From our little one-on-one with Tomonobu Itagaki last week, it looks like the man mainly responsible for the DOA and Ninja Gadien series is at a crossroads in his career.
He told us there'll be no more Ninja Gaiden games. Or Dead Or Alive beat-'em-ups. So what's next for the outspoken Japanese dev? From what he's said, even he doesn't know yet...
Please tell us that the stories of Ninja Gaiden II being the last game in the series EVER aren't true!
Tomonobu Itagaki: Ha, I've done everything I wanted to accomplish with this franchise and all of my closest colleagues are satisfied and agree that we've done as much as we can with it.
What did you think of the PS3 game Ninja Gaiden: Sigma? I'm told you won't even sign copies of the game...?
Itagaki: It was no good.
Why's that? I thought it was pretty good.
Itagaki: All you need to do is play Ninja Gaiden II and then try and play Sigma afterwards and you'll see why.
Despite the fact that it's on a 'next-generation' console there's no evolution whatsoever. That was made not by me, but one of my sub-ordinates who basically tried to copy the success of Ninja Gaiden.
Does that mean we'll never see NGII on PS3?
Itagaki: No because it's a 360 exclusive.
But Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden: Black were Xbox exclusives at the time...
Itagaki: We've announced it as an Xbox 360 exclusive, but I don't own Tecmo the company. But if that were to ever happen it would be a loss of face for everyone involved.
As the NG series is at an end then, what's your favourite memory of the series?
Itagaki: I think it's probably the Attract mode which you might have seen when you leave the screen on without doing anything. It shows a ninja graveyard. That's my most memorable moment.
What would you like the series to be remembered for?
Itagaki: I'd like to be remembered as the black sheep of game design.
So what's next for Dead or Alive?
Itagaki: This is another area that me and my closest colleagues all agree that we were able to achieve the definitive fighting game with DOA4. So we're not looking to extend the series at this point.
What's next then? Where do you go from here?
Itagaki: I'd like to make a brand new action game. Something that no one's ever seen before.
And ideas on what that might be? You're going to take some time off first though, right?
Itagaki: Yes, I'm going to take a few months off before I really get into it. But regardless of what it is I think you'll definitely see violence as a component of that franchise as well.
So the whole 'violence in games' issue doesn't worry you then?
Itagaki: No, it does not bother me because we are following all of the rules in terms of ratings. And I believe we're following morality as well in only showing violence between combatants. I think the 'violence issue' is something that is within each individual who plays the game.
I'm not shallow enough to tell people that they shouldn't be concerned with violence and I don't want to put words in other people's mouths. I just know that I have to follow the ratings and make sure it's not going to offend anybody. I feel there is no issue with that.
If I had any complaints about government regulations it would be the fact that Tokyo recently outlawed smoking in taxi cabs. That's a bigger problem for me right now.