Paradise Hotel 51

Where Gaming Dies

Suda51 Official Complete Book

July 3rd, 1998: The day when all international disputes were resolved. This day marked the beginning of true peace for the entire world, for people of all races.
In the following years, all nuclear weapons were decommissioned in what would later be known as the “Missile Shows”. Air transportation and network stations were shut down in order to fully eradicate terrorism as a concept. However, in just a few years, terrorism was reborn. The “smiling faces”, religious suicide bombers, began attacking governmental institutions, seemingly with the only objective of causing terror .
The only ones who can stand up to the Heaven Smile terror threat are the team of omniscent and almost God-like assassins , the Killer7.

This book is a treasure trove of interviews, behind the scenes details and illustrations on every single game Suda51 & GHM worked on.
Unlike the Art of GHM, this book also covers Suda’s career in Human Entertainment, covering Firepro and Syndrome games.
Also unlike the Art of GHM, the book contains no english text, meaning that english-speaking audiences will have to rely on fan translations.

The book’s contents are the following:

Inside the mind of Goichi Suda [1]

This is a long form interview split in three segments through the course of the book. The first part of the interview deals with Suda’s childhood influences (including Leiji Matsumoto, puroresu and Badminton), the beginning of his career in Human Entertainment and the development and reception of Super Fire Pro Wrestling Special.

Reiko Naito x Goichi Suda

Rieko Naito is a religious scholar who specializes in death and burials. She is a big fan of Suda’s work and the double interview took place at Café Monochrome, themed after the work of director David Lynch, a common point of interest for both interviewees. Through the course of their conversation, Reiko Naito shares her thoughts on the depiction of death and funerals in Suda’s work, how she first came to know her work through killer7, moreover the two also discuss their common passion for David Lynch and how it influenced Suda’s own work and the meaning of the full moon imagery in his games.

The Silver Case

This segment includes several pieces of concept and in-game art drawn by the two game’s artists, Takashi Miyamoto and Masateru Ikeda, as well as rough storyboards for the game’s animated scenes.
Some of these game-centered sections contain a column called “51’s COMMENT”, where director Suda discusses his own work. These columns have been translated by NewWorldOrder.

51’s COMMENT – Bring it all into existence with your own words

Looking back at it now, I feel like I made a conscious effort to supress things such as youth when I wrote the scenario. For example, in the story there exists the Central Police organisation, but they were different to the Metropolitan Police Department and the National Police Agency that existed in reality. Of course, they served as the basis for the Central Police, but I was trying to depict a new kind of police organisation, different to those groups. I guess you could say that because it was made up of only things that I conceived within my mind, it had all become my own world. I strongly felt something like a mindset or spirit to embed my words into myself, from the top of my head to the tip of my toes.

Furthermore, I ultimately applied filters to the output numerous times. After finishing the first draft, I had the staff at that time look over it for me. I even asked outside staff too, and once more had it looked over. I think that because I didn’t have faith in my writing to begin with, I applied multiple layers of filters, and was writing with my guard up. Looking at it another way, I wanted to deliver something with that level of dedication to the people who would play the game.  

51’s COMMENT – Tetsugoro Kusabi and Yakyuu-kyou no Uta

When creating the character Tetsugoro Kusabi, I used the manga Yakyuu-kyou no Uta, written by Shinji Mizushima, as a reference. I modelled him on Tetsugoro Iwata, a character who appears in the manga. If Tetsugoro Iwata was a detective, in what manner would he act? What kind of words would he use when he spoke? Kusabi was a much older man when compared to myself at the time, so I constantly thought about that as I wrote the scenario.

I myself was a huge baseball fan as a child, but when I read Yakyuu-kyou no Uta, I think I learned a lot about how a man lives life. I thought it was fascinating how Tetsugoro Iwata was able to stay dedicated to his role as both player and manager, and how he continued to push forward no matter how far, if it was for something that he believed in. As I read parts like where he tries to make a pass at Yuuki Mizuhara, I felt like I was being taught, “This is what a man is like.” He was the kind of adult that you wanted to become, someone that was admired.

The 25th Ward

Other than the usual pieces of in-game and concept art and a short announcement of the three new chapters that would be included in the upcoming re-release (Whiteout, Blackout and Yuki), this section of the book features the first printing of the short story Red, Blue and Green. While the story itself was never translated, it has been made into an interactive fan-game and it was later adapted into a comicbook, released alongside the Nintendo Switch collection of The Silver Case and The 25th Ward, which received both an official translation and a fan-made one.

No More Heroes

This segment is dedicated to the No More Heroes series in general. It contains character artwork by the game’s artist Yusuke Kozaki, as well as a rough storyboard for a specific NMH2’s cutscene (The one where Henry defeats Mimmy). The last few pages are dedicated to some concept art for the then-upcoming Travis Strikes Again drawn by Boneface.

51’s COMMENT – Creating without imposing anything on yourself

I think that No More Heroes was likely a reaction to killer7. If killer7 was thinking deeply about ‘what I want to do the most’, and trying to create something that no one else was doing, then NMH was ‘let’s do what everyone else is doing.’ Things such as the use of the open world, and the desire to do hack and slash gameplay, came from that thought. Furthermore, I wanted to make a great feeling action game.

At the time, I wanted to somehow incorporate all of the things that had influenced me. So, when I thought about what it was that I liked the most at that time, what sprung to mind was the American TV show Jackass (laughs). Within the show, the one I loved the most was Johnny Knoxville, so I wanted to make the main character similar to him. I also thought that it would be interesting if he was like a jedi from Star Wars. The relationship between Sylvia and Travis was based on that of Lupin and Fujiko Mine from Lupin the Third, and I wanted him to ride a bike that seemed like it was from Back to the Future. This game was the result of creating with just a spur of the moment idea, and without imposing anything on myself.     

51’s COMMENT – Travis as an alter ego

I had wanted to depict the continuation of Travis’ story, and it was decided that No More Heroes would be the first game to receive a sequel. Even after the development of the first game, it felt as though Travis continued to live alongside me. Despite being a game character, it was like he was living in some other place, and I would find myself thinking, “I wonder what he’s doing right now.” That was the kind of presence he had become for me.

There was a sense within myself that I had created a pretty incredible character. There are elements of Travis that are like my other self. It’s a little trite, but he can do the things that I can’t. Also, even though he is an assassin that exists on the dark side of this world, he is able to live cheerfully. I can’t help but feel sympathy for Travis.

