As the story of Travis Touchdown comes to a close in No More Heroes 3, Goichi “Suda51” Suda sat down to answer a few of our questions regarding the development of the game. This included a look into the development of the game and some hypothetical ideas for potential No More Heroes 3 DLC. Additionally, Suda51 revealed that there were plans to have more than a handful of playable characters in the game and talked about the mysterious red zone on the map.
Kazuma Hashimoto, Siliconera: FU is one of the more well-rounded villains in recent games. How did you come up with this balance?
Suda51, Grasshopper Manufacture: For FU I wanted to make, basically, the ultimate bad guy for Travis Touchdown to go against. The main image I based him on was Clubber Lang from Rocky III. He’s sort of like the ultimate bad guy for Rocky to face off with. Instead of making the stereotypical big, ripped, buff alien you usually see in movies, I wanted to add more to him. I wanted to make him this guy that is the ultimate enemy for Travis. Just extremely powerful, and a badass character for him to go against in his last game. Again, not just the character, but the story itself was based on the concept of Rocky III, with Rocky going up in his years and going up against this ultra bad guy. That’s how the general idea of FU came about.
How did you decide to include Midori Midorikawa as a Galactic Superhero Rankings member?
Suda51: My memory is a bit fuzzy, so I may be a bit off in the order that I came up with these things, but a little while ago for the release of the special edition of The Silver Case, there was a special manga that was included with the first edition run of the game. And while writing the manga I came up with the idea of Midori Midorikawa. While I was writing her I thought that this was a character that I’d like to see fighting against Travis.
Around that time was when we were starting development on No More Heroes 3 as well.. I can’t remember exactly which came first, but both ideas occurred naturally around the same time. While writing the character in the manga, this definitely seemed like a character that could go against Travis, I want to put her in No More Heroes 3. From that point I sort of kept that in mind while I was writing the manga, and she basically just turned into the character that you see in No More Heroes 3 in hopes that she could act as a connecting point between those two worlds.
Are there any other characters in any other games that have you been part of the development for that you would have liked to see in No More Heroes 3? There is a very die-hard Shadows of the Damned fan base that would have loved to see Garcia Hotspur in the game.
Suda51: Actually, this is something I mentioned in another interview recently. But the character you just brought up [Midori Midorikawa], I decided for No More Heroes 3 that I was going to put the character of Fleming from Shadows of the Damned into the game.
Basically, I came up with the setting that Fleming is the father of Midori Midorikawa, and there is a part in the game where Travis dies and gets sent to a stand-in for the world of the dead. It’s a place that FU sort of controls, or is connected to, called The Black Hole Prison that is this sort of nowhere place at the edge of the universe. When Travis gets there, he encounters Fleming. He ends up facing him and they go into battle, and after that Fleming awakens and realizes who is and what he’s doing.
At the time I was actually considering bringing Garcia into the game as well.
Unfortunately due to schedule conflicts and the sheer amount of time it took to actually get what was in the game there in the first place, we ended up having to scrap that idea. Garcia was one character that I actually was hoping to actually put in the game.
Given that Midori and Kamui both appeared in No More Heroes 3, could we see No More Heroes characters appear in a future The Silver Case or Flower, Sun, and Rain game?
Suda51: The main issue with that is while both The Silver Case and Flower, Sun, and Rain are completely Grasshopper owned IPs, the No More Heroes IP, and while we do own part of it, it’s mainly owned by Marvelous. Travis Strikes Again and No More Heroes 3 were basically Marvelous saying “Do what you want with it freely.” That’s how we were able to make the games we wanted to, but since, again, since we don’t actually own the IPs in full I can’t really say anything definitively because it isn’t our decision to make.
But, hopefully, sometime in the future as long as Marvelous agrees to lend us part of the IP or some of the characters it could be a possibility and is something I’d like to play around with. Again, just due to IP ownership I can’t really make the choice on my own either way.
A number of artists like Mari Shimazaki and Inio Asano contributed designs for characters. How did these collaborations come about? Were there any artists you wanted to also work with, but things didn’t work out?
Suda51: Two of the people that I can remember.. One is a pretty well known artist, Shirow Miwa. I had heard rumors that he had expressed interest in doing some designs for the No More Heroes series, and I thought it would be pretty cool to work with him. I tried getting ahold of him, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to. So that one didn’t work out.
Another one, Shohei Otomo, who is the son of the creator of the Akira series. I was hoping I would be able to request for him to do the main art for No More Heroes 3, but as we got into talking at some point we ended up falling out of contact and I wasn’t able to get ahold of him again. So that one obviously didn’t work out either. Those are two of the bigger ones that I can remember.
There was another guy, Shigeto Koyama, who was involved in No More Heroes and No More Heroes 2. And this was probably the person I wanted to work with the most on No More Heroes 3. Unfortunately, he is super, super busy. I mean, his schedule working on anime is pretty much completely filled up for the next five years. Due to that, he just simply wasn’t able to join up.
But there is also this sort of jinx on the employees of Grasshopper. A lot of them come to work for Grasshopper, and after they leave they tend to get really famous, and they get to the point where I’m not able to work with them even if I wanted to. That’s another thing that we sometimes have to deal with too.
Many of the Galactic Superhero Rankings matches shake things up by borrowing mechanics from other genres or sorts of games like RPGs or Super Smash Bros. How did you come up with that concept?
