Breaking: Ninja Gaiden's Itagaki says 'Sayonara Tecmo, see you in court'

Team Ninja head and creator of the landmark Dead or Alive fighting game series, Tomonobu Itagaki, has issued a statement announcing his resignation from long-time employer Tecmo. This news, first reported by 1UP, comes just as his latest creation, the Xbox 360 exclusive Ninja Gaiden 2, is due to hit US shelves.

In addition to resigning his position at the company – where he had a seat on the board of directors – Itagaki has announced his intention to sue Tecmo president Yoshimi Yasuda for 148 million yen (US$1.5m) in damages. Among the grievances listed in the statement are Yasuda's unwillingness to pay him bonuses promised for work on titles including Dead or Alive 4, and allegations that Yasuda "made demeaning remarks" about him to other Tecmo employees, which resulted in "significant emotional distress" and "worsening [of his] personal relationships and work environment."

Itagaki began his career at Tecmo as a graphics programmer. One of his earliest titles for the company was 1993's Tecmo Super Bowl for SNES. He later gained notoriety for his original fighting game creation, Dead or Alive, and was lauded with superstar-level recognition by Microsoft after they secured the exclusive rights to Dead or Alive 3 for the original Xbox's US launch.

In his statement, Itagaki confirmed that he will not be involved with any future Ninja Gaiden or Dead or Alive titles, as the rights to both franchises are retained by Tecmo. How Itagaki's departure will affect the future of either series will surely be at the forefront of gamers' minds, as well as those of Tecmo brass. We'll have more on this breaking story, including Tecmo's reaction, as it develops.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.