Enigmatic killer7 and No More Heroes creator Goichi "Suda51" Suda isn't often in town. But this week, he was - in the trendy offices of a West End communications company, to be exact, dishing out roundtable interviews like he had a game to promote (he did - No More Heroes 2 - but you knew that, right?). Obviously we were there, voice recorder in tow and with a notepad full of questions. Ever wondered why Travis Touchdown does a poo when you save your game? Read on to find out.
Q: Why did you decide to make No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle for the Wii, as opposed to the Xbox 360 or the PS3?
Suda51: The first one was made for the Wii exclusively. I felt that the contents and the game itself worked really well for the Wii. When I decided to make the sequel, I thought that the Wii would work really well for this title. That's why I decided to make this game for the Wii as well.
Q: No More Heroes involved a lot of motion sensing. Are you concerned that with No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise [the 360 and PS3 port], some of the fun of the original will be lost?
Suda51: We haven't developed that game. It's developed by other developers - feelplus Inc. did that. I'm just helping out to oversee just the setting and the characters. I just say, this character should be like this, and explain the setting to the developer. But I don't oversee the game itself, so I'm not sure. I don't really play the game.
PR Interjection: Suda's not that involved in the selection of format as much as you probably think, so he can't actually answer that many questions on the choice of the Wii as a format for the first one or the second one.
Q: Do you need to have played the first game to fully appreciate Desperate Struggle?
Suda51: When I decided to make No More Heroes 2, I knew that some people would just hear about the series from No More Heroes 2, so I tried to make sure that someone who has never played the first game still can enjoy starting playing No More Heroes 2. I put a focus on that.
Q: Why have you replaced the over world from the first game with a map from which you can select missions?
Suda51: No More Heroes 2 is the first sequel that Grasshopper has worked on. We decided to make a sequel because we got a lot of feedback from journalists and fans, saying they wanted to play No More Heroes 2 and they wanted to see how Travis [Touchdown] goes in the future. To me, that was a request, so we decided to make No More Heroes 2. The feedback we got told us the reason people enjoyed it was because of the action part of the game. So for making 2, I focused on the things the player enjoyed the most, which was the action. To make the game, I had to polish a part of that to make it a better action game, which was the battle system and the boss battles. We were concerned whether it was necessary to have the open world, which is not really related to the action game. I realised that - and the team realised that - well, we don't need it. We just need to put our effort into making a better action game, rather than creating an open world system.
Q: Toilet rolls were given out at the original game's Japanese launch parties, but only a few people turned up. How do you feel the Japanese have responded to No More Heroes?
Suda51: This announcement and the people who wrote articles about giving away the toilet paper at the launch party in stores - actually it was not the launch party. It was not even giving away things like that. It was just, whoever bought the game got toilet paper on the day. That's about it. The news wasn't correct.
Q: Do you think it was well received in Japan? Can No More Heroes be recognised internationally, and not just in the West?
Suda51: Yeah. If we compare the market of course this title is more recognised in Europe than in the US.
Q: No More Heroes 2 is already out in the US. Does it look like it'll be more successful than the original?
Suda51: Of course we're happy if we can sell more units of No More Heroes 2 in the US rather than No More Heroes. And of course Rising Star [European publisher] will work hard to push this title in Europe!
Q: Travis Touchdown is quickly becoming one of the most iconic video game characters. Who inspired him? Does his fashion sense reflect yours?
Suda51: I've already mentioned that I got inspired by Johnny Knoxville in Jackass. The character itself is just, if I put the element of Otaku to the character of Jackass, what kind of character would I create? Also the fashion, I like the style that Travis wears, so I wear clothes like that.
Q: In Desperate Struggle, there's more of an emphasis on retro arcade mini-games than in the first game. Was that a response to fan feedback or something you've drawn on from personal experience?
Suda51: No More Heroes is the game that puts a lot of different elements into the one game. The game itself is open to anything. So, any element fits into the game. I don't know why. Maybe the character of Travis is just like that. I'm not sure. For No More Heroes, there is an element of the 8-bit game, but you can't play. So when I decided to make No More Heroes 2, I definitely wanted to make 8-bit games the player could actually play. I ordered the team to create at least three games for side jobs the player can try, but in the end most of the side jobs ended up as retro games, because they enjoyed creating them as well.
Q: Would you consider putting a collection of the 8-bit games on DSiWare?
Suda51: Good idea! I want to do that! If you play it, each type of job you can really enjoy. They're not just a part of a side mission. Each game itself is of a really good quality, in fact.
Q: What's your assessment of the Japanese game industry today?
Suda51: Of course the situation three years ago, and now, has changed. We have iPhone, PSN, WiiWare. We can have a small project that people can try, which is good for newcomers and new game designers. For example, if I have an idea, it doesn't necessarily have to be a mega title, or a console title. There's a lot of potential to do a game in a different way, which is really good for the market. That's what I think.
Q: Why didn't you choose to use Wii MotionPlus in the game? Were you tempted to support the Wii Balance Board, or other Wii peripherals?
Suda51: For No More Heroes 2, the players enjoy slashing and killing the enemies. That's the most important thing for the gamer to feel. So I thought that it wasn't necessary to put MotionPlus into the game.
Q: No More Heroes is full of sexual references. Why did you make the beam katana a metaphor for a massive penis, and make players look like they're masturbating when they're playing the game?
Suda51: [Laughs] I'm a gentleman, but he [points to a poster of Travis Touchdow] is not! Especially, he saves his game in the toilet!
Q: What's he supposed to be doing in the toilet?
Suda51: The reason why I decided to save the game in the bathroom is because I got ideas when I was doing that in the bathroom! So that's why!
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, published by Rising Star Games, is due out in Europe at the end of April.