Toshihiro Nagoshi, Sega’s executive director of the Yakuza games, has many good things to say about Ghost of Tsushima.
“To be honest, we [Japan] were beaten,” he replied with a chuckle. “Yeah, of course, we’re losing. Honestly, I think that’s a game that should be made in Japan.” But, he continued, you can tell that the developers did a massive amount of research.
Not everything in the game is accurate, such as even basic, non-historical things like when particular flowers bloom is wrong. As I previously mentioned, there are things the game bungles for the time period (sake brewing, for example). However, this game is not a historical documentary, which is also true for many Japanese-made TV shows and movies. These too take tremendous liberties with history, just as Hollywood movies do. But yes, Sucker Punch did do research, visited Tsushima, and worked with Japanese partners and consultants while developing the game to create something that Japanese players could actually enjoy.
Nagoashi found the game very impressive—and, for him, not merely on the surface. “The Kurosawa Mode doesn’t simply change the color [to black and white], but has more of a technical approach by properly changing the number of frames to that in old movies.”
“Foreigners who tickle the fancy of Japanese people more than Japanese people are...rather amazing, no?” Nagoshi added, “There’s like a notion that Westerners don’t understand things (about Japan), but that hypothesis itself is mistaken.”
The Sega exec also praised other elements about the game, including the directional wind, and how the game offers players the ability to explore in a natural way while balancing a story without a heavy guiding hand. “It’s so great,” he said.
“I don’t know the actors who did the motion capture, but the care given to their expressions is impressive,” Nagoshi continued, adding that the performances were outstanding. He was also impressed with the glances and looks the characters give during cutscenes. He pointed out that, at Sega, this was something his team aimed for, explaining that this sort of detail of time-consuming.
“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.” The marketing team, he continued, would offer all this data stating why such a lead character was a bad idea, and that would be the end of a lead like Jin. Nagoshi thought it was amazing that such a protagonist was the lead character.“All this money and development time is being spent on this middle-aged dude.” He applauded the resolve to entrust things in such a character. From what Nagoshi said, it doesn’t seem like that would be possible in Japan. Perhaps he thinks game companies would prefer a younger protagonist, which is certainly more common in Japanese games.
“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,” said Nagoshi. “I feel an earnest sense of a job well done.”