Yu Suzuki: The Kikizo Interview
We spend time with one of gaming's most legendary creators to learn the latest on Psy-Phi and a great untold story about Suzuki learning Hakkyokuken from a grand master. Oh, and some Shenmue stuff too.
Kikizo: As for your own work, which projects are your personal favourites?
YS: That's hard to say. Shenmue will be a project that I feel very close to. It's not just a memory; it exists as a part of me. Ferrari 355 is another one that I really enjoyed. I went to Italy, met the Ferrari guys, drove around in Ferarri's circuit, and ate at a famous restaurant - it was great!
Kikizo: Actually several Sega staff have Ferraris and you especially are clearly fond of them. What is it about Ferraris you enjoy so much, and why are they so popular at Sega?
YS: Yeah, I wonder... I have no idea what those guys think, but Nagoshi, as a former designer, probably likes the design aspect. I know Nagoshi has bought a Ferrari, but I have yet to see him drive it! Naka is a big race fan, so he is more of a fan of the technical side of the cars. Actually, uh... I really prefer bikes. Ferarri is the car most like a bike, I think. It's a 4-wheeled motorcycle!
Kikizo: Virtua Fighter and F355 are pretty realistic simulations, is realism one of the main goals in your games?
YS: Reality is not really a goal of mine, no. Reality in the context of games is nonsense. If it's completely realistic, then what's the point? What's so entertaining about the usual and the mundane bits of life? What is more important is believability within the game itself. After all, being completely unusual isn't good, either. You need a fine balance, somewhere in the middle. But I like fantasy, too.
Kikizo: Do you still play games regularly at all? What are your preferred titles and genres?
YS: No, not regularly. I actually don't play games very much, and haven't done so for quite a while. I really just play easy games with my kids. I think my gaming life these days consists entirely of air hockey, Whac-a-mole, and Puyo Puyo. Those are my three big titles! [laughs] I do all kinds of genres - fighting, driving, shooting - and I don't prefer any one in particular...Well, okay, I don't like scary games. That's about it!
Kikizo: Is there a special game you would like to have developed?
YS: Hmm, I don't really have that feeling. Well actually, there is a Harry Potter game that involves the characters playing a 5-on-5 dodgeball-like game while riding brooms in the air. I had a concept for it for a while, but then Harry Potter came along and stole it from right under me! [laughs]
Kikizo: What sort of direction do you see gaming in general headed towards in the future?
YS: I have no idea... I think that perhaps control interfaces will become more direct, with no hardware. Maybe eventually you will be able to control games with your brain waves, and chips in your body. Some of these are already used to mark dolphins and such. Some children born with weak hearts have a sensor implanted in them. In the future, you might not even need any passports! Back when I was born, I couldn't even imagine the sort of things we have today. Now we have all kinds of technology. I couldn't believe that this sort of world could exist. One of the greatest frustrations in making games is the desire of wanting to do something, but we aren't able to do it due to technical limitations. Right now, what you need to do well in games is judgement in skill, but in the future, it will probably just rely upon judgement.
Kikizo: Could you share with us a unique or weird experience encountered during your career?
YS: There have been so, so many. Well, here's one: When we were doing Virtua Fighter, I went to a Chinese Kenpo temple to do research. There was a grand master there. The first thing we did was drink. It's a white liquor, a local speciality. The Chinese custom is that you must drink 3 shots in a row for all the people that you meet. There were eight people there. Three times eight is 24. That's quite a lot.
You show that the cup is empty by turning it upside down. You don't want to upset anyone, so you do that. The grand master was impressed, and said that all the Japanese he had met before just drank beer. You had been the only one who has drank such heavy liquor, he said! [laughs] After that, he taught me some Hakkyokuken techniques... [the art used by Akira Yuki in the game] though at this point, it was looking more like drunken fist! Since he's a grand master, he'll stop his fist before it hits you. But, since he was drunk, I wound up getting gut-punched. I went down head first, onto the hard stone floor. The scar on my head left from that was actually the second! I got one in junior high before that - in Shorinji, I had something similar happen. Except it wasn't the grand master that time, but one of his students!
Kikizo: What can we expect from Suzuki-san in the future?
YS: Please don't expect so much! I don't need the pressure! [laughs]. Well, I'd like to take on new challenges in the future... with my newfound pyrokinetic powers!
But I'm not concerned about particular genres or platform. This department is called AM Plus, which means it's not strictly arcade development... its roots are in arcades, but we are planning big things all around. I hope Psy-Phi will hit US and European markets soon, so I can get to working on more new games with new ideas.
Kikizo: Good luck on your projects at Sega, and thanks again for this interview.
While other high profile creators like Tetsuya Mizuguchi and Rikiya Nakagawa have long since left 'New Sega', Yu Suzuki remains. While the likes of Yuji Naka, Toshihiro Nagoshi and Hiroshi Kataoka have held fairly consistent, increasingly authoritative roles at Sega, Suzuki's intriguing movement at the company appears to have settled on an a potent, purely content-focussed role.
With projects openly announced and a broad outlook for the future, AM Plus seems to indicate that Yu Suzuki could be back in a driving seat of sorts - which is excellent news. In the past Suzuki has been held back from discussing old issues, but now it seems he has his own game plan for new things altogether.
We should clear up that there was one detail in the article last summer that we were mistaken about, which was the digression that Shenmue Online had been canned, based on then-recent reports to that effect, citing the apparent loss of interest in the project from its South Korean developer, JC Entertainment. Now of course, it's clear that the project is active.
Officially Sega will not talk about a real Shenmue successor under any circumstances. Some stuff we've agreed with Sega can't be published, although there was nothing of massive significance to provide an absolute answer that some fans want - and we're not just being tantalising for the sake of it here, the point is that Sega really, really doesn't like talking about Shenmue at all.
But based on everything we know to be true at this moment in time - and aside from detail that has since changed - all of it was accurate. Which as we stressed heavily at the time, doesn't necessarily mean Shenmue 3 will come out, but it would be very foolish to write it off. Despite some presumptions made based on (at best) questionable translation of an interview in November, Yu Suzuki has NEVER said there would be no Shenmue 3. And as he puts it to us: "the story will be finished through games".
It was a pleasure meeting with Suzuki-san again so he could share his thoughts with us.
(See Latest Videos & Video FAQ Here)
|PLEASE DO NOT DIRECT LINK TO ANY MEDIA FILE ON KIKIZO|
Direct feed trailer
|2.53min||33.2MB||SD, 60, DF
Arcade trailer (hi quality)
|0.36m||12MB||HD, 60, CAM
As above, normal quality
|0.36m||6MB||HD, 30, CAM