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Q and A with Yosuke Hayashi, Director of Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword
Article by: MrCHUPON

Interview: Q and A with Yosuke Hayashi, Director of Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword [Written 2008-03-26] 
On March 26th, 2008, Trigames.NET was able to spend a few minutes with Yosuke Hayashi, the director of Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword.
On March 26th, 2008, Trigames.NET was able to spend a few minutes with Yosuke Hayashi, the director of Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword. That day, Hayashi-san appeared at the Nintendo World Store in Rockefeller Plaza in New York City for a special launch event for his game. You can download a video version of this interview here, or watch a streaming version at the bottom of the interview.

Trigames.NET: What was the biggest challenge in bringing a game like Ninja Gaiden to such a small platform like the DS?

Yosuke Hayashi: I think from the team standpoint and the user/consumer standpoint, it's slightly different on how we see this Ninja Gaiden title on the DS. From the team standpoint, it's more like, "What kind of an action game can we create for the DS?" It wasn't like, "Oh, we know we're going to bring Ninja Gaiden to the DS."

So, at first it was the platform; then the genre. Then we wanted to see how a ninja could move on the DS, and obviously it made sense for Team Ninja to work on bringing Ninja Gaiden for the DS.

So when people ask us what was the challenge of bringing this well-known series, for us it was a brand new beginning, working on a handheld title. So what we ended up seeing was a huge potential for bringing a ninja action game on the DS. And the result was Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword.

Trigames: So, it wasn't like you were starting out saying, "Let's make a Ninja Gaiden game for the DS."

YH: No, it was a completely blank piece of paper, and then we started working.

Trigames: What was the motivation for making a little bit easier when you see how Black and Sigma were so "hardcore" and difficult?

YH: First of all I just want to say that, the word "challenging" may be a good fit [rather] than with the word "difficult" for the previous Ninja Gaiden installments. To us, we don't think it's a difficult game.

Yes, it's a core game, but there was a lot of talk about how the difficulty level may have not been as high on the DS just because it's on the DS and there's only so much you can do. So from that standpoint, the DS has its own ways of moving -- using the stylus, using the control buttons -- and when we saw the opportunity of making things work using the stylus we wanted to take full advantage of, “Ok then, what can we do, what can we show off? How can the users feel like they're moving like these ninja, using their ninpos, using their skills, using their weapons?”

So it wasn't like, “Because it's a DS, we're going to sort of dumb down the game.” But we just wanted to take advantage of what was available using the controls and that's how the Ninja Gaiden for DS came to be.

Trigames: Out of curiosity, how much involvement did Itagaki actually have in the project?

YH: I still remember the day we completed Ninja Gaiden Sigma. The following day I was called by Itagaki, and he basically told me, "I have a great idea, and you need to get going on it." So in terms of involvement, I would say he planted the seeds and I made [the game] happen. He sort of had the groundwork on the conceptual design on how this game can possibly work on the DS. That's all from him. From there on, I pretty much took over the project.

As far as my full contribution and how much energy and how much time I spent on ... trying to make a Ninja Gaiden title, the first was the Ninja Gaiden on Xbox; and this one was the next challenging project as far as the entire Ninja Gaiden series.

Trigames: [Itagaki] said that this game would be so great, it'd make other developers cry.

YH: I do remember hearing him say that and I also just recently saw on some site that said Ninja Gaiden DS is opening up a lot of doors for action titles to come forward in the future on the DS. So that makes us feel pretty good in terms of how we were able to achieve and kind of exceed some expectations on how well action games should look on the DS. So in that sense I feel like other developers can maybe learn a thing or two from this title and hopefully we can all cultivate the DS game market because I think a lot of people still think that most games on the DS are pretty casual and easy, and you know, the Brain Training and whatnot. So, that's not all that DS has to offer and so hopefully this game will be a good example in seeing some more innovative titles on the DS.

The one thing is that we're not going to let [other developers] beat us, so we'll always be in the lead.

Trigames: What is your favorite aspect of the game, then?

YH: I definitely think it's the way we integrated the controls. Basically ... you're controlling your character, literally by moving your stylus. Up until this point, you had the buttons -- you're pressing A, and your character jumps. That's like giving him instructions. But basically with the stylus, you're making things happen by, you know: You moving the stylus up, it jumps. It's the intuitive direct controls and the direct reactions you get from your character is probably the best part of this game.

Trigames: What would you add -- change if you had to, but mostly what would you add -- if you were to do a sequel or if you had more time?

YH: I feel like I've included everything in this package, and so probably the most important thing is going to be able to see the user's feedback. And if anything comes out of that that will make us trigger our next step in terms of perhaps creating a sequel for Dragon Sword, we'll consider it -- but at this point I feel like this is a complete package and we don't have any plans right now for a Dragon Sword Sequel.

Trigames: How much more would you see yourself working with the DS for other projects?

YH: Since we had this opportunity to work on Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword, I've come to this realization that there is a lot of potential working on the DS and creating something very exciting. So personally I would like to continue working on something even if it's not a Ninja Gaiden title.

Trigames: Now what about the PSP or the Wii, maybe? What could you see yourself doing?

YH: Since we're always in development, being game designers and game developers, as long as we know what the full potential is for that specific hardware, and we can match our ideas and concepts into -- working and integrating that into -- the specific hardware, I would like to continue to pursue that -- whatever hardware it may be -- that we challenge ourselves with it. So there's not a specific hardware that I'm sort of leaning towards or really focusing on right now; just a matter of meeting the needs of that hardware, and meeting the demand and our own desires.

Trigames.NET would like to thank both Yosuke Hayashi, director for Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword, and Kyoko Yamashita, who graciously provided the translation, very much for their time.

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