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Former Marvelous Producers Move to Grasshopper Manufacture

Yasuhiro Wada, Yoshiro Kimura and Suda 51 explain the recent shifts.

 

Former Marvelous Entertainment producers Yasuhiro Wada and Yoshiro Kimura have joined the ranks at Grasshopper Manufacture. Word of their move first leaked out of Famitsu yesterday. Today, the two confirmed the move via their respective Twitters.

Wada is one of the main forces behind the Harvest Moon series. Kimura recently served as producer and director on Little King Story after work on such games as Romancing SaGa, Chulip and moon.

At Grasshopper, Kimura has the new title CCO (presumably "chief creative officer"). His Twitter profile lists him as "CCO/VideoGameDesigner/SinarioWrite" (sic). Wada has the title of COO (presumably "chief operating officer"). His Twitter profile lists him as "COO/Excective Producer."

Grasshopper's CEO is, of course, Suda 51 (full name Goichi Suda).

Famitsu.com posted an interview with Wada, Kimura and Suda today. The interview is an extended version of an interview that appears in this week's print Famitsu.

Left to right: Suda, Kimura and Wada. These images are from their Twitter profiles. It looks like they decided to coordinate for today's announcement.

The conversation first began with some background detail on how everyone met. Suda and Wada first met at the time of Suda's work on a PS2 game called "Flower, Sun, and Rain." Suda gave a presentation about the game to Victor's management, and Wada was the first person to ask a question at the meeting. While Wada ended up not heading up the project, Suda recalled wanting to work with him in the future.

Kimura and Suda first met at a game event in 2003. Kimura's first impression of Suda was "I wonder if he likes pro wrestling." Square Enix's Takashi Tokida, who was appearing with Suda for a stage event, had the same impression.

As for Wada and Kimura, the two met at the time of a 2002 PlayStation game called "Chulip," although Wada had heard of Kimura based off his work on a 1997 PlayStation game called "moon."

Wada was given a chance to work directly with Grasshopper on Contact, a 2006 DS game that was developed by Grasshopper and published by Marvelous. However, he'd really wanted to work on a Suda game. That chance came with No More Heroes, and Wada brought Kimura into the fray. No More Heroes was directed by Suda and produced by Kimura. Wada served as executive producer.

Moving onto the circumstances surrounding Wada and Kimura's move to Grasshopper, Suda explained that this came after Grasshopper had snapped up Kazutoshi Iida (Aquanaut's Holiday, Kyojin no Doshin) and Akira Yamaoka (composer of Silent Hill). With the addition of these two to the Grasshopper staff, Suda felt that the studio was strong in the creative department. But he wanted to build up the company's organizational structure, which would require staff who would oversee all company operations.

Wada had just left Marvelous (see this story for details on Wada's departure). He was happy when Suda first approached him about coming to Grasshopper. He'd actually been considering starting up from scratch, but Grasshopper's direction matched his. Using a No More Heroes analogy, he was of the feeling that if you don't aim for the top like No More Heroes hero Travis Touchdown, you won't be able to make something good. In this sense, his vectors lined up with those of Grasshopper.

Wada was pleased that he'd been called upon by an independent company. If Grasshopper had been a subsidiary of some other company, he probably wouldn't have moved over.

Kimura was actually in the midst of a major life changing decision when he was approached by Suda. He was deciding on either continuing to make games, or quitting game making and starting up something else. Because of this, he wasn't able to immediately give a response to Suda. However, Suda earned his trust by speaking to him about all the good and bad points of working for Grasshopper.

While the three did not discuss specific plans for their new work at Grasshopper, Suda did list some of what he hopes to happen. He believes Grasshopper will be able to more stably supply games. In 2009, noted Suda, Grasshopper did not release a single game, something that could be damaging to the brand. Now that Wada and Kimura are there, he expects the Grasshopper corporate structure to strengthen, the studio's development and technical strength to increase, and their communications with the outside world to also improve.

Said Suda, "Last year was a year for preparation. We were able to at last announce Shadows of the Damned and codename D. We're currently working away at many other things that will surprise you. These will blossom next year and the year after. Because of this new strength of the organization, I believe that we will be able to show and realize these new ideas."

Outside of their work solidifying the Grasshopper organizational structure, Suda also appears to be hoping to turn to Wada and Kimura for direct game development. He hopes that Wada will be able to tap into his experience to offer something under the Grasshopper brand that, while different from Harvest Moon, appeals to kids and female audiences throughout the world. He's also hoping to create an environment for Kimura to serve as director.

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