Interview with Kagerasimaru | Master of the Ninja Arts

Kagerasimaru, or Kokoromaster to some, has been a force of nature in the Ninja Gaiden community. Offering strong advice and some helpful video content for both new players and veterans alike! Despite a near eight hour time difference we managed to briefly talk to Kagerasimaru about his passion: action games!

Kagerasimaru! It doesn’t take more than one glance at your Youtube channel to see a strong emphasis on action titles, what pulled you into this genre compared to others?
I believe it was the moment I began playing the first Devil May Cry. That game opened up a lot of options and ideas to me as a player. I then slowly branched out to Ninja Gaiden and quickly realized just how amazing this series is. Especially Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is an action game milestone to me. I suffered a lot learning the game, beating “Path of the Master Ninja” difficulty as well as spending the time to practice and improve myself as a player.

Funny that you should mention Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, as your first set of videos cover that game. What prompted the sudden desire to record?
As I slowly began to get comfortable with the game I wanted to share the knowledge I had developed over the years with other players, so I could help them with overcoming the difficulty of “Path of the Master Ninja”. The videos offered entertainment, combos, as well as insight on how to approach enemies and bosses in an relatively easy way for players to use.

Is this also the main goal behind your videos, to inspire? As a guide? Or just to show off a bit?
My whole goal behind the channel consists of a few things. Showing off isn’t something I do; I look at it as a means of teaching others new things and helping them overcome challenges. I’ve always loved being a helper and showing people new things – learning and advancing as I play. I have received a lot of messages from people that told me my videos have “inspired and motivated me to overcome or to press forward against the challenges ahead”. Its really a great feeling when you have subscribers, followers or even just a new viewer to the channel comment and thank you for the videos because they helped him/her out.

Was it always like that?

Having around 3000 subscribers, do subscriber and view numbers matter to you? If not, what does?
I’m mainly doing Youtube as a hobby and for fun. I like the fact people can use what I have made to help them overcome difficulty challenges as I mentioned before. Believe it or not I get most of my views from non-subscribers, but that’s completely fine with me. My whole goal is to help and if that’s the result of helping I’m all for it.

When we look at subscriber-count, the greatest action-game players in the genre are usually very un-famous outside the community, compared to the more casual players. Does this bother you?
I do get a bit bothered that a less skilled Youtuber gets more traffic then say someone like myself who has spent hours on a game improving. I feel like I understand why now. I believe people want to see others struggle in games because that’s the whole thing about challenging games is the struggle. Once you overcome it then you get this satisfaction. It still bugs me, but I guess its a personal thing.

Most of your content is without any form of commentary, do you prefer it this way?
I do like doing commentary, but it’s a thing I plan to hopefully improve and apply in the future. I believe it’s more of a computer restriction and saving money to get better equipment for recording – it’s a thing I’ve kept in mind for some time. I haven’t really received any complaints about my videos lacking commentary. Not trying to brag, but my videos for the most part do speak for themselves.

Ha! What about yourself, do you prefer watching videos with commentary? Or without?
I watch a mixture of both commentary and no commentary videos. I guess it depends on my mood.

Speaking of, who do you watch? Are there any channels or people in the community of action-games that you look up to? 
Who and why?
Personally, XLHGladiator has always been an inspiration to me. His content is some of the most enjoyable gameplay I’ve came across. It’s skill and style at its finest. What really makes me appreciate him even more is the fact he doesn’t keep things to himself, if he learns of an advanced tactic he will make a video and share it to help others out. Another Youtuber I enjoy watching is TheSeraphim17. His commentary has nice tips, humor and enjoyment. He’s a solid player across all types of genres. I wouldn’t say he’s an inspiration, but when I need a laugh or a great time his videos always cheer me up.

You’ve been really active on, helping people achieve the impossible. What pulled you towards that community, compared to lets say Gamefaqs or Neogaf?
I was actually a member on that website for sometime when I began my trophy hunting journey. It was like a go to place to chill and find information on trophies as well as how to earn them in the simplest ways possible.

What pulled you into the action hack&slash community to begin with?
I guess I love hacking things and the enjoyment of pulling off combos. Its just too satisfying then say a shooting game.

As a community, where would you like to see the action hack&slash one go?
I would like the action hack&slash genre to continue on the same route and make improvements as it goes. I love a fun challenge as well as enjoying a great action hack&slash with friends.

Looking deeper in your Youtube’s content we see a lot of Ninja Gaiden 3 – usually seen as the worst game in the franchise’s history – what is your take on it, having covered it so deeply?
Being a huge Ninja Gaiden fan it was almost an automatic for me to cover it. I received messages asking me if I was going to cover the game or not. I began my journey like any other game breaking it down slowly as I played. The game as a whole did some nice things, but there’s a lot of issues with the game. Some moves and animations were great and I wished they carried over to Razor’s Edge. Overall it was a different game. I honestly wouldn’t theoretically classify it as a Ninja Gaiden game too much, mainly because it was in the time where Team Ninja was trying something new to get feedback.

How does this opinion compare to its re-release of Razor’s Edge?
Razor’s Edge did a lot of good that the original didn’t. It had a few more missions, three new characters to play as, new enemies and a few more bosses. I think it was a solid game, but again – it could have been better.

