Q&A: SUDA-51 on No More Heroes

The creator of Killer7 and No More Heroes tells GameSpot about his latest game, his plans to make a sequel, and how the main character was inspired by one of the team from <i>Jackass</i>.

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As the man behind Killer7 and No More Heroes, Goichi Suda has a reputation for making distinctive--and perhaps twisted--games. But what else would you expect from a developer who was actually an undertaker in a previous professional life?

Based in Tokyo, Japan, Suda is currently the CEO of Grasshopper Manufacture, where he heads up a team of approximately 50 employees. He may be better known by his nickname, SUDA-51, which derives from the name "Goichi" being a combination of the two Japanese kanji meaning "five" and "one."

A veteran of Human Entertainment, Suda is known for his unique brand of games, and told attendees at last year's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco that it was just as well people thought his games were unique, as he disliked making the kind of games that other developers made.

Goichi Suda.

He also said that he believed punk was not dead, and that game developers should channel the punk spirit when they are making games, instead of "being copycats." Remembering with awe the very first time he played a video game, he said, "There were movies, and books, and music...and then there was a small, tiny box, and when I played [the game] I felt something really different, and I don't want to forget that feeling."

No More Heroes is due out on the Wii exclusively on February 29 in Europe, and January 22 in the US. GameSpot caught up with Suda on a whirlwind European promotional tour for the game.

GameSpot: Where did the title No More Heroes come from?

SUDA-51: Actually, at first the game title was going to be just "Heroes." It was inspired the name of the David Bowie song. You know the one? But the problem with that was there are so many different things with the name "Heroes" these days--for instance the US TV series, that we were kind of not allowed. So I had to change it, and I got the idea to call it "No More Heroes" from another song, this one from the Stranglers.

GS: Could you tell me why you made the decision to make the US version of the game more violent, and keep the European one the same as the original Japanese game?

SUDA-51: In the European and Japanese versions, there's more of an action style to the game. For instance, when you kill characters in this version of the game, the coins come out straightaway. More focused on the action than violence.

GS: So you think Americans like their ultraviolence more?

SUDA-51:Yup, I think Americans love violence [laughs]. The reason why I chose to do this is because the American market has a predilection to more-violent versions so I had to adjust to the market somehow. That's why I made two versions--and the more violent version just for the American market. But I don't want anybody to misunderstand. Neither version is better. I love both versions.

GS: Why did you decide to make the game for the Wii only?

SUDA-51: The reason why I decided to make the game only for the Wii was because the No More Heroes producer, Wada-san, recommended to me strongly that I make the game for the Wii exclusively. Because you know, I wanted to make this game for Xbox 360, actually. Actually Wada-san had information about the Wii and how the new controller would work before it came out, so that's why he thought I should do that. At the time I didn't really understand why, but after seeing it and understanding how it works, I think it was a good choice and the controller works really well with the game.

GS: I've got to ask this. Blueberry cheese brownies, strawberry shortcake. Please explain.

SUDA-51: The names of Travis' attacks? Because of the animation Bizarre Jerry which Travis really loves. And the attacks in the animation have these names, so Travis uses the same names for his.

GS: Where did the inspiration come for this game?

SUDA-51: The inspiration for Travis Touchdown actually came from Johnny Knoxville from Jackass. I really love that show. Actually the idea came out of the character Travis, and then became a game, rather than being an idea for a game and adding the characters...I wanted to create characters like the guys in Jackass, and also make them part Otaku as well.

There's also a movie called El Topo, which inspired the story itself, because in the movie, in the first part, there are fights against three enemies. And then you become number one after beating these three enemies. So he wants to actually make the story based on something like that and with this Travis character, so the game is kind of those two combined together.

GS: What are your plans now?

SUDA-51: I'm working on many projects, but the one thing I can talk about is Flower, Sun and Rain. It was a game for the PlayStation 2, which we are porting to the DS. It will come out March 6 in Japan from Marvelous Entertainment. And I'm just starting a project for the 360.

GS: Can you talk about Project S yet?

SUDA-51: I can't say anything about it because it's a Konami project. You'd have to talk to talk to them, and see if they'll let anything slip.

GS: You're also bringing another of your previously released games, Silver Case, to the DS as well. Why do you think that the time is suddenly right for rereleasing these games now?

SUDA-51: The reason why the game [is being] ported to the DS is because, firstly, the DS is selling very well. Adventure games these days actually don't, but after the DS came out suddenly there are a lot of games in Japan that have elements of adventure game and now they are actually selling again in Japan. So that's why I want to convert Silver Case--which is an adventure game--to the DS. And then also, this year is the 10th anniversary for Grasshopper, so I want to do something to mark that, and the first title that Grasshopper made is actually Silver Case. And I also want to bring the game to people in the US and Europe as well. It should be finished this year or maybe next year.

GS: Almost all of your main characters are assassins. Why is that?

