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Shadows of the Damned Resurfaces

Suda 51 and Shinji Mikami discuss their collaborative project with Electronic Arts.

Main character Garcia and sidekick Johnson.

Shadows of the Damned, Electronic Arts' big tie-up project with Shinji Mikami and Suda 51, resurfaced for the press at EA's Partner Showcase event during last week's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Show attendees were able to play the game, and Mikami and Suda were on hand for interviews.

Players take control of demon hunter Garcia Hutspur, who travels to hell to save his girlfriend Paula from the demons who've kidnapped her. At his side is the talkative Johnson, a former demon who serves as your sidekick, and your weapon, switching between hand gun, machine gun and shot gun form. (From what I gather, the hand gun type is named "boner.")

A central theme of the game is "light and dark." Demons reside in the darkness, and Garcia will have to make use of the power of light to work through the stages of play. When you enter "darkness" zones, the play area will fill with blue and Garcia will take damage. You'll have to clear out the darkness to progress, by lighting torches via attacks for instance, then take out enemies once you have the advantage of light.

You can see the game's GDC trailer here:

You'll find English language hands-on previews here:

4Gamer and Famitsu.com delivered interviews with Suda and Mikami. Here's a bit of what the two creators had to say.

Shinji Mikami at 4Gamer

Mikami told 4Gamer that Shadows of the Damned is "Punk Horror." In addition to the horror, it adds comical and unique elements.

The game takes some influence from films by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. They're trying to deliver a "stylish" horror with comedy and humor elements, and something that feels like a B horror movie.

4Gamer asked Mikami which market the game was made with in mind: overseas or Japan. Mikami admitted that they initially started off work with this type of market consideration. However, in the end, they set on the approach of making something Grasshopper-like. He said to look forward to a game design that is "creative and crazy."

The Johnson ex-demon support character apparently speaks British English in the GDC demo. He'll speak Japanese in the Japanese version of the game. The English version of the game was developed ahead of the Japanese version. When Mikami heard the Japanese voiced Johnson, he was surprised with the different feel it provides from the English version.

Difficulties during development came from the desire to deliver a unique horror taste, and in the technical side of things with using the Unreal Engine, a first for Grasshopper, and developing multiplatform. The tuning area was particularly difficult, and in the end the game has a few areas that were modified a bit to fit with the Unreal Engine.

Suda 51 at Famtisu.com

Suda referred to Shadows of the Damned as a number of different things, including a "Hell Punk Horror" game This is what the game's genre is in Japan. In America, the game is referred to as "Psychological Punk Action Thriller."

Suda also described the game as a "road movie," where Garcia and Johnson set out on a journey to rescue Paula.

When writing the game's scenario, Suda actually set out to write a love story. As he worked, he asked himself if it's okay for him to write a standard love story, and that's when he came up with the image of Paula dying over and over, and a number of different Paulas appearing, including the head-only Paula you see in the trailer. Garcia is out to stop this.

On the area of gameplay, Suda said that the game's director, Massimo Guarini, has been working to incorporate the light and darkness element that Suda and Mikami came up with during their early meetings. The enemies are invincible while in the darkness, and Garcia is weaker.

The US version of Shadows of the Damned is due for release on June 7. Japan will have to wait a bit beyond that.

Shinji Mikami at Famtisu.com

Famitsu asked Mikami for his exact role on the game. During the start of the project, he and Suda met regularly. However, after the game had progressed a certain level, he left development to the team at Grasshopper. He's regularly checking the gameplay areas, and making suggestions and change requests.

The final areas of development have a lot of balance adjustments, so his checks are more frequent. Balance adjustments include cutting areas that go too far and would make the players want to give up. This poses a dilemma, as some of the these cut areas show some of the unique traits of the game.

Development is already "almost complete," said Mikami. The focus is now on debugging.

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