Tomonobu Itagaki wants to make games again

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SolidGame_basic

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#1 SolidGame_basic
Member since 2003 • 29920 Posts

https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2021-01-18-tomonobu-itagaki-says-hes-established-new-studio-itagaki-games

In a post on Facebook, the famed Japanese developer said he recently founded Itagaki Games. This is not Tecmo, nor is it Valhalla, Itagaki said.

Itagaki, of Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden fame, revealed the news as part of a self-published Q&A interview between himself and Bloomberg that didn't make the cut for a January article on the original Xbox.

Itagaki has a long history of working with Microsoft. While at Tecmo, Itagaki directed OG Xbox launch title Dead or Alive 3, 2003 OG Xbox exclusive Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, and 2004 Xbox exclusive Ninja Gaiden. A reworded version of the latter, Ninja Gaiden Black, came out exclusively on the Xbox in 2005.

Itagaki then directed 2005 Xbox 360 exclusive Dead or Alive 4, 2006 Xbox 360 exclusive Dead or Alive Xtreme 2, and 2008 Xbox 360 exclusive Ninja Gaiden 2.

After Itagaki left Tecmo in 2008 he founded Valhalla Game Studios and, in 2015, released the poorly-received Devil's Third for the Wii U.

Itagaki said he's spent the past four years teaching, "but now I feel like I want to make a game again and just established a company for that purpose."

Itagaki was asked how he'd react if Microsoft expressed interest in buying this new studio.

"I know Microsoft is still aggressive," he replied. "If they reach out to me, it will be an honour for me."

Thoughts, SW? Maybe Itagaki wants in on that Game Pass goodness. Would you want him directing another Ninja Gaiden game or just let Team Ninja do their thing?

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madrocketeer

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#2 madrocketeer
Member since 2005 • 8250 Posts

This guy was responsible for Devil's Third?

Yeah, zero expectations.

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SolidGame_basic

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#3 SolidGame_basic
Member since 2003 • 29920 Posts

@madrocketeer said:

This guy was responsible for Devil's Third?

Yeah, zero expectations.

Devil's Turd lolol

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Litchie

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#4  Edited By Litchie
Member since 2003 • 27317 Posts

Not a fan and have no hopes. I know he's part of what made Ninja Gaiden (Xbox) a great game. I don't know how big a part he had in that game's greatness, and I have no idea if he's still good at making games.

Did he have any part in the bad Ninja Gaiden games?

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lamprey263

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#5 lamprey263
Member since 2006 • 38334 Posts

After Devil's Third I believe he is going to either need a buttload of money to create a worthwhile studio, or he is just going to have to suck it up and go back to Team Ninja if they'd have him.

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Juub1990

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#6 Juub1990
Member since 2013 • 10683 Posts

@Litchie: He was the game director, so a pretty big part.

I say let him have another go.

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sakaiXx

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#7 sakaiXx
Member since 2013 • 10679 Posts

Personally, Microsoft should invest in the guy. His resume is actually pretty good apart from Devil's third. His recent game Samurai Jack was well received. Dont know what capacity his work in that game though.

Speaking of Devil Third surprised it not had a Switch port yet 🤣🤣🤣

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#8 sakaiXx
Member since 2013 • 10679 Posts
@lamprey263 said:

After Devil's Third I believe he is going to either need a buttload of money to create a worthwhile studio, or he is just going to have to suck it up and go back to Team Ninja if they'd have him.

Team Ninja doesnt really need the guy since their pivot to Nioh was pretty successful and they are moving forward with new projects.

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#9 R4gn4r0k  Online
Member since 2004 • 36420 Posts

@SolidGame_basic said:
@madrocketeer said:

This guy was responsible for Devil's Third?

Yeah, zero expectations.

Devil's Turd lolol

Such an easy game to make fun of :P

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#10  Edited By Daredevils2k
Member since 2015 • 2981 Posts

So lems are excited for this guy, after he made an awful game known as Devils Third. No one wonder so many ex-lems have jumped ship last gen and this gen, because they don’t want to play crappy games anymore. It’s a good thing they found a home in the Sony eco

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#11 Jag85
Member since 2005 • 15448 Posts

He should consider going back to Team Ninja. Itagaki hasn't made a good game since Ninja Gaiden II. Whereas Team Ninja has been on a roll lately with the Nioh series. He needs them more than they need him. An ideal scenario would be that they eventually iron out whatever issues exist between them, and finally work together on a new Ninja Gaiden game.