SUDA-51: [Pauses.] I'm not sure why. I don't know why exactly I like this scenario so much for stories, but it's very easy to write based on some violent act or a criminal or something like that. So that's a part of the reason. And then I like to have some dark images in the stories, too, so that's another reason.

When I create a game, especially action games, you always have to kill enemies, and there has to be a story behind that, a reason to do that. So that's the main reason, I guess--if you think about making an action game, really it has to always be related to something like that. It's always about facing death and life.

GS: Is it true that you used to be an undertaker?

SUDA-51: How do you know that? Yeah, it's true.

GS: So do you think that this--maybe this background has some kind of influence on your games?

SUDA-51: That's interesting. I don't think I get any inspiration from my time as an undertaker. But maybe I have a slightly different view on the world, because every day for 10 months I saw people who had died when I was working. I had that job just before I started working in the game industry. So I know more about death maybe, compared to other people. So with death I don't want it to be like, cheap. There has to be something behind having to kill.

Another example of how it's affected me is in No More Heroes, I made sure to describe the enemies in great detail, so you know where they're coming from and what kind of person they are, because I think that's important, because they have to be die, you know, because Travis will fight against them and then kill them.

And also if it's possible in the future to do the same for the other enemies--like even just the regular enemies that you have to get through before you start fighting the boss character--you know, I'd like to do that, too. Travis has to kill a lot of them, but I always feel bad that I don't describe what kind of person they are. So in the future I want to describe everybody in the game, you know, who they are and stuff like that.

GS: What are you working on at the moment?

SUDA-51: It's a secret! [Laughs.] Actually, Marvelous and also Grasshopper are really pleased with No More Heroes. I'm really willing to make a sequel version. So actually I'm asking Marvelous if we can make it happen. So, right now, I'm preparing for that if it's possible.

GS: Are there any plans for a sequel for Contact?

SUDA-51: I wouldn't know anything about that. The guys that made that game, they used to work for Grasshopper, but the team that made those games moved to--actually they started up their own company. So if the sequel does happen, it won't be through Grasshopper.

GS: Is there anything that you wanted to say?

SUDA-51: No More Heroes is a really great game. A very amazing game. I think No More Heroes is a great game, there's no other action game like it for the Wii. If it was a band, it would be really energetic, like the Arctic Monkeys.

GS: Thank you for your time.

Discussion

61 comments
Vicionator
Vicionator

they have to make a sequel because the ending needs to continue

popping4it
popping4it

this game probably wont sell dispite being one of wii's best exclusives.

kruegersc4
kruegersc4

Finally, a AAA third party title! I hope this continues.

wiixx3
wiixx3

I cant wait till i get No More Heroes for my wii

topraman517
topraman517

Killer 7 was the most bizarre game I ever played. There was no way to understand the game's plot without reading an explanation on the web. Also, the gameplay was kinda meh.

smbius
smbius

Got it yesterday. No More Heroes rocks.

glitchgeeman
glitchgeeman

Ha ha, I didn't notice until now, but Travis does seem a bit like Johnny Knoxville if he was a closet anime fan.

BrunoBRS
BrunoBRS

suda 51 looks like a funny guy... getting the game with my wii (which is coming soon)

ChaosSpaceTroop
ChaosSpaceTroop

Damn it, now I wish I had a Wii. I really want to try this game. Oh well.

Alphamale001
Alphamale001

rockstar_88, Dennis Dyack should never be in the same comparitive group as Suda51, Hideo Kojima and Miyamoto. Dyack is nothing more than mediocre to ok, tops. Sorry, I am not a Dyack fan. I can't wait for this game. Suda has yet to disappoint me. Wednesday can't come soon enough. I might play through Killer7, just to pass the time.

_Cab0ose87_
_Cab0ose87_

this guy's awesome.. lol he's a 9.5 on the developer coolness scale. I docked a point because he likes Jackass. Jk :P

Chief_Kuuni
Chief_Kuuni

we'll see if I get it or not, could be good

Thua66
Thua66

can't wait for No more heros. I'ts going to be awsome

Serraph105
Serraph105

actually that bit about really knowing who your about to kill makes me wanna play this game

marioman50
marioman50

last thing he wants to say is how great his game is, I guess I can't blame him I'm really looking forward to this game and since he was originally trying to make it online, I'm sure the sequel would be online. awesome!

Priest57
Priest57

Killer 7 was one fantastic game and from what I've read from previews NMH seems to be just as mind blowing and entertaining. I only have Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii, glad to have use for my console once again for one amazing looking game.

peeweeshift
peeweeshift

i hate how devs plan sequels ahead of time. they nvr get the story running good and it seems lame. they lose track of their focus by making other games. its how mass effect is already being screwed over. it ruins the whole game.

Shishio817
Shishio817

Really cool guy, and No More Heroes looks awesome.

