The Art of Grasshopper Manufacture: Suda51 on industry limitations & creative freedom

First off, you should buy this for the artwork. There is some brilliant artistry on display.

From Killer Is Dead to Shadows of the Damned to Sine Mora to Lollipop Chainsaw to No More Heroes to Killer7 to Flower, Sun, & Rain to The Silver Case and back again, this has something for everyone.

You can easily get it at Amazon.jp for around $40, with shipping,and with a full English translation included.

(Image credit to Neogaf’s Eolz)

What REALLY makes this fascinating is Suda’s personal tidbits on every game in the book. Not just the mainstream stuff, he even comments on projects that he merely oversaw or assisted on like Contact, Evangelion: 3nd Impact, and the iOS game Frog Minutes.

Here’s some fascinating excerpts.

On Shadows of the Damned, and EA making him do FIVE DRAFTS:

They[EA] told us that ‘westerners are about guns, so give him a gun’, and the direction of the project turned 180 degrees. EA is a really macho company, and we argued with them as we developed it. Their demands were really strong. WE ended up drafting the scenario five times before it was completed. In the end, each was so unique that it felt like I had basically written five different games.

In the very final(fifth) draft, it turned into a love story. EA informed us, “There’s this thing called an ‘elevator draft’, and if you can’t tell your story in the length of an elevator ride, Hollywood won’t use it.” All their stories fall into one of four categories.

On Sine Mora.

The scenario was written entirely by Digital Reality’s director at the time, Theodore Reiker. He was also a Hungarian, and was thinking of basing the story off of Hungary’s war history. Hungary has a history of constantly losing in battle, so the sadness of those wartime events made its way into the game. Some very powerful emotions went into this project. I had a mostly hands-off approach with this project, doing little more than play testing.

On Killer Is Dead, Lollipop Chainsaw, and Kadokawa Games being all about the bottom dollar.

There was a strong request from our publisher, Kadokawa Games, to include sexy female characters, so although we originally only had Vivienne and Mika, we started to add even more to the game. We added a “gigolo mission” in order to boost sales. As for the female character designs, Kadokawa’s demands became very overwhelming, to the point that there wasn’t room for my own ideas.

We had just finished an earlier project, Lollipop Chainsaw, and I really didn’t want there to be this image of “Grasshopper = erotic”. Lollipop’s backstory wasn’t supposed to be erotic at all, but it turned out that way because we added the shell bikini costume(among others)later in development.

However, that was done because the publisher, Kadokawa Games, had a solid idea of what sells, and that became a good learning experience. The development was hard, but in the end, we had fun making this game.

On No More Heroes & No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle:

With No More Heroes, we wrote the story first. We made it based on my scenario, but for 2, it was the opposite and we did the characters first. If I had to say, the story was rather thin. That’s the difference between 1 and 2.

On Killer7, and Shinji Mikami providing complete creative freedom.

Killer7 was a game that I designed and checked practically by myself. I originally wasn’t going to do it alone, but Mikami wouldn’t hear of it. That was ultra-Spartan, but I absolutely had to do it all myself.

I really liked the scenario, but I had to ask someone else to substitute for some of the work. When Mikami read it, he asked,”This isn’t your scenario, is it?” When I said, “Ah,I left this to some other staff because of the workload,” He replied, “No, it’s no good. Please write it all.” Then, I supposed, if he really liked it that much, I need to meet his expectations, and wrote every last word and phrase. I don’t think I could make a game like that again.

At that point, Mikami entrusted the making of the entire game to me. I think I was probably protected by him(even from Capcom) when the release date was pushed back. He provided an environment that let me create everything I wanted to create. That kind of development is really rare. I haven’t had an experience like that since, a project like Killer7 that I practically made with my own hands.

Truly, I feel like Mikami really protected me all the way.

On Flower, Sun, and Rain:


There were many fans who said this was their favorite game. It’s a mysterious game. If I look back on it now, I think, “So I was able to make a game like this?” It’s an adventure game that’s difficult to explain. I was originally from the very bottom of the game company Human Inc., but the other staff had different origins, so I probably seemed like a stray dog to some of them. In any case, I still wanted to create something new, even if we argued all the time.

On The Silver Case:

This is an illustration from Parade, the third episode. During the original draft, Miyamoto’s illustration cut schedule was packed, so I only asked him for all the cuts for the third episode.

When we ported Silver Case for the DS, Miyamoto took a break from the illustration that he was doing on Ward 25 at the time and started on all the cuts for this parade. In the end, we finished the port to the DS but weren’t able to distribute it, so this illustration hasn’t been distbruted either. Now I want to remake The Silver Case, not just port it.

