Toshihiro Nagoshi the charismatic and colourful character behind the Yakuza series, has spoken at length about his appreciation for the recently released PS4 exclusive, Ghost of Tsushima. Despite being set on the Japanese island of the same name, Ghost of Tsushima was developed by Bellevue-based studio Sucker Punch, and Nagoshi thinks that Westerners sometimes have a knack for pleasing Japanese audiences.
As part of a SEGA livestream (translated by Kotaku), Nagoshi said "Foreigners who tickle the fancy of Japanese people more than Japanese people are... rather amazing, no?" Indeed, Ghost of Tsushima has been something of a blockbuster in Japan, where it almost immediately topped the software charts and sold out in stores.
"There’s like a notion that Westerners don’t understand things (about Japan), but that hypothesis itself is mistaken," Nagoshi continues. “To be honest, we [Japan] were beaten,” the eccentric director says with a chuckle. "Yeah, of course, we’re losing. Honestly, I think that’s a game that should be made in Japan," he adds.
Nagoshi goes on the praise the amount of research and effort that was put into the game, and says that the way in which Ghost of Tsushima combines organic exploration with storytelling is "so great". Given how dramatic and story-driven the Yakuza games are, it's also no surprise to hear that Nagoshi thinks highly of the performances in Ghost: "I don’t know the actors who did the motion capture, but the care given to their expressions is impressive."
This leads to Nagoshi commenting on the potential restrictions of creating games in Japan. He points out that Ghost protagonist Jin isn't a typically handsome character -- and this is something that he thinks simply wouldn't fly in his homeland. "The protagonist [Jin] isn’t a particularly handsome lead, don’t you think? At your typical [Japanese] company, if you showed concept art for a character like him, I don’t think it would be approved," Nagoshi explains. He then says it's "amazing" that Jin exists as a lead, and that he applauds Sucker Punch for pushing such a character.
He concludes: "There are numerous things I bow my head to, like aiming at setting a game in that time period... I could go on and on. I feel an earnest sense of a job well done."
It's nice to see such a respected figure in the Japanese industry be so enthusiastic about Ghost of Tsushima -- especially after the title's got off to a blistering start in terms of sales. Japan's reaction to the game was always going to be interesting, and it's starting to look like Sucker Punch has smashed it.