Killer7

There is a collection of pictures of the game’s character models, in-game artwork (such as Ulmeyda’s posters and the Handsome Men comicbook cover), storyboards for the cutscene depicting the deaths of the Smiths, and detailed concept art for certain in-game weapons.
Most importantly, this section features a full reprint of the Killer is Dead side story, originally published on Famitsu as a prequel to the game. The story remains incomplete.

51’s COMMENT – Meeting with Shinji Mikami

killer7 was very rewarding for me. That’s because it was a time when I had wanted to give up on various things. My ambition to create new games and genres that no one else was making was met with harsh opposition from a number of different people. That made me think about giving up on writing my own scenarios, and it was a period where I had resolved to change my way of thinking in order to make Grasshopper into a studio that could make better selling games. However, it was at that time that I met Mikami-san, and he rejected all of that. He said, “Your way is not wrong, Suda-san.” There are a number of people in my life that make me wonder what would have happened to me if I had never met them. I believe that Mikami-san is one of those people.

51’s COMMENT – The influence from Battles Without Honor and Humanity

In terms of works that had a big influence on killer7, I would probably have to mention the Battles Without Honor and Humanity film series (仁義なき戦い – Jingi naki tatakai). I had decided that I was going to make a game that was set in the United States, but at that time, I personally felt that if it didn’t have some kind of connection to Japan, then I wouldn’t have been able to write the scenario. Battles Without Honor and Humanity is a yakuza film, but at the same time it’s also a war film. There is, of course, the fact that it begins in the black markets of the post war period (after World War II), but the war is something that casts an unmistakeable shadow over the pasts of the characters. killer7 is actually set 50 years after the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty was established, and the focal point was whether the agreement would be renewed. This was something that came about after watching the whole Battles Without Honor and Humanity series and then thinking about whether I could depict the effects brought about by war in a different form and in my own way.

I personally wanted to include a character that was like Shozo Hirono from Battles Without Honor and Humanity, so I modeled the character Matsuken around him. A Japanese man whose words advocate the very fact that he is Japanese. The disposition to stand one’s ground. I took the image of a Japanese man who could go toe to toe with America that I saw within Battles Without Honor and Humanity and incorporated those elements into Matsuken.

Inside the mind of Goichi Suda [2]

This section of the interview covers the period from the development of Moonlight Syndrome (during which Suda was already planning of moving on to a different company or going independent) up until the period during which Grasshopper Universe, the mobage division of GhM, was active.

Shinji Mikami x Goichi Suda

Shinji Mikami acted as producer on both Killer7 and the ill-fated Kurayami, which eventually transmogrified into Shadows of the Damned. In this double interview they discuss how Mikami first approached Suda, the development of killer7, their relationship as producer and director and the development of Shadows of the Damned.

Twilight Syndrome & Moonlight Syndrome

A few pieces of concept art accompany the similarly sparse screenshots and storyboards. An early draft/pitch for the story is also included.

51’s COMMENT – An evil existence that cannot be seen

There are some fans who have said that Moonlight was influenced by Neon Genesis Evangelion, but it actually bears a strong likeness to Twin Peaks. The existence named Mithra that appears in the game is based on the Twin Peaks character Bob. Of course, Mithra was designed so that you wouldn’t be able to see any similarities at a glance, but he is like an evil existence that lurks in the darkness of the world—an existence that controls people. I feel like the concept of this evil existence possessing the protagonist was an alternate take on the subject matter of Twin Peaks.

I depicted an “evil existence that cannot be seen” in Moonlight, but when I later created The Silver Case, I deliberately avoided using that same motif. Rather than something that couldn’t be seen, I created an existence that had a definitive form: the criminal Kamui. These are the kinds of things that I do very intentionally.

51’s COMMENT – The premeditated change of direction that was Moonlight Syndrome

Twilight Syndrome was a highly praised title, no matter what anyone says. However, I’ve always strongly believed that I was added to the project halfway just to provide assistance. At any rate, as a director I wanted to contribute to the company, so I devoted myself to the role and focused on completing the game before the deadline. That’s why there are almost no aspects in the content of the game where I tried to express myself.

On the other hand, it was with Moonlight that I wanted to confront that era, and I made major changes to the setting of the game. While the sales for Moonlight were good, it was a title that also received quite a lot of criticism because of that (laughs). How can I explain it? It was like I was trying to use the Moonlight that I had created to erase the acclaim that was earned by Twilight. I feel like that was the level of determination I had when I made Moonlight.  

Super Fire Pro Wrestling III: Final Bout & Special

This section includes some artwork and concept art for the games’ covers, plus a list of playable characters and some sprite work. It also includes a flowchart for “Champion Road”, the story mode of Special which is notoriously Suda’s first real writing contribution, as well as an outline for the original ending sequence, detailing a “good ending” in which the main character does not commit suicide, which was eventually scrapped.

51’s COMMENT – Thoughts on the series’ revival

Last year (2017), the Fire Pro series saw a revival, and I accepted a request from Spike Chunsoft to appear in a trailer promoting the game. It was an incredibly surreal experience to now be in the position to support the series where I made my debut in this way. Of course, the revival is no doubt thanks to the wildly enthusiastic fanbase, but in the 20 years or so since leaving Human and starting Grasshopper, I’ve tried my absolute hardest while struggling through great difficulties. The starting point of that was Fire Pro, and I’m glad that I poured everything I had into that game. In a way, I feel like I’ve been able to repay the debt I owe to Fire Pro, and I also get the feeling that Fire Pro is praising me, saying, “You’ve really worked hard, huh” (laughs).

51’s COMMENT – The death of Kurt Cobain

The ending of the story mode in Special was, of course, influenced by the death of Kurt Cobain. I heard the news while we were right in the middle of developing the game, and it was a tremendous shock. Back then, the internet wasn’t as developed as it is today, so you could only get scraps of information. Why in the world did Kurt die? Or in another sense, why would a human who had arrived at the domain of God choose to die? I’ve thought about those things a great deal. In my own way, I wrote a scenario that completely overlapped the story of Kurt Cobain with Sumisu Morio [The protagonist of Champion Road].

Kurt was one year older than me, but if you asked whether I could choose to die when I turned 27, then I absolutely could not make that choice. I still hadn’t achieved anything, after all. Just like Kurt, Ian Curtis also ended his life at an early age. I thought about artists who chose to die at the age of 27, and I expressed those feelings through Sumisu Morio.

Inside the mind of Goichi Suda [3]

This section of the interview covers the career of Suda51 and the titles GhM released from roughly 2012 onward, ending on Suda’s ruminations on rebuilding GhM with a smaller team of people away from GungHo, which led to the development of Travis Strikes Again.

