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Archive for November 4th, 2011


Shinobi 3DS – Griptonite Q&A with Concept Art!

Shinobi 3DS Logo

Shinobi on Nintendo 3DS is nearly here! We’re in the launch month, only two weeks away (depending on your region) from the launch of the game. As we build up, we have some content that I think everyone who is interested in the title will enjoy, starting with a blog introducing a few of the team from Griptonite! We asked the team to prepare a few answers to some important questions with anecdotes from their past.

Enjoy the two parts to this blog and we’ve even got some special concept art peppered in for your enjoyment!

Tell us a bit about Griptonite, what is your design philosophy?

Griptonite Logo
Griptonite Games is located in super-sunny-all-the-time Kirkland, Washington. Ok, maybe not so much with the sunny. We employ over 150 people who are passionate about crafting great videogames. Griptonite has shipped more than 70 titles including both major film franchises, such as Harry Potter, Spider-Man, and The Lord of the Rings and established franchises like The Sims, Assassin’s Creed and Age of Empires.

Griptonite has always been a very versatile studio that has produced a wide variety of game genres. We’re probably best known for our side-scrolling gameplay featured in games like Spider-Man Web of Shadows, Assassin’s Creed II: Discoveries and Spyro: The Eternal Night. These games all share a similar combat system where an emphasis is placed on fluid controls and high-action 2D combat with a premium placed on timing. The goal is to reward the skilled player while still allowing the “button-masher” a great experience.

What’s it like working on Shinobi? What does Shinobi mean to you?

Shinobi 3DS - Early Silhouette

Kris Durrschmidt – Lead Designer – “I grew up with four younger brothers in a fairly poor military family. So I only got a video game (sometimes two!) for the most part on Christmas or on my birthday. We were also a SEGA family. We were the envy of the neighborhood with our Master System! Our living room was always crowded with friends waiting to get their turns at playing the original Shinobi, Afterburner, Hang-On, Outrun and many other SEGA hits.

Our family moved onto the Genesis in 1989. The first time I popped in Altered Beast that came with the system back then, my mind was BLOWN. I mean seriously! Those sprites were so amazingly HUGE and detailed! I was a freshman in high school when I got Revenge of Shinobi on the SEGA Genesis for my birthday. That game was a turning point in my life. Revenge of Shinobi is THE game that made me want to work in video games when I “grew up”. I spent my summers dreaming up all sorts of Shinobi art, scenarios and watching tons of Sho Kosugi ninja movies!

Shinobi 3DS - Genin Concept

I was so excited for Shinobi III that when I heard it was coming I decided it was time to get a job at McDonald’s so I could afford to get it the day it came out. Shinobi III is still in my personal top ten games of all time list. The balance and thought that went into the design of Shinobi III, is in my mind, near perfection. I still regularly play this game. It is on my Genesis right next to my desk!

Fast forward many years, military service and 10 years with Griptonite Games and I finally got a shot of a lifetime working on a game franchise that defined my young adulthood.

Shinobi 3DS - Enemies Concept 1

When Shinobi got the green light to be developed, it didn’t take too long before it really hit me hard about how epic this responsibility was. I realized there were millions of people out there, just like me that love Shinobi to death and would be furious if something went wrong with their favorite franchise. It is this realization that drives every single decision that the team made (sometimes really “passionate” debates) and kept me up a lot at night.

I could talk forever about Shinobi and my favorite SEGA games, but to the point, everyone behind the development of this Shinobi game is a huge fan of SEGA and the Shinobi franchise. We made the Shinobi game that we wanted to play (we crammed a lot of goodness into this one!) and we hope that everyone else who is also a fan of Shinobi would recognize and enjoy what we have created.”

Shinobi 3DS - Character Concept

Brandon Gillam – Lead Artist – When I was assigned Lead Artist on Shinobi, my brain exploded. I have been a fan of the series from the beginning. We used to play Shinobi Arcade with our plastic katanas in our t-shirts back in the day. I wanted to keep the look clean and simple, so the gameplay and difficulty could take center stage. I wanted to design our hero with a techy edge, as Maeda-san did as well. The final product has that infuriating die and die again gameplay that made the arcade so fun. To me, that is the essence of the franchise and my colleagues really delivered on the “be a REAL ninja, or die” mentality that old games are known for, but we’ve added plenty of goodies and combat moves that give the fighting a modern feel. It’s pretty intense walking into an IP this legendary, but I feel we’ve done it justice.

Shinobi 3DS - Chopper Attack Concept

Taron Millet – Gameplay Programmer – Everyone on the team was a big fan of the classic Shinobi games (particularly Shinobi III on the Genesis), though personally I also really enjoyed the PS2 Shinobi for its own sake. I often feel modern games are missing the charm – and the challenge – that Shinobi once offered, so it was a great opportunity to bring that style of gameplay to a new system like the Nintendo 3DS and show that classic game design still has a lot to offer. The designers and I carefully studied what exactly made games like Shinobi III so great and incorporated as much of that as possible, but at the same time we looked at what things people didn’t like so much and found ways to improve upon those, as well as adding in the great features expected in modern games like achievements and unlockables. I truly believe that anyone who enjoyed the classic side-scrolling Shinobi games are going to love what we’ve done here once they get their hands on it!

More to come!

Check back next week for more questions and more concept art!


Sonic Generations Speeds into Action in Europe

sonic generations logo

Today’s the day that all Sonic and SEGA fans in Europe have been looking forward to all year! The highly anticipated Sonic Generations is now available on XBOX 360, PS3 and PC Download.

This is your chance to get your hands on classic and modern Sonic and guide them through iconic levels from the 20 years of Sonic the Hedgehog.

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