Who is Yasuhiro Wada?
Ask a large number of enthusiast gamers what “Harvest Moon” is, and chances are, they won’t have a clue. Ask a large number of super-enthusiasts mixed in with a certain sub-set of people that don’t normally play games at all, and there, you’re likely to find folks familiar with the series of farming RPGs.
Harvest Moon is one of, if not the most, inexplicable franchises in videogames today. Ask its various worldwide publishers just what the target demographic for Harvest Moon is, and the only answer you’re likely to get is, “Everyone…I guess.” The difference being, in this case, it’s true.
Or to put things in perspective: long before there was Farmville, there was Harvest Moon. And Yasuhiro Wada is the man who originally conceived this genre of games.
Working through Vacation
Earlier this year, Wada, who has spent the majority of his games career at Marvelous Entertainment, left the company for unspecified reasons right before the organization underwent a strategic overhaul. Months later, he recently re-emerged as the Chief Operating Officer of Grasshopper Manufacture.
But that doesn’t mean he spent the months in between sitting idle. Wada’s very much dedicated to his art, regardless of whether he’s employed or not. “I’ve been drafting game plans,” Wada revealed to Silconera.
“There has been news about the rise of social games and the announcements about the 3DS, but I have been treating those positively,” he says. “No matter what era it is, and how hard it gets, there are many people in the world who love games, and for the sake of the children in the future, I still wish to create games that bring fun and happiness to others.”
Style of Development
Judging by that statement and his past creations (Harvest Moon, Little King’s Story), one might mistakenly imagine Wada has a preference for the light-hearted. But that isn’t so, he tells us. In fact, Blizzard’s Diablo is one of Wada’s favourite games.
“Personally I don’t really tend towards light games,” Wada reveals. “As a player, I also play many M-rated games. I think the reason many of the games I create are happy games is because I express myself that way.”
Wada isn’t keen on the idea of mimicking games just because he likes them personally either. Touching upon his love for Diablo, he continued: “I don’t believe I will be creating anything like Diablo because having Diablo itself is enough. But I believe there is the possibility of creating a realistic action-RPG based in a fantasy world.”
The Move to Grasshopper
Wada was executive producer on both No More Heroes and its sequel, Desperate Struggle. This means he was responsible for how the final overall product turned out in both cases.
“I don’t have a comprehensive guideline I use,” he goes on, speaking to his practices as a producer. “The standards for my decisions are whether a game’s concept coincides or has wandered away from the final product, and whether the gameplay is up to par.”
“No More is [Grasshopper CEO] Suda51’s work, and he’s good at violence. As a producer, I just help him make the game reachable to more people,” Wada clarifies to us, regarding the extent of his involvement with the No More Heroes games.
Yes, Suda and Grasshopper certainly are good at violence. But what, then, is Wada doing in the seat of Grasshopper Manufacture’s COO? Does GhM afford him the chance to do things he couldn’t before?
“Rather than saying that Grasshopper will grant me opportunities, it’s more that we — the staff and I — will pool our strength together to create new chances,” Wada says. “Our mission is to create our own original I.P. and to send them out to the world.”
This I.P. should be coming soon, too. Wada’s day-to-day responsibility at Grasshopper is not only that of a COO, but also that of an executive producer across the company’s projects, in line with his recent involvement with their games published by Marvelous.
“As a producer, I hope to be able to announce a new I.P. within the next 2 years,” he reveals. “ As a COO, I hope to create a structure where we can sell several titles within a single year.”
But Wada has a third, even greater responsibility at Grasshopper, and that is to help transform the company into a development house with a wider range of appeal.
“Our dream is to create games that everyone in the world — regardless of age and gender — can and will play,” he tells us of Grasshopper’s ambitions. Suda, he tells, hopes that Wada can impart his experience in this regard to the company.
“This wasn’t my goal, but was rather Suda’s hope,” Wada says. “And it is also in line with mine. That’s why I came to Grasshopper.”