Things X 5 – September 16, 2013
Gaijin Games recently challenged its fans to create a Runner2 or BIT. TRIP-themed room in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Basically, they asked people to create the best video games mash-up known to man. Plenty of cool entries were made, but Frederico went the extra mile and submitted this fabulously themed room:
Early in May I’ve decided to include, when deemed necessary, some mini-reviews of games and I think Grasshopper/Suda51 latest offering, Killer Is Dead, deserves it more than any other games I have recently played.
The overly harsh reviews did not diminish my admiration toward Goichi Suda’s studio and I decided to stick with my pre-ordered copy. I’m glad I did. Like every other games the studio has produced, Killer Is Dead can be humorous, stupid, flamboyant, outrageous, profound, offensive and sometimes totally sleazy. Still, this is what Grasshopper games are made of and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Just like most of the recent Grasshopper games, Killer Is Dead is a third-person action game, where an assassin, here Mondo Zappa, is slashing his way through the game with fast-paced combat and a lot of flashy moves.
Before we start, I do not have much to say about the controversial “Gigolo Missions” side-quest where you stare at the girl’s naughty parts until you take her to your bedroom, do the funny stuff, and receive a gift. It’s creepy, quite possibly sexist and feels out of place but exaggerated enough to be interpreted like a pastiche of grindhouse, exploitation or even James Bond movies. Plus, it’s nothing that hasn’t been done in games like Yakuza or Grand Theft Auto which makes me wonder why people are all suddenly freaking out about it.
The Killer Good:
This is the first major HD game by Grasshopper that sports the visual signature the studio is known for. Killer Is Dead features striking cel-shaded, heavily contrasted visuals mixed with neon lightning and stunning effects. It’s a feast for the eyes that gives an additional edge to an already bizarre art direction.
Killing No More Heroes-ish combat
I was a bit bummed by the combo-based, button combination focused combat of Lollipop Chainsaw. While it’s a matter of personal taste, it did deter my enjoyment of the game. Killer Is Dead is a bit more simple and feels like an expanded No More Heroes system based on timed dodging that feels terribly satisfying to execute and never fails to be flashy. The katana combat is coupled with a gun mechanic that feels a lot like a previous game by the studio, Shadows of the Damned, which adds a layer of possibility and strategy to take out your enemies.
Killing Soundtrack by Akira Yamaoka
Simply said, Yamaoka’s soundtrack kicks ass and compliments the eclectic universe of the game with a mix of jazz, funk, old school drum’n bass, hip hop and electro that strangely works well together – it’s one of the very few game soundtracks that I can enjoy outside of its medium.
The Dead Bad:
Character depth is a bit dead
From punk-otaku, slightly blasé Travis Touchdown to Sumio Mondo’s erased identity in Flower, Sun and Rain, the characters of Suda51 often reveal themselves to be much more than the two-dimensional videogame protagonists they initially felt to be. Even the cheerleading bimbo Juliet Starling had this sort of depth that made her an interesting character to follow. But, Killer Is Dead is missing that, not that the characters aren’t fun or interesting, but they are here and… that’s that.
It aims at the darker narrative tone of Killer7 but fails to. There are still clever moments and surprising twists, but the characters and the story feel a bit more like an accessory here.
(not so) Deadly technical hiccups
Like every Grasshopper games, there are a few technical hiccups. There’s some screen-tearing early on but it’s not as alarming as portrayed in some reviews of the game. My major gripe is the anti-climatic loading times, sometimes appearing in the middle of a boss fight in order to load a cutscene. It breaks the momentum and just feels weird.
Deadly blood design
Our protagonist wears a robot arm that acts like a gun. Cool. This gun runs on blood. Still cool. Early in the game, you blood meter is rather small and you are left wandering an emptied level in hope of finding some power-ups (in this game, roses) in order to fill up your meter. Not cool. Later on, your meter will expand and this issue becomes almost non-existent, but it’s still a bit annoying.
As a Grasshopper fan, I did enjoy Killer Is Dead a lot, if only for it’s fast-paced action and lovely visuals mixed with a weird surrealist atmosphere. The dubious parts of the game are simply a matter of Suda51 jerking us around, and frankly, this wouldn’t be a Grasshopper game without it to some extent.
On another note, my 4CR colleague Gabriel Turcotte-Dubé should post his own thoughts on the game within the next few days. We have exchanged very few opinions on the game so far, so it’ll be interesting to read his take on it.
Rhythm racing game electro mashup lilt line is getting a sequel, lilt line too!, and its creator is asking for your help through a Kickstarter campaign, which I’ve proudly supported. Our crowdfunding addict Antonio Garcia should soon feature a Kickin’ It With featuring its creator, Gordon Midwood.
Even better, along with the initially planned iOS release, developer DifferentCloth is aiming for a Vita and Wii U if the stretch goals are met. Meanwhile grab the WiiWare version of the original ported by Gaijin Games. It’s a pure gaming musical pleasure for only $5.
Another crowdfunding campaign that absolutely needs your attention is one by NG:DEV.TEAM that are looking to bring Gunlord to the 3DS and Wii U, a game that launched in 2012 for Dreamcast and Neo Geo.
The game is inspired by the likes of 16-bit games Super Turrican and Contra (check out this video review), and while I’m usually terribly bad at these sort of games, I badly want Gunlord to appear on the current Nintendo platforms. I always admire those small studios that are committed to a very niche genre and they even did go as far as releasing their games on a real Neo Geo cart. If that isn’t dedication, I don’t know what it is. Check out their Indiegogo campaign. Meanwhile, we’ll try to get a feature on Gunlord with the guys behind the project.
In an effort to promote a game that doesn’t need promotion, Rockstar launched their social media parody Lifeinvader, introducing what seems to be characters and brands to be found in Grand Theft Auto 5. As always, Rockstar strikes gold with an high level of mockery that doesn’t fail to entertain.
I particularly like the Redwood Cigarettes page that is an official “sponsor of the Los Santos City Marathon for over 20 years.” announcing that ”today our commitment to your health is stronger than ever. [...] We’re proud to announce that all Stalkers of our official page here at LifeInvader will receive 10% off the bill in their next visit to any participating Los Santos or Blaine County area hospital.” Even better is the Sprunk soda that is now gluten free “and now with less mercury”.
Don’t forget, you can drop me hints on my Twitter account. Also, you are welcome to send me a friend request on my Wii U, my Nintendo Network ID is Jorf-Jorf. My 3DS Friend Code is 5069-3920-3758. If you want to snoop at what I’m playing on PS3 my PSN ID is l_am_error. Have a great week!