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60fps for Ninja Gaiden 3 “a huge priority” – Team Ninja

If you played Ninja Gaiden 3 and found that it didn’t run perfectly smoothly, would you turn your back on the series? That’s what Peter Garza of developer Team Ninja thinks. In fact, he’s so certain that a lack of fluidity would ruin the game that maintaining the framerate at 60fps – despite the impressive graphical touches – was an enormous priority during development.

Speaking in an interview with BeefJack to be published this week, Garza explained: “Team Ninja is known for smooth movement and great combat. Even if we’re trying to work in these visual metaphors [such as Ryu’s glowing arm], we want to preserve that core gameplay, so having it run at 60 frames per second with animation that is as smooth as we can get it – that is extremely high priority for us.

“If we lose that we lose our existing fans and we lose what Team Ninja has been know for,” he added.”

So, Garza explained, the team worked on maintaining that framerate first, then added visual flourishes on top once they knew they wouldn’t detract from the fluidity of the game.

“It’s an on-going process,” he said, “and during development we will see the frame-rate slow and say ‘right, we can’t put that in there, so let’s rework that’.”

Garza is a rare Western developer working on an Eastern game. But in the same interview, he said people place too much emphasis on this distinction. “I don’t hear people talking about Swedish game design for Battlefield 3,” he joked.



Ninja Gaiden 3’s ‘Hero Mode’ allows more players to experience the story

Ninja Gaiden 3 is Team Ninja’s first full Gaiden game post-Itagaki, and it looks like things are progressing a little differently. For one thing, it’s got a sort of easy mode called “Hero Mode,” which adds automatic dodging and blocking of most normal attacks, to which I can imagine Itagaki’s head shaking, making waves in a cloud of cigarette smoke.

I asked director Fumihiko Yasuda (who also did design work on Sigma 2) about why such a … friendly mode would appear in such a typically unfriendly series.

“We really wanted to flesh out the story this time around,” Yasuda said, “so we wanted people to enjoy that story and get used to the game as it is. In the past the games were really hardcore and we couldn’t get players to stay with us and complete the game.” Team Ninja is “redefining” Hayabusa’s image, and wants people to experience that whole story without dying over and over again or throwing the game into the disposal in frustration.

Team Ninja is working to make a more relatable Ryu in this game, despite his distinctly unrelatable ability to jump off a building and land sword-first on an unsuspecting mercenary. “When he has that mask on, he’s a ninja,” he said. “When you take that mask off, he’s not a ninja anymore. He’s a human like all of us. To leave that aspect out doesn’t make sense. We wanted to show that human under the mask. Who is this guy, why he does things.”

Despite the overtures toward grounding Ryu, he’s still a guy who climbs up buildings by sticking knives into the walls, and the impossible, outlandish abilities attendant to his profession won’t be muted. “He’s a ninja,” Yasuda confirmed. “We’re not going to hide that, and we have maintained that kind of cool style to the game. We don’t want to take that away from Ninja Gaiden, because that is one of the defining factors of what the series is.”

The “Hero Mode” is optional as well, allowing you to play the game with the same blistering difficulty you’ve come to expect and dread. “At the same time,” Yasuda said, “we’ve got the super hard difficulty mode. We’re keeping the hardcore aspect of the game anyway, we’re just trying to get the players who have never had a go at Ninja Gaiden to come check it out.”


After Ninja Gaiden 3’s ‘Consequences,’ Ryu Will Never Be The Same

Look, if you don’t want to be on the receiving end of Ryu Hayabusa’s Dragon Sword, don’t join an anti-ninja mercenary force, “mate.” That said, it looks like even the star of Ninja Gaiden 3 is dealing with the psychological impact of spilling so much blood from katana-fodder of past Ninja Gaidengames.

The latest, Tokyo Game Show-timed trailer for Team Ninja’s next action game is here, giving players a little background on why Ryu’s right arm is so bloody and so powerful. It’s a major gameplay component of the next Ninja Gaiden game and, apparently, its plot.

After you’re done watching Ninja Gaiden 3’s “Consequence” trailer, why not flip through a handful of new screen shots from the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 game, due sometime next year? C’mon, mate. Do it. I’ve got a family too, you know.


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