Silver Case is something I’d like to release outside of Japan someday. I have been getting some offers from a Spanish company to localize it along with some other titles. This was my first original title and the debut for Grasshopper, so it’s really important to us.

I wanted to make a game that can’t be deciphered in just a single glance. It was difficult to get the staff to understand that. I guess I really did look like a doubtful character, a “stray dog”. But if I have to say, I think I really wanted to go down the path of making a game in a way that no one had ever achieved before.

The Silver Case is like the history of that battle.

Post-Mortem: Deus Ex – Human Revolution

I didn’t ask for this.

Yeah, Jensen, I know.

Deus Ex HR had a pretty steep climb awaiting it from the get-go. Not only is it the prequel to one of the most beloved(and replayed) PC RPGs of all time(of which I’ll share my thoughts one day), it also follows on the heels of a sequel that was widely disliked at best; more commonly considered an insult to the franchise.

Where Infinity War went wrong(focusing more on action over being an open-ended RPG), HR seeks to stay true to the original. It certainly succeeds. Each level has a wide variety of objectives and methods in which to complete them.

Want to stay unseen, and only crack skulls when absolutely necessary? Adam’s your man.

Want to turn into a mass-murdering vigilante, blowing apart and skewering anyone who dares to cross you? He can do that too.

Apart from getting a little tedious, the gameplay stays enjoyable all the way through. Even the controversial boss fights, while quite difficult, are nothing the protagonist can’t handle without some quick movement and thinking. Well, being armed to the teeth helps as well, but that’s never difficult.

Where HR really shines is, thankfully, the story. As good as the original game’s mechanics were, it was really the story and characters that people often remember. Choices mattered, relationships could change based on how the protagonist acted. The world was believable and thought-provoking.

Human Revolution delivers on all this, too. Where the original game was in a cyberpunk-styled world already sinking into disrepair and ruin, HR takes place in a civilization at the peak of innovation.

There’s chaos on the horizon, though, and it’s clear the utopia isn’t going to last much longer.

The game really glows through character interactions, especially as the protagonist engages in debates with key figures. These verbal conflicts are often more engaging(and challenging) than any of the boss fights, and easily the highlight of an already great game.

Sure, you can augment the protagonist to get additional insight into their minds so you can know how to respond, but where’s the fun in that? (It’s actually quite fun.)

HR was a big success critically and financially, so even though the ending ties smoothly into the original game, hopefully the team at Eidos Montreal find a way to build on the foundation they’ve created.

He might not ask for it, but I will.

Post-Mortem: Demon Gaze

I really wanted to like this game. It had a lot going for it. Developed by Experience Inc., the sadists behind everyone’s favorite cyberpunk dungeon crawling(DC) RPG, Generation Xth: Code Hazard.

It’s not even a bad game! It has good combat, great music, an ‘okay’ story, and a lot of innovative steps for a DC.

What brings it down, you ask?

Tripe like that. Let’s be real: it’s fricking creepy. If a game is on a handheld, odds are, I’m playing it in public. More likely still, I’m playing it at work.

Would you want to see someone wondering why a half-naked girl is plastered all over your screen? Then you best not play Demon Gaze out in the open, because you’ll get a LOT of that.

It’s not just Ms. Underwear Fanatic there, either. Frequently throughout the game there’s lots of awkward content. Barely-dressed hotel managers lounging around in come-hither poses, mercenaries who wear next to nothing, even a basement-dwelling mortician who wears little more than a hoodie and undergarments.

Though in Prometh’s defense, she at least gets some of the most hilarious dialogue in the game, such as her deadpan ‘I’m so excited’ when you bring her quest items.

Fanservice gripes aside, Demon Gaze is a solid DC. Battles are lightning fast, the dungeons have a lot of colorful variety, and best of all, they get music. That might seem like a no-brainer, but a lot of DCs outside of Etrian Odyssey overlook the most important of features. If you’re gonna spend hours in a dungeon, at least have good music. Hell, have SOME music. (Looking at you, Class of Heroes.)

Also, the post-game and end-game bosses are the stuff of nightmares. So the game is worth a shot for the gameplay, if nothing else.

Just play it at home whenever a story beat hits.

Sakura Wars hits 30%!

This update was fun. There’s an animated cutscene with a LIPS choice right in the middle of it. Want to watch Sakura slap the living hell out of Sumire? Boy do I have the visual novel/SRPG for you!

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

As you can see the LIPS system still needs work, and this update ends right at the battles. But they are working fine, so I’m not too worried about that portion.