultimate

He has better hair and style than Romero ever did.

Tags: Categories: Features, Xbox Features

Posted by Jeff Shedden on Jun 23rd, 2004

Team Ninja has in the past year become the leading design team for the XBOX. With the already popular Dead or Alive 3, as well as the top selling and controversial Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball, Tomonobu Itagaki was already one of the video game industries super stars. This year he gave us Ninja Gaiden however, and his success at that game gives his repertoire much more then simple bouncing breasts and great fighting games. While that game has been lauded for its difficulty, something that he is quite proud of, his team has now become the mainstay of Tecmo. Tomonobu was kind enough to grant us a few moments to speak with him at E3. Okay, we actually weren’t expecting the interview. During our meeting with Tecmo, we were led into a booth, wherein sat a Japanese gentleman with long hair, sunglasses, a snakeskin jacket worn over a T-shirt and a pack of cigarettes. We freaked out. First thing we were shown was the “uncensored” trailer for DOA Ultimate. It’s uncensored in that there’s a scene of Kasumi coming out of a pod with a bare chest (yeah, baby!), plus some extended fight footage.

DIGNEWS: So why DOA Ultimate?

ITAGAKI: Dead or Alive Ultimate will be a gift to those fans of ours who made the series so popular over the years.

DIGNEWS: Can you tell us a little more about the title itself?

ITAGAKI: We wanted to take Dead or Alive to a new place and bring it online. Players will be able to fight online in any mode they wish. We also wanted to enhance Dead or Alive 2 by adding new arenas, new moves and many new costumes.

DIGNEWS: How many costumes will be available. As many as DOA Beach Volleyball?

ITAGAKI: We’re still deciding on that. It’s a lot.

DIGNEWS: And just for clarification, it’s the Sega Saturn version of Dead or Alive 1 that comes with DOA Ultimate, correct?

ITAGAKI: Yes. The original game was made on Sega Saturn hardware, so that’s the version we are porting.

DIGNEWS: That’s great. I own the import version, since it was never released in the States.

ITAGAKI: (nods) That is good.

DIGNEWS: Just so our readers can know, who is your favorite DOA girl?

ITAGAKI: Kasumi, of course.

DIGNEWS: So what’s your opinion on Xbox Live versus, say, Sony’s online adapter?

ITAGAKI: XBOX Live? Its wonderful, if not for XBOX live, we wouldn’t have thought of the game.

DIGNEWS: In the trailer, we saw some stage specific moves and interactive environments. Is there a lot of this in the actual game?

ITAGAKI: You mean like the snow surfing? We didn’t change the old levels very much, so these things are mostly in the new levels. What I did was to take out anything I thought was boring and replace it. I liked the multi-tiered levels, and there are ten of them in Dead or Alive Ultimate.

DIGNEWS: Have you got a target release date yet?

ITAGAKI: We’re planning on releasing it early this fall. Here’s something you didn’t know. The first release of the game will be in a collector’s edition. It will be two discs with Dead or Alive on the first disc and Dead or Alive 2 on the second. We will later release everything on just one disc.

DIGNEWS: How about Dead or Alive 4? Any plans?

ITAGAKI: Of course. We’re working on it, but it will be for the next hardware. It will be the next generation of fighting games.

DIGNEWS: How about Code: Chronus? Anything you can tell us on that?

ITAGAKI: (laughs) Next year. Have you played Ninja Gaiden yet?

DIGNEWS: I played that game nonstop for two weeks until I finished it. It was great.

ITAGAKI: Thank you. Did you get any big combos?

DIGNEWS: Yes, I racked up some huge combos in several spots in the game.

ITAGAKI: One of our testers managed to get 150 hit combo once.

DIGNEWS: I know I passed that by far. I got a few hundred hits at one point.

ITAGAKI: (impressed) Where? I know it stops counting hits at three hundred! Were you using the Vigoorian Flail?

DIGNEWS: Yes, it was on a later level where you fight many, many mutants in order to get a chest. I used the same cheap move over and over, where you hit twice and then Ryu does a very fast twirl with the Flail and it scores many hits on one monster. I kept this going for a long time.

ITAGAKI: Ah, was this before the gates on level 16?

DIGNEWS: That’s the place.

ITAGAKI: (laughing) How many controllers did you break playing it?

DIGNEWS: Well, I’m not much of a controller thrower. I tend to just make up creative profanities.

(Itagaki’s translator adds his own piece here)

TRANSLATOR: (laughing) The most common thing heard when we played the game was us all screaming “F— YOU ITAGAKI!!!”

DIGNEWS: So there will be a Ninja Gaiden 2, right?

ITAGAKI: (smiling wickedly) Of course.

DIGNEWS: Thank you for seeing us, it was a pleasure.

ITAGAKI: Thank you.

And there you have it. I would right now like to express my undying love for Tecmo PR by getting us into this meeting. This was easily the highlight of the whole show, and I met Gallagher this year.

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Posted by Jeff Shedden on Jun 23rd, 2004 and is filed under Features, Xbox Features. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can post a comment, or trackback from your own site.
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