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Heavenly Sword called "half-assed" by Ninja Gaiden Guru

In the latest issue of EGM, Ninja Gaiden creator Itagaki Tomonobu spoke out against the upcoming Heavenly Sword, deeming the sequences where you press certain buttons to perform certain actions (known as "hero sequences") a poor design choice and "half-assed".

Itagaki-san was quoted as saying: "I've never played a good game where the developers put a big icon of the button you're supposed to press onscreen ... I look at Heavenly Sword and it seems really half-assed, because it's asking you to do all these button-timing sequences but you are not getting much payoff from it." We have to disagree with Itagaki-san. For some of the actions you perform, there wouldn't be a really good substitute outside of timed button sequences. It's mostly for style and we enjoy watching them. With that in mind, we think there's a lot of potential for payoff.

Kyle Shubel, producer at Ninja Theory, responded to Itagaki's statement. It's a battle of words! "My response to Mr. Itagaki would be that the intent of the Hero sequences is to empower the player to experience events that would be nearly impossible to play in a natural platforming state ... for example, making the player run down ropes, leaping from rope to rope as they're being cut from underneath you, all while dodging other objects - that would be a frustrating experience to 99 percent of our users if we were to force them to do that manually." We agree, and we'll leave it at that.

[via N4G]

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Reader Comments

(Page 1)

1. You gotta love Itagaki Tomonobu, you can hate him or love. The man speaks his freaking mind which I think is so cool.

Posted at 8:39AM on Aug 6th 2007 by The1

2. Um God of War anyone?

Posted at 8:44AM on Aug 6th 2007 by Brian

3. Do you think he said the same thing about God of War? Not sure about the first one but the second had the same sort of button sequence pressing and that i thought that was really good!!

Posted at 8:45AM on Aug 6th 2007 by Muzzy

4. I am no fan of 'Timed Button' sequences. I think most games use them very poorly. In fact, Spiderman 3 comes to mind (yes.. I have played it... sadly). In a lot of games that use this technique they cause the game to lose value. Spiderman 3 used them in almost every boss battle which made the boss experience feel cheap and un-fulfilling. It became a 'Press X to defeat this boss' game.

However, there are times where they may have their purpose such as in the Rope sequence. Having said that, Team Ninja has done an exceptional job with Ninja Gaiden in giving the player control over the ninja's abilities. I believe that anything can be done without having to resort to 'timed-button pressing' and still make it possibly for the player to pull each move off.

I would be willing to bet that the 'Timed-Button' sequences in Heavenly Sword are limited to instances like the rope jump. However, if they made another 'Press X to defeat this boss' game I will probably pass on this game.

Posted at 8:52AM on Aug 6th 2007 by ShadowHawk01

5. how about God of War and Resident Evil 4, both are games that are far superior than mindless crap like heavenly sword and ninja gaiden

Posted at 8:57AM on Aug 6th 2007 by Michael K.

6. Yes, I'm sure he said the same thing about God of War. He also hates Devil May Cry.

It's funny how when a game designer speaks about another game, people get all agitated. Itagaki Tomonobu, like every other gamer out there, has his likes and dislikes. And what he likes are games that are very skill-based (ie, Ninja Gaiden).

If you take his comments about Heavenly Sword in-context (ie, if you've read/seen interviews with the guy and know a bit about him) this comment isn't at all surprising.

Posted at 9:06AM on Aug 6th 2007 by GRT

7. Personaly I'm really looking forward to this game, I think that the 'Timed Button' sequences work within a game if used in moderation. I actualy enjoyed Tomb Raider Legend with its 'Timed Button' sequences. It helps to think of them like Interactive cut scenes.

Posted at 9:07AM on Aug 6th 2007 by au815

8. I enjoy the button sequences in GOW and RE4 because they flow well with the gameplay. There is a big payoff especially in GOW because it usually results in a big, gory finale for whatever monster you're skewering.

TRA's were okay, but felt a little tacked-on. I can't complain about interactivity during cut scenes though.

I do wish sequences like the HS rope run could have been done manually. It would have made it exhilarating to complete, kind of like when you get through a particularly horrible set of wall saws and rope leaps in Prince of Persia.

Posted at 9:14AM on Aug 6th 2007 by Metoo

9. God of War says hello.

Posted at 9:24AM on Aug 6th 2007 by Khash

10. True Story: Ive never finished God of War 2 because of the FREAKIN final button sequence.. F*CK!... come ON.. i deserve to finish it. I dont have the reflexes of a 17 year old anymore.. :(

Posted at 9:27AM on Aug 6th 2007 by phattie

11. LOL

Posted at 9:27AM on Aug 6th 2007 by Brucie B

12. I happen to be a fan of his DOA series (including the volleyball).

Used to be really into DOA.
And I can still say I like Itagaki... because every interview has something so brash and extreme.

