Team Ninja Head Speaks On Losing Itagaki

1UP: "It's been over two years since Tomonobu Itagaki -- game-dev bad boy and chief mind behind Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden -- suddenly left Team Ninja, the development studio he helped put on the map. Itagaki fell off the limelight for a bit before announcing the founding of Valhalla Game Studios this past March, an independent dev he's running alongside fellow ex-Tecmo dev Satoshi Kanematsu. Team Ninja themselves, though, have never talked much in public about how the headline-grabbing defections in 2008 affected them as a studio...until now, that is."

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Gago2703d ago

One of the best devs out there, made the best action game last gen (Ninja Gaiden), and one of the best fighting game franchises (Dead or Alive)

The new president of Tecmo made a stupid move by not for-filling his promises and being greedy by not paying the team for their work.

Fox012703d ago

You guys are fvcked, deal with it.

TroyAndAbed2703d ago

No. They just lost Itagaki.

They didn't lose Nomura.
They didn't lose Kojima.
They didn't lose Kamiya.

They just lost Itagaki...

That's like losing a tooth brush. Sure, you were comfortable with it...but better tooth brushes have been made since yours came out.

Fan Tastic2703d ago

Exactly.. Losing an average developer isn't much. I'm sure somebody else can order people around to create waxy feminine looking ninjas and waxy big breasted girls.

Blaze9292703d ago (Edited 2703d ago )

o_O? Kojima? Surely you're not talking about Hideo....

But while in the subject of Kojima - I find it funny you guys can say the loss of Itagaki is nothing to them when he was really the key person of that company, leading all development for their games.

So if Kojima left Kojima productions, you all would still say "That's like losing a tooth brush. Sure, you were comfortable with it...but better tooth brushes have been made since yours came out." ? Wait, of course you wouldn't - look at how MGS: Rising is being treated.

He did more for that company that just sexist games. Not only that but most of Team Ninja that worked close with Itagaki and was loyal friends left when he left to Vahalla Studios. So depending on who exactly is left and what parts the members who left played, @Fox01 is probably correct.

Baka-akaB2703d ago (Edited 2703d ago )

he is .. he means they lost no one of equal value . Wich i agree with .

Itagaki made a few great games , but he didnt have the same impact than those guys .

Ps : i wouldnt put Nomura up there yet too .

TheCagyDies2703d ago (Edited 2703d ago )

It is more than just Itagaki, most of Itagaki's new team is made up of veterans from Team Ninja. The current Team Ninja is a lot younger and greener.

As for value and impact of Itagaki. Well he is the main reason why Tecmo is still here today, Itagaki saved their asses with the first "Dead or Alive", and that is why it is called "Dead or Alive", because the game was going to determine whether Tecmo is going to be "Dead or Alive". Same deal with Final Fantasy...

So in my opinion, he made an impact.

NYC_Gamer2703d ago (Edited 2703d ago )

they lost most of the original team ninja along with Itagaki...that dude is the master mind behind DOA/NG....he was the Kojima of that company

EvilBlackCat2703d ago


""No. They just lost Itagaki.

They didn't lose Nomura.
They didn't lose Kojima.
They didn't lose Kamiya.

They just lost Itagaki...

That's like losing a tooth brush. Sure, you were comfortable with it...but better tooth brushes have been made since yours came out. "


Im really afraid of the future of Ninja Gaiden... im serious.

+ Show (4) more repliesLast reply 2703d ago
Fishy Fingers2703d ago

Who else can come up with... "can the boobs be bigger?"

mastiffchild2703d ago

Or even ~"can we wobble the boobs, now?". Itigaki's boob infused dev strategy will take some replacing that's for sure. Extra gory boobs, naturally, would be the natural end result if we allowed Tomonobu his head, wouldn't it?

In fairness I kind of like Itigaki's work on the NG series(even if NG2 got daft with gore and a camera that obscured the action at times)and didn't mind all the silly "I wear sunglasses in bed AND in the bath cos I'm a rock*!!!" BS he lives out too much either. I like characters, even misguided misogynists as long as they're harmless, in the industry but when you have a big character like his running the show more quiet and limelight shunning, but talented, devs at the same team are sometimes washed away or left in the dark. Perhaps he left at a good time for some of the guys still at TN and they can flourish without his need for the spotlight shaping everything TN do.

We'll soon see when "Devil's.." and the next, proper DoA or NG game land in the near future exactly how both sides will fare without the other. Nothing, so far, to tell us how they'll all do. Nice to see this guy giving Iti and Co respect but still believing in his fellow staff at TN-maybe they can keep up or build on the old series'.

Trroy2703d ago (Edited 2703d ago )

"Reknowned" game studio heads are rarely all that important to their dev studio, except as a figurehead.

By the time you become a figurehead, you're doing administrative and PR work -- that's good for the team as a whole, but its the team you hire that are the real talent. That's why you hired them.

If a studio loses 30+ staff, that's a big deal, and it often wrecks the company, because inevitably the higher-ups let go of people they didn't want to, and the recovery is painful. If they lose a figurehead or two, that's not a big deal... at least not in the short-term during which the team made by that person still exists.

Infinity Ward would still be respectable, if it had only been Zampella and West that had left, as an example. Once a significant chunk of the rest of the team bailed, though, that was the real end of IW.

People, too often, mistake the lack of high-level, high-visibility positions at companies as being a lack of talent to fill such positions. That's just not true -- the skills required to be decent, or even excellent, in those jobs are not rare at all. It's only that there are just a few positions available, and the power they have, that makes them important.

