We had the opportunity to ask Goichi Suda some questions not only about his upcoming game, but also about other games from his past and about his future prospects.
Goichi Suda, popularly known as Suda51, is a Japanese video game designer and writer, who started his career in video games in 1993 by working for Human Entertainment. After working on a couple of titles, he left Human Entertainment in 1998 to form his own developer Grasshopper Manufacture. Its debut title The Silver Case helped establish Grasshopper Manufacture in Japan, but he gained international attention with the release of Killer7. His work includes titles like No More Heroes, Shadows of the Damned and Killer is Dead. His next project as director is Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, a new No More Heroes title for the Nintendo Switch. We had the opportunity to ask him some questions not only about his upcoming game, but also about other games from his past and about his future prospects.
What do you think makes your games so unique, and how is it that they are niche on one hand, yet very popular on the other?
The one reason the game is so unique, is that Grasshopper sees no point in making games that just take after other game genres. Grasshopper always focuses on setting a goal of making a game according to what Grasshopper itself wants to make, so that’s probably what gives it all that uniqueness.
We’re really thankful for the popularity the game has received so far. We think it’s just a result of us wanting as many people as possible to play the game. The game is somehow seen as niche, but we want it to be even more popular, and there’s a lot more popularity we can gather in the long run.
Why are your games focused on stylised violence, mature themes, and even (often dark) humour?
I feel that it’s due the fact that I write the scripts myself, and then build up the game design from there. I always have ideas running around in my head, and I’m always trying to think about, “How can I take this idea more ridiculous, outrageous, or more serious?” and that's the sort of creative process involved.
Death is an important topic in your titles. What can we expect from this point of view in Travis Strikes Again?
So, yes, Death. First of all, this game is a game within a game. So rather fighting real people, Travis is going up against adversaries or interacting with characters within the game. So, in that respect, “Kill”, can mean several things: it could mean deleting data within the game, or somehow banishing the existence of whatever other spirits that resides within the game. It’s kind of a different idea about “death” of what we’ve seen so far. So, that results in him running different kind of scenarios, which might actually be opposite of death. There’s also an element in the game, whereby if Travis or if anybody gathers all the six Death Balls, it grants one wish to whoever gathers them, so there is a possibility that someone could use that wish to bring back a dead person, effectively reversing death itself.
Why did you decide to completely change the concept of the game compared to previous No More Heroes titles?
With the Nintendo Switch, my goal was always to make an indie style game, with an indie size team, with an indie size budget and indie size content. I felt that before doing a proper number of instalments, there could be something else that could be put out there first. Content-wise, because it is an indie size, it would have a different price tag, rather than basing against number of instalments.
I also spoke with Travis, and Travis says, “Wow, wow, hold off on the number of instalments, ok, I need to warm up a bit before we go into something big like this, and so I know that you love Death Drive, so how about going in that direction of games this time?” and so that how it came about.
Nintendo Switch is probably the most unique console you worked with. Do you have any plans to take advantage of every feature it offers (touchscreen, HD rumble, move control etc.) and how can you make that possible?
This time around, with this game, the focus has really been on using the 2 Joy-Con, to do local multiplayer. The Gyro function is there, but in a limited sense.
We know that in Travis Strikes Again there’s going be a lot of references to well-known indie titles. Why did you decide to take this approach and how did this collaboration happen?
It all started at the Nintendo Switch conference, when Nintendo proposed the idea, with myself acting as a bridge between Nintendo and indie creators who might want to put their games out on a Switch. As you may know, Grasshopper itself started out as indie company, and I was already very close and very friendly with a lot of indie creators, so I naturally leapt at that chance, and I’m very close with Dennaton, the creators of Hotline Miami, so I started out by asking them if they wanted to do a collaboration. And gradually that grew larger, I would go up to other indie devs and asked them if they wanted to feature their game on Travis’s T-shirt. I made sure to pick indie games that specifically Travis would like too, and of course all the indie devs agreed, and that’s how it came to be.
What can we expect from the content of the season pass? Could you at least tease any new levels, characters etc.?
There are currently 2 DLC packs planned, the first DLC will feature a new playable character, while the second DLC pack will feature a brand-new Death Ball, essentially brand-new game world.
You’ve mentioned that Travis Strikes Again is the beginning of a new series for Travis. What can we expect from him in the future?
I think it would be great, if TSA could turn into its own series, sort of parallel to the No More Heroes series. The great thing also is that the story within TSA has a lot of direct connections to my ideas for NMH3, so if NMH3 does get created, what happens in TSA will end up being important for that next instalment. I have the outline for the story for NMH3 already mapped in my head.
Now that you are working on Nintendo Switch, are there any plans to bring ports of your other titles to this platform? The Silver Case remasters for example?
Yes I want to bring out as many ports as possible, it just depends on what can happen at each specific time, but I’m gonna put all my efforts to make sure I get to as many as I can.
Back in 2010 you exclaimed that Killer7 is "part of your soul" and you are certainly interested in making a sequel. Since the game regained our attention thanks to the recent PC remaster, are you planning to focus on a possible sequel now?
I’ll just come out and clearly say that, I really don’t feel a need for there being any continuation to the Killer7 universe, as I feel that I sort of completed that world, and I sent out everything I could into it, basically. So, making another game that’s connected to this game, somehow doesn’t make sense to me. But there was a lot of script that was cut out back then, I felt too much was omitted from the game itself, so I can see maybe a possibility of putting out a more complete version someday that restores those cut-out parts.
Thank you for the interview.
You can find the original version of this interview in Slovak at www.sector.sk,