Team Ninja's director, Tomonobu Itagaki, took some time out of his busy E3 schedule to sit down and talk with us about Tecmo's upcoming Xbox action game, Ninja Gaiden. One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the latest Ninja Gaiden is its position in the series' timeline. "Many things in [the new Ninja Gaiden] are tied into previous games in the series," said Itagaki. "But the game is completely different. It has an entirely new storyline that is based on a different premise than the one found in the previous Ninja Gaiden games." However, it doesn't seem that those connections will lead to characters from the older games making some sort of appearance, but Itagaki was quick to point out that characters from other recent Team Ninja games, such as Ayame from Dead or Alive, will be making appearances in Ninja Gaiden. "I have no intention of disappointing fans," said Itagaki. "There will be things in the game that will appease everyone."
There have also been some questions revolving around the Xbox Live support that will be included in Ninja Gaiden. While it seems that some form of downloadable content would be an easy answer, Itagaki would only say, "I like Xbox Live [and I want] to use it to add some extra replay value." In any case, Team Ninja will have several months to implement this feature as the team puts the finishing touches on the game. "Ninja Gaiden will be at the Tokyo Game Show," said Itagaki. "We're also going to hit a major development milestone this summer."
One element of the game that the development team has been especially focused on is movement, making sure that everything is as smooth as possible. "Our goal is to make characters move smoothly," said Itagaki. "There are two different techniques involved in making sure that the human characters look good and that the nonhuman enemies look good."
And there will be plenty of enemies to look at. Ninja Gaiden focuses purely on action, as you once again jump in the ninja shoes of Ryu Hayabusa who is out for revenge against the Vigor Empire--the people responsible for wiping out his clan. Ryu's skills will increase over the course of the game, and he'll also have new weapons at his disposal. Ninja Gaiden is scheduled for release late this year.