Article

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge

This article is a follow-up to the previous article focusing on Ninja Gaiden 3 and its development that you can read here. Happy reading! At the base of Mount Fuji on the outskirts of Hayabusa…
Article

Ninja Gaiden 3 | Burning ambition

History has a way of repeating itself. 1991 saw the release of Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom on the NES with new developer Masato Kato at the helm. After being the writer and graphic designer on the previous titles, he now sought to bring something new to the series. Kato wanted to share the notoriously difficult games with more players, feeling it needed to go into a new direction to be “a game a normal player can enjoy”. Fast forward more than twenty years and we’re at a time where the new Ninja Gaiden series is about to reach its third title as well, helmed by two designers who had previously also worked in the shadows. Fumihiko Yasuda, level designer of Ninja Gaiden II, and Yosuke Hayashi, programmer for Ninja Gaiden and director of the series’ Sigma remakes. However, with a great history comes a great shadow. The original Team Ninja had set the bar high with Ninja Gaiden Black and Ninja Gaiden II -there was a lot to live up to and with a mostly new team no less. Ninja Gaiden 3 would be their first real title where they could be free, without bounds, to make what they truly wanted. A new Ninja Gaiden. And joining them to write the game’s tale … none other than the aforementioned Masato Kato. Their goal? To take the series in a new direction. History has a way of repeating itself.
Article

What lessons can Action games learn from classic DOOM?

A question: how many games can you think of that were once so popular, it was installed on more computers than Microsoft Windows? Due to its success and subsequent impact, DOOMhas been analysed for nearly twenty-five years and counting. Each study aims to further unravel what made the 1993 title plus its expansion packs and sequel, tick. From its technical achievements, appreciation for speedrunning and modding to its level design – there’s plenty to cover. More than any single article can encompass. Instead of adding to this ongoing master thesis of DOOM, let’s turn it around and examine what lessons Action games can take from it, good and bad.
Article

Ranking Systems in Action Games | what style fits what?

Ranking up is man’s way of moving up in the world. From getting to a higher rank in a martial art to a higher position in the military, going from Junior to Senior at work and even advancing to higher grades at schools as early as 1785, it is a universal concept that has been around forever. Your rank denotes where you stand compared to your kinsmen and how well you’ve performed, while also giving you insight in how to improve and setting a higher goal for your future endeavours. Games as a whole have tracked scores since the first board games, with players trying to beat each other in the least amount of moves possible. This transferred to videogames, only to become more complex in its score-boarding as technology advanced and allowed for more creative scoring systems. It was in 1989 that games like Golden Axe (ゴールデンアックス, Gooruden Akkusu) started using a letter-based grade scoring system. Aside from holding a tally of points, the player would be given a letter based grade at the end based on how he performed. This gave players an even clearer goal to strive towards in arcades, promoting replayability while also emptying more pockets. Ever since then, ranking systems have been present throughout gaming, yet it is a mechanic that isn’t often analyzed beyond the bare basics (link to mark brown video) or otherwise highly scientific (link paper); and neither focuses purely on Action games. So with our sights set mostly on the Action Hack and Slash genre: how do ranking systems operate, what kinds are there, how do they differ from point systems and what exactly makes a good ranking system?
Article

忍Shinobi: Is Less Truly More?

When an attack hits the enemy, he dies – it should be as simple as that… yet it rarely is. Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, when describing the look and feel of his designs, noted the motto “less is more”. He used only the absolute necessities, with each part of his constructs having more than a single use. It is a working method that lives in all crafts, so what about Action Games? With each game we’ve been looking for the depth, the variation, the combination of attacks and how it all works in complex ways to motivate us: but what if a game strove to do the opposite, how would that work? Maybe 忍Shinobi for the Playstation 2 is one such game. As a series 忍Shinobi has been a long running SEGA franchise. While not as big as Sonic The Hedgehog, it has had nine titles released before Overworks took the series in a new direction hoping to leave a mark on the newly released Sega Dreamcast. Focusing on a new character and world this title was to usher in a new era of action games. Sadly due to the downfall of the Dreamcast, production was shifted to the Playstation 2 resulting in a delayed release. In the meantime Devil May Cry would instead make its mark on the genre, leaving 忍Shinobi to finally release one year later in November of 2002, greeted by silence.
Article

Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise

When giving a product form, one always envisions an audience in their mind’s eye. One that will later look at it with great desire. On rare occasions though, that desire isn’t from a single big audience but from various smaller groups. Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise (Hokuto ga Gotoku, 北斗が如く) is one such title. Based on the manga from 1983 by artist Tetsuo Hara, writer Yoshiyuki “Buronson” Okamura and editor Nobuhiko “Mad Holy” Horie, The Fist of the North Star brand is a property that enjoys big popularity across the world, thanks in part to its highly detailed, gorey and powerful artwork, especially for a weekly comic. With a new game on the horizon, made by Ryu ga Gotoku Studios – known for the Yakuza a series – for such a famous franchise, people from numerous fan bases were bound to be interested. They are…