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Friday, 27 May 2011 12:41

Interview: Suda51 on Shadows of the Damned


Suda51 has developed a significant aura of cool and design philosophy.  With Killer 7 and the No More Heroes franchise making such a splash in the west, it was inevitable that interest would be generated with his new collaboration project with Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil) Shadows of the Damned.  iTWire sat down with Suda51 to talk through developer Grasshopper Manufacture's soon to be released title.

Suda51 (real name Suda Goichi where in Japanese 'Go' means 5 and 'ichi' means 1) sits by his interpreter in an interview room that has been propped for Grasshopper Manufacturer's soon to be released Shadows of the Damned.

In a way, the graveyard imagery reflects Suda51's past as an undertaker, and present as the CEO and driving force behind Grasshopper Manufacture and its stylistic approach to video game development.  During our time with Suda51 iTWire decided to touch on the style of Shadows of the Damned, and Suda's view on collaborating again with Shinji Mikami, producer behind Resident Evil. 

Suda:  'Shinji Mikami is very special, we worked with him with Killer 7 and my career, or the reputation that Grasshopper Manufacturer as a whole was [helped with him], so this project was to pay him back in some way, and at the same time we wanted to make a great game that would appeal to a wider audience, so it was a great match.'

This led to a discussion about the intended audience for Shadows of the Damned, is it a westernized game aimed at a western audience?

Suda: 'Well, actually when you look at the visuals, you would see that this is really western, but when you play the game you will find actions and the way it is easy to play, it is really a Japanese game.  We can see the mixture of both cultures, East and West, you can see good things from both.'
So the game is meant to cross cultures and not be branded East or West, does Suda draw on his former experience as an undertaker for the imagery presented in Shadows of the Damned?

Suda: 'I think the expression on how we portray death is from my experience.  I think that experience as an undertaker really made me think about life and death, so in video-games you see death all the time, as a system or a symbol, but I always think of how to express that, or how to treat that.'

iTWire: Apart from the death, hell and many dark themes, there is also a lot of crass comedy in the game.

Suda 'I think in a horror game humour is really important, I guess, you really need to have the contrast between scary moments and relaxing moments.  You have to offer some humour to make the player relax, otherwise if you continue to have the player be scared then it is no longer scary anymore, it is just stress.  So I think it is really important to offer some time to relax and that is why the humour is important.'

iTWire: Literally and figuratively you have light and shade in this game.  It is not necessary the ugly beasts that are the enemies, some of the more bizarre creatures are friends of the player.  For example Johnson is a wise-cracking floating skull companion, able to transform into weapon or vehicle.

Suda 'Certainly, I wanted to create a unique road movie, and that is why Johnson is present.'
iTWire: How important is it to inject an element of 'cool' or 'suave' into a game, over and above game-play for example?

Suda 'I think there are a lot of developers and studios around the world that can produce fun games, for us the game needs to be cool to prove that the game is from Grasshopper Manufacture, when the player the plays, of course you will see the coolness and at the same time it needs to be fun.'

iTWire: Do you have an all-time favourite development platform?

Suda 'Sega Megadrive, and the Dreamcast I liked, I liked Sega's hardware a lot, and of course Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony is great too.'

Shadows of the Damned is released on Xbox 360 and PS3 (and not Sega Megadrive) on June 23rd


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Mike Bantick

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Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for the The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.

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