We all know Goichi Suda as Suda51, the man in charge over at Grasshopper Manufacture and director of cult classics like No More Heroes and Killer 7. But before becoming known for off-kilter characters like Travis Touchdown or Uncle Death, Suda51 cut his teeth as a writer on the Fire Pro Wrestling series back when it was on Super Famicom. Over 20 years later, Spike Chunsoft invited Suda back to Fire Pro Wrestling World to pen a sequel to his old scenario, now infamous for its dark tone and shocking ending.
This is a pretty neat circumstance, and I’ve been curious about how it came to be and what it’s like to come back to a story after multiple decades have passed. Luckily we got the chance to chat with Suda himself and ask him a few questions about Fire Pro Wrestling World – Fighting Road: Champion Road Beyond. Also, there’s a hint about how many suplex variants Travis Touchdown has access to in No More Heroes 3.
Lucas White, Siliconera: Can you talk about the circumstances leading to your return to Fire Pro?
Goichi Suda, Suda51: Spike Chunsoft asked if I’d be interested in writing a scenario for Fire Pro, and I was back in the saddle.
What did you do to prepare coming back to a story nearly 30 years later?
Suda51: The original Champion Road follows the life of pro wrestler Morio Sumisu. I let my emotions guide me—it’s like my explosive love letter to pro wrestling.
But that was over 25 years ago. Looking back, what was the original scenario about?
Does modern pro wrestling have room for Morio Sumisu’s legacy?
I decided to write the story of his son, Sumio Saeba, to answer these questions.
For prep I binged classic matches from NWA, AWA and WWF—you know, Showa era stuff.
What is your goal with this project?
Suda51: I want to show the electrifying start of Sumio Saeba’s career. It follows a young wrestler fighting to become the New York champion. I guess I wanted to write a character like Rocky Balboa.
Are you a fan of any current wrestling organizations, and if so are there any specific influences on how you approached this story?
Suda51: Sometimes I’ll catch NJPW matches on TV, but that’s about it. I mostly draw from my memories of watching wrestling history unfold in real time.
Wrestling is often seen as a niche, but has a particularly strong intersection with video games. Is that just because a lot of developers and creators grew up as wrestling fans? Or do you think there’s more to it?
Suda51: Both video games and pro wrestling embody entertainment. Sports and movies operate on the rigid definition of rules; video games and pro wrestling are about what you can express within the framework of the rules, so the two work well together.
I’m assuming, mostly because of No More Heroes, your favorite wrestling move is the suplex. Is that accurate? If yes, why? If no, what’s your actual favorite and why?
Suda51: Good call! The original Tiger Mask and Akira Maeda made me a fan with their suplexes. There’s nothing like a suplex performed with the proper form. I’ve always had a fascination with Akira Maeda and his repertoire of 12 different suplexes, so I’m letting Travis Touchdown use them all in the upcoming No More Heroes 3.
I can’t speak for everyone, but at least from what I’ve seen personally your previous work in Fire Pro is known for being surprisingly dark, or even “weird.” Perhaps that’s because sports games usually don’t have much interest in storytelling. But wrestling is all about storytelling and drama. Do you think wrestling games focus too much on simulating the surface-level physicality over the creative?
Suda51: Fire Pro does a commendable job at simulating what goes on in the ring. I think that’s what draws people to the series.
When I wrote the first Champion Road, sports games would get yearly sequels that only really updated the roster, and I wanted to do something different. It was a statement from within the game itself. The fact that I was able to include this statement is a testament to the dynamism of Fire Pro.
How do you feel after finishing this story? Are you satisfied? Did you surprise yourself in any way, or encounter any unforeseen hardship?
Suda51: I decided how to structure the matches before I started writing… But at that point I was already past the deadline, so I wrote my heart out in the time I had left.
With this and other limitations I wasn’t able to write the tag team match exactly as I wanted. I’d like to take another swing at a tag team story in the future.
Do you have any other ideas or goals for the Goichi Suda Fire Pro canon? Or would you start from scratch if the opportunity to do more arose?
Suda51: The first chapter of Sumio Saeba’s story ends here but he has an eventful life ahead of him. I’d love to write a continuation, or go the other direction and tell the story of a new pro wrestler. If Spike Chunsoft is cool with it, I’d return to Fire Pro again.
Thank you for the interview!
And thank you for answering my questions, Mr. Suda! Now my blood is boiling with fighting spirit.
Fire Pro Wrestling World‘s Fighting Road – Champion Road Beyond DLC is now available for the PlayStation 4 and PC.