Suda51: There are several ways that I come up with these sorts of things. For No More Heroes 3, and generally what I do with my games, is that we come up with a general idea for the game and then we work downward from there. Here’s the general idea for the game, here’s the idea of the characters, the kinds of scenarios we wanna have in. We get the really basic stuff down, and from that point I start writing up the scenarios. Then we start working on stuff like boss fights, storylines and stuff like this. While working on that stage, I started thinking about some of the boss fights and thought maybe I should take some of these in a different direction. You know, try some new stuff with some of them because a lot of them are kind of similar.
For the RPG boss fight, for example, in that case it was sort of the opposite. One of my first ideas was to make all of the boss fights sort of RPG style throughout the game. But then I realized that this is a full on action game, we’ve gotta have action. So instead of doing it for all of the boss fights, I decided to do it for that particular fight.
As for the Smash Bros. thing, that’s kind of a different story. Actually, I wrote that up kind of screwing around. It mainly started as a joke. I was gonna say “OK, we’re gonna have FU and Travis take each other on in a sumo style fight, and hey! Let’s make it Smash Bros. style.” I wrote it up a total rip-off of the Smash Bros. style and we started developing it. When I saw it coming to shape, I thought this might be a problem because it was really Smash Bros.-y. It was really, really close to the actual game. I decided to change it, or completely get rid of it all together.
But before I did that, I actually went and spoke to the people at Nintendo to see what they thought. I was kind of surprised that they told me “No, do it! Go for it! We think it’s really cool and that it’s better like this. If anybody gives you shit for it, we’ll take responsibility for it. We’re not gonna get mad. It’s fine.” Sakura himself even said “Yeah, this is cool. You have my blessing. Go for it.”
I was like… Really? Are you sure this is OK? And they were like “No, definitely. Totally. Do it. Go for it.” So instead of changing it to a different style to not rip-off Smash Bros. Nintendo basically told me to rip them off as much as I could. And that’s how that boss fight kind of came to be. It started out as kind of a stupid joke, and the people who mattered happened to like it not only supported it, but requested to keep it in.
Which of the fights in the game is your personal favorite and why?
Suda51: That’s actually a really difficult question, but we put a lot of work into all of the boss battles. But to put it simply, the Gold Joe Battle and the battle with Henry came along the smoothest. They’re your standard No More Heroes style boss battles. So those ones were pretty easy to come up with and complete. But the rest of them have their own weird and unique elements. For all of the boss battles in the game, but it took a lot of time to do the fine tuning and the balancing. I’m not sure if this is gonna fully answer your question..
But more so than my favorite battle in the game, I’d say that the battle in the game that we worked out and programmed and finished… The game that I felt the most piece of mind with was the battle against Mr. Black Hole. Once we finished that, that was the first time I was really able to see what the entire game was really going to turn out like. I’m not sure if saying it’s my favorite fight in the game is completely correct, but it was the battle of the game that I felt best after finishing. I could sort of rest easy knowing that this is how the game is gonna turn out, this is what it looks like, and this is what I want it to do.
Was there any intention to include a playable Shinobu or Bad Girl during the development of No More Heroes 3?
Suda51: Actually, yeah. We did have some plans like that. There is actually one cutscene that we made where Travis is walking down the street and there are other characters lined up beside him. Among them were Bad Girl and Shinobu. At the time we spent out the specs for the cutscene to be produced, we had actually planned on not only having Bad Girl and Shinobu as playable characters, but all seven of the characters that were lined up in that cutscene.
We had originally planned to have all of them available as playable characters. Obviously in the end, for various reasons, just being Travis. On top of Shinobu, Bad Girl, and Travis, there were four others that we had originally planned to keep in the game. Unfortunately it didn’t work out in the end.
There are a number of Galactic Superhero Rankings opponents Travis doesn’t get to fight. Did you have any hypothetical approaches for theirs?
Suda51: There were some general ideas I had for some of the characters. The guy who worked on a lot of bosses and boss fights, he did some great work with the designs and I was really impressed and happy with what he did. I wanted to be able to put all of them into the game, but again due to various reasons we weren’t able to keep them in. For example, Black Knight Direction I would have personally loved to try out a battle with that guy or Vanishing Point. I think that could have been a really interesting battle. The number one character that I would have liked to have kept and tried some really cool stuff with was Sniping Lee. I could have done some really cool stuff with that guy, but it didn’t end up working out in the end.
If you did decide to do No More Heroes 3 DLC, what would you have liked to add?
Suda51: The answer is probably going to be what most people reading this will assume. But there are a couple of things that I’d like to add. First, I just wanna say unfortunately at this point there isn’t any DLC, and there probably won’t be. If there is some sort of miracle and we’d be able to add some DLC into the game, this is also something a lot of people brought up.. But when you open up the full map there is that sort of red zone. I think a lot of people just assumed that this would be added later on in DLC.
Honestly, we had created that entire area. It was basically finished. Unfortunately due to tech reasons, we weren’t able to keep it into the game. The processing load was just a bit too hardcore. So we unfortunately had to scrap it. I think there would have been some really cool stuff in there that people would have liked to play, and that I would have liked people to play.
Another thing, and I’m sure this is something people would expect, if we were allowed to do DLC, what I would like to do is add some kind of switch. Instead of going through the root of the game, you could take a different route and be able to fight those Galactic Superhero Rankers previously mentioned and have boss specific battles with each of them.
The third thing that I would like to add is a couple playable characters. Possibly Shinobu, that might be my first choice. But if we were allowed to do some DLC and OK to do whatever I wanted, these would be the three things I would be most interested in adding to the game.
No More Heroes 3 is immediately available for the Nintendo Switch.