This summer, fans of the more modern Ninja Gaiden games are getting the Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection on PC and all three consoles. The awesome people at Team Ninja have been working on this collection for a little while as they bring the full trilogy to a new generation of gamers who just don't know what true skill is like when you're forced to improve or die and try it all over again. But before Koei Tecmo releases the game on June 10th, we got a chance to briefly chat with Producer Fumihiko Yasuda about the development of this collection and how they upgraded it.
BC: Hello Yasuda! How are you doing and how have you been holding up during the pandemic?
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.
How did the idea come about to make this collection, and why now?
The Ninja Gaiden series along with the Dead Or Alive series is Team Ninja's signature franchises. And it's been on our minds for a long time that the Ninja Gaiden series hasn't been available on the Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One generation of hardware as well as PC, and also the timing fit since we had completed work on Nioh 2. In addition, the number of staff at Team Ninja who are of the generation that grew up playing Ninja Gaiden is slowly increasing. So, for our development team, we wanted this to be an opportunity for them to get involved once again with the Ninja Gaiden franchise.
What was the process like going back over these games after all these years?
It restored my conviction that the amazing control response is such a highlight in these games. I think this aspect hasn't aged at all and has endured the test of time.
What area of the trilogy did you work on first to improve it for current consoles?
We started with Ninja Gaiden 3: Razors Edge and getting the base PC version to run.
What was the process like upgrading each game and giving it a bit of a polishing?
Each of the games in the collection was designed without giving much thought to being remastered so we had a hard time, therefore we worked on NG3:RE, Sigma 2, then Sigma, going in reverse order. Also, the program structure of the PS Vita games—Sigma 2 Plus and Sigma Plus—was well organized, so we were able to use that source code effectively. And we've resolved the Sigma Plus and Sigma 2 Plus issues of the framerate drops and difficulty of inputting certain commands!
What are the major differences players will notice who played the original versions?
We've focused on preserving the game features and action elements from the original games, so we really haven't changed things up in a major way. But we have been able to improve the resolution as well as stabilize the frame rate to match the improvements in hardware specs. In particular, 4K resolution and 60FPS for PS4 Pro, PS5, Xbox One X, Xbox Series X/S, and Steam (hardware requirements necessary). Resolution and FPS may fluctuate during gameplay, and players will of course need to have a 4K TV or monitor to play in full 4K/60FPS. And even though we didn't include online multiplayer, Tag Missions can still be played in single-player mode and we've made adjustments to some of the areas that we felt were unreasonably difficult. To be clear, we've not made any "adjustments" that will make the game any easier, so rest assured and hope everyone is up for the challenge!
Is there anything you wish you were able to add to this collection that didn't make it into any of the games before?
Since they are classic games, there are individual actions and specific details in the stage settings that I could fuss over and go on and on about. But if we were to change these elements they would have ended up becoming very different games, so we ultimately decided to preserve the integrity of the original series and dropped the changes.
What do you hope people will take away from playing these who haven't played this trilogy before?
A lot of people have probably tried Nioh, and even though Nioh and Ninja Gaiden are both tough action games, masocore games like the Nioh series gives players various options aside from full-on combat to redeem themselves after dying. But players are clearly required to improve their playing skills in the Ninja Gaiden series in order to advance. For many new players, this stoic approach might feel fresh in comparison and for that reason, I think Ninja Gaiden can certainly satisfy the expectations of younger audiences.
Aside from this collection, what else are you guys working on that you can talk about?
We're working on various projects at the moment. While we have nothing to share with you at this time, once we're able to we'll let you know!
Is there anything else you would like to say about the game?
The CG resources remain as they were when the games were initially released. So while it doesn't implement the latest graphical upgrades, the Ninja Gaiden series hallmark has always been its amazingly precise control response which is deeply rooted in Team Ninja's action style. Even though you're faced with enemies in every junction, Ryu Hayabusa is your formidable weapon to command each battle as you master the controls. I hope players will try and learn each of the many actions to fully experience and enjoy the game.