Suda 51 Interview: thoughts on Killer7 spinoffs, NMH3, and a TSC localization?

Felt the need to share this interview from Gamereactor, at a game development convention in Barcelona.


Thanks to CaVaYeRo from NeoGAF for the time stamps. My thoughts after.

• 00:00 – Brief introduction, Suda means “you sweat” in Spanish.
• 03:32 – Killer 7 memories: Development freedom with Mikami-san, art style and complex, layered story.
• 06:45 – Flower, Sun and Rain: The unique loop-day structure and the tour guide book clues as fresh mechanics. PSOne vs PS2 development and non-action games. Lost (TV series) and Uchikosi-san (Virtue’s Last Reward) vibes.
• 12:56 – No More Heroes 3: What’s left to do and when.
• 15:06 – How to create GhM’s strong and unique characters. Indie creative freedom and publisher tastes. The NMH switch from PS3/Xbox 360 original shooter concept to Wii-focused final design.
• 19:43 – Suda-san as one of the last “Japanese dev stars”, “no more heroes” in game development? Hotline Miami devs as heroes and chemical brothers.
• 24:15 – Shadows of the Damned: Collaboration with Mikami-san and anecdotes, the funniest trip to EA. Mexican and Spanish influences, Latin passion, Suda-san “Spanish blood” and Barcelona inspiration.
• 31:50 – Lollipop Chainsaw: The zombi genre in a unique, B-class fun way. The US school comedy. The pitch trailer.
• 36:48 – The James Gunn involvement & commitment. Collaborating with filmakers, Suda as “the Robert Rodríguez of videogames”.
• 40:21 – Importance of art in GhM, “Art of Grasshopper Manufacture” album personal meaning, how to choose/hire an artist for the studio, team play like in FC Barcelona.
• 46:00 – GhM before and nowadays: grass-hopping from punk/indie style to business and GungHo owned studio, yet gaining creativity.
• 49:22 – Let it Die and concepts to share with young developers as inspiration and advice. Making games you’d like to play, nigh time creative mood, connection with people.
• 54:55 – Q&A from audience and readers:
– Killer 7 prequel or sequel chances.
– Marvel vs. Capcom and DC vs. Grasshopper Manufacture
– 58:20 – Times at Human Entertaiment wearing suit.
– 60:16 – The Silver Case remake chances.
– 61:50 – Opinion on indie games, innovative ideas and big publishers.
– 65:53 – Suda51 last advice for young developers. Three bullet points for game development: passion, finding your own form, finding your own rhythm.

Now, takeaways.

  • Suda has no real plans for a Killer7 spinoff or sequel, but wouldn’t mind seeing a fan service game like “DC VS Grasshopper”. No real surprise, it’s no secret he prefers to do new things, i.e. ‘Kill The Past’. This is a constant subject in the interview.
  • FSR’s time loop was the result of him wanting to do something different besides all the constant action games of the PS2 era. He’s glad he thought up the idea before Lost and Kotaro Uchikoshi(VLR/999).
  • He’s very much aware of the desire for a TSC port, and wants people to play GHM’s first game.
  • No mention of Lily Bergamo being changed to Let It Die whatsoever. I bet the topic is taboo. I’m sure he’s as unhappy as everyone else.
  • Human made him wear a suit to work, so it seemed fitting that a ‘weird’ company like GHM came about as a result.

Personally? I feel he’s hamstrung by GungHo and  it is very unlikely, but with the interest he mentioned in the GHM book(being approached by Spanish companies to localize TSC), I hope it’s possible.

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 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.