A chat with Suda 51

Interview: dead-end jobs and wrestling games

You should pity eccentric games developer Goichi 'Suda51' Suda - mere moments after the
No More Heroes producer's feet touched British soil, NGamer thrust a microphone right up
his ingenious nostrils. Here's what he had to say...

What is it that drew you to developing No More Heroes as a Wii exclusive?

I was one of the privileged few who was shown the Wii controller before its official announcement [at TGS 2005].

I immediately set out to create a full action game that could take advantage of this unique controller, and No More Heroes was born.

My publishers wanted to make an Xbox 360 game, and actually wanted No More Heroes to go onto that platform, so I had a hell of a time trying to convince them to let me make it on Wii without spilling the controller's secrets (laughs).

From what we've played so far, No More Heroes seems to be more comprehensible than your previous games. In light of Nintendo trying to reach new audiences, is this an intentional move on your behalf?

No, not really. You know, I had experience of working for them with the GameCube, and they're very responsive to developers who are making games that are different. They're very flexible. There was no pressure to make it more accessible, certainly.

You make lots of creative use of the Wii remote - mobile phone calls, repowering the blade, etc - any interesting ideas that didn't make it?

The idea at first was to make it a game that used only the remote - you might recall that was how the Wii's controller was originally going to work.

We tried, and we wanted to make it as simple as possible, but it just didn't feel right. After that, we wanted to steer the bike using the controller, maybe even both using the nunchuk and remote, one in each hand so you can do this (twists the 'remote hand' as if starting up a motorbike). But yes. Didn't work.

Travis has to work hard at lots of grotty jobs. Is that inspired by real life? Have you ever had a terrible part time job?

(A booming, almost disconcerting laugh from Suda and his translator) I've done over thirty jobs in my lifetime. Some were better than others, let's leave it at that.

But there is a link between my and my team's life experiences and the games we make. We want to include the message in our games that "some jobs aren't important, and you may hate them, but if you do them to the best of your ability, it'll turn out well. Better times will come."

Is No More Heroes set in the same universe as your past games? There are clear references to Killer7 and Michigan in No More Heroes.

(After five minutes discussing whether Michigan was released in Europe or not... And it was... Which seems to genuinely surprise Suda...) No.

Your characters have the most interesting names in gaming. Where do you get them from?

I don't name them by meaning, I name them by sound. I want their name to have a certain 'feel'. Travis Touchdown, for example.

It's name that sounds cool to a Japanese audience, but if a westerner hears it... well, then maybe not so much. That's where Travis is in life, really.

Do you see much of yourself in Travis Touchdown, or indeed, any of the other assassins?

Yes, I do to an extent. I wish I could live like Travis. React to things the way he does. Face something different.

We also share many of the same interests, such as a love for lucha libre wrestling, as you can see in his moves. But, you must understand - not the assassin part. (Eardrum-perforating laughter ensues).

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