Akira Yamaoka is doing more than handling music, the former Team Silent producer is now the Chief Creative Officer at Grasshopper Manufacture. He finished work on Rebuild of Evangelion: 3nd Impact (read more about that here!), a music game with the Evangelion license for PSP, and now he is managing all of the future projects from the "video game band".
Are you doing the music for Lollipop Chainsaw too?
Akira Yamaoka, Chief Creative Officer: Yep.
John Davis, Community Manager: Akira Yamaoka is the head of all development at the studio. He’s overseeing and working on every project.
Could you tell us what Wada-san and Kimura-san were working on while they were at Grasshopper?
AY: Hmm… that’s a difficult question. They were in the management group so they didn’t have any specific titles they were working on, but rather they were in the upper management.
How does it feel to manage so many projects at Grasshopper?
AY: Well, it’s not really the first time. I was doing the same kinds of things with Silent Hill. Now, I have a lot more titles these days. I guess I’ll need to learn to manage, but I think I can do it with good time management.
Kazutoshi Iida, Director of Rebuild of Evangelion: 3nd Impact: Last year, Yamaoka-san had a band with five members. Now you have to juggle with more than 60 members!
How did you get in touch with Kadokawa Games to create Lollipop Chainsaw?
AY: Just like Bandai Namco, Kadokawa Games wanted to work with us and we were very excited about that. We said let’s do it and make a good game.
I think people will compare Lollipop Chainsaw to No More Heroes because both have a far out feel to them. Aside from a male to female protagonist and a chainsaw instead of a beam saber how would you say the games are different?
AY: No More Heroes was all about slashing and the assassin ranks. Lollipop Chainsaw offers a completely different story as well as puzzles with action elements. It’s more than hack and slash. At a first glance, you may think hey it’s a chainsaw instead of a lightsaber.
JD: When you play the game you’ll understand the feel. Of course, with the Wii remote, No More Heroes is built for slashing. The combat in Lollipop is more nuanced than No More Heroes.
How about Black Knight Sword? What separates this game from other platformers aside from the storybook vibe?
AY: The best thing I can say is the story and the visuals. When you see it everyone feels like they have to stop and watch because it looks unique. The world is very different from other games. The gameplay is like old school games so it will be easy to pick up.
As a studio Grasshopper Manufacture managed to create a brand that appeals in in Japan and the West. Other Japanese publishers and developers are trying to figure this out, so what do you think was the key to your success?
AY: Currently, and I’m saying this in a positive way, is that a lot of titles are designed to cater what users want. Every developer tries to see from a user’s perspective and what they think people will want. Of course, Grasshopper is doing that, but on top of that we also have projects what we want to do. And we always try to do what we think is right.
We’re often said to be "edgy," but with things we and Suda51 want to do we have a vision in mind that drives us forward. Some people may give up in the middle when things don’t work out. We don’t do that, we keep chugging along with what we want to do. I guess that’s the ingredient to success and it shows within our titles and that is something you may not see in another person’s work.