Team Ninja Explains Why Now is the Right Time to Bring Back Ninja Gaiden

Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection marks the return of the venerable hack-and-slash franchise after nearly nine years. Since the release of Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge on PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2013, the franchise has laid dormant. That’s about to change thanks to Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection, which packages together Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. We had a chance to chat with Fumihiko Yasuda, Producer on the Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection, to see what players can expect from Ryu Hayabusa’s remastered adventure, learn what’s next, and get to understand how the collection runs across PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

[Hardcore Gamer] The Ninja Gaiden trilogy formally concluded with the release of Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. Your team has since worked on the Nioh series. What made now the right time to resurrect Ninja Gaiden?

[Fumihiko Yasuda] The Ninja Gaiden series along with the Dead or Alive series are Team Ninja’s signature franchises. It’s been on our minds for a long time that the Ninja Gaiden series hasn’t been available on the Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One generation of hardware as well as PC. The timing fit well since we had just completed work on Nioh 2.

In addition, the number of staff at Team Ninja who grew up playing Ninja Gaiden is slowly increasing. So, for our development team we wanted this to be an opportunity for them to get involved again with the Ninja Gaiden franchise.

Notably lacking from your announcement is what’s going on with the remastering of the PS4, Xbox One and PC versions. Are these more direct ports or are they remasters? What kinds of resolutions and frame rates can we expect on the base consoles versus the enhanced consoles?

We’ve focused on replicating the original games so there aren’t any major changes, but there are adjustments to features like Tag Mission mode in which players previously felt were unfair and, as a result, were not well received in the past. Also, the graphics and stable frame rate have been improved. The Switch version runs at 720p and PS4 and Xbox One are 1080p, 60fps. Then there’s 4K resolution and 60FPS for PS4 Pro, PS5, Xbox One X, Xbox Series X/S, and Steam (hardware requirements necessary). Resolution and FPS may fluctuate during gameplay, and players will of course need to have a 4K TV or monitor to play in full 4K/60FPS.

The Master Collection is playable on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S thanks to backwards compatibility, but why are there no native versions? Do PS5 and Xbox Series gamers get any benefits not available on the last-gen machines?

There are currently no plans for a next-gen edition. For a proper next-gen version, it would actually require a complete remake. We did consider it, but we also wanted to get the games into the hands of players sooner than later. Also, if we had the time and resources for a remake we felt it would be a better served creating a new game. So, that’s why we decided to go with this collection at this time.

None of these titles were ever released on PC before now. Why is that? Now that PC is finally getting them, what kind of settings, options and features can players expect?

The three titles in the collection were constructed in the past without much thought or preparation of being remastered in the future, so it was not an easy decision to release it on PC. For the PC (version), if the PC specs as mentioned earlier are met, it can be played in 4K, 60fps. Also, the PC version only supports gamepads.

The Ninja Gaiden community is split between those that prefer Ninja Gaiden Black and Ninja Gaiden II and those who prefer their Sigma counterparts. What made you choose to include the Sigma versions over the “original” versions?

The reason we chose these 3 titles for the collection is because they represent the latest installments of the numbered series, are the most polished versions, and feature additional modes and costumes. Furthermore, when we worked on Sigma and Sigma 2, we went and collected as much data as possible and organized it. Since we could fully utilize this data, Sigma and Sigma 2 became clear choices for this collection. Unfortunately, we were unable to salvage the varying assortment of data we had left from Ninja Gaiden Black and Ninja Gaiden II. For that very reason, we currently don’t have any plans to remaster Ninja Gaiden Black and Ninja Gaiden 2 on non-Xbox platforms.

Could we see some of the features of Black and II pop up in these Sigma versions? For example, could players alternate between the II’s blood and Sigma 2’s purple mist?

No, it is not possible. These games the equivalent content of the original Sigma and Sigma 2 games.

Sigma and Sigma 2 did see releases on PS Vita that included new features, items/collectibles and modes. Will any of that content show up in the Master Collection?

Yes it will. The modes and costumes added to the Sigma Plus and Sigma 2 Plus PS Vita games are included.

Of course, there’s another version to talk about, Nintendo Switch. How are you taking advantage of that platform’s unique capabilities?

There are no special game functions for the Switch, but being able to play it anywhere is one of the key attractions of this hardware, and we were really excited about that. It’s very cool to be able to take this tough and hardcore action game with you and play it anywhere!

Switch players don’t expect the same level of graphical fidelity or performance of the other versions. Can you, however, provide details on resolution and framerate for handheld vs. docked?

Both run at 720p, 60fps. If there are instances when the processor can’t keep up, we’ve devised a way to drop the resolution to maintain the framerate as much as possible to avoid any issues with the control’s response.

We’ve seen a dramatic shift in the hack-and-slash genre over the past generation, with a greater emphasis on slower, more deliberate action, or a focus on methodical countering systems. Do you think there’s still a place for intense-paced hack-and-slash games like Ninja Gaiden?

I think there is, and I think it’s a genre that will continue to exist while taking on different shapes by crossing over with many other genres.

Any chance we might see some more Ninja Gaiden and Nioh collaborations? Perhaps a William skin for the Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection?

There are currently no plans, but if sequels are released for each of those games, there could be a chance for it to happen. We’ll keep you posted if that happens!

It’s been a long time since Ryu has headlined his own game. With the Nioh series complete, what are the chances we might see a full sequel in the near future?

Yes, there’s always a possibility. One of the reasons we are able to work on this remastered version is because of the interest in the Ninja Gaiden series along with the encouragement and voices of our fans. Team Ninja will dedicate ourselves to working on new projects, so we hope fans will continue to voice their support.

Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection launches June 10 on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch. It will be backwards compatible on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S.