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Japanese gaming hero Suda 51 on his latest, Shadows Of The Damned

Posted on Tuesday May 24, 2011, 09:48 by Ali Plumb in Infinite Lives
Japanese gaming hero Suda 51 on his latest, Shadows Of The Damned

If you're not in the know, "Suda51" is the nickname of reknowned Japanese game director Goichi Suda, the man who's produced such influential and controversial titles as The Silver Case, Killer7, and the No More Heroes series.

Often heralded as one of the few "auteur" video game directors out there, he's famed for his mad punk style and regular gaming signatures - like exceptionally long corridors, games within games, and creepy hotels - but with his first game for Western audiences (and with the help of EA) Shadows Of The Damned coming out later this year, it's interesting to see just what he has planned for this horror survival game that us poor Westerners will be able to wrap our heads around.

So as his team got in touch with us, a email full of questions was sent, and an email full of answers was recieved, and here is the result, a little Q&A with a gaming maverick and someone who's never, ever made a boring game in his life - no mean feat.

How does it feel to be called an "auteur" video game director, if there such a thing?

It’s an honour to be called an auteur by people not only in Japan, but all over the world. I think games can be both entertainment and art. As a game creator, I try to deliver a message to the gaming audience. I believe directors that I look up to, like Hideo Kojima or Eric Chahi, would say the same thing.

What do you make of some critics dismissing computer games as “not art”?

Video games have grown so much over the past 30 years. We’re now in the HD era and the distance between films and games is getting smaller. And without the foundation of art, games wouldn’t be where they are today. But rather than argue about what is and isn’t art, I think it’s more important that developers have the opportunity to express their art through games.

How would you describe your style of games?


What films have influenced your work in gaming?

El Topo. It’s a wonderful fusion of art and entertainment. Plus, the movie’s laid out similar to a video game. Recently there was a revival screening here in Japan.

Do you have a favourite director? Or a favourite film, even?

Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas is my favorite film. I remember shaking in my sleep after watching that movie. My favorite director is Kinji Fukasaku, who is one of Japan’s national treasures.

SOTD is billed as a survival horror game… what horror movies inspire you?

Many different movies: Legend, Hellraiser, Perfume. Among our staff, Evil Dead was a heavy influence.

As a horror game, have you been very attentive to the music and the score? Can we expect any punk elements?

Akira Yamaoka was responsible for the sound design for Damned. You’ll hear his surreal alternate punk style in the world of the game.

Can you tell us a little bit about the lead character, Garcia Hotspur?

Garcia is a demon hunter whose true love has been stolen by the demons of Hell. In order to save her, he and his wise-cracking sidekick Johnson must go on a crazy journey. Only with Johnson’s help as a guide and a weapon can Garcia hope to destroy the demons holding Paula. Garcia’s love for Paula is only matched by his passion for killing demons. They are like a hellish version of Sid and Nancy.

What made you decide to collaborate with EA on Shadows Of The Damned?

We wanted to reach a much larger audience with Shadows of the Damned than our previous titles, and we felt EAP would be a perfect fit. When we approached EAP with the proposal for this project, they jumped on board right away. I was especially impressed with the speed of their work and their dedication to the project.

How have your changed your regular style to suit a western market?

We’ve changed a little and EAP was very helpful in that respect. There’s a mutual respect between our companies. Over the course of development, that respect and relationship grew stronger. They were very careful to let us create the game we wanted to make, while offering advice on how best to reach a new audience. It was a long process, though! I rewrote the scenario for Damned five times!

You’ve previously said that SOTD is going to be “nothing like a standard action game”… how so?

The punk-horror concept, the love story set in Hell, the concepts of puzzle solving with light and dark, our typical off-the-wall style. These aren’t elements that you see in a typical action game. That’s what sets Damned apart from the normal fair.

Are you setting out to shock Western audiences? How have you gone about doing that?

I always set out to shock games with new gameplay and stories. I want to surprise players as if they were driving and happened upon some unbelievably beautiful scenery. I try to draw upon the creative power of human emotion.

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