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Keiji Inafune's Yaiba Revealed As Ninja Gaiden Spin-Off

The 2012 installment of the Tokyo Game Show has officially kicked off more or less thanks to Sony’s dull if slightly predictable press conference.  In some ways TGS has always been known as a PlayStation centric event, but the show is far from being a complete dud as of now. While announcements will be made and new reveals of existing games will be shown, we do have our first true surprise of the show thanks to Keiji Inafune and the folks over at Tecmo Koei.

Last week we saw the surprising reveal of Yaiba, a new 3rd person action game from Keiji Inafune (creator of Mega Man, Dead Rising) and his company Comcept.  Featuring a visual style that stood out thanks to its cell shaded approach and gameplay which promised to be fast if a bit absurd, Yaiba had some good early buzz despite not knowing which platforms it would be destined for.  Well today we don’t have another Bayonetta 2 type meltdown situation, but it has been revealed that Yaiba is a Ninja Gaiden spin-off game.

After delivering a third entry in the series which did near irreparable damage due to how bad it was, Tecmo Koei is taking the Ninja Gaiden series in a different direction thanks to Keiji Inafune and Yaiba.  Announced by Tecmo this morning, the full title of Yaiba will be Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z. I assume the Z part of the title is a reference to zombies unless I’m missing something else.

Full details on Yaiba still haven’t been revealed, but the plot of the game will supposedly follow Yaiba (the cyborg chap we saw in the trailer) hunting Ninja Gaiden series lead Ryu Hayabusa.  It’s unknown if Yaiba will be a full-on anti-hero/baddie in the game or if there’s a plot element which will explain why Ryu is suddenly being chased.  

If the reveal of Yaiba’s true nature and plot wasn’t a big enough surprise for you then get a load of this: Spark Unlimited (Legendary: The Box, Lost Planet 3) is developing the game. It was initially believed that Keiji Inafune and his team at Comcept would be the sole developers of Yaiba, but as revealed today Keiji will merely play the role of supervisor more or less while Spark Unlimited does the core development duties.  This news finally puts to rest what the mysterious second project Spark Unlimited was seeking talent for in job posts which listed vague hints such as having experience with games featuring sword action.

Prior to the reveal of Spark Unlimited being a part of Yaiba I think the mood amongst gamers was one of hope, but now in the wake of this news I think all of that has diminished to remain nothing more than a dry husk.  It’s certainly possible that gamers are just going through the motions just as we all did with the Ninja Theory DmC news, but unlike that situation, in which most of us knew the game would look stunning visually, Spark Unlimited hasn’t done anything in the past four years to prove they’ll give us a good game let alone one that could survive based on how artistically beautiful it is. 

Considering what has transpired so far, it seems like the influence of Keiji Inafune will be minimal at best in the overall product that is Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z. I’ll admit that putting the Ninja Gaiden franchise in Keiji’s hands is an excellent move, but making Spark Unlimited do all the work itself has me worried, and to be honest almost seems like a contradictory thing for Keiji to be a part of based on his previous comments concerning the Japanese development community.

Platform details for Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z haven’t been announced, but seeing as how the PlayStation Blog mentioned it today it’s safe to say the game will at least appear on a PlayStation platform of some kind.