I may not agree with him, but speaking his mind is his right. And I enjoy it when it's funny. Especially the one interview where he openly said 17 year-old girls are gorgeous (I agree!).

Posted at 9:35AM on Aug 6th 2007 by Alex

13. GRT:
"Itagaki Tomonobu, like every other gamer out there, has his likes and dislikes. And what he likes are games that are very skill-based (ie, Ninja Gaiden)."

He also likes Dead or Alive, which is undoubtedly the least skill-based of all the 3D fighters. What he really likes are games HE makes. Itagaki is pretty much the Uwe Boll of game designers, only some of his games end up not completely craptastic.

Posted at 9:41AM on Aug 6th 2007 by upz

14. There is a Codebreaker code for GOW 2 that lets you do slow motion speed. I've never tried it myself. Maybe it would work during these sequences? I had trouble with that one myself. I hate when they make you sit through exposition again after you die!

Posted at 9:41AM on Aug 6th 2007 by Metoo

15. I'm not a button masher fan, and the rope scene in the demo took me a while to do. I couldn't figure out the timed button presses seeing as I don't really play these games. In the end I think that it was a cool scene and I have no idea how I would implement it, but button pressing is like a 10 years ago feature. I'd be happy to see it go.

Posted at 9:48AM on Aug 6th 2007 by James

16. @ upz

while i do realize that DOA has a negative repuation for b00bs with no depth, i can assure you that there is more to the DOA series than that.

comparing it to other fighters is apples and oranges IMO. with any decent fighter (i consider DOA decent)), the better player will win.

skill can be so many things, dexterity, memorized frame data, reaction timing, with lucky being the most minimal aspect.
i wouldn't be so fast to cast DOA at the bottom of the barrel.

Posted at 9:51AM on Aug 6th 2007 by Alex

17. "i wouldn't be so fast to cast DOA at the bottom of the barrel."

I would. Why? You said skill can be so many things, with lucky being the most minimal aspect, yet DoA is soley based on luck.

Say your a decent fighter, and you play against a rookie. All he has to get in are 2-3 counters, and your pretty much dead. Thats all it breaks down to is who gets the counters in, which is made by pushing to buttons at the same time, back and x button.

With that being said, i too enjoy DoA though. Kasumi rocks :)

Posted at 10:00AM on Aug 6th 2007 by jojo29

18. I thought the timed button sequences were great. I'd do it over and over again. It was fast paced, intense and gorgeous. I like Tomonobu, he's got this rock star attitude and openly comments on games and systems. Plus he and his team make great games. Who cares if he slams a game. It doesn't effect the way I feel about it. It's actually sort of funy when he says stuff like that. I say Keep it up!!. It definitly keeps everything interesting.

Posted at 10:04AM on Aug 6th 2007 by Zumafire

19. I don't know, I fell in love with timed button sequences the first time I encountered them (Dark Cloud) and believe games like GoW and RE4 only improved on that formula. In the end, though, isn't this what all platformers are? I mean you run toward the edge of one platform, time your jump and press a button; seems like these sequences just give that tried and true formula a bit more cinematic quality.

Either way, I respect that people don't like button press sequences, they're not for everyone I suppose.

Posted at 10:04AM on Aug 6th 2007 by Mazdak

20. Itagaki-san is quickly becoming one of my favorite people in the game industry. He has the no bull attitude I appreciate, and I think more people should adopt it. He is a genius marred by scandal and under-appreciated in the age he lives.

I think he is right on target about Heavenly Sword and his earlier comments about DMC being all flair and no substance. People need to get the glare of cinema-games games out of their eyes and start seeing these games for what they are. Shallow.

And why do people attack DOA4? So what if it isn't super technical like your favorite fighting game. Who gives a crap if it's skill based or not. Are you such a sore loser that you only have fun when you are winning? People love to button mash and rely on a little luck, outside of a handful of pathetic Tekken kiddies whose life aspirations will peak in middle school. Stop harping on "skillz" like gaming is a profession. Unless you make six figures on gaming...every year, you have no right to use your deluded, self-aggrandizing self-image as the standard the rest of the world should be held to. Back on topic...

What's worse than this...Heavenly Sword is a God of War clone BECAUSE of this FMV-style action sequence, and anyone who can't see it is blind or a sucker.

Posted at 10:14AM on Aug 6th 2007 by Edge

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