GZ Interview: A-ddictive Action-Adventuring Commences This Fall In I-Ninja

A-ddictive Action-Adventuring
Commences This Fall In “I-Ninja”


Louis Bedigian


Namco continues the
onslaught of gaming goodness with another impressive title to anticipate. 
GameZone Online chats with the developers to gain more insight into the world
of I-Ninja.



Humans get to
have all the fun.  We have the joy of suffering through high school, and 20
years after it’s over, we get to go back and relive the magic by attending a


Jealous of our
“fun,” video game mascots decided to have a reunion of their own.  Every year
they get together and reminisce about the good ol’ days, just like us humans. 
This year a new face appeared at the reunion, causing Mario to investigate.


“Who are you?”
the plumber asked.  “I don’t remember seeing you last year.”


“I Ninja.”


“Eye Ninja? 
Oh, so you like, kill enemies with your pupils or something?”


eyeball Ninja
, I-Ninja!”


“I’m Mario,
but you can call me I-Plumber.”




Lara, what was your occupation again?”




The mascots
laughed, cried, and shed tears when Sonic told the story about collecting his
first ring.


“There I was,
spinning and spinning, when suddenly I saw it.  It was so bright and circular
– I just had to have it!”


Mario wiped
his eyes, “What happened next?”


“I fell on a
spike and lost it.”


This year
Namco has created a new mascot to add to the classic list: I-Ninja
They already have Pac-Man, but if Nintendo can have more than one mascot, why
can’t Namco?  Besides – most Pac-Man games are two-dimensional.  I-Ninja
will be in full 3D and includes several wide-open areas to explore.  It also
features several unique and highly-addictive gameplay mechanics that’ll keep
you hooked like a shuriken on a wall. 


Want proof? 
Then read this interview with Namco’s

Jon Kromrey
(Producer) and Argonaut’s Jamie Walker (Co-Producer), Seb Canniff
(Co-Producer), and Dax Ginn (Lead Designer).



Q: This
game has an interesting title. Where did "I-Ninja" come from and what does it



The title “I-Ninja” is a reflection of the main character’s super-sized ego
and the way he sees himself. Even though he’s a pint-sized fighter, his iron
will and eagerness to fight evil more than make up for what he lacks in


In every
respect Ninja feels that he’s the best in the world, but as his Master
, points out, he is too eager and impatient, resorting to
striking first and asking questions later. “I-Ninja” is also the 4th
and most powerful Rage Ability that Ninja acquires, giving him the ability to 

his Rage

orce field
that kills anything that comes into contact with it,
his enemies literally explode with fear


Q: Which genre
does I-Ninja relate to more: platformer or action/adventure?



Definitely more on the Action Adventure side. There is so much variety in the
game that the player will be constantly seeing new environments, missions,
weapons, game mechanics, mini-games, Rage Abilities, and more. There are
platformer elements (running and jumping, grinding and so on,) but a ton
of other things thrown in – real physics for wall-running, half-pipes,
chain swinging



If Ninja
Gaiden were he, he’d claim this ninja as his very own “Mini-Me.”



Q: In the
demo released with the PS2 version of Soul Calibur 2, I-Ninja included a
number of gameplay options, like barrel-rolling and Tony Hawk-style grinding.
How many gameplay options are being planned for the game, and how often is
each one used?



There are many different mechanics Ninja needs to use as he progresses through
the game. In the beginning they are the basics – jumping, wall running, chain
swinging, sword hovering, grinding… even rolling around on a giant
laser-eyeball! Then comes running up and down half pipes, ‘power chaining’
around 180-degree bends, fighting underwater in a submarine, taking control of
mechanized ‘enforcers’ that fire mini-guns and plasma cannons, shooting
remote-controlled rockets, defending the shores by using a large fixed gun
placement and ridinge
on the back of rockets, and more… (whew!)


As the game
continues, the player will have to use each of these gameplay mechanics in
different combinations, and even in back-to-back combos in order to get to the
end of tougher and tougher missions. In some cases there is a time limit where
Ninja needs to complete the course, but, naturally, there are obstacles like
enemies jumping out, water hazards, and pools of toxic waste. At the end of
the game the player actually ends up on the moon, so we get to challenge the
player with moon-physics as well.


Q: Is
I-Ninja a man of many weapons? We’ve seen his sword, shuriken and blow darts.
Does he use anything else?



In addition to his sword, shurikens and hi-explosive darts, Ninja can actually
climb onto missile launchers and shoot missiles (regular and guided) at his
enemies and to break open objects to reveal coins.

He fights in a giant 150
robot, uses sever
types of gun emplacement
crushes enemies

by rolling over them

with giant eyeballs, nuts and hearts.
We’ve also added multiple sword
upgrades based on the number of enemies Ninja kills.




If you can’t
beat ‘em, don’t join ‘em –

Just use a
sword instead.



Q: Are there
any sneaking elements in I-Ninja?



Ninja embarks on a few stealth missions, armed with his sniping explosive blow
darts. These missions aren’t the main core of the game because Ninja is more
likely to steam into a room and kill everybody rather than sneak around them.
If they’re dead they can’t call for help, right? This game is more about
fast-paced action, but the stealth option is there if you want to stick to the


Q: Players
can perform a three-hit sword combo by tapping the SQUARE button three times.
Is that the extent of the combo system?



We’ve recently expanded Ninja’s fighting system so that he has even more sword
combos (back-thrusts, circle-swings, and so on). Ninja even makes different
moves depending on how the player presses the attack buttons and moves the
analog-stick to the side, back, or in a rotation.


Q: In
addition to land combat, I-Ninja can swim. How does this come into play? Are
there any watery lands to explore?



Several of the environments like Jungle Falls have water where Ninja needs to
swim in order to get through a level. While the water itself is not dangerous,
Ninja needs to stay wary or he might get swept off of a waterfall!


Q: I-Ninja
has unique, light-hearted character designs. Who is the person responsible for
coming up with them?



It’s hard to attribute the


to one single person
as with everything we do it’s a


process that involves several team members and lots of feedback f

lots of people.

Most of the concept sketches were done by

one of


Lead Artists (Tanguy Dewarin), and then the in-game models were mostly made by
our Senior Character Artist

(Neil Crosbourne).

But many other artists and animators had a hand in much of the character



The gameplay
is a barrel of fun.



The demo had one mission door that said
"This door stays locked till fall 2003." Any hints as to what we’ll find
behind the door in the full version?



Now let me see, what door was that….?

We don’t want to give to
much away, but that mission involves you retrieving a part of the 150
tall robot that
in order

to fight the first Boss of the game


Approximately how many missions are being planned for the game? Will there be
any secret missions or hidden areas?



We have 64 missions in total, but it is not


to complete every mission to get to the end of the game.

if you want to obtain your
and be able to enter the


Battle Arena, then you will have to complete them all!

Some missions are bonus ones

(2 in each hub)

You will need to collect enough
to buy them from the Guardians
These levels take place in Manga Space (what’s that you say?
you’ll have to wait and see….).


Q: Are there
any boss battles in I-Ninja?



Yes, there
nothing I-Ninja likes more than to get

his hand
dirty with a big bad boss fight

There is a Boss for each hub and then the final Boss (

O-Dor) at the end of the game.


see you using a number of different techniques and

a variety of

heavy machinery to do battle against these most fearsome of enemies.


Thanks for
your time guys!