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ConanTheStoner

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#12 ConanTheStoner  Online
Member since 2011 • 20429 Posts

No way he's going back to Team Ninja lol. Dude didn't leave on the best terms.

I wouldn't throw him under the bus for Devils Third though. The publishing nightmare that game went through is so absurd it's almost comical. A series of shitty events that was out of his hands. I don't think any dev could salvage a game in that scenario.

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nintendoboy16

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#13 nintendoboy16
Member since 2007 • 38092 Posts

@Jag85 said:

He should consider going back to Team Ninja. Itagaki hasn't made a good game since Ninja Gaiden II. Whereas Team Ninja has been on a roll lately with the Nioh series. He needs them more than they need him. An ideal scenario would be that they eventually iron out whatever issues exist between them, and finally work together on a new Ninja Gaiden game.

Given the bad history he had with Tecmo... never gonna happen!

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#14 DaVillain-  Moderator
Member since 2014 • 45532 Posts

^Also after the way Sony treated Itagaki after Sigma, he vowed never to work with Sony on that same personal level again. Not to mention Team Ninja and Itagaki both have been doing badly since they parted ways. Team Ninjas' only bright spot was NG3: Razor's Edge, but only after they completely botched vanilla NG3 :(

I be surprise if Phil Spencer does get him back on-board but I'm not expecting anything from Ninja Gaiden. By the way, Itagaki is still a weirdo to me over the fact I haven't forgotten over the sexual Taxi scandal.

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#15  Edited By PC_Rocks
Member since 2018 • 5155 Posts

I would say give him all the hookers, weed and drinks if that means he will give us in return a game like Ninja Gaiden. Though this makes me wonder how come he didn't have a scanadal or at least an accusation of sexual assault when the rest of the industry are embroiled in it while not having such a non-illustrious work style.

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#16 ConanTheStoner  Online
Member since 2011 • 20429 Posts
@Litchie said:

Did he have any part in the bad Ninja Gaiden games?

Nah, that was right after he left.

He did NG, NGB, and NG2. Also created the DoA series and directed all the games up through DoA4.

NG2 is rough around the edges, but that was him with one foot out the door in the middle of the Tecmo drama. Game needed like 6 more months to polish up. Still has the sickest gameplay in a NG game though.

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#17 Litchie
Member since 2003 • 27317 Posts

@ConanTheStoner: Ok, cool cool. Thanks for the info.

I like DoA before it became crap.

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#18 Jag85
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@davillain-: Team Ninja has been doing great lately. The Nioh games have been both critically acclaimed and commercially successful. It's Itagaki who has been struggling this past decade. His game design talent can only be fully unlocked when he's backed by Team Ninja.

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#19  Edited By Archangel3371
Member since 2004 • 33820 Posts

Very nice to hear. I’ve been wondering what he’s been up to lately and if we’d see anymore games from him. Would love to see him back working on Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive but that won’t be happening anytime soon. Microsoft should definitely try to get him onboard. Anyway I’m very interested in seeing more on what he might be doing next.

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hardwenzen

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#20 hardwenzen
Member since 2005 • 6940 Posts

He hasn't made anything good but NG.

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#21 PSP107
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@lamprey263 said:

After Devil's Third I believe he is going to either need a buttload of money to create a worthwhile studio,

Can you see MSoft opening up their checkbook for him?

@hardwenzen said:

He hasn't made anything good but NG.

So he's a one hit wonder?

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#22 Jag85
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@hardwenzen: He made DOA 2 & 3 (among the best 3D fighters of that era), Ninja Gaiden (the GOAT hack & slash game) and NG2 (among the best hack & slash games).

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#23 lamprey263
Member since 2006 • 38334 Posts

@PSP107: no, at best I can see them hiring him on at The Initiative as them seem to be a hodgepodge of industry veterans from various studios

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#24 hardwenzen
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@Jag85 said:

@hardwenzen: He made DOA 2 & 3 (among the best 3D fighters of that era), Ninja Gaiden (the GOAT hack & slash game) and NG2 (among the best hack & slash games).

NG2, sure. DOA was already super mediocre to me.

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#25  Edited By Jag85
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@hardwenzen: In your opinion. To me, DOA 2 & 3 are among the best 3D fighters ever made. Besides, they laid the groundwork for modern NG, which was built on the same engine and shared some of the same controls and combat mechanics for Ryu Hayabusa. Just doesn't make sense how NG fans can hate on DOA (the early games) when it's the daddy of modern NG. But the hate for the later DOA games (when Itagaki left) is understandable.

