Few developers have an action pedigree quite like Team Ninja. Known for supremely and entertainingly difficult titles like Ninja Gaiden and Nioh, they’ve also seen a growing relationship with Nintendo over the last handful of years. This stretches as far back as 2010’s Metroid: Other M and to 2019’s Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order.

The Koei Tecmo division is currently gearing up for the Switch release of the Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection. In anticipation of this release, we had a chance to chat with some key staff members.

Team Ninja and Master Collection Producer Fumihiko Yasuda as well as Director and Writer Makoto Shibata shared their thoughts on where they’d like to see Ryu Hayabusa end up next, other entertainment possibilities for Ninja Gaiden, their thoughts on all the retro ninja action titles that have released, and more.

Nintendo Wire:

First, we hope you and the rest of Team NINJA have been well during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. How have the adjustments to operating during a situation like this affected development of the Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection and your other work?

Yasuda:

At first when people couldn’t come into work, there was some confusion when transitioning to working from home, but we have adapted and are moving forward with development in this new structure. We’ve been able to construct various tools and workflows for sharing, so while there are some changes, it hasn’t had a completely negative effect on our development.
 

Nintendo Wire:

Ryu has crossed over into plenty of other games, from Dead or Alive to Warriors All-Stars, even Nioh itself! Hypothetically, where would you like to see him go next?

Yasuda:

If he could appear in Super Smash Bros… I’d be ecstatic! I’m waiting for our invite.

Nintendo Wire:

One thing Ninja Gaiden and Nioh have in common is their intense difficulty. Did your experience with the former inform your decisions when designing the latter?

Yasuda:

The incredibly responsive controls and the unrelenting enemy AI are some of the things we’ve adopted over the years. But at the same time, 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 other Team NINJA titles including the Nioh series.
 

Nintendo Wire:

If you could each describe the Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection in one word, what would those words be and why?

Yasuda:

“Origin”. It’s where my career began, and it’s been the most significant franchise in the identity of our action games such as Nioh that are created by Team NINJA.

Shibata:

“Onkochishin”. It’s a four-character idiom in Japanese that means by carefully studying the past of ancient or traditional things, you can gain new knowledge. I feel that it perfectly portrays the timeless action in this game.

Nintendo Wire:

Now that you’ve had the chance to work with Marvel characters in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, which superhero could you see Ryu hanging out with?

Yasuda:

This is completely my own opinion, but Wolverine and Deadpool. The former would make them a pair of fearless fighters, and while the latter is a completely different type, I’d like to how see these opposites would get along.
 

Nintendo Wire:

Indie games inspired by the classic Ninja Gaiden platformers for the NES/Famicom have proven very popular in recent years. Has there been any temptation to go back in time at Team Ninja and design a retro game for modern times?

Yasuda:

For sure! It might be interesting to create Nioh in a retro type of game screen.
 

Nintendo Wire:

Video game anime and film adaptations are becoming increasingly common – how would you like to see such an adaptation of the modern Ninja Gaiden play out?

Yasuda:

I think a film adaptation would be difficult, but I think an anime adaptation streamed on Netflix or Amazon Prime could be a great fit. That would certainly help elevate Ninja Gaiden to a wider audience.

Nintendo Wire:

Thank you for your time and answers today. Are there any parting words you’d like to share with Switch owners and Ninja Gaiden fans here in the west?

Yasuda:

To all the NINJA GAIDEN fans, thank you for waiting. The NINJA GAIDEN series will be playable on current & recent platforms and hardware. I hope you all get a chance to try it out. For those of you who will be playing it for the first time, I’m thrilled for you to join us as we experience the feel and intensity that only this series can deliver.

Thank you again to Team Ninja for their time and sharing these thoughts with us, and with all you who’ve read through. You can take on three full games of their action expertise – Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge – when Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection arrives on June 10th for Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
 

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Written by Ricky Berg

When he isn’t writing for Nintendo Wire, Ricky’s anticipating the next Kirby, Fire Emblem, or if the stars ever align, Mother 3 to be released. Till then he’ll have the warm comfort of Super Smash Bros. to keep him going.

Ricky Berg