Why Suda51 Returns To Fire Pro Wrestling, Which Launched His Career
It’s been about 25 years since Goichi «Suda51» Suda had a hand in a Fire Pro Wrestling game, but he’s coming back to lend his storytelling chops to the retro-style wrestling series-it’s where he got his start, after all.
Suda’s made a name for himself and the team at Grasshopper Manufacture with bizarre concepts for unconventional narratives that have turned into cult hits, such as Killer7, Shadows Of The Damned, and the No More Heroes franchise. If you’ve been paying attention to games he’s worked on, you’ve seen the love of professional wrestling throughout his body of work; Travis Touchdown suplexes enemies to finish them off and Mask de Smith’s whole persona was based on a luchador-masked wrestler with the proper moveset to fit. All that can be traced back to Fire Pro Wrestling.
Back in 1994, Super Fire Pro Wrestling Special hit the Super Famicom in Japan, and in addition to its intricate gameplay, it had a surprisingly involved and twisted narrative called Champion Road. As director and writer, Suda hit us with an unexpectedly dark scenario that involved a series of devastating character deaths blending into the story’s wrestling events (it also featured a Ric Flair stand-in named «Dick Slender»). It concluded with the main character eventually becoming champion. However, the final scene cut to a frame of his house and an audible gunshot, implying that he had committed suicide. It’s a grim premise to begin with and a difficult one to build from, but that’s what Suda is doing. And this time around, it seems to be more hopeful than what he wrote over two decades ago.
This new scenario-that’s coming as DLC for last year’s Fire Pro Wrestling World-was born out of the idea: what if the main character from the original story had a kid? It’s sort of a sequel, essentially Champion Road 2 in spirit, starring the son who is now 24 years old and in a tag-team called The Vanishing. When I had a chance to talk with Suda briefly about it, he said, «I’d been kind of mulling it over for a while and it’s been 25 years since the last scenario, and now it’s kind of the right time. I decided, okay, I’m going through with it. That’s how this character came about.»