INTERVIEW: Suda 51 Revisited
Goichi Suda, one of gaming’s most brilliant stylists, talks No More Heroes, Wii, the changing nature of gamers, and where the future lies for Grasshopper.
The CEO and lead producer of Grasshopper Manufacture slouches back in his chair. We’re in west Tokyo with Goichi Suda, at the new headquarters GHM now calls home. The move is at least partly a reflection of the company’s growth, now approaching 50 employees, but also an expression of a collaborative ethic that means all of those employees, including Suda himself, now have their desks on a shared single floor – because it makes work “easier and friendlier”.
With No More Heroes now finished, how do you feel about developing on Wii?
The Wii is a unique platform, and has a huge population of users who are not familiar with videogaming: I was aware of that, but I also felt the need to live up to gamers’ expectations as well. Then I realized that for all of these players, an action game on the Wii may actually be their first experience of that type.
The game uses both the Wii Remote and buttons, and these two control philosophies mixing together were fundamental to the game working in an accessible and enjoyable way. The experience of playing had to be user friendly, yet not without a level of depth. That was the real challenge. NMH is an action game, so we had to think about what level of difficulty would keep the experience enjoyable: the critical thing, I think, was to balance the difficulty, or if you prefer the accessibility, and I hope we’ve achieved that.
How did you find working with the Wii Remote?
Well, actually 70 percent of the game is controlled using buttons. The motion is used at key moments like when you finish your enemy. That way, it brings a connection with the key moment of the action experience. At the beginning of the project, I thought I would only use motions for that very moment when you finish your adversary. That was in the initial game concept. But then I felt the need to offer more in the game, like the extra moves and recharging and other little touches. So I experienced no real difficulty in working with the Wii Remote; in fact, I found it made me think further.
As the project progressed, did you have to rethink any part of the design?
Actually, no. We started to build the small town, which is the hub of the game, aiming for the size it is now. Then we worked on the ‘dungeon’ levels separately, and as we started to implement the submissions inside the town we had the game running as we first imagined it. The game is almost exactly the same as initially concepted. Sometimes, I did feel I wanted to try to do much more, but then you are limited to what can be held on the disc. But as it is now, the game is really like my initial vision of it.