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INTERVIEW: Head of Team Ninja talks Dead or Alive 5

INTERVIEW: Head of Team Ninja talks Dead or Alive 5

MCV got the chance to speak with Yosuke Hayashi about the future of fighting games, the franchise’s portrayal of women and more.

How have things changed with this being the first Dead or Alive game without Tomonobu Itagaki at the helm?

When we finished Dead or Alive 4, the fighting game kind of split up and went off to do different projects. At the time, we didn’t really see the future of Dead or Alive, and Itagaki didn’t talk to us about any type of new or future directions for the series. Obviously, after Dead or Alive 4, he left.

So when we did start talking about DOA5, we decided we wanted to make the game both wider and deeper than it was, and set about making it a more technical experience than it currently was.

The online play, tournaments etc is the direction fighting games have been heading in. We wanted to make sure that we were creating a game experience which could be played through for quite a long time.

In saying that we wanted to make it wider, we wanted to ensure an accessibility and try to get new players interested in fighting games.

You’ve previously mentioned that DOA5 is more ‘sophisticated’ than previous iterations. Can you elaborate on this?

We’ve greatly accentuated the visual style. We really wanted the first look at our characters to first of all expand from the original designs, have them be re-touched and refined so that players kind of come back and be a little bit surprised in seeing the way the characters have evolved.

We really wanted to make the game look good in motion, and not shy away from adding a layer of filth and grit. We’re making a game that looks like it could be a blockbuster movie, while being grounded in a fighting game.

Has anything about the production or marketing of Dead or Alive 5 been changed in any way after the recent furore surrounding representations of women in games, considering that the franchise is known for its oversexualised female characters?

With the representation of female characters in the Dead or Alive franchise, we’ve always wanted to make the girls look as attractive as possible, and that’s something that’s not going to change for us at all.

We are a Japanese developer, and we’re making the female characters with our common sense and our creative sense. When you take that to countries outside of Japan, it tends to be very misinterpreted in some cases, people considering it sexist or derogatory etc.

For us, within our culture, we’re showing women like that, and we’re trying to make them look attractive. We can’t help if other cultures in other countries around the globe think that it’s a bad representation. Within our nationality and within our national borders, we obviously have morals that we create our female characters from, but within our Japanese sensibilities, we’ve made those characters the way they are and we’re not going to stop doing that.

You said in an interview recently that fighting games (and games generally) have changed a lot in the seven years since DOA4 came out. Can you clarify what you see as having changed?

Firstly, online has become a big thing. If you look back, even after we finished Dead or Alive 4, around that time Call of Duty 2 didn’t even have an online mode. Fighting games did actually have online modes, but the expansion of that online functionality was the biggest trend which happened.

The way games have changed is that in the past they were more like a hobby for you to sit down and just play, more like that. A single person having fun, I guess.

Right now, they’ve changed and now impact upon peoples’ lifestyles, way more than before. In the communities themselves, and playing online with friends, you can now get online and play a lot more than you could in the past.

This is the first time the Dead or Alive series has embraced the idea of crossover characters from other franchises. Why now, and why Virtua Fighter?

In terms of our collaboration with Virtua Fighter, looking back at the series, when we made the very first Dead or Alive game, we borrowed the Sega Virtua Fighter arcade boards and actually made Dead or Alive on those. At the time, with Tecmo, they really wanted to surpass Virtua Fighter.

We always looked to Virtua Fighter as the forefather of 3D fighting games, and we always treated them with respect. We’ve been behind their series in terms of numbered titles and with DOA5 we’ve kind of caught up, so we really wanted to pay our respect.

We spoke to the team and said ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could celebrate this occasion?’, and we kind of decided that we didn’t want to treat this as a business deal, but more as a celebration.

We consider the games almost like a family.

Is this a trend you think will continue in fighting games?

Even for us over in Japan, we’ve always had this culture of someone vs someone, even in our pro-wrestling scene. It’s always been a big hit over here. In terms of fighting games, I think it’s a fairly exciting prospect. It makes things more fun. It’s an interesting concept and one that we hope keeps going.

Thank you for your time!


This interview was conducted as a video conference call via a translator.


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Evil Within 2