Team Ninja's Yohei Shimbori on putting fans first.
Ninja Gaiden 3 didn't fare particularly well with critics, but it was long-term fans that dished out the harshest criticism. Lacking Tomonobu Itagaki's influence, Team Ninja elected to take the series in a more casual friendly direction, which left a lot of fans out in the cold. Dead Or Alive director, Yohei Shimbori, claims the studio has learned from the experience.
"One of the things that I learned was the power of having a series behind you, and what it means to be part of a series," he told Gamasutra. "There are existing fans out there, and you have to think about the people who have supported the series for so long, and you want to make sure that the game that you make appeals to them first, and satisfies those fans first."
Shimbori didn't work on Ninja Gaiden 3, but the title's failure to impress its core fan base did inform his decisions when it came to Dead or Alive 5. In particular, it made him consider the series' focus on nubile young ladies with absurd, gravity-defying breasts.
"We were getting feedback from the overseas offices to tone down the sexuality -- to tone down the sexiness of the game, and of the characters," he said, before adding that fans of the series wanted the exact opposite.
"We actually got a lot of feedback from people who were playing it, saying, 'We want bigger breasts. Make the characters more like that.' That was kind of surprising."
"There's definitely still room for having sexualized aspects," he continued. "If you have a solid fighting game system there, there's nothing wrong with having beautiful characters as a layer on top of that -- that's another layer of entertainment that there's a need for. If there wasn't a need for it, people wouldn't have responded to the alpha demo like they did, and send us feedback."
While I admit I'm somewhat skeptical that Shimbori was "surprised" by the fact that a large proportion of Dead or Alive fans are fond of breasts - especially since Team Ninja has produced a number of games deliberately designed to tap directly into that demographic - putting core fans above mainstream appeal is an admirable idea.