Kazutoshi Iida x Goichi Suda

Kazutoshi Iida is the game developer responsible for Tail of the Sun, Aquanut’s adventure and the original 64DD version of Doshin the Giant. He briefly joined Grasshopper Manufacture from 2010 to 2013, but his only credited role I could find was for the song The Riot – Teens of anger from the No More Heroes 2 soundtrack. In this interview, the two discuss their common interests and their experiences working in the gaming industry at roughly the same time.

Flower, Sun, and Rain

From this point onwards, coverage on the individual games is less detailed, featuring only a few pieces of concept art or screenshots if not just the game’s cover art. The “51’s COMMENT” column is still present, however many of them are still untranslated.

51’s COMMENT – Works the game was inspired by

There is a film called The Miracle of Joe Petrel that was released in 1984. The film is set in Okinawa and the Philippines, and the main role is played by Saburo Tokito. I wanted to make a game with a world like that of the film. The feeling of paradise in Okinawa that was portrayed in the film was incredible. Being a child at the time, I had never seen that kind of world except in films and I really admired it. I wanted to create a suspense game in a place like that, where strange events would occur. That was the motivation for the game.

There was also a feature in the magazine Brutus called ‘One Resort – One Island’. I really liked it and thought that it was just like The Miracle of Joe Petrel.

One more source of inspiration was episode 14 from season 6 of The X-Files, titled ‘Monday’. The protagonist Mulder repeats the same day over and over. He goes to the bank and gets caught in an explosion, but then awakens to find that he has returned to the morning of that same day. That was the inspiration for FSR. When I watched the episode, I thought the story was excellent. There weren’t a lot of time loop stories at the time, right? I wanted to create that kind of story in a completely different setting. FSR was a created based on a combination of those works.

51’s COMMENT – A deeply mysterious game

As this was the second game we created after establishing Grasshopper, there was a strong focus on technical improvements. After the previous game that was a text-based adventure, we were able to create a 3D adventure game. I felt a strong sense of accomplishment in bringing this to reality.

In the beginning, I had the desire to create something completely different to The Silver Case, but I was a little shocked by how incredibly different it ended up. After development was complete and we received the master, even I thought to myself, “No one is going to understand this game, are they?” (laughs). I thought that I really made a deeply mysterious game.

Of course, during production, I was aware of what kind of game it would turn out to be. Thanks to the great effort in fine tuning various aspects, we were able to create a highly finished product. We made a game that we could really be proud of. However, as a game, we created something that felt very peculiar. I thought we made something strange that I’d never experienced in any other game. I really thought, “What the heck is this game?!” (laughs). I’m truly glad that we were able to release this game. I’m very grateful to Victor Interactive Software.

Thinking about it today, if I was told, “Make it again!” FSR may be the kind of game that I wouldn’t be able to make.

Michigan

51’s COMMENT – Project intentions and failures

If I look back on it, I feel like it was far too early to make michigan. The proposal for the game was created by Spike’s Sakurai-san (Sakurai Mitsutoshi), and since I was directing killer7 around that time, I became involved in the project as a producer. It was the second time that I served as a producer after Shining Soul II.

The intention that we had was to make the world setting of the movie The Mist (2007) into a game. We wanted to depict the feeling of fear as the mist gradually enveloped everything. The game was set in Chicago, and although we created the map of the town and achieved our goals to a certain degree… In the end, we had a great deal of trouble with the core mechanics. Our attempts to take the fear of The Mist and portray it through a game did not go very well.

51’s COMMENT – Change of course

We had a meeting with Sakurai-san to discuss what we were going to do about the situation. I think the meeting took place around 10 in the morning. At the time, the Spike offices were located in Ebisu, and during the car ride over, I was thinking about what kind of things that we could make.

The image that came to me at the time was of a female announcer reporting on an abnormal situation, but as she does so, she is quickly attacked and eaten. If what attacked her was mist, then the visuals wouldn’t have much impact, so I changed it to a creature. The reporters would just die one after another, and new reporters would quickly appear to take their place… It was something like that.

When I arrived at Spike and told Sakurai-san about the idea, he replied, “That sounds really interesting. Let’s do it!” And that’s how this game was completed.

Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked

51’s COMMENT – A game based on an original work

The truth is, after killer7, Grasshopper faced a crisis for probably the third time. We couldn’t find any work, but around the time that I was really starting to worry about the fate of the company, we got the offer to work on Champloo. I immediately accepted.

For Grasshopper, this was the second time that the company had worked on a game that was based on an original work, but it was the first time for me. That’s because with the Shining Soul series, I was only involved as a producer.

It was the first time that I had worked as a director on someone else’s IP, and I learned all kinds of things from the experience. But I was really blessed when working on Champloo. Manglobe provided a great deal of support, and the director of the anime, Watanabe-san (Shinichiro Watanabe), even visited the studio once and gave me some encouraging words, saying, “Please make it in the way that you want.”

We only had two restrictions when making the game. One was that we couldn’t use the “samurai who smells of sunflowers.” That character was an important part of the story in the anime, so it had the potential to create spoilers. The other restriction was that we could not use the word “Edo.”

Other than that, we had complete freedom in whatever we wanted to do. Even adding completely new characters was perfectly okay, and we could have the protagonists travel to any location. So once we knew the limits that we had to work within, I decided that I would have the characters go to Ezo. In the anime, they travel to Kyushu, right? That’s why in the game, I decided that they would instead travel north.

51’s COMMENT – Combos that change with the music

The game was created on a short schedule, but thanks to the understanding of those that worked on the anime, we were able to make the game mechanics really interesting and received high praise from Bandai Namco.

The attack combos would change with the turntable (music). When the song changed, so did the combo tree. It felt incredibly good and was truly well made. I think that it’s a mechanic that is commonly used, even today, so I would like to try using it again sometime.

Contact

51’s COMMENT Akira Ueda

I have a great deal of memories about this game…

Ueda Akira-kun is now the head of Audio, Inc. but the first game that he worked on while at Grasshopper was FSR. Immediately following that, I entrusted him with the role of director on Shining Soul and Shining Soul II, and he had great success. Next, I thought that I would have him create an original game, and Contact was the project that he started on.

Originally, there was a proposal that I had written called “Cherry,” and using that as a prototype, we presented it to Marvelous and got the OK. So I had Ueda-kun work as director, and it was decided that the Ueda-team would develop the game.

Contact was the first game that we worked on together with Marvelous, and it was one of the things that led to creation of NMH.

