Q&A

Goichi Suda

EDGE - - THE MAKING OF... -

CEO, Grasshop­per Man­u­fac­ture

Did the game turn out as planned?

I think we man­aged to achieve almost ev­ery­thing we wanted to with No More He­roes, in­clud­ing hav­ing a stab at an open­world game. With a small team, we man­aged to put to­gether all sorts of ideas and make a great game. I think we all felt that way.

What would you do dif­fer­ently if you had the chance to go back?

There were a lot of bugs in the UI. And the chal­lenge of mak­ing an open world… It was sup­posed to be a small town, but I wanted it to be more of a mix [of ac­tiv­i­ties], and on the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion we can do that. But it’s ac­tu­ally more of a closed world, a small town where peo­ple live their lives, so I would like to have made more of that con­cept.

Why did you let Shi­nobu live after her de­feat?

I wanted to have one character who was a bit like Travis’ ap­pren­tice, or a level be­low him, and Shi­nobu seemed like the right one. She be­came a very in­ter­est­ing character, I think.

De­feated en­e­mies ex­plode into a shower of coins, an ef­fect that was also used in the Scott Pilgrim Vs The World movie.

We were first! We tried it out and it felt good to have those coins go kerch­ing, kerch­ing, kerch­ing. It was very ef­fec­tive. I met [Scott Pilgrim di­rec­tor] Edgar Wright and he told me him­self it wasn’t pla­gia­rism!

De­spite star­ring in a Nin­tendo ex­clu­sive, Travis had a fond­ness for ri­val hard­ware.

Yes, he has a Mega Drive and a Mega CD. Travis is a hard­core gamer, so he’d be into Sega hard­ware rather than Nin­tendo [laughs].

Still, the open-world sec­tion does serve a pur­pose, which is to act as a palate cleanser. To earn en­try into the boss fights, play­ers have to un­der­take de­lib­er­ately mo­not­o­nous part-time jobs, such as col­lect­ing co­conuts from trees or mow­ing the lawn – tasks based on numb­ing rep­e­ti­tion.

“Dur­ing the fight sec­tions, you tense up and have to be alert, so in the open-world sec­tion you can take it easy,” Suda says. “Travis doesn’t just fight; he also has to live his life… If you have to work a job, it makes you look for­ward to the fights even more.”

Ul­ti­mately, the com­bat proved so ad­dic­tive and the pre­sen­ta­tion so charm­ing that many crit­ics and play­ers found it easy to for­give the game’s short­com­ings. “It re­viewed bet­ter than we’d ex­pected, which made us very happy,” Suda says. “We thought the game was fun to play with the Wii Re­mote, but we weren’t sure how the pub­lic would take to it. It’s such a strange game, and Travis is an idiot, so I won­dered how it would fare over­seas. But in the end the re­ac­tion was even bet­ter in the US and Europe than in Ja­pan.”

In­deed, the orig­i­nal Wii ver­sion of the game sold some 290,000 copies in North Amer­ica and 160,000 in Europe, plus a less-than-thrilling 40,000 in Ja­pan. A se­quel,

was quickly con­firmed, again ex­clu­sive to Wii, and the orig­i­nal game was ported to PS3 and Xbox 360 as

(han­dled by Ja­panese pub­lisher Mar­velous En­ter­tain­ment and Feelplus).

Grasshop­per rarely makes se­quels, pre­fer­ring to fo­cus on new IP where pos­si­ble, but although he had been so close to killing off his hero for good, Suda says he was ea­ger to re­turn to Touch­down’s weird lit­tle world for

“was a smash hit as far as we were con­cerned, and I wanted to re­turn to it and to make it a se­ries over which we would take great care,” he says. “I of­ten get asked to make a third game. Right now we’re busy with Let but Travis is a character we could even re­turn to in ten years’ time. When the tim­ing is right, I’d like to do so.” In ad­di­tion to spawn­ing a se­quel,

ex­panded on what Grasshop­per had be­gun with fram­ing it as a top-rate ac­tiongame stu­dio with a sub­cul­ture streak and set­ting in mo­tion a loosely linked ‘se­ries’ of the­mat­i­cally sim­i­lar ti­tles, in­clud­ing 2012’s gid­dily gaudy zom­bie slasher and 2013’s dark but grandiose

Suda knows he owes it all to Touch­down – and he feels that in the as­sas­sin lies not only a bit of him­self and Johnny Knoxville, but also a bit of all of us. “Travis is a loser who even­tu­ally finds pur­pose,” Suda says. “OK, it’s as a killer, but in his cho­sen field he grows stronger and finds suc­cess. And as his fight­ing skills in­crease, so does his spirit. It’s a story about grow­ing up. We all have to fight in our daily lives and to try hard, and by do­ing so our hori­zons be­come broader.

“Travis is a fighter, and he al­ways looks for­ward to the next chal­lenge. I wanted to make a game that would in­spire play­ers to feel ex­cited about life.”

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