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hardwenzen

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#26 hardwenzen
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@Jag85 said:

@hardwenzen: In your opinion. To me, DOA 2 & 3 are two of the best 3D fighters ever made. Besides, they laid the groundwork for NG, which was built on the same engine and shared some of the same controls and combat mechanics for Ryu Hayabusa.

Just doesn't make sense how NG fans can hate on DOA (the early games) when it's the daddy of NG. But the hate for the later DOA games (when Itagaki left) is understandable.

For fighting games, they felt so poor compared to Tekken Tag, 3 and SoulCal2. As a teenager from back then, all i remember from DOA is the boobs lmao

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#27 VFighter
Member since 2016 • 8142 Posts

@hardwenzen: The reversal system was really fun and different at that time. I enjoy them, although Tekken and VF are definitely better.

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#28 NathanDrakeSwag
Member since 2013 • 14707 Posts

Let's be real here, after Devil's Turd you know no self respecting publisher would touch him. So his only option would be to drop a deuce on game pass because Microsoft has absolutely no quality control standards for the service.

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#29  Edited By Jag85
Member since 2005 • 15448 Posts

@hardwenzen said:
@Jag85 said:

@hardwenzen: In your opinion. To me, DOA 2 & 3 are two of the best 3D fighters ever made. Besides, they laid the groundwork for NG, which was built on the same engine and shared some of the same controls and combat mechanics for Ryu Hayabusa.

Just doesn't make sense how NG fans can hate on DOA (the early games) when it's the daddy of NG. But the hate for the later DOA games (when Itagaki left) is understandable.

For fighting games, they felt so poor compared to Tekken Tag, 3 and SoulCal2. As a teenager from back then, all i remember from DOA is the boobs lmao

On the contrary, I felt both Tekken Tag and Soul Calibur 2 were poor compared to DOA 2 & 3. Back when the PS2 launched, DOA2 on the Dreamcast blew Tekken Tag out of the water. Even the downgraded PS2 port of DOA2 got a lot more critical acclaim (91 Metacritic) than Tekken Tag (85 Metacritic). DOA3 was also a killer-app launch title for the OG Xbox. As for Soul Calibur 2, I found that to be a disappointing follow-up to OG Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast.

DOA2 had the best counter-attack system I had seen in a fighting game up until then. It always felt satisfying when you successfully counter opponents, and it was incredibly fun when both opponents try to repeatedly counter each other back-and-forth. DOA brought something new and fresh to the fighting game genre. But after DOA 2 & 3 (the high points of the series), the series became too focused on sex appeal and boob physics, with the actual combat system taking a back seat, before declining badly when Itagaki left.

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#30 VFighter
Member since 2016 • 8142 Posts

@Jag85: Tekken Tag I'm right with you, never understood the praise it got. It wasn't a bad game by any means, but it wasn't the end all be all of fighting games.

Now SC2 was amazing, the single player stuff was better in the first SC, but the gameplay, graphics, special character for each game, IMO made it the better game, but not by much.

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#31 Eoten
Member since 2020 • 2894 Posts

I think people are just throwing out random Japanese names as if it's supposed to mean something. Tono... who? Never heard of him, never played any of his games, and never will a **** be given.

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SolidGame_basic

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#32  Edited By SolidGame_basic
Member since 2003 • 29920 Posts

@eoten said:

I think people are just throwing out random Japanese names as if it's supposed to mean something. Tono... who? Never heard of him, never played any of his games, and never will a **** be given.

Well, for starters, it's explained in the article. Second, true gamers know who the best game designers are. Also, we live in a world of internet, pretty easy to find out who someone is lol.

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#33 nintendoboy16
Member since 2007 • 38092 Posts

@Jag85 said:

@davillain-: Team Ninja has been doing great lately. The Nioh games have been both critically acclaimed and commercially successful. It's Itagaki who has been struggling this past decade. His game design talent can only be fully unlocked when he's backed by Team Ninja.

That, and Team Ninja made the Marvel crossover game that turns out to still be a pretty decent game, unlike... whatever the hell Square Enix released the year after.

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#34  Edited By judaspete
Member since 2005 • 4530 Posts

@vfighter: I agree, the DoA games are fun, and the reversal system sets them apart from other (admittedly better) 3D fighters. I think people write it off because of the boobs, which in fairness I can't blame them for that. Boobs are often used to sell mediocre products.

