When we think of Team Ninja games, we think of violence, ninjas, sex and… well… beach volleyball. And for the longest time, Team Ninja was perfectly content with the image they created for themselves under the leadership of former boss Tomonobu Itagaki. However, the winds of change are upon us, as new Team Ninja boss, Yosuke Hayashi, has plans to clean up the studio's image, replacing the focus on gratuitous violent and meaningless sex appeal with one of class.
In an interview with Gamasutra, Hayashi addressed the topic head on, stating "The old team was known for making games that just had two primary elements: Sex and violence. It was very obvious. The new team, we want to take it to a new level – to a direction that contains emotional experiences that can move players."
For example, in Ninja Gaiden 3 (coming to Xbox 360 and PS3 in late March), Team Ninja's goal is to "give meaning to violence" and to "make adults think." This is in stark contrast to previous Ninja Gaiden games, which, frankly, had nonsensical plots used as nothing more than window dressing for all the bloodshed.
Likewise, Dead or Alive 5 will be a change of pace for the franchise, focusing on showing "something that's more high class, that adult males of our generation could look at a woman [character] and be impressed with her as a woman, not just as a pin-up." To that we say, god speed. The Dead of Alive franchise has always put T&A above all else, so it should be interesting to see this series with a different focal point.
This will definitely be an uphill battle for Team Ninja. They are a studio known for their focus on sex and violence, so changing up that formula will probably throw a few people for a loop. However, it's the smart move, in my humble opinion. This approach will not only clean off the grime associated with Team Ninja's name, but if it works, it will also help the gaming industry in general grow and be taken as something more than just a young male's power fantasy.