Every team has ‘that guy’ at one point or another; the one who overshadows the rest, either by sheer skill or merely a dominate personality. American football has T.O.; basketball has A.I.; for videogames, we have the leather jacket clad, indoor sunglasses wearing Tomonobu Itagaki. Yet, for all their efforts, guys like that are rarely missed for long once they leave, as the team left behind finds out how much better they are without them. That is exactly what Team Ninja is discovering since Itagaki’s departure.
Team Ninja boss Yosuke Hayashi has recently said that with the “braintrust,” a group of a few people that tended to have game development revolve around them, gone from the studio, “each developer can think for themselves on what they can do to make better games.” With each member of the studio working together, “combining our forces to create the best games we can,” Hayashi feels that Team Ninja is “absolutely the most powerful team in history.”
The changes can apparently be seen not only in the working environment, but in their games as well.
“I’ve realised this as we work, but the games we’ve made after they left feel just a little different from Team Ninja games of the past. It’s the personalities of the people behind them coming to the surface.”
While he admits that some gamers might prefer the old Team Ninja style, Hayashi says “that’s just fine.” He’s actually looking forward to the next product by Itagaki himself as well, but Team Ninja will keep working as they have been – in the new mindset, without the braintrust, focused on making good games.
“We’re all game developers here, and we can act as cool as we want in interviews, but it doesn’t mean anything if the games aren’t good. We want to answer the questions with our games, in the end.”