Grasshopper director and president Goichi Suda isn't crazy, but his games sure are. Killer 7, his first title to reach Western shores was a visually unique gore-fest, developed in collaboration with Capcom. The game's impressive art style and unorthodox gameplay put Grasshopper on the map, and the Japanese developer is now getting more publishing offers than a circa-2005 Abi Titmus.
But the latest title to roll out of Grasshopper's doors is Contact, a fantasy RPG for DS which is a world away from the blood-splattered madness of the PS2 and GameCube blaster. Contact sees you helping an elderly professor crashlanded on an alien planet, and it's the eclectic mix of gameplay on offer - item collecting, animal training, old-school mini-games and wi-fi online modes - that has piqued our interest.
At this year's E3 we got a chance to sit down and chat with Suda-san along with Takeshi Ogura, both of whom are acting as producers for Contact, Suda-san additionally main manager on the project. During our conversation, we touched on the ideas behind Contact, developing for Nintendo's Wii, Grasshopper's mysterious PS3 project and, somehow, girls' panties. Read on for the full interview...
Can you give us a brief introduction to Contact, and to yourselves?
Ogura-san: Contact is an adventure game that involves the player and the character in the game in a long journey and huge adventure. That is the main theme of Contact. It's using the dual screens so that events are happening on both screens but independently of each other. With the two screens you are more involved in the game - we are using them in a new way that wasn't used before. It's going to a big, huge impact for the world (laughs).
Suda-san: I am the main manager on the Contact project, supervising everything from the beginning to the end. In Contact there is a character called YanYan, a kind of cat-dog; it was my idea to put this character in the game. My main focus was about YanYan. That's pretty much everything I did in Contact (laughs).
The main director for Contact is Akira Ueda, the director of Shining Soul and Shining Soul II. I really trust him and think I can count on him. There were never any problems when he was supervising Shining Soul I and II.
What attracted you to the DS hardware and how have you taken advantage of its unique features?
Ogura-san: It [Contact] was first in development on the Game Boy Advance, but during development the Nintendo DS was released so we just changed from GBA to DS. One of the main features of the Nintendo DS was the wi-fi connection and we wanted to use this feature for Contact.
Which system feature excited you the most in the transition from GBA to DS?
Ogura-san: Using the mic, I really liked that feature.
Suda-san: It wasn't really about the specs or new features of the DS like with Brain Training or Nintendogs. More people were carrying a Nintendo DS with them so for me it was an opportunity to make a game for more people. One of the most interesting parts of the Nintendo DS wasn't just a new feature or anything, but that the DS was touching more people.
What's the philosophy behind Contact, and what makes it unique from other games in the RPG genre?
Ogura-san: One of the main differences from other adventure games is what you can see on the top and bottom screens; the graphics are really different. The director, Mr Ueda, is a graphic designer and he wanted to have really nice graphics compared to the other adventure games on the DS. That's why you can see the graphics are really good in the game.