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BitSummit 10 Developer Q&A: Jump through enemies in the roguelike action of Ninja or Die

For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, Japan's longest-running independent game dev festival, BitSummit, reconvened this August in Kyoto. A special deputized deployment of VGG staff attended the weekend-long event and reported back with exclusive Q&As with developers in Japan's pioneering indie game dev scene. Check back in with us to explore an exciting batch of upcoming games in VGG's BitSummit 10 coverage.

There's no time to waste: Get your ninja gear on and get ready for the fast-paced and flashy roguelike action of Ninja or Die.

The pixel art focused key art of Ninja or Die. A meditating ninja can be seen in the middle of the screen.

Ninja or Die is a fast-paced roguelike action game that is controlled with a single button and the control stick. Players do everything in the game — be it simple movement, attacking, or dodging enemies — through jumping. Despite its simple mechanics, the game has a very hectic atmosphere that encourages constant, quick movement.

Beyond the challenge of beating stages, players are able to challenge themselves in beating levels as quickly as possible or in the smallest number of moves.

The game’s independent creator, Nao Shibata, was on the Bitsummit floor and kindly gave us some of his time for an interview.

The following interview was translated from Japanese.

An animated GIF depicting the chaos of Ninja or Die. Various scenes depict the player character in Ninja or Die fighting enemies, flying upward through a vertical stage, or pushing forward during an auto-scrolling level.

VGG: “Please introduce yourself.”

Shibata: “I am Nao Shibata of Nao Games who created Ninja or Die.”

VGG: “How would you describe Ninja or Die to someone who had never played games before?”

Shibata: “In this game, you can’t walk or run; you do everything in the game by jumping. You defend by jumping, you attack by jumping, it’s a game where that’s all you can do.”

VGG: “What is the thing that you like the most in your game?”

Shibata: “Let’s see, I think that the graphics are the part I like the most.”

A screenshot of a boss fight in Ninja or Die. A group of ninjas are attached to a giant kite as they throw pink daggers at the player in a forest landscape.

VGG: “Why did you choose this type of graphics?”

Shibata: “Well, I made the game by myself. I worked at a game company in the past and I was a 2D designer. Also, doing animations alone can be difficult.”

VGG: “What was the inspiration for this game?”

Shibata: “In the past, I wanted to make a game centered around jumping. Thinking about it, I thought that it could be interesting if jumping was the only thing that you could do.”

VGG: “If someone wants to help support your game, what should they do?”

Shibata: “The game is releasing at the end of this month on Steam.* The publisher has been decided and will be announced on the Steam page. Following [me] on Twitter would help, though.”

*The release date for Ninja or Die has since been adjusted, and it is expected to launch on Steam in 2023, published by Marvelous Europe.

Wishlist the game or follow the developer on social media to stay up to date with the game's launch timeline!

A neon-glow surrounds a pink cherry blossom tree. The main ninja character is seen crouched in the bottom left corner of the screen. Health bars and minimap information is all across the top of the screen.
The Bitsummit X-Roads logo, with a pink and blue X shape.


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