Much to the excitement of his fans, Suda51 returns to Momocon for 2019. As the creator of so many thought-provoking games, Suda51 has earned himself a cult-following of devoted fans. More than reaching huge numbers with his work, he aims to create something meaningful that will resonate more powerfully with a few people than water down something that will be liked by more. We took this opportunity to shed some light on the man who marches to the beat of his own drum.
Interview with Suda51 - Game Designer for Grasshopper Manufacture Inc. (MomoCon 2019)
Do you think of a global audience when making your games, or does it come naturally to create things that people worldwide will respond to?
Ooh, that’s actually a hard question. When I’m making a game, I’m not really making it for the traditional market. But I do think a lot about the characters and the setting and hope it will be liked by domestic and international audiences. I think when I make a character or setting it ends up being liked by overseas audiences as well.
When I made Killer 7, Capcom made a very direct request to us to make a global game that is for America and so on, and the producer at the time, Mikami Shinji, helped with that so we did keep that in our mind as we were making that game.
One of the major strengths of your games is the writing. Did you have any previous writing experience before going into the video game industry?
Originally, I didn’t study writing but when I made my second game, Fire Pro Wrestling, I was waiting on writers and I had this idea that it would be easier and faster if I just wrote it myself so after that, I just started writing scripts. But yeah, I’ve never actually studied it. I just freestyle it.
What are some elements that are always important in each of your games?
That’s hard. I like to put in Pro Wrestling stuff because I think the fans really like to see it so I usually put in some reference or another.
Can you explain some of your goals for making No More Heroes on the Switch?
Well, it’s a new game, new system. We had a lot of goals, both personal goals and goals as a team. But I think the main goal we all shared was that we wanted our fans to like it and that the people who would play it would enjoy it. This may be more my personal goal, but when you finish a game, I want you to feel like it’s not over, that there’s more to the story. I always try to include that in my games.
So you wrote a comic called Kurayami Dance. Would you say there’s a difference between writing a comic versus writing a game scenario?
Kurayami Dance was published for about one and a half years and we released a new part every month or so and working in that sort of style was great. It’s an interesting way of writing a story. At the time, I was working with Takeya, the artist, and it was a collaborative effort between the two of us. Working with an artist on this equal comic creation was totally different from making a game. A lot of the time I would work on a script and then he would see how he would interpret it in images. Sometimes he would interpret things differently or read into my words more than even I did and would come up with these very interesting images to convey that. It was like a creative battle, fighting but cooperating, and I think it was a really valuable experience for me as a writer.
How would say Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes differ from the other No More Heroes games?
The new title is still part of the series so I definitely had that idea when I was making it so the flow of the story was sort of decided in advance. I wanted to make a continuation of that but I also didn’t want it to just be assassins fighting assassins, I wanted a different sort of battle.
What’s your favorite food you can get in America that you can’t get anywhere else?
There really are a lot of things you can get in Japan but I definitely like eating the clam chowder you have in the US, and steaks and angus beef I like a lot.
What has it been like managing and owning your own studio for 21 years?
Man, that’s a long time… more than just a long time, I think in the 21 years I’ve owned my studio, the game industry has gone through a lot of changes. I’m kind of surprised I managed to survive so long. I try not to look back too much. Last year was our 20th anniversary and the only thought I had was ‘Wow, it’s been 21 years, huh?’ I don’t think back too much but one thing I think about is that less than 3% of companies have survived that long. Wow, I feel like I should be congratulated.
I noticed that in Killer7, geopolitics played an integral role in the plot. Did current events influence the plot of Killer7? Would you consider yourself a political person?
I think there were all kinds of political instances happening around that time. I wanted to make something with assassins in it that was less of a personal story and more this over-arching global/political story. It’s less I was personally motivated and more that that was the kind of story I wanted to tell.
Do you have any current projects or plans for the future that you’re excited for?
I am currently working on something right now that that’s new that I can talk about later, but not right now. As for games in general, I think Google Stadia is coming out and I think the fact that gaming platforms are constantly changing is really exciting and I’m really looking forward to it.
Who’s your favorite Go Nagai robot, Mazinger Z or Getter Robot?
Oh, Getter Robot. Good question.