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Suda 51

"One day, I want to be able to throw pants."

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

We're told that Suda 51 - real name Goichi Suda, the eccentric head of the eccentric Grasshopper Manufacture studio - really likes interviews. We're told that spending a day sitting in a cubicle in the Business Meeting Area of the Tokyo Game Show, answering the same questions over and again, will be the highlight of his week. Uncharitably, we thought this made him an egomaniac. As it turns out, it's just because he's really nice.

Suda's an Anglophile in a Primal Scream t-shirt, a deep-voiced, laid-back kind of guy who doesn't look his 40 years. He's as unpretentious and ready to laugh as you wouldn't expect from his studied Tokyo cool, enigmatic nickname ("Go-ichi" sounds the same as "five-one" in Japanese) and bizarre, arty games.

Well, you might have thought that before No More Heroes. This year's free-roaming Wii action game was a crazed, hilarious mash-up of GTA's structure, Metal Gear Solid's flamboyance, Dynasty Warriors' epic melees, Pac-Man's fruit power-ups and an the menu of a posh Italian ice-cream parlour. Its nonchalant hero Travis Touchdown, obsessed with Mexican wrestling, anime and his t-shirt collection, doesn't seem a million miles away from Suda 51 himself. And for the first time in the history of Grasshopper's creations, he's back, in the just-announced No More Heroes: Desperate Stuggle.

"He's a cool guy!" enthuses Suda now. "When I worked on the scenario for No More Heroes, I liked the character I was creating. Actually, I wanted to write more about him in the first No More Heroes. I was thinking also that these kind of characters have a really interesting personality."

Killer 7: bizarre.

As he stood on a noisy stage on the TGS show floor the day before, lapping up the screamed adulation of a contingent of obsessed American journalists, Suda had said that the reason he'd chosen to make his first-ever sequel was that he wanted to revisit Travis. Fair enough - but we suspect it's also because, for once, he'd actually sold some games.

Grasshopper came to global attention with Killer 7, the striking, hyper-violent on-rails shooter for GameCube and later PS2, published by Capcom. Its controls baffled as many as its graphics seduced, and it didn't exactly set store shelves alight. No More Heroes, on the other hand, was a modest but certifiable hit (in the West at least), wowing critics with its self-referential wit and slick combat, and filling a hole for many a dedicated gamer with a dusty, unloved Wii.

Suda's not too big to admit that success begets sequels. "When we worked on the first No More Heroes, [Grasshopper and Japanese publisher Marvelous] were really confident that this one was going to be a huge success. When we were talking at that time we said okay, if it really becomes a success, we should definitely make a sequel. The sales in US and Europe were pretty good so we said okay, we have to make it."

No More Heroes: silly.

It's also, he says, a reality of the modern videogame business. Even though he's a man whose brain is overburdened with unrealised game concepts ("I'm going to die before I realise all my ideas"), economic realities make launching a new IP with every project unrealistic.

"When you start a new IP, it's really hard now. But... [Marvelous] actually really believed in me, was pushing me, but letting me do what I really wanted to. And he's really pushing hard with unique original stuff." The adventurous publisher, he's saying, deserved a break, and Suda was happy to oblige. "This is the very first time that I really wanted to make a sequel, out of all the titles I've made so far."

We don't know much about No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle (or plain old No More Heroes 2, as Suda 51 is quite happy to call it) beyond the teaser trailer that was shown at the game's TGS announcement, featuring grainy post-Communist imagery, a woman with laser-spouting Scorpion limbs, and Travis wielding a slick new beam katana. Suda's not saying much at this stage, either.