In a world where game development is all about the bottom line and getting a game out on schedule, Grasshopper is an oddball. Concerned only with creating uniquely stylish and, typically, supremely violent games, studio head SUDA51 is not a game developer - he's an artist. Major publishers won't touch his work, however great it is. It's too risky to work with a team that have carved themselves out such a niche, but what do we care? The end result is that we get a great game. We're massive fans of killer7 (GameCube) and more recently No More Heroes so when the chance came to find out more about how the latter was made, we jumped at the chance...
ONM: Can you give us a quick rundown of the development schedule?
SUDA51: Planning started along with initial sketches straight after Christmas 2005 but it wasn't until February 2006 that we really got a feel for what we were talking about. I had been thinking about producing a game featuring an 'otaku' as a lead character for around two years before Travis was born, but on Xbox 360. Johnny Knoxville was my original inspiration in terms of the character. I wanted to make a game about a guy like him; someone who's totally mad and up for any challenge. I actually came up with the initial idea for a game featuring a Knoxville-style character whilst on the toilet. I decided to use that inspiration as the save game mechanic.
SUDA51: Game design started. Towards the end of this month it was my good friend, Yasuhiro Wada (Marvelous Entertainment Japan) who suggested to me that Nintendo Wii was the perfect platform for the game given the motion sensor capabilities of the Wii's controller and the cut and thrust nature of the game's combat.
Katsuyoshi Fukamachi (Senior Environment Artist) Character models and environments were thought about and developed over the next few months.
KF: Later this month the art team started on the project five days a week. It was flat out then until late 2007 developing and refining the art.
Toshihiro Fujikawa (Assistant Director) We produced a trailer for the all-important Tokyo Games Show in September. It was very difficult to make the decision about what elements we could include which would rightfully communicate the game's edgy attitude. We always wanted people to look at it for the first time and say, "Wow. Now that's so different and so out there!".
TF: New trailer announced at the TGS.
TF: Delivered the master disc!
ONM: Can you tell us a few stories about things that happened during the development period? Did everything run fairly smoothly?
Akihiko Ishizaka (Lead Artist): It was really hard to come up with so many ideas for Travis' T-shirt design. We decided to provide many kinds of T-shirts - there are over 100 in the final game. We also tied up a promotional campaign with the weekly Famitsu Magazine (Japanese gaming bible) in which readers created their own design for Travis' T-shirts and submitted them to win a prize in the magazine. The winning designs were used in the final game as well.
KF: We decided to change the angle of the sun in the Santa Destroy world at the last minute. Somehow it hadn't looked right but we couldn't see what was wrong. At the eleventh hour, we had to change all the shadowing due to this last minute decision!