Author Topic: Masato Kato returns to his roots  (Read 2649 times)

gatotsu911

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Masato Kato returns to his roots
« on: September 23, 2011, 02:35:22 am »
As some of you may know, Masato Kato's first gig in the game industry, prior to his involvement at Gainax and then Square, was at Tecmo, where he worked on the NES Ninja Gaiden trilogy - games widely considered to be a milestone in video game storytelling for their use of cinematic cutscenes - as an artist and writer. As some of you may also know, when the series was rebooted in the 2000s under the stewardship of Team Ninja and legendarily deranged game designer Tomonobu Itagaki, Masato Kato was nowhere to be found, and while the games themselves were excellent, the storytelling components were - to put it kindly - not so impressive.

Well, according to Yosuke Hayashi, Itagaki's successor and current head of Team Ninja, Kato is back. The studio seems to be interested in making the upcoming Ninja Gaiden 3 more story-intensive than its predecessors (a move which I admit I was initially quite critical of), and to try and make sure they do it right they're going back to the source. According to Hayashi, there will be plenty of throwbacks to the NES games, including multiple characters making a comeback in for the first time in 3D. This is basically Kato's biggest gig since Final Fantasy XI, so I hope it goes well for him and he can get the opportunity to work on more high-profile titles instead of the DS and cellphone games that have comprised most of his career for the better part of the last decade.

For those curious, the Hayashi interview is here, and Ninja Gaiden 3 is currently scheduled to be released in the first quarter of next year for the PS3 and Xbox 360, with an enhanced port coming later in the year as a launch title for the Wii U. Anyone interested in checking out the previous Ninja Gaiden games can download all three of the original NES titles with which Kato was involved on the Wii's Virtual Console for five bucks a pop, and the 3D games (Ninja Gaiden/Black/Sigma for Xbox and PS3, Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword for DS, and Ninja Gaiden II/Sigma 2 for 360 and PS3) should all be easy to find in stores. If you like flashy, fast-paced action games and are up for a serious challenge, I highly suggest giving them a spin.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2011, 03:17:00 am by gatotsu911 »

FaustWolf

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Re: Masato Kato returns to his roots
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2011, 01:51:28 am »
Squeeee~! Thanks for this news gatotsu. So, if he's re-tracing his steps in the industry, he has to make it back to Chrono sometime, right?

Team Ninja's reboot of the franchise took Ninja Gaiden so far away from the original material, I can't begin to imagine how this'll work out. Mmm, I'm gonna drop a link to the Ninja Gaiden II intro to celebrate!

[youtube]wmIbCNSsLqk[/youtube]

gatotsu911

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Re: Masato Kato returns to his roots
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2011, 03:33:57 am »
Quote from: FaustWolf
So, if he's re-tracing his steps in the industry, he has to make it back to Chrono sometime, right?
We can only hope, FaustWolf. We can only hope.

Man, I'd forgotten how snazzy the cutscenes were for 8-bit games. Actually, the direction, scoring, editing, etc. is pretty good even by modern cutscene standards. There's a hell of a lot more craftsmanship in that video than any cinematic in the Team Ninja games.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2011, 04:36:05 am by gatotsu911 »

X4220

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Re: Masato Kato returns to his roots
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2011, 01:34:34 pm »
PS3 owner here...For the first time, I am interested to play NG game :D.Crossing fingers for Kato....

tushantin

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Re: Masato Kato returns to his roots
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2011, 04:15:45 am »
HELL YEAH! Gimme a remake of the Ninja Gaiden prequel, Kage / Shadow of the Ninja, and I could care less about Chrono (not).  :D Kato writes it, even better! I understand that the protagonist Hayate eventually became a part of Ninja Gaiden, but what happened to Kaede?

That aside, if Kato's in, the new Ninja Gaiden series might be worth a look.

FaustWolf

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Re: Masato Kato returns to his roots
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2011, 06:14:54 am »
tushantin, you may be getting your Natsume/Taito mixed up with your Tecmo there. At least, I haven't heard of any connection between Ninja Gaiden and Shadow of the Ninja.

You bring up a really fascinating subject, though! Whoever was directing character design for the Natsume action game lineup back in the day was really adventurous. Kaede from Shadow of the Ninja is one of the very few action heroines I can think of from the 8-bit era other than Samus. Natsume would continue this trend in Wild Guns and The Ninja Warriors, both games of the most excellent quality.

It's interesting, and perhaps telling, that all of Natsume's games featured player characters of both sexes on their front covers where applicable. By comparison, the totally awesome Sewa got the shaft in Atlus' Run Saber.

Ah, man, I so wish I had the time to do an investigative essay on this now! Anyway, to get us back on track with Ninja Gaiden, here's the credits to Ninja Gaiden II. Remember that Kato went by the name "Runmal" back then. What a cool and unexpected alias.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2011, 06:24:38 am by FaustWolf »

tushantin

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Re: Masato Kato returns to his roots
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2011, 03:23:58 pm »
Quote from: Shadow Of The Ninja
Natsume began development of a Game Boy version of Shadow of the Ninja following the original NES release. However, the publishing rights of the game was were picked up by Tecmo and the title was subsequently revised as a Ninja Gaiden spinoff titled Ninja Gaiden Shadow. The Nagoya division of Natsume developed both Shadow of the Ninja and Ninja Gaiden Shadow.

Tecmo released a Game Boy version called Ninja Gaiden Shadow. It was actually a licensed edit of a proposed Shadow of the Ninja (Natsume) port. Because of this, it differs slightly from the console versions, but is still fairly faithful. Although it was released following the NES trilogy, the game is actually a prequel to the original game.
:lol: Unofficial prequel. Damn, I wanna play Ninja Warriors! >.<

Screenplay and art by Runmal. Hmm, I wonder why he would choose his alias...

FaustWolf

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Re: Masato Kato returns to his roots
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2011, 05:00:18 pm »
Oh wow, that is a weird footnote in videogame history! Thanks tushantin, I can't believe I didn't see that in the very Wikipedia article I linked to.   :lol:

Kato gives some background on his nickname in the Hardcore Gaming 101 interview about the series.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2011, 05:09:34 pm by FaustWolf »