Demon-Draco
Demon-Draco

Looks like I found myself a new favorite developer!

rockstar_88
rockstar_88

Suda 51 is definitely up there as a great game developer alongside Hideo Kojima, Dennis Dyack, and even Shigeru Miyamoto.

sidious
sidious

This guy is awesome. It is good to see a game creator who is willing to take chances get some attention. I've been looking foward to this game for a long time. I do hope his 360 game is cool to. I have a Wii and love it, but I love my 360 too and it could use more games like those Suda brings to the table.

bobmcdoog
bobmcdoog

It was all going so well until he mentioned the Arctic Monkeys... what a **** band they are lol - sure the game will be great tho

nintendorocks
nintendorocks

No More Heroes=Arctic Monkeys, which in turn = I buy it

Vash67
Vash67

I want to meet Suda. He seems so strange that having a conversation with him is bound to be fun.

HVPinc
HVPinc

The Arctic Monkeys eh? Really...

Mattyrock
Mattyrock

Quite of an innovative mind, Suda has. Can't wait for this game :D

unclejohn0525
unclejohn0525

Wanted this game since the first trailer, when it was only known as "Project Heroes" and to think I'll finally have it in my hands on Wednesday! I can't wait.

megamanxzxz
megamanxzxz

one of the must have titles for the wii

RTRGRZA
RTRGRZA

One of Travis' attacks is 'Strawberry on the Shortcake' It's a great pun. I mean, the shortcake is probably the floor and the strawberry is well...use your imagination.

RTRGRZA
RTRGRZA

Knoxville look alike? Check Lightsab- I mean Beam Katana? Check Gorgeous gore? Check Cake? check Cool title? Check check

Hellmonkey012
Hellmonkey012

I think the story line is awesome; Some nerd who likes Anime buys a lightsabre from Ebay. Then he goes around trying to kill people and become the top assassin in town just to impress a girl and try to get lucky.

fmobliv06
fmobliv06

preordered. NMH looks great!

InfectX
InfectX

...so, I'm an anime-obsessed Johnny Knoxville running around yelling, "Blueberry chees brownie!!!" and cutting people in half with a lightsaber..... AWESOME btw, as long as we're talking about Grasshopper games...I wanna Wii-port of MICHIGAN!!

edhc44
edhc44

thekodaman Runaway success? Run out of steam? Man, you're still dancing to that song? Besides, where it says that Suda has doubts about "the Wii's creative depth"? The interview says that the producer suggested the Wii as the game's platform even before it was officially unveiled: "Wada-san had information about the Wii and how the new controller would work before it came out". And as far as text interpretation goes, it implies that Suda hadn't seen the controller yet as of the time he was planning the game on the 360. Want me to chew some more for you, or are we clear?

glennwinton
glennwinton

i'm gonna be getting No more heroes the minute i find it next week... one of my most antisipated games for the wii since ifirst saw the trailer a few years ago

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

I love Killer 7 and I'm looking forward to No More Heroes. I would be very happy with a sequel too. Keep 'em comin' SUDA!

ninjavelmor
ninjavelmor

suda 51 seems like a very different guy, which is what we need in the game industry, so many games out there are carbon copies of stuff that has already been done. i really hope NMH does well, so there will be a sequel

ineedanap
ineedanap

So a former undertaker is making a game with the main character based on Johnny Knoxville with moves based on the names of cakes, ending up like The Arctic Monkeys personified in a game...Sounds freakin' awesome!

Arkk_Angel
Arkk_Angel

I love Suda51's and Grasshoppers work! He's not just a game developer, he's an artists. I own Killer 7 and No More Heroes is on pre-order. thekodaman-- The Wii isn't what's keeping game creators from creating art. It's up to the development companies to be creative! But as a business your goal is to make money not create art. There are those companies who take risks by creating something artistic and then there are those companies with deep pockets that have the resources to create some beautiful art despite the technology in use. Sometimes the most fantastic art is the simplest. It's all about using what you have!

thekodaman
thekodaman

Dualmask, if No More Heroes is intended to be Artistic Gaming then why is it on a console that denigrates the very genre it is in? Mhm, it worries me that the producer of such a big upcoming Wii title has doubts about the Wii's creative depth and may suggest that producers think that the Wii's runaway success so far will run out of steam. I mean there's only so much you can get out of a hand motion.

TwilightSoilder
TwilightSoilder

Travis was based on Jonny Knoxvile? That makes the game even more halrious.

Nintendo_Ownes7
Nintendo_Ownes7

@chang_1910 An Undertaker is someone that Prepares dead people for Funerals and then tkaes them to the Funeral then to the Grave site.

Dualmask
Dualmask

Even if No More Heroes turns out to be crap (not likely), it's great to know that there are developers like Suda-51, who still have a passion for making games as an art form, not just as the next way to generate big bucks. I might get it even if the game scores a 1.0 just to support the work.

DaLegendKilla92
DaLegendKilla92

He seems very passionate about his games and I kind of thought sometimes that I wish I knew why I slaughtered all those enemies for no reason. They might have had a family or something....developers need to get off their extremely lazy butts and be more like Mr. Goichi Suda