I recently chatted with the creators of Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, Comcept founder Keiji Inafune and Team Ninja lead Yosuke Hayashi about their experiences with each other’s respective legacies. Inafune reveals an interesting rivalry with former Team Ninja lead Tomonobu Itagaki, and Hayashi explains his Mega Man fandom.

I started by asking Inafune about his history with the Ninja Gaiden franchise.

“First came the Nintendo experience, called Ninja Ryukunden in Japan,” says Inafune. “I approached the game as a player and I really liked the game. As for the reboot, it’s a good story involving [Tomonobu] Itagaki-san. Itagaki used to run Team Ninja. We were in good relation back in the day when I was creating Onimusha. He came to me and said he really liked the Onimusha game and said he was creating a new game that was going to be better than it. So the reboot came out and I felt like I was the influence for Itagaki to create this game. I feel like Ninja Gaiden is a relative, in a sense. “

Next, I asked current Team Ninja leader Yosuke Hayashi about his past with any of Inafune’s Capcom games.

“I told this to Inafune when we started the project, but back in the day Mega Man was of course the first of Inafune’s games I played,” says Hayashi. “Back when I was in elementary school I was really into Mega Man. Capcom had a campaign where they said we could all submit a Robot Master to Capcom and whoever gets picked is included in the game. I was rewarded a CD as a [runner-up] prize. That was an important memory.”

Given the history Inafune had with Itagaki and being a fan of past Ninja Gaiden games, I asked him what it was like finally working on the series.

“I worked for Capcom for a long time and made countless games there,” says Inafune. “I learned a lot of the Capcom ways, but never had a chance to learn any other way. After going independent with Comcept and getting this opportunity with Team Ninja, there was so much to learn form Hayashi, Team Ninja, and the Tecmo Koei style. That’s something that was brand-new to me because sitting at that throne at the top of Capcom, there weren’t many more [people] to learn from in terms of internal teams.”

On the other side of the coin, as I asked Hayashi what it was like to finally work with Inafune after playing his games all these years.

“When the project kicked off, my impression of Inafune was that he’s an individual player, out there directing games on his own,” says Hayashi. “Once the project started I soon learned that Inafune is a team player. He would throw the core idea to the team and then let everyone pitch in and develop their own ideas. He would take all that feedback in and he’s very good at letting people expand the experience and directing everybody’s ideas so everybody feels ownership over the game. I have a lot to learn from that style of creation.”

Inafune and Hayashi were the only developers on hand to talk about Yaiba at the event, but Western developer Spark Unlimited (Legendary, Lost Planet 3), is also involved. To learn more about Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z’s upcoming 2013 release for PS3 and 360, read our preview from the Game Developers Conference last week in San Francisco, California.