Japanese designer, Goichi Suda (Suda51) has come to expect a divisive response to his games. From Killer7 through No More Heroes and Shadow of the Damned, Suda's studio, Grasshopper Manufacture, has built a reputation for stylish -- and often violent -- action games that split fan opinion as often as their baddies' characterised craniums.
Grasshopper's most recent game, the Nintendo Switch exclusive Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, is no exception. The latest instalment in the cult action series represents a significant departure, with a move to a top-down perspective and a focus on retro-inspired mini-games. Currently, its Metacritic avergae sits at 67, with reviews spanning nearly the full breadth of the ten-point scale.
"I can't disclose too much about our next title, but it may be a sequel"
Distinctly Marmite then, and nobody is surprised: especially not Suda-san.
"In the process of making Travis Strikes Again I expected it would cause an extreme 'love or hate' reaction," he says. "I was expecting that. However, I decided not to shift my focus further towards the market trends and instead focused on what needed to be done with this team. In doing so, we strengthened the team and that suited the philosophy of Grasshopper as a company."
Suda insists that Grasshopper's most ardent fans have expressed pleasure with Travis Strikes Again. However, the CEO acknowledged a need for improvement from the its young development team -- initially consisting of just four people -- in order to reach a wider audience.
"Travis Strikes Again was built by a brand new team here who share the same goals as myself," he says. "The game was started by just four people, with external help from freelancers. Also, some veterans who used to work at Grasshopper came back to join the team. So it was a process of building the team alongside the game, which was challenging but also exciting."
Suda argues that the experience of creating Travis Strikes Again will only have benefited its young development team, suggesting that he intends to use those learnings to create a full sequel to the game.
"I can't disclose too much about our next title, but it may be a sequel," he says. "The core element will not be changed. I like the strength and dynamic of the team we've created; everybody has their opinion on how things should be done and can even say no to me. I really like this working environment and feel we should do it again with the next title.
"They have become more used to myself and the production team... and that makes the team stronger."