Incidentally, with your games featuring a lot of it, what’s your argument for or against the use of violence in video games, in a time where the industry has come under such scrutiny?
Taking No More Heroes
as an example here, you have a set scenario where you play as a killer with a beam sword who goes around destroying your rival assassins. There is no blood, because the violence and scenario makes no sense. The situation in No More Heroes
is frankly not natural and isn’t based on logic, really. So, it kind of has the same effect as a cartoon in some ways.
But then again, if you have a game that has players virtually sticking needles into someone’s hand, I think you should be able to see the blood. If you have something violent like that with no visible reaction then you will have teenagers playing the game thinking that, because nothing happens in the game, nothing will happen in real life.
And if you consider kids who read things like manga books or watching the Jaws
films, they can see that through particular violent actions there is a reaction, which is usually nasty. Games have had a lot of blame for de-sensitising violence, which I don’t agree with. I think it’s my duty now as a game designer to teach the teenage player that when they do something there is a cause and a consequence.
In your opinion, how important is the role of music in video games?
Yeah, music in a game is really important I feel. You can have a good scenario, a good bunch of programmers and nice graphics but at the end of the day the music gels all of those elements together and makes it feel like a complete package. That’s why until now we’ve always had the same composer for our projects (Masafuni Takeda, who also works for Grasshopper Manufacture), all of our games wouldn’t have the same end result if it wasn’t for him.
Your trademark, so to speak, involves the ‘Film Window’ style of cutscenes and the use of pop culture references. What would you say is the inspiration behind those trademarks?
Oh, you’re talking about a lot of references [laughs]! Well first of all I’m from Japan so I get a lot of inspiration from anime as well as the old monster films such as Gojira
). I also like Hollywood films in the way they are made and the glamour that goes with it, as well as a lot of independent Western films too. Yeah, I watch everything really.
I noticed you’re a fan of film director David Lynch as well (directed at SUDA51’s T-Shirt, with the the title of Lynch’s 2006 feature, Inland Empire
on it), nice one.
[Looks down to his shirt and laughs] Ah!
I can tell you’re a big fan of music really, with No More Heroes
also being the name of an album and single by The Stranglers. What’s your favourite band?
I’ll have to think about that for a second… The Cure, I like The Cure. It’s an old band but I still really enjoy it and am a big fan of their music. I also quite like a new British band called Sunshine Underground.