Even if you’re not familiar with the name “Suda 51“—otherwise known as Goichi Suda—you’ve likely played one of the many games he’s worked on over the course of his nearly 25 years in the gaming industry. Titles like Killer7, No More Heroes, Lollipop Chainsaw, and Killer is Dead bear his distinctive trademarks: bold visual design, over-the-top violence, trippy psychological themes, and a light peppering professional wrestling references.
Unfortunately, Suda’s work from the first decade of his career has largely stayed in Japan. Though he’s mostly known for action games these days, Suda’s earliest credits can be found on a handful of traditional adventure games. And the first of these titles produced by his development house, Grasshopper Manufacture, will see an English-language release on the PlayStation 4 on April 18 thanks to publisher NIS America.
After being stuck behind a language barrier for nearly two decades, The Silver Case will finally be playable by more than just its original audience.
Adventure Games, Then and Now
For Suda, The Silver Case was born out of necessity. “When it came time to switch over and start my own company,” Suda says, “several things impacted me about adventure games. One is that you don’t need a huge team to make them—the team can be very small. And a lot of the people who came over to work with me at [Grasshopper] had worked on adventure games previously. And because they had the know-how to do it, it seemed like a very natural fit to move on to doing more adventure games.”
The style of The Silver Case falls very much in line with the traditional Japanese adventure game formula: heavy on reading, light on action. Games of this type rarely hit America until roughly a decade ago, when the unexpected (but humble) success of Ace Attorney helped open the door for similar titles like Danganronpa and others. It’s by no means a huge market, but it is finally sustainable—a fact that hasn’t escaped Suda.
“Right now, it’s going well for adventure games,” he says. “They’re becoming more popular here, and indie creators are making more games. There was a sequel to [The Silver Case] in Japan, called The 25 Wards, but beyond that, I’d definitely love to create a full-fledged sequel.”
Back to the Past
This isn’t the first time Suda returned to The Silver Case. The first remake, nearly completed for Nintendo’s DS system, wasn’t the best fit. Suda explains, “The DS has two screens, and The Silver Case was designed for one screen. Gameplay-wise, we couldn’t figure out an effective way to adapt The Silver Case to a two-screen format. It was completely done, essentially, but we decided not to release it because it just didn’t fit.”
Even with much more powerful hardware—and 20 years of additional experience—at his fingertips, Suda has left The Silver Case largely untouched. Overall, this remake amounts to a much sharper-looking version of the low-res original, but Suda didn’t feel the need to tinker too much.
“Looking at [The Silver Case], I felt that everything that was there was complete. The only things that really stood out to me was the text speed and the movement speed of the characters,” Suda says. “Even though I didn’t want to change very much, I ended up changing these elements because they felt a little too slow. Basically, I wanted to tune up the game rather than make any major changes.”
The Heart of Suda
Compared to Suda’s later works, The Silver Case feels incredibly subdued—even if it carries that distinct Grasshopper feel. But Suda insists that, despite how much he and his games have changed over the past two decades, The Silver Case is still wholly his. “The Silver Case is the starting place for all the games that followed,” he says. “Looking at everything I’ve made after The Silver Case, you can see elements of it somewhere within.”