51’s COMMENT – Cherry

The protagonist of the Cherry proposal was a child. His mother asks him to do some shopping for her at the supermarket and hands him some money. However, on the way there, he meets a person who asks, “Will you exchange your money for this?” and the boy trades his money for the item. Then just like in the story Warashibe Chouja (the Straw Millionaire) he continues to trade for more items, one after another, and it becomes a story of traveling around the world.

After spending years away from home, he finally returns with some cherries, and his mother says, “You bought them for me.” She embraces him and then the story ends. The original idea came about because I had wanted to make a game for children.

The game that was actually made, Contact, ended up being completely different. I still have the desire to make Cherry even now, and it’s one of the proposals that I keep on the back burner.

51’s COMMENT – Popularity Overseas

The game is still very popular in Europe. When I do interviews over there, there are people who say that Contact is their favourite Grasshopper game. I think the unique atmosphere that the game had, which you don’t see in regular RPGs, was really great. Ueda-kun’s talents really blossomed with this game, so when he decided to go independent, I tried to support him to the best of my ability.

Blood+: One Night Kiss

51’s COMMENT – An adoration of apartment complexes

It was decided that Sony would release a game that followed the anime, so I decided to make an original story for this game.

I watched the anime to understand the chronological order of the story, and I realised that there was an empty three-day period when they travel from Okinawa to Tokyo. “This is it!” I thought, and I decided to write the story of those three days. I wanted to once again create something with an apartment complex, so the image I had in my mind for the game was Moonlight Syndrome 2.

During the night, I went to see an apartment complex in Shiki City in Saitama prefecture. It had a really incredible atmosphere, so later on I had the staff go there to scout the location and create the game’s map.

I have quite a lot of adoration for apartment complexes. I grew up in Nagano prefecture, but there weren’t any apartment complexes near where I lived. Apartment complexes are things that exist precisely because there are many people living in a city. When I would watch Return of Ultraman on TV at the time, I thought that the apartment complex in it was kind of cool. Kind of like I wanted to go inside that neatly arranged display (laughs). Not regular apartment though, it’s the apartment complexes that are great. I think that maybe I just have a love of concrete. I also really loved Otomo-san’s (Katushiro Otomo) Domu. And then, when I came to Tokyo, there were apartment complexes all over the place. At night, I used to get in my car and drive to see them. Even today, I truly have a fondness for the continuity in the way they are modelled.

51’s COMMENT – The difficulty in working on an original IP

I had intended to have control over the characters and write them in my own way, but the stuff we sent to be checked by the original anime staff ended up getting rejected over and over.

In the beginning, I had a male and female agent to support Saya. The two of them would kind of cosplay and then investigate undercover. If I wrote a scenario where a character dressed up in a something like a nurse uniform, it was thrown out especially quickly.

In the early versions of the scenario, I had Saya killed at the end (laughs). So Saya would die, and the game would end, but the story I had in mind was that this Saya was actually a clone who dies in order to help the real Saya. That was also rejected.

51’s COMMENT – The feel of a Suda game

They gave me complete freedom on the fully original parts of the game, and that included the voice casting.

I had wanted to recreate 轟天VS港カヲル (Gouten vs Minato Kaoru) within this game. There were two original characters in the game named Aoyama and Akama, so I asked Jun Hashimoto of the 劇団☆新感線 (Gekidan Shinkansen) theatre troupe to voice Aoyama, and for the role of Akama, I recruited Sarutoki Minagawa of the 大人計画 (Otona Keikaku) theatre troupe. This was the same combination as the protagonist duo from the legendary stage play 轟天VS港カヲル.

I also cast people like Kazuhisa Kawahara, known for his role in the TV show AIBOU, and Tsuyoshi Muro. I basically chose all the voice actors from the things I was interested in.

Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen

This segment has been translated by FFTranslations. For consistency’s sake, the translation for the “51’s COMMENT” column used here is the one from NewWorldOrder.

Terrible memories return at an abandoned hospital!

Despite retaining the “Camera Obscura”, a camera that has the power to exorcise ghosts, the setting and characters are completely different from those seen in the previous three games in the series, and the game feels very much like a spin-off with very few story-based connections. The story mainly follows five girls, two of whom die mysteriously. All of the girls performed as shrine maidens in the Rougetsu Kagura, a ritual held ten years earlier on Rougetsu Island, and all of them lost their memories after being spirited away following it.

Thinking that the cause of the other two’s deaths lies in the incident ten years ago, the three girls visit Rougetsu Island one after another. Meanwhile, Choushiro Kirishima, the former detective who rescued the girls a decade earlier, also heads for Rougetsu Island at the behest of the mother of one of the five to save her daughter. Can the three girls return alive? And just what happened ten years ago? What is the truth behind their lost memories…? Set at an abandoned hospital on Rougetsu Island, the player hunts for the truth behind the incident, changing between character perspectives with each chapter.

The true face of Japanese horror

Simply walking through the gloomy, abandoned hospital makes you tense, and the player is always being given fresh scares, such as the evil spirits that pop up when you let your guard down and the gradually returning memories. The ending, paired with the song “Noise” sung by Tsukiko Amano (now Tsuki Amano), is heartrending and emotional.

The scenario, which involved the participation of series creator Makoto Shibata at the request of Suda, contains few hallmarks of a Suda game, making it a true sequel to the Fatal Frame series, and is also a magnificent ground-breaker for the games to come.

51’s COMMENT – A Fatal Frame Series Fan?!

This is a project that began after I was approached by Tecmo. I was actually a fan of the Fatal Frame series to begin with, but the games are way too scary (laughs). At first, I couldn’t even bring myself to buy them. I’m not really scared of American-style zombie stuff, but with Fatal Frame, heading deep into the mountains and then going into an old Japanese style house to save her big brother… A girl shouldn’t be going in there all on her own, right?! Normally, you’d just turn back and leave! If it was me, I’d yell “Let’s get out of here!” (laughs) But the game doesn’t let you turn back—you have to keep moving forward. And that monochrome world… There’s definitely gotta be “something” there, right? Isn’t a game like that just way too scary? I was always trying to get away from it.

Then my wife, who’s a big horror fan, told me to play the game. So I actually started playing it, and it was no joke. The monochrome world and the strange noises. I was trembling with each step that I took… You just can’t help it, right? (laughs)

It was like that every night; every night she made me play it. Seriously, all the stress gave me huge boils (laughs). When she saw me writhe in fear, my wife would laugh uncontrollably.

51’s COMMENT – Meeting and an offer

One of the editors of Famitsu was good friends with Fatal Frame series producer Keisuke Kikuchi and director Makoto Shibata, and it was through him that I was able to meet them both for the first time at E3.