Losing masses of people... now that hurts. If you could make a list of the "top 10 people who hurt company XYZ the most when they left", by rewinding time and watching what happens each time a different individual leaves, I'll wager that 99% of the people on that list would be in the "average joe" section of the credits for company XYZ's games -- people you have never read the name of, except in passing, via a credits screen. Engineers, artists, designers. Producers, directors, presidents, CTOs, CFOs, etc.. you wouldn't see them much -- they can be replaced easier than you might think.

Bnet3432703d ago

Without Itagaki, Tecmo would have no identity. It would be like the Yankees losing Derek Jeter or Lakers losing Kobe Bryant. Now let's see what they do. Keeping my eye on NG3, hoping it's going to be very good. Let's see if the new guy can make a good game on his own.

Trroy2703d ago (Edited 2703d ago )

That's a really bad analogy. Losing a lead engineer, or lead artist, would be the equivalent of losing Kobe or Jeter. Losing a good coach might be the equivalent of losing a lead designer. Itagaki was none of those things.

This was more like the Yankees losing Steinbrenner. Sure, it hurt emotionally... but the team wasn't really any worse off for it.

Elven62703d ago

You're right, it's not like Itagaki's team didn't make great games that reviewed great, were loved by fans and gamers, and sold really well to boot. No one ever talks about how much they love Ninja Gaiden [Xbox] or Dead or Alive [any].

Remember, Tecmo had to merge with Koei after the departure of Itagaki and various other Team Ninja staff members. Various members had to resign in disgrace due to his walking out. Has Tecmo/Team Ninja even released a game since then that is memorable? Metroid: Other M doesn't count since the team that made it was made up of three different studios, Team Ninja included. Ninja Gaiden Sigma doesn't count either since the core work is largely Itagaki's.

Ninja Gaiden 3 doesn't seem to be setting the world on fire so far either, but to be fair, we know very little about the game.

Trroy2703d ago (Edited 2703d ago )


Team Ninjas games are not worse than they were previously. They're on the wrong platform, is all. Look at Metroid Prime's sales on the Wii, compared to the GC, which was only like 1/3rd the installed base. You think Retro sucks now too? ...or is it the console demographics?

And.. lol... Dead or Alive is better off gone, bud. It was a shoddy fighter, at best. Soul Calibur, Tekken, VF, basically every fighter in existance wipes the floor with it. DoA had ONE thing going for it, and it was the same contribution that NGS2 added over NG2 (hint: they come in pairs). That not an excuse for not having an actual decent game. NG2's sales, btw, were shoddy -- arguably worse than the new Metroid, given the cost to make it. Itagaki was there though...

Ninja Gaiden was good, at least -- it doesn't even breach the 90s on metacritic, if you hadn't noticed, but I don't think the credit belongs so much to Itagaki as you seem to think. The games industry is FAR from a one man show. FAR from. No individual is even as remotely important as even a small group.

Honestly, if you disagree with that statement, you'd have to be pretty foolish, and frankly ignorant, when it comes to producing a product like a modern console game.

Dude_2703d ago

' Ninja Gaiden was good, at least -- it doesn't even breach the 90s on metacritic, '


Trroy2703d ago (Edited 2703d ago )

@above, sorry I meant NG2. Itagaki's last project. 81.

Elven62702d ago

I never said anything about Other M's sales but if you want to go that route, look at how well Itagaki's titles would sell when they were released. He had a following

A good portion of the Ninja Gaiden team which worked for Itagaki left along with him. Many of them are now working at Valhalla Studios.

Dead or Alive is better off dead? You're right, a series which such a huge fanbase and history should just be left to die. The series sold well, reviewed well, and was positively received by the fanbase. Say what you will but Itagaki and Team Ninja knew what they were doing to keep people happy. I'm not sure about the Volleyball titles though.

Ninja Gaiden 2...oh, you mean that game they were developing while most of the intercompany politics was going on? Itagaki left weeks before the game was released and these issues came to light around the same time, anyone who expected a smooth development cycle in the midst of all of this is lying to themselves. Despite this, the game still sold over 1 million units on the Xbox 360 within the first month of release. Not sure what your definition of "shoddy" is, I don't think Other M cracked this number in the first month. Itagaki was also concurrently working on Dragon Sword for the DS at the same time.

FYI: Anything added to the Sigma titles wouldn't have been Itagaki's doing since he wasn't involved with either titles asides from what he and his team did in the original games.

I think you might want to do research into what exactly happened at Tecmo, the aftermath, etc before trying to debate this.

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mastiffchild2703d ago (Edited 2703d ago )

Bnet-never use an analogy like that. No sports team fails to be bigger than ALL of it's players let alone just ONE. ~Man Utd didn't fold when Ronaldo left last year, did they? Sure, it slowed them down a little but in the greater scheme of things losing a key player is still a mere blip for the history of a sporting team.

I realise the ties with history aren't as strong in the US with a lot of your teams based on moving(or that can be moved)franchises so they aren't as grounded in their community but it still holds that no ONE player could ever be said to be as big as the Yankees or whoever whatever the sport. Even a great coach is still just a page in these histories(bar a couple of club altering men like Shankley or someone similar and even then it's the club that gives THEM their chance really)and a great lead dev/director is much more like a petty dictator compared-it's a very different thing really and not to be compared in my book.

EDIT:That said-when a team does keep making great games after their head guy leaves it could be seen as the team , even there, being bigger than any individual but that depends more on the working practises before and after the split in my opinion.

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