On the last day of E3, N-Philes had an opportunity to talk with Goichi Suda, the President/Director of Grasshopper Manufacture in Japan, and Nobuhiko Nakamura, the company's product manager. Grasshopper is best known for their game killer7, a cult-favorite game which was published by Capcom for the GameCube and Playstation 2 in 2005. Most recently, Grasshopper worked on Contact for the Nintendo DS with Marvelous Interactive, the creators of the Harvest Moon series. Contact is being released in North America by Atlus, and it is currently slated for a release in either August of September of this year.
N-Philes sent in Curtis Brunet and Steven DeSiena to meet the acclaimed director Mr. Suda, and Grasshopper product manager Mr. Nakamura. Eschewing the private booths where most E3 interviews took place, they met the director beneath a stairwell in South Hall, found Mr. Suda a chair, and began shooting off the questions.
N-Philes: Hello! If it's OK, we'd like to start off talking a bit about killer7. First, could you tell us a bit of history on how your relationship with Capcom began, and how the thought-process of creating the game killer7 came about?
Suda: Shinji Mikami and myself actually met to talk, and killer7's concept came about.
N-Philes: Was it always visioned and created as a GameCube title exclusively? Could you tell us about why it was ported to the Playstation 2?
Suda: We only developed a GameCube project when creating killer7 and later Capcom and Grasshopper decided to publish it for the Playstation 2. This was done because we wanted to create a wider audience for killer7 so more people could experience it.
N-Philes: OK, moving on, could you speak a little bit about Contact for the Nintendo DS? Could you tell us about the relationship between Grasshopper and Marvelous Interactive?
Suda: You know, Marvelous Interactive used to be called Victor Interactive. So, together we published Flower, Sun, and Rain for the Playstation 2. We created a very good relationship with Victor through this game. So, Marvelous Interactive's president, Mr. Wada, and myself, met and talked casually and Mr. Wada said, "How about we create a new project on the Nintendo DS?". Then the Contact project began.
N-Philes: Could you tell us a bit about Contact's story, and maybe a bit of the game's unique gameplay system? Just a basic explanation of the concept.
Suda: In Japan, the RPG is a popular genre. So, Contact is also, of course, a role playing game. In Japan, we wanted to make Contact a great hit. But, Contact also includes various new innovative features. We wanted to create a dynamic way of playing the game. For example, the player is outside the DS. We wanted to create a game where you're the player controlling, interacting, and giving commands to an independent character within the game.
Nakamura: Actually, we don't know the name of the hero in the US version of Contact. Did you get to play it?
N-Philes: Yes, we did! Actually, the name of the main character in the game is "Terry".
Nakamura: Terry! In Japan, the hero's name is "Cherry".
Suda: Ahh! [laughter]
Nakamura: We are wondering why "Cherry" is not acceptable in the US.
N-Philes: We believe it's simply because "Cherry" is not a very common name and perhaps Atlus felt "Terry" is a much more common and recognizable American name.
N-Philes: Also, we just recently read that there's a sequel to Contact in the works. Is this true?
Suda: We don't have any comments on that, so please wait for information on a sequel to Contact. We can't say if that is correct or not right now.
N-Philes: Well, it wasn't anything official, it was just a rumor.
Nakamura: Well, you can contact Marvelous Interactive in Japan to talk about that.
Suda: Actually, you know, Grasshopper had two main minds behind Contact: myself and Akira Ueda. Mr. Ueda is the director Contact and I am the producer. Contact is a very different taste of game. So, I created killer7 and Ueda created Contact and, say, Shining Soul.
Nakamura: Mr. Ueda has actually left Grasshopper to form his own studio. It's called Audio. Please look after Audio and keep an eye on them.
N-Philes: We'll definitely look out for their games.
Nakamura: If possible, please interview Mr. Ueda.
N-Philes: Oh, is Mr. Ueda here today?
Nakamura: Oh no, he's currently in Japan.
N-Philes: I see. So then, would you like to comment on the Nintendo Wii and the new controller?
Suda: Hmm, well, it's an absolutely new device. I feel the possibilities of the controller creates a new market. For example, people who haven't played TV games before can play Wii games and enter the market, and the market expands.
N-Philes: Yeah, people who haven't played games before might be able to do so now because the new controller makes games more accessible and simple for non-gamers.
Nakamura: Yes! This is exactly what we were saying yesterday. [laughter]
N-Philes: Regarding the Wii, for the longest time I've been reading about a title from Grasshopper called ProjectS, and just recently we heard about a new Wii title from you, Mr. Suda, called Heroes. Are they the same project?
Nakamura: ProjectS and Heroes are two different projects.
Suda: Yeah, two different games.
N-Philes: And are they both currently in development?
Suda: We only started developing Heroes. Project S is just in the planning process.
N-Philes: And Heroes is designed by you?
Suda: Heroes is entirely my game, yes.
N-Philes: We heard a rumor that Heroes was supposed to be playable on the floor this week. Is that true, or is the game too early in development to show off?
Suda: We don't know exactly why Heroes wasn't revealed on this floor. So, we can't answer. Grasshopper, Marvelous Interactive, and Spike, the three companies creating the game, are now thinking about when the best time to reveal Heroes information to the world would be. Please wait until, possibly, this summer.
N-Philes: Perhaps we'll find out a bit at the Tokyo Game Show?
Nakamura: Ahh... we don't know exactly when. But, please look out for more Heroes information.
N-Philes: Oh, of course. What do you think of the titles currently being displayed today for the Wii? Like Super Mario Galaxy...
Nakamura: ...or Zelda?
N-Philes: Yeah, or Zelda! Have you had a chance to play them?
Suda: The Nintendo booth is very crowded!
N-Philes: Yeah! [laughter]
Suda: We'd have to wait a long, long time. We didn't have enough time to wait in the lines since we're busy with meetings and interviews, so actually, we couldn't play any Wii games.
N-Philes: Yeah, we waited in lines for many hours to play the Wii.
Nakamura: Many hours! How many hours?
N-Philes: We had guys waiting in line for at least three hours yesterday. We heard the lines got up to five to seven hours long!
Suda: Wow! The day is over by that time! [laughter]
N-Philes: Yes! Well, we don't want to take up much more of your time, so thank you so much for sharing this information with us, and thank you both very much for taking the time to talk with us.
Suda: Thank you!
Special thanks go to Mr. Suda and Mr. Nakamura for translating.
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