Interview: Tomonobu Itagaki

Interview: Tomonobu Itagaki

Tomonobu Itagaki’s new company, Valhalla Games Studio, is named to portray and commemorate his team as “old gods and glorious warriors”, according to the frequently outspoken developer. Quick to put his troubles with Tecmo behind him, Itagaki has signed “for as long as they will have him” with THQ and is working on a new, hugely violent thirdperson shooter Devil’s Third.

Dressed from head to toe in Japanese designer wear carefully created to give the impression of a rebel – notably capped off with an Ed Hardy distressed leather jacket – Itagaki talks to us about the state of the Japanese game industry, running for political candidacy and why Devil’s Third will be the "best game ever".

The concept art for Devil’s Third depicts an apocalyptic world

Devil’s Third seems to follow in your tradition of graphically violent videogames.
This is going to be the first time that I’ve made a shooter. However, when it comes to knowledge – for example, of war – I think I’m one of the top three people in the industry. My end goal is not just to make ‘a shooter’. What I’m trying to do is make a world that describes war and conflict, and what kind of solution we can have. Something that is in and of itself a pure representation of fighting. Of ‘violence’.

There are many important things in this world – one is violence. Second, women. Then there’s flowers, friendship, betrayal, death… dancing. Children, of course, are one of these important things. Many, many important things. These are the things that touch the soul of every human being, and if you’re trying to put together something great and meaningful for all the people on Earth, you’ve got to assign the right role to each element.

Devil’s Third certainly doesn’t hold back on the blood

Women are second most important? We noticed that there’s a female protagonist in this game.

Half the population of Earth is female! As I said, my games are intended to reflect reality. Of course, it is important they be beautiful too; have great animation, smooth movement and give the player great manoeuvrability. There will be a lot of verticality to our game and, you know, martial arts are really cool, so those things will make Devil’s Third stand out.

Violence and beauty are both important. How important is challenge?
If you’re referring to my previous games, look, I’ll say it: the boss character in Dead Or Alive 4 was definitely too difficult. I’ll apologise to your readers for it: I’m the one who did that, and I’m sorry. But look, Ninja Gaiden, it was absolutely intentional that it be that difficult. That game was a revival version of a classic game for old-school gamers, so I wanted to make the hardcore happy. Ninja Gaiden 2, though, I really wanted more to people to enjoy that, but what happened was that we ran out of time for balancing. That was a tragedy. Really. For Devil’s Third, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. We’ve got support from THQ’s testing team, and we’re going to work really closely with those guys to balance the game. It’s going to be the best game ever.