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#35 LouiXIII
Member since 2015 • 9890 Posts

@SolidGame_basic: As long as he keeps his hands to himself he can make whatever he wants xD

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SolidGame_basic

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#36 SolidGame_basic
Member since 2003 • 29920 Posts

@louixiii: maybe he'll do a VR game 😮

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#37 Jag85
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@vfighter said:

@Jag85: Tekken Tag I'm right with you, never understood the praise it got. It wasn't a bad game by any means, but it wasn't the end all be all of fighting games.

Now SC2 was amazing, the single player stuff was better in the first SC, but the gameplay, graphics, special character for each game, IMO made it the better game, but not by much.

I don't remember Tekken Tag getting much praise at all back when it released in 2000. It got slated back then, and was compared unfavourably to DOA2. Most fighting game fans and critics back then usually agreed that DOA2 was a better fighting game than Tekken Tag. It's only in later years that there's been some historical revisionism, just because Tekken remained relevant whereas DOA fell by the wayside. It's not unlike the historical revisionism surrounding Sonic, with haters spouting revisionist nonsense like "Sonic was never good" and "style over substance" for years until Sonic Mania shut the haters up.

As for SC2, it's not a bad fighting game by any stretch. But I just found it disappointing. It wasn't necessarily worse than the original SC, but it was just more of the same. It didn't really do much to set itself apart from its predecessor, whereas SC significantly improved on Soul Edge in various ways (although I didn't like how SC abandoned the Edge Master adventure mode from Soul Edge).

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#38 HalcyonScarlet
Member since 2011 • 9340 Posts

Do his own Ninja Gaiden like games again. They were never matched in that genre imo.

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#39 mrbojangles25
Member since 2005 • 49261 Posts

Sounds like he is broke and trying to build up hype so MS buys his studio and he can make another half-assed game.

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#40  Edited By ConanTheStoner  Online
Member since 2011 • 20429 Posts

Damn. 😂

This guy directs one of the all time best action games, a sequel with one of the best combat systems in gaming, multiple solid FGs, and... nope, Devils Third, that's it.

Devil's Third began life as an intended Xbox 360 exclusive to be published by Microsoft Game Studios.[3] After the partnership fell through, Itagaki met with Danny Bilson, then employed at THQ, who would share his vision of the title and agreed to publish it for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. However, THQ would eventually be forced to drop publishing for the title following their bankruptcy in 2013, leaving Valhalla Game Studios without a partner to release the game with. Unlike other THQ intellectual property, which was sold to other publishers, the rights to Devil's Third were given back to Valhalla Game Studios. Despite the bankruptcy of THQ, Danny Bilson continued to act as a creative consultant on the title "until the very end".[3]

Following the lack of THQ support, Valhalla Game Studios would partner with South Korean company Doobic to produce and publish the title. The Doobic partnership also promised a multi-platform release, including mobile platforms and PCs; however, Doobic eventually went out of business, setting back the development of Devil's Third even further, and leaving Valhalla Game Studios again to try and find a partner.[3] The setbacks caused by the collapse of both THQ and Doobic landed the game in development hell for several years.

During this time, Valhalla Game Studios CEO Satoshi Kanematsu approached then-Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, who agreed to publish the title for Wii U. Itagaki stated that Nintendo published Devil's Third because "they don't have enough strong online games", and that it wasn't "a game that Nintendo could make internally, so we came in as their mercenaries to make a strong online game."[3] Devil's Third was re-revealed as a Wii U exclusive at E3 2014 via IGN following Nintendo's E3 Digital Event[8] and released the following year.

Devil's Third switched engines during its development, as the company responsible for making its original engine closed down. Since that time, Valhalla Game Studios had continued development using an adaptation of video game developer Relic Entertainment's engine. Although a version of Devil's Third for the Wii U was not confirmed at the time, Itagaki reported that the game would run perfectly fine on the system. Devil's Third now uses Unreal Engine 3 as the main game engine.

^

Would be a miracle to release a good game given that series of events. A newly established studio dealing with multiple publisher, engine, and target platform swaps.

Not saying dude would for sure deliver gold under better circumstances, just seems weird writing him off for Devils Third.

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#41 Archangel3371
Member since 2004 • 33820 Posts

Yeah I just watched a “Wha happened?” video by Matt McMuscles on Devil’s Third and it definitely sounded like that game went some rough patches. Certainly wouldn’t write the guy off just because of that.