Shibata-san was a fan of my games, and once we realised that we were both fans of the other’s work, we really hit it off and would sometimes go out drinking together.

One day, I went to meet with Kikuchi-san after he called me, and I learned that they had decided to make a new Fatal Frame game for the Wii. Then he told me that he wanted Grasshopper to make the game. “No, no, there’s no way I can do that,” I said. I refused the offer at first and told him that it wasn’t a series that someone like me should be involved in, but he was incredibly persuasive, which left me feeling conflicted… I would have felt like an imposter if Shibata-san wasn’t also taking part in the project, so I said that I would direct the game, but I absolutely wanted Shibata-san to be involved in writing the story and requested that he also serve as a director. It was decided that he would supervise the game and work on the scenario, but handling directorial duties would be difficult as he was busy at the time. With that all set, we began development of the game.  

51’s COMMENT – Getting scolded by Kikuchi-san

Shibata-san spent the latter half of the game’s development working very closely with us at Grasshopper and did end up serving as a director. I would fix up the things that Shibata-san adjusted, and then he would correct what I had done, and we just did that over and over the whole time. There was a producer at Nintendo named Toru Osawa, and he also joined the project as a director part-way through, so for a period of time, there were actually three directors working on the game. Each of us was giving his own instructions and things became really difficult, which caused us to fall behind schedule.

As a result, all three of us were called in to meet with Kikuchi-san, and he angrily scolded us, yelling, “Enough is enough! Stop messing around!” (laughs). But it was a lot of fun.

51’s COMMENT – Keisuke Kikuchi

Kikuchi-san is the kind of producer who will tell you directly if something truly isn’t working well and will give you the OK if something is good. That meant there was a relationship of trust where if he said that something was no good, then you knew that you should abandon it.

He’s a really earnest guy, so you find yourself really wanting to make a great game for him. That’s why it was really fun to work on the game. There were a lot of difficult challenges that we had to face, but in the end, we created an excellent title. As developers, there were some things that we were weren’t able to achieve, but I believe that development went very well overall.

51’s COMMENT – The difficulty in making horror

After actually making a horror game, I realised that I really can’t handle the genre. In the end, there’s no way I can compete with Shibata-san. The fear that he can create is the real thing, as he’s actually been able to see real ghosts since he was a child.

Shibata-san just puts all the things that he has actually seen and experienced into his games, which is why they’re so scary. I’m just an imposter. That was the bitter truth that I became painfully aware of.

For this game, I only wrote the scenario for the Choushirou Kirishima chapter. For that chapter, I thought I’d make it more of an action game than a horror game. I felt like I left all of the scary parts completely up to Shibata-san.

Frog Minutes

Shadows of the Damned

51’s COMMENT – Kafka’s The Castle

Damned was a long journey.  I first started planning this project while I was making Killer7.

I had always loved the works of Franz Kafka. His novel The Castle was left unfinished, but it was exactly because it is unfinished that I thought that I wanted to complete The Castle in his place. I wanted to make the conclusion that Kafka was unable to write. That was where the idea started.  

51’s COMMENT – Rewriting

The scenario changed greatly. In the beginning, the protagonist’s job was the same as in The Castle, a land surveyor. The feeling of hidden monsters that emerge from the darkness was not present in the original novel, and the battle with darkness became the theme of the game. In the end, the protagonist would arrive at the castle.

In the original novel, the story ends in the town, without the protagonist reaching the castle. I think that Kafka wanted to go to America. I think to Kafka, the Czech Republic seemed like a village society, while America seemed like a castle. So, I think he may have wanted to sublimate this aspect within himself.

However, we had great difficulty getting the OK from EA. As we continued to work on the game, Mikami-san fought together by my side and we somehow managed to complete the game and release it. All said and done, I think being able to finish it was a miraculous thing. I believe that at the time, EA would have had plenty of chances to cancel the game. I think that they probably wanted to cancel it. However, they were able to endure it and even ended up releasing the game. In that way, I feel like we were really lucky.

51’s COMMENT – The importance of management

Around that time, the presence of games within culture had risen greatly. It was a period where it felt like they had surpassed even music and movies.

During that time of heightened enthusiasm, I personally thought, “We need to manage this in a way that protects creators.” The big companies steadily kept trying to drive down budgets. However, if there’s an agent in between, then you could acquire a decent budget. Seeing those conditions right in front of me, it was also a time when I really wanted to make a good environment for creators to work in. 

51’s COMMENT – Promotion

In those days, EA had just shifted to a structure where the intention was to create big blockbuster titles. I thought that their main focus was on things like how to best promote Battlefield. It was a period where they used their super AAA titles to compete with other companies.

Because of that, the game only received the bare minimum of promotion in North America. As a result, the game has ended up being viewed as somewhat of a hidden gem. During interviews, the media would ask with irritation, “Why did EA put such little effort into the promotion of Damned?!” (laughs)

Evangelion: 3nd Impact

Sine Mora

Diabolical Pitch

Liberation Maiden

Lollipop Chainsaw

Black Knight Sword

51’s COMMENT – The elite few

Black Knight Sword was a game made by only the core veteran members of Grasshopper. The director of the game was Ren Yamazaki. Yama-chan was also the assistant director for the No More Heroes games.

This game was made starting with the second draft of Shadows of the Damned as a base. It’s a really well made game, so I wish it had received a better reception and better sales. The finished game is truly a ‘Yama-chan world’.

51’s COMMENT – Hirotarou Honda

The opening, which begins with the protagonist having hanged himself, is an element that comes from the second draft of Shadows of the Damned. It was completely due to my own personal preference that Hirotarou Honda was asked to do the narration for the game. When I met him, I was captivated by his extreme charm and his incredible performance.

Killer is Dead

Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day

Let it Die

Another Side 51

Excerpts from the “Inside 51” column that Suda ran on Weekly Famitsu from 2011 to 2013. The excerpts are, specifically, from issue 1197 from November 24th 2011, and issue 1207 from February 2nd 2012.

Killer is Dead: Original scenario

This actually refers to the game Killer is Dead, as opposed to the short story called Killer is Dead, also printed in this book, which is completely unrelated. KiD’s storyline went through several changes during development hence why this draft appears to be pretty different from the finished product.

Shadows of the Damned: Original scenario

Calling it a “Shadows of the Damned” draft is actually a slight misnomer, because this version of the scenario originates from the time when said game was still known as Kurayami. As such, it is pretty much unrelated to the finished product. Other drafts of Kurayami would go on to be produced as the game Black Knight Sword and the manga Kurayami Dance. This draft has been translated by NewWorldOrder.

