By James Mielke 01/12/2007 As new PlayStation 3 owners inhale their first deep breaths of 2007, a valid concern crossing the minds of the many is, "What the hell am I going to play now?" One appealing option coming up soon in Japan (early summer in the U.S.) is Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Team Ninja's eagerly-awaited reworking of its classic action hit.
As work on the game is progressing full-steam ahead, 1UP recently took the opportunity to derail the development team's progress and coerce Sigma director, Yohsuke Hayashi, into sitting down and giving us the inside scoop on what we can expect out of the game. After all, while people who've never played any iteration of the game have plenty to look forward to, there are a lot of Ninja Gaiden/Ninja Gaiden Black veterans sitting on the fence wondering whether they need to go back into the Black for one more spin. This interview will tell you what you need to know about Team Ninja's first foray onto a Sony console since Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore back in 2000.
1UP: So how long have you guys been working on Ninja Gaiden Sigma now?
Yosuke Hayashi: Obviously there was a period when we were studying the PS3 hardware and figuring out how it operates, so it's kind of hard to define when exactly we started. But basically, last time we met you at TGS and showed the trailer, we said we were at 20%. Now we're at 35%, and we've gotten to the point where we can run through all the stages back to back in the game.
1UP: What's taking the most work in bringing Ninja Gaiden to PS3?
YH: The PS3 has very unique architecture, so there's a lot of work that goes into making sure you optimize the game so it runs best on that architecture. But we're past the point of studying the hardware. Now we know how everything works, so it's about implementing each feature to use the machine to its fullest.
1UP: Since you worked on Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden Black on Xbox, now that you've had some time to familiarize yourself with the Cell processor and its multiple pipelines and the stuff you've got to work with, do you see any advantages in bringing this to the PS3? Does it help with enemy AI, or graphics processing, or anything specific?
YH: One important thing about the PS3 is the seven SPUs in addition to the main processor, and using those is what allows you to get the best graphic quality. So we have an entire section of programmers which is assigned to figure out how to get those SPUs working on graphics to the fullest. Now we're actually at the point where day-to-day you can see the graphic quality improve before your eyes, so to speak. So if you look at the screenshots we have for you today -- if you look at those compared to what we put out at TGS, there's a big difference in terms of the textures and the atmosphere. You can see the steps we've made since then.
Although you can't tell from this screenshot, you can now use Ryu's bow and arrow while jumping to knock that fool off his horse. Click the image above to check out all Ninja Gaiden Sigma screens.
1UP: With Ninja Gaiden Sigma you're introducing a lot of new ideas, or bringing some older ideas to their full potential -- like the water battles. How many of these things were ideas you wanted to use in Ninja Gaiden Black, but couldn't for whatever reason?
YH: I'd say it's a 50/50 split, between things that are totally new ideas for Sigma and things that we wanted to do previously but weren't able to. This is something we haven't talked about before, but there's this period within the story when you're in the city and the army has been called into action, and there's a curfew set in the city. We always thought it would be cool if you had helicopters flying over the city at all times, dropping bombs and stuff on you. But we couldn't do that on Xbox because of hardware limitations, but that's one of the things we're able to do this time around.
1UP: So helicopters are going to be dropping bombs all over the place?
YH: At sections during that chapter.
1UP: Are these things that can hurt you, so you have to watch where you're running?
1UP: Can you name some of the things you're bringing to Ninja Gaiden as a result of bringing this to PS3?
YH: There are actually some things that have come out of suggestions we received from people who played the game. The people who are really big fans of Ninja Gaiden are pretty vocal about what they like and don't like. So we received a lot of feedback that provided inspiration for new ideas. One of the things we adjusted as a result of the feedback from the customers was how to improve the usability of the projectile weapons. So one of the things we've done is enabled you to use the bow and arrow while jumping in the air. [Laughs] So that's one of the things we took into account and thought would be a good idea.
1UP: Is there any one specific thing that you wanted to see in Sigma yourself?
YH: One of the things I felt really strong about and is actually going to be in the game, is that Rachel is going to be a playable character -- and I'll go into more detail in a little bit -- but now you're able to change her hairstyle. So you can actually go in and change her hairstyle to match your own preference. That's something I felt really strong about and went the extra mile to make sure actually got in the game. Given the way her character is modeled, I felt there were better hairstyles for her than the default one, so I felt we had to make it that you could change the hairstyle. I just couldn't give it up.
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Thanks to 1UP.com for sharing the news with us!