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Interview: Suda 51 On The Silver Case & Future Remakes

Grasshopper's future hopes for the PC

Working on the remastered version of The Silver Case gave Suda 51 an opportunity to come face-to-face with a young Goichi Suda. They are one in the same, of course, but it was the 1999 release of The Silver Case that set Suda 51 on the path to becoming the game developer he is today.

“The game was made by the young Suda,” he told me at the Tokyo Game Show. “I wasn’t Suda 51 at that time. It seems like I’m producing my younger self.”

Gamers can join Suda on his stroll down memory lane when The Silver Case is released Oct. 7. The game will come in two versions, a regular edition and a deluxe edition that includes an art book, a digital comic and the original soundtrack. The game may be a remake, but since it was only released in Japan initially, it will be a new experience for most outside Japan.

“It’s finally become available to English-speakers,” Suda said. “We hope everyone buys the game and also finishes the game and gives their reactions. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s bad. It’s a little scary, but I’m also very happy to see them playing it and having fun.”

The Silver Case was the first game for Suda and Grasshopper Manufacture, the company he started after setting off on his own following a stint at Human Entertainment.

“By looking at the original, It’s like meeting my younger self,” Suda said. “The young me was very passionate, but very nervous and a little aggressive toward people. The Silver Case reminds me of my youth.”

The game bears little resemblance to the games Suda and Grasshopper Manufacture eventually became best known for. Rather than a thrill ride of action and violence, The Silver Case is an adventure game. The premise centers around a string of murders and the looming specter of an infamous serial killer who may or may not behind them.

“People have been surprised,” Suda said about some of the reactions to demos of the game. “Grasshopper has been famous for action games recently. So most of the users and media were surprised by this type of game.”

The upcoming release will mark the first time the game has been localized for English-speakers. Active Gaming Media, which is partnering with Grasshopper Manufacture on the remake, was in charge of that task, a herculean effort considering the sheer amount of Japanese that needed to be translated from the text-heavy game. While some elements, which were either too outdated or culturally specific, had to be changed or updated, Suda says the story is essentially unchanged from the original and still holds up after all these years.

"Of course, the original is from 1999, so some words or phrases or minigame puzzles that were based on older things, those parts we had to change,” Suda said. “Other than that, the story itself, we haven’t changed anything. Also the plot of the story is a crime-based suspense. It’s not describing that time period, it’s more future-oriented. So that future, looking from 1999, might be close to the present day. So the story itself should still be pretty interesting.”

The teams working on the remaster also tried to give it an updated look while retaining the atmosphere of the original.

“When remastering, we had to keep some standard of HD, but we didn’t want to go too far,” Suda said. “We also didn’t want to make it look cheap. So finding a balance between those high and low qualities was difficult for all the team members.”

The original was released only on PlayStation, but the remake will be available on PC through Steam and Playism. It's part of a recent wave of Japanese games coming to the PC, and Suda thinks PC gaming can still make its mark in Japan.

“While I was at PAX West, I heard some guys from Valve saying they were going to improve the servers for Japan,” Suda said. “Because of that, we know the number of PC gamers in Japan is increasing. So its important for us to have a good relationship with Steam to attract the PC audience.”

He also mentioned a recent trip to the Valve offices gave him even more confidence that The Silver Case remake will be a success on Steam.

“They care a great deal about each of their staff members and they try to teach them and make them grow and allow them to experience everything,“ he said. ”So when I think of the Silver Case’s success, I think about the way Valve goes about things.”

The Silver Case may not end up being Suda’s last remake. A sequel titled, The Silver Case: Ward 25, was released on mobile phones in Japan in 2005 and seems like a natural step if The Silver Case remake is a success.

“We are aiming to remaster Ward 25 after the Silver Case,” Suda said. “We don’t have any detailed plan yet. We will try our best to accomplish remastering Ward 25.”

I asked him if he had plans to remaster any of his other early games, which includes other lesser known adventures games such as the interesting but flawed Michigan: Report From Hell. He dropped a hint about one game he’d like to see remastered.

“Rather than Michigan, we’d probably want to do a remaster of Killer 7.”

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