NewWorldOrder’s WORDS:

This is the original plot outline for Shadows of the Damned that was included in the Suda51 Official Complete Book which I own. It is written as a draft and, as such, many parts do not flow very well, and some aspects are left unclear. I have tried to keep my translation faithful to this, while still aiming to make it comfortable to read in English.
Just one note in regard to the translation. The Japanese term 獣人 (juujin) refers to a human/beast hybrid or therianthrope. I could not think of a great English word for this, so I went with ‘beast-man’.
Any corrections or suggestions would be much appreciated.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy.

Original plot created with Franz Kafka’s The Castle as a motif. The story differs greatly to that of
the story in the final game.

Prelude

Introduction

G attempts to commit suicide by hanging himself. Through bad luck, the rope snaps, and G survives.

A ghost speaks to G: “It’s too early for you to die. You’re unqualified to die.”

The ghost inhabits a closer gun and is G’s partner. G is an undertaker employed by the Grand Ceremony Company. He has received a request from the castle, and has come to hold a funeral. The player is G. The goal of the game is to go to the castle.

1970, midwinter.

Scene 1

A boat drifts ashore a coastline, far removed from the kingdom.

From the station, the player boards an express train for the kingdom. G sees a naked woman dragged into the darkness, becoming the prey of a wild beast; the station master is shot with a handgun before his eyes; beast-like humans appear before him. It was evident that there was a problem in this kingdom.

Before he even has a chance to lament the fact that he has come to such a dangerous place, G boards the train. A train even faster than the Eurostar.

A station platform covered in a deep darkness. The darkness loving ‘neighbours’ gather towards G.

A noblewoman boards the same private rail car as G. She is the princess of the kingdom. She implores G to help her. She tells G that she wants him to come to the castle to help. The castle guard also speaks to G, “From this point on I will test whether you are qualified to enter this

kingdom.” G fights a beast-man in the dining car. G arrives at the station.

Upon reaching the final station and arriving to the kingdom, he rides a very long escalator and ascends to a ruined area. As the elevator continues to cross the remains of a once prosperous place, G arrives to an ancient city for which time seems to have stood still for over 100 years. After waiting for what felt like an almost similarly absurd amount of time, he leaves the deep underground and what lay before him was a snowy foreign country of perpetual night, Kurayami Kingdom.

Opening title.

Act 1: The clocktower town

Scene 2

G has a choice of multiple objectives:

  1. Check in at the hotel.
  2. Go to Iggy’s kind-hearted funeral parlour.
  3. Head towards the meeting place where the castle envoy is waiting.

In this town with the broken down clocktower, not only the sense of time, but the town people’s own senses seem to have fallen into disarray. As if they have had their souls taken from them, the dejected townsfolk are unable to hold the carnival. G visits the room of the woman who was killed on the coast, and becomes close with her roommate Margaret. He learns that the clockmaker, Harry, is the only person who can do repairs. G falls in love with Margaret. He customises his closer gun at the tattoo shop.

The important clockmaker Harry has both his arms removed by an unknown assailant. In place of Harry, who was trembling in fear, G destroys a large flying beast-man at the clocktower enshrouded by dark clouds. The clock starts to move, and a little bit of liveliness returns to the town.

Harry begins to open up to G, but before he can tell G that he thinks someone has stolen his arms, he is killed by an assassin. G pursues the assassin and is accepted by the town and given the qualifications that allow him to register as foreigner.

Scene 3

G heads towards the identity guarantor company and, only as a formality, completes some forms, an interview, and an inspection. He learns from the female doctor Vivian that the guarantor company, based in a building of extravagant architecture, is composed of former government officials. G falls in love with Vivian.

With the guarantee issued to him, G is able to meet with the castle envoy, Alfred. However, before he can do so, Alfred’s proxy intervenes and demands that G be registered as a resident of the kingdom. G heads to the government branch office to perform the procedures, but the building was empty save for a sea of blood. A secretary named Julie, covered in blood, pleads for G’s help. A beast-man, wielding a terrible weapon, comes out from the main office and G eradicates it.

Julie completes the registration and G becomes a resident of the kingdom. G falls in love with Julie.

Scene 4

G is summoned by Iggy and heads to the funeral parlour. Gabriel, the chairman of the art gallery, requests that G kill him and then perform his funeral. The chairman is being threatened by someone and if there is proof that he has been killed, rather than having suffered an accidental death, they will not be able to steal the large inheritance and insurance payout. Thus, he asks to be killed. Iggy accepts the request due to the large reward that is offered. Gabriel is killed in the large exhibition hall of the art gallery, but was kept alive. Except for his head, the rest of him was put on display like an organ diagram. The limbs of a beast sprout from Gabriel’s body and attack G. After destroying the creature, he holds a solemn funeral for Gabriel. G falls in love with Gabriel’s widow.

G is summoned by the envoy Alfred, and heads to the town of waterways.

Act 2: The water fountain town

Scene 5

In the house of Gabriel’s widow, G learns that the water fountain, symbol of the town, is broken down. He goes to meet the subterranean king who manages the underground waterways. He enters a cavern from an entrance on a mountain and makes his way to the underground waterway facility where he negotiates with the king. He learns that there are anomalies occurring that are spoiling the water resources, and that there are a number of related causal effects.

The eastern waterway. In order to secure the water from the river as a source, G heads to the core of the irrigation system and eradicates a beast-man that was nesting there.

The western waterway. G uses a legendary bike to head toward the town of light that lies beyond the lake, which can only be reached by breaking the speed of sound. The town of light was a land of eternal daytime. The town mayor, Clemens, promises to provide waterways if G can battle and defeat a beast-man of light.

Water returns to the areas surrounding the fountain at the centre of the town, but a beast-man is in control of the fountain. G defeats it, and a little bit of liveliness returns to the town.

Scene 6

Nana, who works at the tailor shop, makes formal wear for G. He manages to become part of the upper class. G falls in love with Nana.

G is summoned by the exclusive members club, comprised of only the upper class, and meets with the envoy, Alfred. Alfred promises to introduce G to the castle if G can present him with the three great cuisines of the world. Japanese black beef tenderloin steak, Chinese mitten crab and wax gourd soup, and Sasebo mega sausage pork hamburger.

G searches for the Japanese black beef. From the station, he heads towards the meat centre by riding along the subway tracks on a horse type beast-man that he had befriended. In obtaining the Japanese black beef, G meets a beast-man with a pure heart and avoids fighting it. He takes up a part-time job and is provided with some meat.

