In the lead-up to the release of Ninja Gaiden 3, we talked about how the game was supposed to not be as ruthless as its predecessors, that it was more open to all levels of gamers so everybody could have fun. In the interest of being a reasonable optimist instead of a gigantic jerk, I left this out of coverage:
Unfortunately, Ninja Gaiden 3 turned out to be both a critical and commercial flop, disappointing longtime fans and failing to find new ones. In addition, fans worried about the direction the new Itagaki-less Team Ninja was taking.
Team Ninja lead Yosuke Hayashi recently spoke out on the mistakes of Ninja Gaiden 3, and how the development team was working to prevent similar problems in the future.
"It seems like we made a Japanese hamburger for the West... maybe as a Japanese developer, we need to make good Japanese food... and that’s what people are wanting from a Japanese developer."
Hayashi is of course referring to how trends in Western development (accessible difficulty, Call of Duty-like "cinematic ride" design) affected what would eventually become negatively-received changes to Ninja Gaiden's formula.
"Maybe if the industry is going for that Hollywood blockbuster direction, we can offer something that's different. It’s not like everybody wants to see Transformers every day.
"I like Assassin’s Creed, but that’s not the only game I want to play. We can’t compete directly with that, and we don’t want to. That’s not where we are... we can still offer solid entertainment, and make sure that it reaches the people that are looking for that solid entertainment.
"If we can find the people that enjoy that kind of entertainment, then we can win. We can be successful."
Part of what I loved most in old-school Japanese games (yes, and older Western-designed games) is that they did their own thing, even if the game in question ended up not being very good. With Ninja Gaiden 3's relative failure, it's easy to see that fans and consumers are more willing to try something different than developers and publishers think. After all, Catherine sold surprisingly well overseas, and it wasn't a big-budget AAA cinematic action game--it was a smart, low-key puzzler that relied on sharp gameplay and story.
Japanese game developers are still going to focus on portables over consoles due to their home market, so that one's already off the table, but do you think catering to Western tastes is still a good move for Japanese devs? Or should they just go back to doing what they like, and what sells here will sell on its own strengths?