Things are changing at Grasshopper Manufacture. Two years ago it was a modest one-project-at-a-time Japanese studio, with only a sequel to boisterous Wii actioner No More Heroes sitting in its out-tray. Fast forward to 2011 and Eurogamer is sat in an exclusive bar in central Tokyo as famously flamboyant CEO Suda51 shows off not one, not two but nine new projects - all untested IP - currently at various stages of completion.
There are two digital console downloads - shmup Sine Mora and platformer Black Knight Sword - both co-developed with Hungarian studio Digital Reality; infectiously nutty Kinect effort Diabolical Pitch; three smartphone games for Japanese publisher DeNA; anime rhythm action tie-in Rebuild of Evangelion: Sound Impact for PSP; OTT cheerleader/zombie extravaganza Lollipop Chainsaw; and a belated Japanese release for Shinji Mikami collaboration Shadows of the Damned.
Despite the fact that none of its recent titles have exactly been breakout hits, Grasshopper has clearly dramatically raised its horizons in the last 18 months.
So what gives? Does it have bold designs on becoming the next Capcom or Konami? Has Suda taken it upon himself to personally give the increasingly MOR Japanese games industry a kick up the backside? Or is one of Japan's most idiosyncratic developers flying a little too close to the sun?
In search of answers, we caught up with Suda - every bit the gregarious, hyperactive eccentric his reputation dictates - a few days later in a hotel suite adjacent to this year's Tokyo Game Show.
Judged by his initial response, Grasshopper's expansion isn't so much born out of a wild ambition to challenge Japan's established order as it is straightforward insecurity. Perhaps hardly surprising given he turned up to the aforementioned showcase sporting sparkling gold winkle pickers, it seems Suda's biggest fear is that his work will be ignored.
"To begin with, we're a Japanese developer," he replies when asked why Grasshopper has taken on so much work.
"If we don't release titles it's really easy to be forgotten. When you look at developers overseas - Valve, Epic, Bungie - all these developers let users know what they're up to. I think they're really good at announcing what they're doing so I wanted to learn from them how they do it.
"I think we grew pretty fast during Shadows of the Damned," he admits, "but having this size actually allows us to do more, so I definitely want to keep it at this scale."
However, pressed further, it becomes clear that Suda does have his sights set high. While the prospect of one day competing with industry heavyweights such as Capcom might currently be "like a dream", he points at Level-5 - the Fukuoka-based hit factory behind Dragon Quest IX and the Professor Layton series - as an example of the stature he's shooting for.
"We look at Level-5 - still a very young company, and [Akihiro] Hino-san is actually in my same generation. He's the CEO of Level-5 - a creator and a designer as well as a businessman. Hopefully if we can do the same and be a unique presence like that in Japan we would be very happy."
Suda insists that despite all the extra work Grasshopper is taking on, he has no intention of swapping his creative role for backroom number crunching. He sees ensuring that every single Grasshopper title sports his distinctive creative fingerprint as central to the company's success.
"Do I look like a businessman?" he asks, cheerfully gesturing at the busty '70s B-movie babe emblazoned across his T-shirt.
"As a matter of fact, our new CEO Henry [de la Trobe, formerly president of EA Japan] can definitely provide a lot of business support, so in that sense I think I will actually have more time to be creative.
"I see my role as someone who injects Grasshopper style or flavour into every title we have in our studio - not just for major titles but even smaller games. It's my job to really inject our style into every game possible. I'd like to make sure even our social games have my flavour."
Suda's current focus is the Japanese launch of Shadows of the Damned, which went on sale in the country a few days after we meet. It was greeted with solid reviews when it arrived on these shores earlier this year, but disastrous sales, shifting only 24,000 units during its first month on US shelves and debuting in the UK at 31.
Alas, it seems to have fared just as poorly in its homeland, debuting at number 18 earlier this week and selling just 9145 copies despite a relatively high profile marketing campaign.
"Of course we always wish to have a big hit, but at the same time - not just in Japan, but worldwide - I think it's really difficult to be successful with a new IP," says Suda.
"You really need an extraordinary amount of support to have a new franchise be successful. Unfortunately we couldn't really do as well as we hoped for."
Is there anything in the finished product he'd like to go back and change? "Definitely," he responds "I had lots of ideas for online. If I could do it over again I would definitely include online features.
"Every title you release you always want to do more and more but I think it is also our job as a developer to set up an environment where we can actually create what we want to do."
Perhaps tellingly, a PR man swoops in and shuts the conversation down when we ask if publisher EA could have done more to support the project.
So, what's next, after the impending wave of Grasshopper-branded product breaks over our heads? Suda remains coy but, unprompted, hints that another outing for the studio's most durable franchise to date - No More Heroes - could be in the offing.
"Lots of things are being cooked up, but I can't really say much right now. As far as No More Heroes is concerned I consider it one of the most important IPs we have at Grasshopper and hopefully we can announce something for this series next year. I'm sure [series protagonist] Travis is not having a good time being missed, with no announcement this year!"
Perhaps we might see the franchise moving to PlayStation Vita or 3DS?
"Hmm. Hmmm. That would be interesting...," he replies with a smile.
He also teases another potential high-profile collaboration, following his work on Shadows with Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami, and forthcoming Japan-only radio series Sdatcher with Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima.
"Yeah. We would definitely like to be able to announce something that would make everyone be, like, 'what?!'. We're definitely talking with publishers in Japan and even with publishers overseas, so hopefully we can announce something really good soon.
"We want to develop games with faster cycles, so we can release more games a year," he continues.
"We have a lot more opportunities open to us today that we can provide games for. Nowadays players can play games anytime, anywhere, so wherever people find games we want to be there.
"It sounds like I'm a businessman now, right?!"
That's all well and good, but Grasshopper will need some of its upcoming titles to stick if it's going to be around long enough to realise some of those ambitions. It's biggest budget project, Lollipop Chainsaw, in particular will need to find a larger audience.
It would be a shame if its ambition does outstrip its reach. Its commitment to the out-there, the obtuse and the plain odd is exactly the sort of freewheeling creative spirit that the Japanese industry was built on, and exactly the sort of thing it seems to be missing in 2011. And aside from that, who could wish ill on a studio that proudly refers to itself as 'Video Game Band' on its company stationery?
Suda remains confident though, insisting that the harder he works and the more concepts he can come up with, the more assured is his studio's ongoing success.
"You might have noticed that there is a pro wrestler character called Thunder Ryu in No More Heroes," he explains as time is called on our conversation.
"He is actually based on Tenryu - the Japanese pro wrestler that I really love. He once said that he thinks about wrestling 24/7, 365. He said that's the reason he doesn't lose. I look up to him and that's what I want to do as a game designer. If I keep on thinking of great game ideas, then hopefully I won't lose."
Here's hoping it's that simple.