G searches for the Chinese mitten crab. He takes a boat down a fjord and crab fishes at a floating island in the centre of a beautiful volcanic crater lake. He befriends Fernando, a crab beast-man, learns the secrets of crab fishing, and obtains a Chinese mitten crab.

G searches for the Sasebo mega pork hamburger. He heads to a ruined building reminiscent of Kowloon city, and, riding through a complex system of elevators, arrives at the hamburger shop on the roof of the building. G encounters a raging pair of giant pig type beast-men brothers, but is unable to defeat them. He asks for assistance from the armed man who is eating at the standing soba restaurant. With the man’s help, G defeats the beast-men and they return to their original forms. The brothers provide G with their hand made Sasebo mega pork hamburger.

G is invited to a banquet by the envoy, Alfred. Alfred, satisfied with the ingredients that G has gathered, tries to have him killed by the mafia, but the beast-men who G has befriended come to his aid. The beast-men shield G from the bullets, and, in their final moments, launch an unsuccessful attempt to kill Alfred. The horse beast-man takes G and escapes. The beast-man’s speed gradually slows until its strength has gone. G laments their fate.

Act 3: The bridge town

Scene 7

Far removed from the water fountain town, G is leading a new life in the bridge town. He is accepted by Baldios, the proprietor of the liquor store on the bridge, and is provided lodging on the second floor. He lives with Yasmin, Baldios’ daughter. The town council conducts a hearing where G takes an exam to join a men’s youth group, receives a seal and has it registered, is issued with a certificate of residence, and undergoes an interview. The three interviewers become a single monster comprised of three beasts and attack G. G passes the exam.

Scene 8

G, who has joined the youth group, volunteers to undergo ascetic training in order to become the group’s leader. Only one person has ever returned alive from the practice. The sacred temple on the bridge is talked of in legends as den of evil where demons lurk. In order to meet with the legendary man from the town, G heads towards the cliff town. He obtains a hint that he will be able to meet with this legendary man if he collects the eight volumes of the Kurayami Journal. He uses his crab fishing skills to raise the Revenge Racer that had sunk into the lake long ago. From the old, demolished highway, he bursts past the end of the road with a huge jump and arrives at the cliff town.

The legendary man, Arone, trains G. G is unaware of how many years pass as he trains on those cliffs. For the graduation exam, Arone becomes a demon and attacks G. Arone is killed by G and ascends to the afterlife. G takes the Hohkey Solo custom car and returns to the bridge town.

Scene 9

G emerges from the temple where he underwent training. The gate closes after a certain amount of time, after which returning to the town becomes impossible. G destroys a monster in the underground dungeon.

The bridge town has gone up in flames. The blazing bridge becomes brittle and collapses. Alfred is holding the head of sweet Yasmin. Alfred, who loses his limbs one by one, and has lost half of his face, had gotten his revenge. G, who is under duress by the castle’s beast-man army, charges into an enemy. G is pierced full of holes, and falls into the river.

A bird beast-man saves G who had been submerged by the river. They head down the river and to the electric town.

Act 4: The electric town

Scene 10

The genius surgeon Jack performs an emergency operation and saves G’s life. Jack’s younger sister, Mizui, ardently nurses G back to health. G receives an invitation from Mizui. Jack requests that G find the important ring that his sister had lost. A team of three half beast-men rule over a ruined casino. One of the beast-men swallows Mizui’s ring right in front of G. G destroys them and reclaims the ring.

G goes to see a cabaret show. The show is performed everyday on a stage with no audience. G was the very first guest. Mizui sings Let Me Kiss You by Nancy Sinatra. G climbs onto the stage, puts the ring on her finger and proposes to her. They share the world’s most affectionate kiss.

Scene 11

The two decide to get married. G busily prepares for the ceremony, all for Mizui. He visits a natural silk factory and orders material for a wedding dress. He commissions a design from the fashion designer Redford. He heads to Alice town to meet with Redford.

The day of the ceremony arrives. Jack performs the duties of the priest, and the two are married. As the wedding is being celebrated, a helicopter arrives carrying the castle’s chief executive, who has come for G. G furiously refuses to go, but is gently seen off by Mizui. The chief executive attempts to shoot Mizui, but Jack takes the bullet and dies protecting her. Mizui goes insane.

Inside the helicopter, G kills the chief executive. The helicopter falls from the sky, crashing into the church town.

Act 5: The church town

Scene 12

The castle lay at the centre of the surrounding church town. The culturally developed town was rife with corruption and immorality. The people had all become horrifying beast-men. G fights within a coliseum. With the support of his trainer, Frank, G is victorious in the championship tournament.

On the night of his championship victory, the people run riot and attack G. The rioters target G, who has been living at a hotel. The hotel is turned into a gruesome battlefield. That night, he wiped out every last person of the town, it was the most merciless battle that G had faced.

Scene 13

The castle sends in their final assassin. The assassin was Iron King, Frank’s fated rival. Iron turns into an iron beast-man and massacres Frank. Burning with vengeance, G obliterates Iron in an unlimited rounds fight.

Scene 14

G meets a young boy who loves the night. The boy is a fan of G. The boy, who roams around the dangerous town at night, leads G around. G is led to the castle via the boy’s guidance. G once again meets with the castle guard, the same man he had met on the train. The guard transforms into a beast-man and devours the boy. After a back-and-forth battle on the castle bridge, G is victorious and enters the castle.

Ending: The castle

Scene 15

The one who had summoned G was a young boy. The boy was the very existence of G as a child. The boy was the king who ruled over the kingdom. For the purpose of order and purification, he

had spread the beast-man disease through the land. The kingdom had control of the vaccines and, following a debate, provided them. The boy fully transforms into a beast-man, and G fights his final holy battle.

The boy lies in a coffin, breathing his last. Within the coffin, G has died. G faces himself. G has killed his past self with his own hands.

Epilogue

G burns down the castle and, passing through the parade of fireworks, leaves the castle town behind. Hallelujah by the Happy Mondays plays as the BGM.

The horse beast-man’s child has come to pick up G. G returns to Mizui.

Staff Roll

The night becomes morning, and the sun rises.

Mizui is preparing a meal as she waits for G’s return. Upon hearing the sound of a horse, she rushes out of the house. She can see G’s form in the distance. G stands up on the horse’s back and Mizui leaps up over the horse’s head. G catches her and the two embrace. They land on the ground.

G: I’m home.

Mizui: Welcome back. Are you hungry?

G: I’m starving.

They share an affectionate kiss.

END.

