We caught up with Tomonobu Itagaki at the recent Championship Gaming Series North American World Series Final (try printing that on a hat) in Manhattan Beach recently, and we asked him a few questions. Although he'd had a few beers, we didn't get him to pin down a date or a console for Ninja Gaiden 2, curse you weak American beer!
Yes, he was wearing his patent black leather jacket and sunglasses, and no he didn't take them off. Even when it got dark. They might be permanently welded to his face at this point. While he's known for being outspoken and critical to the extreme (especially if your game has the word Tekken in the title), when we asked him about Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword, he actually handed over his DS to us and let us play through an early build of the game, more on that soon.
We wanted to ask you about Code Chronus, you've been working on it a long time. What's the status on that?
Well, to clear things up, Code Chronus is similar to how we have beach volleyball as a sort of side game to the DOA main series. It's sort of based on more of a hobby. Xtreme Beach Volleyball was based on my hobbies. So, as opposed to those being my sort of hobby-ish, style-ish games, this year we're more solely focused on the pillar "core" titles.
So, Code Chronus will have the DOA characters in it?
We've heard about Project Progressive. What is that?
That actually is more of a code name, as we all know when we develop games you use code names. You'll be hearing from us in the very near future about that.
So, Ninja Gaiden 2, we're sure you get this question a lot. Where is it, and what is it for?
It's much easier to talk about this than Dead or Alive 5, I thought you'd ask that first! We want to make sure we're going to satisfy everyone's needs, and what everyone is thinking about what Ninja Gaiden 2 could be. That's pretty much everything I can say at this point.
Is Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword wholly original? Or is it a remake of an earlier title for the DS?
It's wholly original for the DS.
A few months ago you said you chose to develop games for the DS instead of the PSP, because of the appeal of the system, but you also said you wanted to develop games for the most technologically advanced systems. How does that fit in with developing a game for the DS?
The way I see it, the PSP to me ... it's a console, not a handheld system. I can call it a console system.
So are you developing anything for the PSP?
There was a lot of negative reaction to DOA Xtreme Beach Volleyball 2, how did that affect you?
It's alright ... you know what, that's probably me anyways. That fits me and my personality. I'm not too worried about it.
Well, along those lines, are you looking forward to Tekken 6?
Tekken sucks. I don't know what you're talking about.
Now that all the next-generation systems are out, is there any system you prefer because of its strengths?
The Xbox 360, and it's been my favorite for awhile. Also the Nintendo DS. It may not represent every Team Ninja's opinion, but me personally? 360 and the DS.
Almost every developer has said they have something in the works for the Wii. Do you have something as well?
We're doing a lot of research, that's about all I can say right now. Although, to add on that note, my kids have been saying they want a game for the Wii. To tell you the truth, Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword, that's because my kids were asking for one of my titles to be on the DS.
Well, we should tell your kids to bother their dad more often, then we'd see more Team Ninja games on other systems.
That's a good idea.