Itagaki talks Xbox 360

Team Ninja guru also further confirms that Microsoft will make a major announcement in Japan later this month.

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In an interview published in the latest issue of Famitsu Xbox Magazine, Tecmo producer and Team Ninja head honcho Tomonobu Itagaki talked more about his impressions of the Xbox 360. When asked about the console's triple-core IBM PowerPC processor design, Itagaki called it a "buffed-up Sega Saturn," as the old console was also multiprocessor, coming with two 32-bit CPUs. He said that a single-CPU machine is easier for programming, but multicore structures have become the recent trend.

"The Xbox 360 is said to be a machine that's easy to develop for, but that's because it has a good lineup of middleware and infrastructure. So it should be easy to create something that's up to a certain level [of quality]. But if you try to take advantage of the Xbox 360's full hardware specs, you'll find out about the difficulty in programming for a multicore machine," said Itagaki.

"The Xbox 360 has enough power without all the cores going into use. Even if just a single core is used for a game, it will still be several more times powerful than machines up until now. But we aren't satisfied at that kind of a level. Our programmers are having fun playing around with the machine. They're swinging around all the cores and making a game that shows the powers of the Xbox 360."

Itagaki said that the Xbox 360's 512MB of main memory is more than enough for games, but he feels that the machine's media might bring up some problems. He said he would have preferred Microsoft to adopt the high-capacity HD-DVD format, but he said that, given the next-gen disc format wars, he could live with Microsoft's decision.

"Another reason why [Microsoft] went with the 9GB DVD format (dual-layered DVDs can contain up to 9.4 GB) is that American and European developers tend to use real-time rendered cutscenes. But Japanese developers use a lot of prerendered cutscenes, so the DVD format brings a bit of an anxiety. The screen resolution for Xbox 360 games will be in high definition, so the prerendered movies are going to be pretty large. If we encoded the Dead or Alive 4 trailer from E3 in high definition in a quality acceptable to us, it will easily be about 2GB. With DOA4, we'll be using the disc's capacity to its full extent. We started development on DOA4 pretty early, and we didn't know what disc format the Xbox 360 was going to adopt. So when we learned about it, we were really knocked out."

Itagaki also revealed that the DOA4 demo trailer shown during the Electronic Entertainment Expo was actually done with an alpha development kit for the Xbox 360. He said that his team received Xbox 360 beta kits very recently and was having fun with them.

The Team Ninja head also further confirmed that Microsoft is planning a major announcement in Japan this month. "We're currently thinking of whether we should create a new trailer for the upcoming Xbox 360 announcement in July, or if we should go straight ahead to work on the completion of the game," he said. "We'll play around with the beta kit for a little bit more and decide."

When Famitsu Xbox said to Itakagi that fans were afraid that Team Ninja could end up abandoning the Xbox 360 after the release of Sony's PlayStation 3, he commented, "Team Ninja will not disappoint their fans." Itagaki added, "To be honest, we're too busy on the development of DOA4 to think about anything else."

When asked for his opinion on the PlayStation 3, Itagaki commented that he respects the fact that Sony is trying to "create a computer that comes from Japan." However, he also added that he hopes Sony will make a machine that actually runs according to its listed hardware specs. "A machine that doesn't run according to its promised CPU frequency is out of the question," he said.

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