I want to ask about the DS. Obviously, Dragon Sword came out. First of all, I want to ask, was that game as successful as you'd hoped? Was it able to attract the audience to play the game? I think that was probably an open question when the game was released.
YH: As a product from a development, concept, and content standpoint, the team is very happy and satisfied with what we were able to achieve and put in the final product.
However, we do feel that we fell a little short in trying to communicate that, and have more gamers play what we were able to put in that final product.
And I don't think it's necessarily a shortcoming of the game. That's why I was wondering, is it the actual audience for the DS? I was personally interested in the game very much, but that doesn't necessarily mean many people are. There are a lot of people on the 360 and PS3 who want to play a hardcore action game; DS, maybe less. I was wondering if that was able to attract those people, or if there was a limitation on that.
Tecmo U.S. VP John Inada: In North America, it was definitely a mismatch of the DS user and the kind of game it was.
Commercially speaking, it didn't perform as high as we'd expected, but again, we're all about content, so we're not bent out of shape, because we know we delivered a good game. So, you know, oh well. (laughter)
When you have the ability to do an experiment like that, it's worth doing it. You know what I mean?
YH: I think so too; it just wasn't the right sort of natural chemistry. It wasn't enough. But we're up for those kinds of challenges, to provide a new and unique way of playing for a given console.
Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword was a perfect example of that, in providing a hardcore action game experience on a portable machine. That was our challenge at the time, but we'll continue to look at similar challenges in the future.
Obviously, you haven't done any games for the Wii yet, but I wonder what you think of the Wii. Just give me a quick overview of what Team Ninja's thoughts on the platform are.
HH: Maybe not Team Ninja specifically, but with Tecmo as a whole, we've been supporting the platform from the very beginning.
Internally at the company, we have a lot of knowledge, and I think we've mastered most of the components to make a very compelling and entertaining product using the console.
We will continue to work in that path. We have a lot of Wii console fans within the company, so hopefully there's something that we can work on.
My final question is about the development style within Team Ninja. Particularly Japan has a reputation for heavy up-front paper planning and design documents, but that has really fallen out of favor with western developers. I was wondering, what's the style that Team Ninja uses to plan games and develop them over the course of their lifespan?
YH: If it were one or the other, Team Ninja takes the approach that is probably more favored by the western developers. One concept that we have with all of our titles is that we provide entertainment.
Our products can be communicated, and the entertaining aspects can be communicated, without really explaining what the game is all about. In that sense, it's more that we go straight into prototyping, and creating, and showcasing. It's more of a trial and error, using the elements itself.
As you develop more games over the course of the generation, do you find that your production style is evolving?
HH: It hasn't really changed. It's always been the same approach. We've always taken the same approach. Obviously, when we're talking about getting a concept approved and whatnot, yes, there are all these processes and procedures that will come into play. But the basic style and approach that we take has always been the same.