Anecdotes about Goichi Suda

A collection of anecdotes from a long list of collaborators and colleagues. Contributors include Hiroyuki Kobayashi (producer for killer7), Yoshiyasu Horiuchi (producer for Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked and Blood+: One Night Kiss under Bandai), Daisuke Uchiyama (another producer from Bandai who worked with Suda on Ranko Tsukigime’s longest day), Haruki Nakayama (CEO of Marvelous inc.), Mitsutoshi Sakurai (CEO of Spike Chunsoft), Makoto Shibata (Creator of the Fatal Frame / Zero series under Koei Tecmo), Akihiro Hino (CEO of Level-5 which produced Guild01) and Masahi Ooka (co-writer of the Kill the Past series). Makoto Shibata’s contribution has been translated by FFTranslations.

Makoto Shibata’s comments

I think it was in 2005 that I met Mr. Suda for the first time. When we were talking about each other’s games, he insisted to me, “If it were up to me, I’d move the camera closer in the next Fatal Frame. I wanna smell the girl’s scent!” That naturally matched up with my vision for the next Fatal Frame at the time. I’d been thinking of making a game that valued realism of the atmosphere, where you could take your time walking around the area, sort of like a sightseeing game, and I recall being surprised by Mr. Suda’s animalistic instincts. I remember telling him about the two things I liked about Killer7. The first was the way the dialogue is handled. Many of the lines felt to me like they were mindful of death, but also joking about it. The dead, unaware of their own deaths, seemed to me like they were making tedious complaints. The second was that there are “pauses” here and there that appear unnecessary to progress with the game. Creating pauses that let the player feel and think is difficult if you aren’t aware of what you’re doing. I suppose you can only manage it if you’re the type of person who is able to subtract things rather than excessively piling things on. As we spoke, I thought that Mr. Suda might be able to write the words of the dead and control the pauses – in other words, I envisioned that we might be able to team up to create a new horror game.

Later on, a project began to create a Wii version of Fatal Frame. I was busy with another project at the time, and it would have been difficult for me to be involved, but I simply wanted to try doing a game where you use the Wii remote as a torch, and I didn’t want to let that chance pass me by. Initially, instead of being a true sequel where you would follow a linear story, the Wii version of Fatal Frame had been envisioned as a sort of spin-off game that featured a collection of small episodes. The one who came to mind as my pick for director was Mr. Suda. Kikuchi, the producer, explained to me that Mr. Suda had experience developing Killer7 for the GameCube, which had internal architecture similar to that of the Wii, and had also been involved with a horror game called Michigan. Large-scale game creation is a contest of personnel management, resources and quality, but small-scale games must be brought together using limited resources, so it would need a confident, consistent director. With horror games you also have to manage discomfort, so strictly speaking they’re different from entertainment. Japanese horror in particular involves you matching up with the perception of enjoyment and discomfort of one person and then adjusting it over and over, which finally creates pathos. I thought Mr. Suda might be able to do that. Kikuchi had had the experience of being spun in circles by a director who lacked strength in the past, and so ended up coming on board with the plan, and then Mr. Suda agreed to direct.

What I didn’t know, however, was that despite being someone who had created such intrepid games, Mr. Suda was an extremely timid person. The first time I visited the GHM offices in Asagaya, he jokingly asked me, “Are there any places in the office that seem like they might be haunted?” I pointed to the corner of the ceiling in the development room and answered honestly, “It’s not a ghost, but I can see black mist over there.” Mr. Suda contacted me later on to tell me that that part of the ceiling had collapsed. I don’t know if that was the cause, but they ended up moving their offices. I called Mr. Suda an extremely timid person, but he was particularly afraid of ghost-related things.

At about the same time as that, I think, the direction of the game underwent a major shift towards a true sequel with a linear story to enjoy. We decided to put the story together as an omnibus based upon previous ideas we’d already had. I wrote the chapters for Ruka, the main character, and Mr. Suda wrote the chapters for Kirishima, a minor character. Misaki’s chapters were written by Masahiro Yuki, who was at the time affiliated with GHM. I blended Ruka and Misaki’s parts on my end as we went along, but since he was also busy with the development of No More Heroes, the story for Kirishima’s chapters wasn’t really getting done. We finally started to get pressed by the schedule, and Mr. Suda shut himself up alone in his room. He says that when he’s concentrating on the text, he becomes fully immersed in that world and can get all of the writing done in one evening. The following day, Kirishima’s part finally arrived… What the hell was this? After giving the scenario a read-through, I was so outraged that I ran the printed pages of writing through the shredder. I deleted the email from Mr. Suda and expunged it thoroughly from my harddisk. The scenario was more like splatter horror than a ghostly one, and was shockingly violent. More than anything, though, Kirishima was too eloquent. If he spoke excessively about every single thing, the player and the character would become too detached…

I raged about for a while, and then realised that what I had done was childish. We were the ones who had asked for Mr. Suda – what was I doing? Having calmed down, I began to reconstruct the scenario while remembering what he had written. I wanted to retain Mr. Suda’s vision and intentions whilst also adding in my own interpretations to turn it into a spiritual horror. First of all, I added another major supporting role so that Kirishima didn’t talk too much, while also preserving his character. Then, I maximised the atmosphere from Killer7 I’d liked where the dead talk about death in a trivial manner, and rebuilt it under the condition that I would not change the ending. Mr. Suda had recalled that “It’ll end up being a splatter if I write it…”, but in the final assignments I took on the horror-style pathos and Mr. Suda handled the action.

I’m sorry to fans of the Suda style, but his flavours ended up being quite muted. I hope people understand that Kirishima’s part is a collaboration between us. I was worried that I had destroyed his world, but later on, Mr. Suda told me that this had mostly been what he had wanted to do with Kirishima’s part, which relieved me as a fan.

Finally. The meetings with Mr. Suda about the game were always surprising, but those things are too numerous to mention, so let me tell you about just one. One of the themes of this game for me was visualising the scenery that lies beyond our memories. At the end of the game I wanted to show the scenery of the moment right before your consciousness is born, at the place where nostalgia for death and the consciousness of life are born, something which everyone remembers somewhere. The visions I saw and remembered of that landscape, known as the “zero region” in the game, were a chaotic, milky-white melding of light and dark, abstract and difficult to express. I knew it was probably impossible, but even if it was only as a mysterious vision at the end, I wanted to share what I saw with the players. Mr. Suda said of the place: “If a place like that existed, I’d like it to be something like ‘paradise’,” and his words influenced me strongly in realising that final scene. It may be a very personal and trivial thing, but I wanted to talk about it somewhere.