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Suda51 on No More Heroes 3, listening to fans, and killing everyone with lightsabers

A game that exists because of fans ought to be made for the fans

No More Heroes 3 Grasshopper Manufacture

A few weeks ago, when No More Heroes 3 debuted during Nintendo’s E3 2019 Direct, it was little more than a prototype. It’s the video game equivalent of an embryo, and it wouldn’t have gestated without an enduring fandom that’s gone a decade without a proper, numbered entry in the franchise.

The first game debuted worldwide in late 2007 and early 2008, back when the Wii was Nintendo’s current console. No More Heroes starred Travis Touchdown, a showy protagonist who traveled around the game world assassinating assassins with a copyright safe lightsaber called the beam katana. It was an over-the-top action game built with the waggling of the Wiimote in mind, and it garnered enough of an audience to earn a port to other consoles and a proper sequel in 2010. And then No More Heroes more or less went to sleep for about a decade, until 2019.

Since No More Heroes 3 is a game that exists because of fans, then it ought to be made for the fans. That’s what developer Grasshopper Manufacture founder Goichi “Suda51” Suda told Polygon not long after the trailer’s debut.

And that makes No More Heroes 3 something of an experiment in game development. Even in its earliest stages, after Grasshopper has poured little more than the foundation for its battle systems and boss fights, Suda wants to hear from fans and incorporate their feedback long before the game ships in 2020.

No More Heroes 3 Travis Touchdown I want you poster Grasshopper Manufacture

This kind of quasi-collaboration hasn’t been possible before, Suda said, in part because of development schedules and budgetary limitations on past games. He also admitted that the language barrier is a problem in getting feedback from his English-speaking audience.

But the rise of social media, where his fans DM him and he has ready access to interpreters, allows him and Grasshopper to connect with people in real-time, so Suda feels like with enough effort he can glean what fans want in a proper sequel to No More Heroes 2.

We use proper above because, earlier this year, Grasshopper released Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, an offshoot of the No More Heroes franchise, exclusively on Switch. (It’s heading to PlayStation 4 and PC later this year.) The success of, and reaction to, that collection of mini-games also helped convince Suda to forge ahead on a genuine sequel.

Now the same core team that created Travis Strikes Again (also known as TSA) is working on No More Heroes 3, and Suda’s being honest: it’s not done, and he wants your input. That openness is a bit of institutional knowledge gained from making Travis Strikes Again applied to this game in progress.

“One thing that he was really made to realize with TSA was [that] it is really important to listen to what the fans want,” Suda told Polygon through an interpreter. “Again, not just to make it a game that will sell, but to make a game that the people who you want to enjoy the game are going to be able to enjoy it.”

Ultimately, though, it’s not fans making this game. It’s the developers at Grasshopper Manufacture. So how does Suda plan on balancing those desires?

“It’s not that he’s going to be making this game based on just what the fans want,” Suda said through his interpreter. “He’s obviously got his own vision of what the game is going to be like, what he wants it to be like, and when he says he wants to make the game for the fans, he doesn’t just want to make the game that they are expecting. The game that he wants to make is the kind of game that fans are expecting and the kind of game the fans want. He wants to not just [...] answer those wishes and those requests. He wants to go above and beyond that and [get to work] putting in the shit that they want to see — give them all this extra shit that they probably don’t even know what they wanted or they wouldn’t even be expecting.”

So what is the game going to be? For starters, Suda wants to make sure that nobody has to play the first two games in the series to enjoy the third.

He said he has lots of ideas about what should be in the game — some based on technology that wasn’t available when the first two games came out — but he’s also totally into making the game like the others.

Like using motion controls, for example. The original No More Heroes was a Wii exclusive, and its controls relied heavily on gestures. No More Heroes 3 will follow that lineage.

“Not only are there going to be motion controls in the game, but he feels that using the motion controls — detaching the two controllers from the Switch — and using those kind of like those old school Wii controllers, he feels that’s going to be the purest or true way to play the game,” Suda said through his interpreter.

No More Heroes 3 critter Grasshopper Manufacture

But he also wants to make concessions to people who don’t want to flail their arms around the room and make “some really inappropriate hand movements,” he said with a sly smile.

There’s one more segment of the gaming population that Suda hopes to attract: those who aren’t (yet?) fans of No More Heroes and its protagonist, Travis Touchdown. For those who haven’t played the previous games, Suda and his interpreter work on a super quick explanation of what No More Heroes is like, and what old and potentially new fans will be able to play next year.

“Put really simply,” they said, “it’s a game where you’ve got kind of a Star Wars-style lightsaber, and you take that lightsaber and you slice dudes in half. Pretty much anything comes in front of your eyeballs, you just kill the shit out of them as much as possible.”

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