Ninja Gaiden 3

Ninja Gaiden 3 To Be Heavy On Story, More Accessible For Casual Gamers
by Dan Ryckert on Sep 15, 2011 at 08:07 PM
Platform PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Publisher Tecmo Koei
Developer Team Ninja
Rating Mature

Last month, Team Ninja explained at Gamescom that Ninja Gaiden 3 wouldn't include any decapitations. While they dismissed it with a "We don't think people want to see that anymore" comment, we're learning more about the game that explains the decision. We spoke with Team Ninja lead Yosuke Hayashi, and he elaborated on the game's theme of consequence.

"Sometimes you have to do bad things to do good things," explained Hayashi. Ryu has killed untold numbers of enemies, and the upcoming sequel wants to put across the fact that these people are humans, not faceless soldiers. The new "Consequence" trailer, seen below, illustrates Team Ninja's intent by showing a soldier pleading for his life before being cut down by Ryu.

Cutscenes aren't the only time Team Ninja will try to humanize opponents, as your foes in-game react differently than the typical sword fodder from previous entries. Soldiers will become scared after witnessing Ryu wreaking havoc, especially after flashy attacks like his new dragon ninpo. They'll crawl away from the ninja, pleading for their lives. With a focus on making players feel like their fallen foes are humans, cartoonish decapitations and fountains of blood may take the player away from the intended realism. Fans shouldn't worry about a lack of violence in the game, however, as I witnessed gallons of blood throughout the TGS demo.

A mysterious alchemist known as The Regent of the Mask places a curse on our protagonist at the outset of the game, and Ryu's arm begins carrying the burden of all the death he's caused. The nature of the curse wasn't elaborated upon, but it will impact the story as well as the gameplay.

Even early on, it seems that Ninja Gaiden 3 will have a more focused story than the scattershot narratives of the past two games. Team Ninja wants to make sure that players experience the story, even if they're not skilled enough as gamers to tackle the series' notorious difficulty. Because of this, they're incorporating two different play styles - Hero and Ninja.

Ninja style will feel familiar to fans of the series, requiring players to evade, block, and attack with precise timing. For players that lack the necessary reflexes, Hero mode will auto-block and auto-evade. Hayashi explained to me that this isn't a one-button automatic mode like the one seen in Bayonetta, however. Intricate combos will still be in Ryu's arsenal, but enemy attacks won't require any defensive maneuvering on the player's fault. In fact, Hayashi still hasn't decided if he wants it to be possible for the player to die when they're using that play style. "As for whether players will ever see a Game Over screen [when using Hero mode], we haven't decided yet," the producer stated.

Playing Ninja Gaiden without the risk of dying is a concept new to the series, especially considering its legendary difficulty throughout the years. It's this difficulty that led to the introduction of Hero mode, however. Hayashi explained that some players like the hardcore difficulty dating back to the NES entries, and their gaming skill have kept up throughout the years. Others were turned off by the difficulty and quit, or returned to the series years later to find they didn't have the necessary reflexes any more. Ninja and Hero mode is the result of this split in gaming ability, and Team Ninja hopes it will cause Ninja Gaiden 3 to appeal to both new and old fans of the franchise.

On top of the story-heavy single player campaign, Ninja Gaiden 3 will also include cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes. Two players can team up to take on enemies in specific co-op missions (separate from the campaign), and up to eight players can take each other on in competitive team battles. The theme of multiplayer will be "world of ninjas," featuring players starting as grunt ninjas and working their way up the ladder by advancing their skills. New costumes and weapons can be acquired, with an objective of becoming as skilled a ninja as Ryu himself. Hayashi promises unique "ninja-like" spins on multiplayer, but said we'll learn more in the coming months.

When Ninja Gaiden 3 releases early next year, it's a safe bet that hardcore fans of the series will cry foul at the Hero style. However, Team Ninja promises that the game will still be just as hard as the hardcore fans expect if they prefer it that way. Either way, it should be interesting to see the developer's attempt to humanize enemies in a franchise long-known for its wanton violence and death.

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Ninja Gaiden 3cover

Ninja Gaiden 3

PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
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