In completely baffling news, Ninja Gaiden Black designer Tomonobu Itagaki has been added to the violent virtual sandbox of Saints Row: The Third.
If it helps ease the sensation that your brain is about to explode, Saints Row publisher THQ has some palpable motivation for this confusing stunt.
See, a few years back Mr. Itagaki left Ninja Gaiden/Dead or Alive publisher Tecmo following a heated dispute over unpaid wages. Since that time, Itagaki and a number of his pals from Tecmo's "Team Ninja" division have formed Valhalla Game Studios. Valhalla's first game, Devil's Third is being published by THQ, and presumably the company believes that adding Itagaki to Saints Row: The Third will cross promote both titles.
Itagaki's character (who seems to serve as a simple aesthetic option, as opposed to a big part of the plot), is said to sport the developer's borderline-trademarked sunglasses and leather jacket look.
Admittedly, this is the sort of news that I find hilarious, but then again, it's my job to know who Tomonobu Itagaki is. I will laugh when his in-game analogue flirts with a busty woman, because I had to cover the 2006 sexual harassment suit filed against the developer.
Don't get me wrong, I appreciate THQ creating content specifically for me and the two or three dozen other gaming journalists who will actually understand it, but is Itagaki's presence at all meaningful to the average person? Will Joe Q. Sixpack think this is clever, or will he just wonder why this tiny Japanese man is repeatedly demanding "jiggle physics?"
(Note: I have no idea if the in-game Itagaki will actively berate the Saints Row: The Third development team for improperly animating the mammaries of the title's lady characters. I hope he does, but again, that's the kind of thing that's only entertaining to me, Jim Sterling and at least one member of the Kotaku writing staff.)