Thursday, January 26, 2012

An Interview with Tecmo Koei - Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus

Greetings again. This week I'd like to welcome Tecmo Koei's Keisuke Kikuchi, producer of Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus, to talk about his upcoming PlayStation Vita launch title. Many thanks to Mr. Kikuchi as well as the Tecmo Koei PR team who helped to arrange this interview.

Greetings and thank you for taking the time to talk with us about Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus.

First, can you confirm that this is Team NINJA handling the development here or is another studio behind this?

Keisuke Kikuchi (Producer): Team NINJA is developing the game.

If we are correct in assuming that Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus is an enhanced version of the original Sigma, what are the new "Plus" features for Vita?

Kikuchi: The product's concept is "easy to play" and "challenging." To make the game easier to play and more accessible to casual players, we added the "Hero" play style to the difficulty settings. If the player is in trouble, guard and evasion support is activated, and unlimited Ninpo attacks can be executed. As a result, the player will only need to focus on attacking and can advance to further stages. Additionally, powering up Ninpo using the Vita's rear touch pad is a feature that can only be enjoyed in this title. In terms of being "challenging", new missions called Ninja Trials have been added, as well as the really hardcore difficulty settings for which the series is famous. The addition of costumes and equipment also provides a challenge to complete the collection.

Is Sigma Plus going to be every bit as brutal as the console version? Any tweaks to the controls? What difficulty options will be available? Has the difficulty been balanced since the original?

Kikuchi: For players who want to enjoy the traditional feel of the game, the difficulty of the Story Mode has been retained. As mentioned in response to the previous question, a "Hero" play style has been included, and as a result, there are 6 levels of difficulty: HERO, NINJA DOG, NORMAL, HARD, SUPER HARD and MASTER NINJA. Additional balance adjustment is applied in Ninja Trials.

What are the pluses and minuses to developing a hardcore game like Ninja Gaiden on a portable console?

Kikuchi: The rich colors of the Vita's OLED have made it possible to experience and take with you the high quality graphics Team NINJA has been particular about, "anytime" and "anywhere." Initially, we were a bit worried about players overseas who are used to home consoles, acclimating to the Vita's controls. However, since the controls are intuitive I don't think that it will be much of an issue.

What are the chances of seeing other Tecmo Koei or Team NINJA games on the Vita? Dead or Alive maybe? Why do you feel this is the best platform for the titles you've chosen to release?

Kikuchi: We have been able to gain the technical know-how for developing for the Vita and created an internal reference library. So we have the basic preparations to create software. Personally, there are several games I would like to make, so while keeping an eye on the sales of the Vita and this title as well as consumer trends, I hope to put these plans into place. We feel this is the best platform because, as mentioned previously, we think that the OLED display allows users to take Team NINJA's high-quality graphic games with them to play "anytime" and "anywhere."

How is porting or scaling down console games for the Vita easier than in prior generations? Is dual releasing games on both PS3 and Vita something you'd want to look into in the future?

Kikuchi: I think it is easier. If consumers want games for both the PS3 and Vita platforms, then we would like to comply with these wishes. I would like to be able to create separate games for the PS3 and Vita with the ability for cross platform play on both devices.

How do you think the Vita will hold up to other portable systems (the 3DS)? How about the iOS market? Has it reshaped your portable game market strategy?

Kikuchi: In the end, users will purchase hardware based on whether or not there are games they want to play, so ensuring that there are ample software to be experienced on the Vita is tied into the expansion of the market.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with your fans about your two Vita launch titles? Maybe something you'd not been able to mention about them until now?

Kikuchi: Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus provides playability and volume through the various stages, numerous weapons and attacks, as well as beautiful high speed action. It hasn't been possible to implement this on a portable game system until now. We hope you will pick it up and experience it.

Pocket Console is very appreciative of Mr. Kikuchi's time, as well as the Tecmo Koei staff and PR team, in answering these questions about Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus. This title will be available at the PlayStation Vita launch on February 22, 2012. More details about Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus can be found on the game's official website. Stay tuned next week when we talk with Dynasty Warriors Next producer Kenichi Ogasawara.