In early February, Grasshopper Manufacture had a surprising announcement: Silent Hill composer and producer Akira Yamaoka and Doshin the Giant designer Kazutoshi Iida joining the studio.
Yamaoka didn't just leave Konami, but he also left behind a long legacy of both game sound work and producing. Iida is an industry journeyman. By joining Grasshopper, they are both entering new stages in their work.
After being at Konami for over 10 years, Yamaoka told Kotaku that it was "hard" to leave because he had to find people at Konami to take over what he was doing. Yamaoka was best known for his Silent Hill scores and his producing work on the series. Now that he has left Konami, Yamaoka leaves Silent Hill as well - a move that he says is "half sad and half not sad". "But if the team of Silent Hill asks me to work on the title," he adds, "I would like to provide brutal music for them."
While it has been revealed that Yamaoka will be working on the horror game Grasshopper is developing for Electronic Arts with Shinji Mikami, it also sounds like there are more projects on the horizon. "He will work on all our titles," Grasshopper boss Goichi Suda told Kotaku.
When asked whether Yamaoka will be working on the Franz-Kafka-inspired Kurayami, Suda replied, "Kurayami? I haven't been able to start developing this project yet."
Whatever else Yamaoka is working on, those titles are under wraps, it seems. "I cannot say which titles I am working on right now, but everyone will be surprised to hear what it is," said Yamaoka. "I am sure that it will resonate with a lot of people. I am involved in the overall sound production for this title - all sounds you hear when you play this game in front of television."
But will all those titles be horror games?
According to Yamaoka, he doesn't want to stick to only horror titles. "I am interested in other genres for children, games that have no blood and violence," he added.
Likewise, new Grasshopper developer Kazutoshi Iida is busy with new titles. Besides developing GameCub god sim Doshin the Giant, Iida is best know for marine explorer game Aquanaut's Holiday. Iida, like Yamaoka, was drawn to the environment at Grasshopper - the work ethic and drive to make original titles. He is tight-lipped about what's working on, simply saying, "I cannot say which project I am working on right now, but I am sure that you will be very surprised to hear about it when it's announced."
He did provide a hint at the types of games he'd like to create, which he described as titles akin to the mind of Japanese filmmaker Kinji Fukasaku, the director behind the controversial Battle Royale and the groundbreaking Battles Without honour and Humanity.
Grasshopper Manufacture is known in the west for games like No More Heroes and Killer 7. "I think that the Grasshopper is the team which can deliver original video games globally," added Yamaoka. Looks like the studio has expanded its talent pool to ensure that continues.