Team Ninja is a Tecmo development studio. The studio is most widely recognized for the modern interpretations of the Ninja Gaiden franchise as well as the Dead or Alive franchise. Team Ninja was lead by game designer Tomonobu Itagaki from 2001 until July of 2008, when he resigned from the company.
Itagaki's first project with Team Ninja was Dead or Alive, a 3D fighting game designed as a response to Sega's Virtua Fighter. Since then, the studio has developed multiple sequels for a variety of platforms. Team Ninja has also produced several spin-off Dead or Alive beach-themed games starting with Dead or Alive: Xtreme Volleyball.
Following the success of the Dead or Alive series, Team Ninja went on to develop the Ninja Gaiden revival for the Xbox, and have since released two improved versions of the game as well as multiple sequels.
Depiction of Women
Team Ninja is well known for their sexualized female characters and unrealistic breast physics. The breast bounce physics in the original Dead or Alive in particular were criticized for being highly inaccurate, jiggling even when the characters barely moved.
Itagaki resigned from Tecmo in July of 2008. He claimed he had been denied appropriate bonuses for work on his past games. Since leaving the company, he has started work at Valhalla Game Studios, a start-up development house where he is currently working with a number of other former Team Ninja employees that departed with him.
Upon announcement of his resignation, Itagaki left a message for his fans and reasoning his departure:
"I, Tomonobu Itagaki, hereby announce that on the 14th of May 2008 I filed a complaint in the Tokyo District Court against Tecmo Co., Ltd. for unpaid completion bonuses, and against the President of Tecmo, Yoshimi Yasuda, for such unlawful acts as unreasonable and disingenuous statements made towards me, claiming damages in total of 148 million yen. I also announce that this complaint was delivered to the defendants on May 22nd of the same year. In addition, I hereby announce that I have today submitted a letter of resignation to Tecmo Co., Ltd. stating that I will resign as of the 1st of July, 2008.
"Before the start of development on Dead or Alive 4, Tecmo Co., Ltd. had agreed to pay a completion bonus to me for this Xbox 360 title, which I produced. However, when the time came for the actual payment, Tecmo Co., Ltd. went against its previous agreement and refused payment. President Yoshimi Yasuda chose not only to violate this agreement, but also turned defiant, telling me 'if you are dissatisfied with the decision not to pay the bonuses, either quit the company or sue it.' In addition, he made demeaning remarks about me to my subordinates and colleagues, causing me significant emotional distress and worsening my personal relationships and work environment. Thus, I have no choice but to resign from Tecmo Co., Ltd.
"The conduct of Tecmo Co., Ltd. and its president Yoshimi Yasuda towards me has been unbefitting of a publicly-listed company. I have filed this lawsuit with a strong intent to question the social responsibility of Tecmo Co., Ltd. and its President Yoshimi Yasuda, as well as condemning them for their unjust acts. Today, in addition to announcing the reasons for this lawsuit, I make clear my reasons for resigning.
" To All Game Fans"I truly feel sorry to all the fans of the games I have made. Ninja Gaiden 2, which will launch on the 3rd of June will be the last Ninja Gaiden I will create. I will also never be able to make Dead or Alive 5. I regret the circumstances that have forced me to leave Tecmo, where I had worked for so many years, and I regret the disappointment this will cause my fans. However, I can no longer continue to work with President Yoshimi Yasuda, a man who chooses not to honor promises even when he is able to do so. I truly hope that nothing like this happens again in the future."
Even though Itagaki said that the Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden games would no longer be made, Tecmo responded by saying the game development will continue and projects for both series were already in the works. Since then, new games in both franchises have been released and continue to be developed. Most recently, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 was released for the PS3 and Dead or Alive: Dimensions was released on the 3DS.
Post Itagaki Leadership
Following Itagaki's departure, Team Ninja employee Yosuke Hayashi was promoted to helm the studio. Among his first projects as studio head included Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 and Metroid: Other M.
Team Ninja is currently working on a number of announced titles. The studio has taken the reins of Ni-Oh, an action game with a troubled development history that original began life at Tecmo's partner company Koei. Team Ninja is also at work on Ninja Gaiden 3 and Dead or Alive 5.