Interview: Suda51 Talks Lets It Die, “Has No Plans on Nintendo”

From Grasshopper's Twitter feed

For a good interview, you can't Let It Die.

At E3 this year, Gil Almogi and I had the chance to sit down with Grasshopper front man and gaming rock star Goichi Suda, commonly known as Suda 51. So let's get right to it!


Kevin Schaller: Earlier, at the Sony press conference, you showed off Let It Die. There wasn’t a whole lot of information on the game. Is there anything you can share? Genre, anything about the story…?Suda 51: It’s a genre [we] came up with called “survival action," but to be really specific, it’s called “survival super action."

Gil Almogi: It’s different from any of the previous games done by Grasshopper, no?

Suda 51: We’re taking it as a different challenge where it’s a different type of game. It’s also free to play.

Last September, we had Lily Bergamo at TGS. So when we were making the game doing concepts, we starting thinking PS4, the whole concept of… when players actually die, their player data actually becomes the enemy’s data. So basically, once they die, you’re playing against real player data. When we started thinking about that concept, the game got a little bit bigger, and then it kind of evolved so Lily Bergamo evolved into Let It Die.

Gil: That’s really interesting. So I noticed during the trailer that there were randomly-appearing health bars. Was the trailer actually part of how it will actually look in the game, or how is that going to feature into the concept?

Suda 51: So you’re going to see numbers of the damage and the health. Basically, this is going to be a representation of the current game.

Gil: So similar to RPGs that display that kind of information. Because you don’t see that much in action games.

Kevin: What kind of a direction does the story take? Is it a sort of general “we need to keep surviving," does it follow multiple protagonists?

Suda 51: Unlike previous games, where the main character was already built and it was story-driven, it’s kind of more like an avatar. Where you have that guy in his underwear and a gas mask, that’s going to be the avatar/your guy. And the core concept of this game is that you fight, and you grab items on the spot, grab clothing on the spot, and you build that character up. And that’s part of the survival.

Kevin: So essentially, you’re building up your avatar from scratch. You’re starting from almost a nude point and building to make them yours?

Suda 51: That’s exactly right. It’s not like some other titles where you go through a menu and pick an item and whatnot. You literally have to go look at an enemy, pick what items you want to get, beat the enemy, then grab that weapon. It’s a little more organic, where you’re building your character on the spot.

Gil: Regarding the trailer (posted above), will there by one-on-one fights like that, or does it expand to more of a combat arena?

Suda 51: It’s not just one-on-one.

Gil: And for survival, death is permanent and you start over?

Suda 51: Once you die as a player, your data becomes (part of the game). You actually have to start from the beginning, but that’s part of the game now.

Gil: Can you play as male or female?

Suda 51: That’s not something we can talk about.

Kevin: I found an interview from March you did where you said from [that] you wanted to thoroughly demolish current Grasshopper traits and build something new. Can you expand on that? What sort of traits would you want to put in their place?

Suda 51: In that interview (I) was talking about the previous generation of PS3, Xbox, and previous consoles. And that there was a certain mold that they were fitting, reusing some of the graphics and engines and whatnot that they could use. You have your story and your system and whatnot, and a mold that they could use.

But now, this is going to be the first step of utilizing what (we) can do with the PS4, but also they’re free-to-play and different challenges, and that’s part of the evolution, what (I) was talking about with the new Grasshopper. Actually incorporate their experiences in the past with the new challenges.

Gil: Embracing the new generation…

Suda 51: That has a lot to do with it. So the online portion was something that when (we) were just Grasshopper, was something that wasn’t (our) strength, and obviously becoming part of the GungHo group, recognized that was part of the strength that GungHo has.

Kevin: Are there certain things that you maybe already have in development, or certain ideas that you have that you would like to expand on in the new generation specifically? Like, new traits for a specific genre of game…?

Gil: Are there other concepts that you haven’t explored that you haven’t yet? [Gil asks clearer questions that I do! ~Kevin]

Suda 51: Another thing that (we’re) doing is an app called “Companion App." Basically, it’s an app that you’ll be able to connect (to Let It Die). Can’t go into specifics into how it will connect to the game.

Gil: So that’s another branch, mobile development? Which is a perfect partnership with GungHo. One final curiosity with Let It Die, your previous game Killer Is Dead that you did reflected more Japanese culture. Do you think this is going to appeal more to a wider base, feature more Japanese culture or [cater more toward] a Western audience?

Suda 51: The core concept is “worldwide," so I'm not catering to a specific area, but I understand that a lot of the players playing my games are playing in Europe and US.

Kevin: I’ve noticed with a number of your titles that you have nostalgic influences, like Lollipop Chainsaw had older references to it like '80s music. No More Heroes was very otaku with almost “nerd-focused," nostalgic in a reflective way. Were there games that influenced you? Do you want and try to add a nostalgic factor?

Suda 51: It’s not like O try to cater to the otaku crowd, but it’s an indirect result of doing what I like, stuff that I like, music that I like.

Kevin: I still fondly remember and remember “Rainbow Mode” and playing “Mickey” by Toni Basil.

Suda 51: Yeah, that was dope.

Kevin: Are there certain genres that you would like to explore more, that you haven’t had the chance to? I remember Contact for the DS, which was very much a departure from Let It Die and Killer7 and No More Heroes and most of your library. Are there certain genres or sorts of titles that you would LIKE to explore further?

Suda 51: Mainly, I just make games that I like. And now that we’re part of the GungHo group now, there are resources that we didn’t have before, so this is a representation of that utilizing their assets.

Gil: What are you playing now?

Suda 51: A lot of 3DS Nintendo titles.

Gil: Is there any interest in getting back into Nintendo development? No More Heroes was on the Wii.

Suda 51: Right now there are no plans on Nintendo titles.

Gil: There are some developers that are very passionate about what platforms they prefer, so I didn’t know if it was a preference that you switched over to PS4.

Suda 51: I don’t have a specific platform preference.

Kevin & Gil: Thank you so much!