GDC: Yu Suzuki’s Psy-Phi could have taken fighters in a different direction

While the arcades and head-to-head play of the past have given way to home consoles and networking, some of the best game designers of yesteryear have incorporated the hottest trends of today way before they were cool. SEGA AM2 staple, Yu Suzuki, is no exception showcasing revolutionary titles like Shenmue and Virtua Fighter demonstrating how revolutionary the industry can be. Of course, his unreleased title Psy-Phi certainly falls under this as well.
Reflecting upon his vast catalog of titles at GDC, longtime game designer, Suzuki, spent a good amount of time when it came to Psy-Phi, his other fighting game. Running on the Lindbergh arcade board and sporting a number of supernatural fighters flying through the air, Psy-Phi never got past the public testing zones SEGA used in 2006.

Rather than market the game as a serious affair like his Virtua Fighter series, Suzuki built Psy-Phi around the stylings of the American comics and anime he watched as a kid. By applying this philosophy to everything from the character designs to the psychic movesets, the end result feels noticeably different (and more outrageous) than Akira and company.

Speaking of Virtua Fighter, Suzuki stated that the direction that fighter took in Virtua Fighter 5 (the only title not developed by him) is different than what we originally hoped for. He felt that “games are becoming more and more difficult little by little. I want to make them easier, little by little”.

This can tie back into the development roots of Psy-Phi. Incorporating touch-screen controls, players compete by drawing lines and symbols on where they want to go. By having each of the corners of the screen symbolize a different action, the typical bat/lollipop and button setup is changed up with something that could very well carry the amount of depth without the steep learning curve. While not unheard of at the time, using them in the fighting genre, much less one with aerial combat, is virtually unseen.

Will we see a game as innovative as Psy-Phi from this creator? With Suzuki’s new studio YS NET alive and well, not-so-subtle hints of such big name sequels as Shenmue III from the developer himself, and a vivid imagination, it’s not just a question, it’s a guarantee.