Aside from Ninja Gaiden 3, there’s DmC: Devil May Cry and God of War: Ascension on your Youtube – but no older titles. Did you play the classics like Devil May Cry 3, God of War 2 and Ninja Gaiden Black, how do you feel they compare to the more recent iterations?
I did play Devil May Cry 3, but I wasn’t very good at it haha. That was a game that didn’t click well with me like Ninja Gaiden did. It was pretty heavy doing inputs in a timely fashion. God of War 2 I enjoyed a lot. I never played Ninja Gaiden Black though due to never owning an Xbox, I have however played Ninja Gaiden Sigma and Sigma+ for the PS-Vita. I did enjoy those games. Solid titles.

Most of the time action-fans call NGB, DMC3 and GoW2 the ‘pillars’ of the genre – do you agree with this statement? Or do you have other titles in mind?
If we take a minute to think about it, these games are basically what started what we know and love today. I would agree.

Outside of these ‘pillars’ there are a ton of minor games in the genre ranging from Senran Kagura to Wet to Killer is Dead to Batman – where you feel these stand? Do you enjoy them?
I did enjoy Senran Kagura and had fun while it lasted. It was that type of game I would play continuously. It had its time to shine for me and the channel then I moved on. The others I didn’t play.

When we look deeper into the genre, there are usually two types of games. 覚えゲー(pronounced OH boe GHe) which means “remember the game” – games that are about bait and punish (Ninja Gaiden in a sense, Dark Souls etc.) and those that focus on offense like Devil May Cry, Bayonetta and God of War. Nioh is a bit in the middle. Which has your preference?
Having played Nioh since release as well as all the demos i am convinced this game is one of the greatest games i have ever played. Its got a lot going for it. There’s always something new to try out, new builds, new playstyles etc. I have played Ninja Gaiden a lot and appreciate it as well, but I feel I have exhausted the series until a new one is released.

When you aren’t recording, what kind of games do you play?
Its kind of hard to say, but more of what I’m in the mood for. Lately its been Nioh.

When you start a new game, do you play on Easy, Normal or Hard?
This is situational and really depends on the game. Most of the time if its a story driven game i usually play on normal to enjoy the story to later return to tackle other difficulties. If its a game I’m familiar with like say Ninja Gaiden I start it on the highest difficulty available.

Is that different than when you were young?
I think it was a bit the same.

Now that you’re no longer young, how do you combine the hobby with the life surrounding it?
I’ve always looked at it in this way: there’s a time for games and a time for life.

Do games inspire you in your day to day work?
I wouldn’t fully center this on one game, but I’m always thinking on ways to improve as a player. I always have this in mind and won’t erase it. I’m not the best and there will always be someone better then me.

Currently you are mostly covering Nioh, tell us – where does it stand in your eyes?
The game to me is great and I can’t tell you how long its been since I’ve enjoyed a game this much. I’m closing in on 700 hours on this game and I don’t feel drained at all. Helping others on my friend-list or when i can start streaming again is a thing to me. I have gained so much support since I began uploading Nioh from my viewers. I want to give back to the community by either helping them through tough missions or if they just want to play with me for fun.

The game is currently infamous for its patches, changing content and properties on the fly. Smoke bombs are a good example, having changed heavily from the Alpha Build to patch 1.10 we play today. What is your opinion on patches like these in a genre like Nioh’s?
I feel like the patches are good. They should continuously support the game. My one complaint of the current patch is the nerfs they do apply across the board. They should tweak PvE and PvP separately. [Stinger – PvE meaning player versus the game itself, PvP meaning combat versus another live player]

These types of patches weren’t around 10 years ago, but are now a normal thing. A bit of a heavy question but where would you like to see the genre go in the future?
I personally like the game to improve as a whole. When they introduce new weapons why not give the older weapons new moves? Why not give us other shortcuts for skills. Another issue is why can’t we use some of the skills that are the same input. We as players love using the skills we earned through leveling etc. I would like it to have more options for skills shortcuts.

Is there a gameplay-mechanic you’d love to see implemented in future games in the genre?
I want more complexity and good controls for these great action games.

Is there a certain game you’d like to see in the future?
Currently nothing in mind aside from another Ninja Gaiden. Its been a while and I do miss the series.

Due to the advent of Dark Souls (and Demon’s Souls), the action genre gained a lot more popularity but as a result RPG elements are slowly leaking into the action-hack&slash genre (see Nier: Automata and Nioh). What is your take on this? Are you happy with this change?
Nier: Automata to me personally – is a horrible game. The character models look great, but the lacking animations, lazy skills, pallet swapped weapons, no auto-save… a lot can be said. I don’t want to get into a rant about that game because it left a salty taste on me. Nioh overall I’m happy with.

With Dark Souls came the advent of 30 frames per second (fps) into the genre, later solidified by DmC: Devil May Cry. Graphics and performance have rarely stood side by side, especially on consoles. Does the idea of a possible future of max resolution with 30 fps bother you?
For me personally, I prefer a steady 60 fps over graphics. When I play Nioh I play it in Action mode [Stinger – a mode that lowers the resolution of the game to allow for a stable 60 fps]. A game like this needs inputs to be on point. I personally feel the graphics look fine the way they are with Action mode.

Before we close off, right now: your #11 in your Top 10 favorite games? Go!
This one is tough. So many choices.I never really numbered games so its a bit tough to answer this one. I would probably say if i were to guess Nightshade on the Playstation 2 (known also as Kunoichi). Great game and it’s one I wouldn’t mind seeing making an epic return.

Kage, thank you so much for taking the time for this interview! If people want to get into contact with you, how can they reach you? Thank you for your time and allowing me to share my journey with you. If people want to reach me then i would say via twitter @Kagerasimaru or PM me via Youtube.

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