Tomonabu Itagaki
Image: Polygon

Many of you no doubt remember Devil's Third, the ill-fated third person action game from the creator of Ninja Gaiden. Though there was plenty of enthusiasm around the game during its initial reveal as a Wii U exclusive, pre-release confusion and quality concerns ultimately led to it having an underperforming debut, critically and commercially, and it's only gone further downhill since.

Tomonobu Itagaki – the game's designer – recently sat down with Polygon to have a long discussion about the game's eight year development cycle. Naturally, the discussion eventually led to how it ended up on Wii U and Itagaki had this to say about it:

When THQ went bankrupt, Kanematsu approached [Satoru] Iwata-san at Nintendo and they picked up the game. The reason why Nintendo picked up the game is that they don't have enough strong online games. Devil's Third is not a game that Nintendo could make internally, so we came in as their mercenaries to make a strong online game.

Afterwards, it was mentioned how Nintendo of America had to shoulder the burden of publishing the game in the US. Here's what Itagaki had to say on the matter:

I generally don't like to badmouth people and I have nothing but appreciation toward Nintendo for releasing Devil's Third. However, I don't believe that they gave this game their best effort in promoting and selling the game. At the same time, I also understand their position… I don't have any resentment toward the sales team at Nintendo U.S. It's natural for them to have made the decisions they made. But, I do realize that there was a shortage and I addressed this to Nintendo many times.

From here, Itagaki went on to explain the reception of this game, which was generally mixed to poor. We ended up giving it a 5/10, but Itagaki says it would've performed much better with critics had Nintendo set up online better:

Let me explain this in parts. First, the reason the reviews were so poor. I have analyzed the reason. This game was designed to be a massive shooter, so it would be fun if there were at least a thousand players in the game. But Nintendo didn't set up online matches for reviewers. So there was no way for reviewers to experience the online mode as we designed it, and they reviewed the game based mostly on the single-player story mode. If it had been Microsoft that had published the game, they would have given the game to a group of 500 players who had signed an NDA to play for the reviewers to experience the massive online mode. But NOA didn't do that.

So I don't blame the reviewers for underestimating the experience of the online mode. There's no value to the review of someone who's evaluating a piece of art with blindfolds on. That was 95 percent of the negative criticism toward the game. The remaining 5 percent was by people who wanted to build credibility by criticising the game. And this is my assumption, but one person wrote a negative review and NOA didn't do anything to stop or change the review, so others followed suit. So I don't really believe that the reviews were credible. Although I haven't read all the reviews, the reviews I saw were not very objective, more emotional.

You can read the full interview here; it's quite an amusing read, as Itagaki-san is a rather odd man and always has some rather unexpected things to say in interviews.

What do you think? Did you enjoy Devil's Third? Do you think it deserved better? Share your thoughts in the comments below.