Tag Archive: Killer is Dead

Everybody gets to go to the moon

I’ll readily admit to being a Suda51 fan. Some may consider his games to be niche fare that fails to live up to its potential, but usually, there’s something about his typically zany ideas that draws me in. Whether it’s taking control of a schizophrenic hitman, a lightsaber-wielding assassin wannabe, or a chainsaw-toting cheerleader, I’m definitely a Suda guy. So, it’s no surprise that I was looking forward to his latest, Killer Is Dead.

Normally in a review, I’d give a brief synopsis of the basic plot before talking about some of the game’s weak and strong points—character development, pacing, that kind of stuff. As games have gotten more and more cinematic and story complexity has evolved, narrative has definitely become a focal point for me when it comes to reviews.

But I’m going to be completely honest with you here, folks. Killer Is Dead left me confused, bewildered, and, worst of all, frustrated and wholly unsatisfied, to the point where I’m not even sure what I played—or that I could properly describe it.

The basic gist of what I was able to decipher is that you play as a man named Mondo Zappa. He’s another assassin in the typical Suda style, and he travels to fantastical locationsincluding the moonin order to track down his targets. Everything after that gets kinda hazy.

I’ll put it this way. If you couldn’t stomach Suda before, forget itKiller Is Dead isn’t going to change your outlook on the man. But even if you’re like me and appreciate his special brand of insanity, this might be the point where you finally lose your patience with his wacked-out concepts.

Aside from the terrible plot, much of the side content left me wanting as well. Sure, some challenge missions add to the gameplay variety as you race against the clock or take down certain foes in a field of baddies. But the “courtship” minigame is nothing more than a tacky, half-baked idea that somehow wormed its way into the final product.

Not only do these segmentswhich revolve around staring at the clothed bosom and crotch areas of random girls in the hopes of then bringing them to bedfeel pointless, but they even cross the line for me and feel a little degrading and insulting. And this is coming from a guy who loved Travis Touchdown’s blatantly perverted flirtations with Sylvia Christel in No More Heroes! My bar’s set pretty low on the politically-correct front, but this was still a bit much, even for me.

Despite the shoddy story and lewd minigames, there’s still a silver lining to Killer Is Dead: It feels like Suda’s finally honed his hack-n-slash gameplay to the point where it’s now quite enjoyable. You can smoothly mix in Mondo’s arm cannon mid-battle, and a blood meter allows for special executions. Meanwhile, some foes require balancing normal attacks with parries and counters, which prevents Killer Is Dead from devolving into a mindless button-masher.

The combat also includes some RPG elements. Mondo can learn new assassination moves, level up his abilities, or unlock additional mechanisms in the arm cannon. While most of the cannon’s extra moves aren’t necessary beyond the standard machine-gun mode you start the game with, the dash abilities and health regeneration become vital as you move through the various missions.

It’s just a shame that, outside of the enjoyable core combat, Killer Is Dead is such a mess. The plot’s incomprehensible, while the boss battles lack the memorability of past Suda games. The visual style is a beautiful evolution of what he’s done before, but I’d rather listen to a stray cat’s starving mewl in the middle of the night than endure any more of the inane voice acting and dialogue found here. Some of the content feels tacked on and unnecessary, even though the game clocks in at a mere six hours on Normal difficulty.

As much as Suda fans may want to like Killer Is Dead, this may finally be the game where the over-the-top antics are just too mucheven for them.

Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture • Publisher: XSEED • ESRB: M – Mature • Release: 08.27.2013

The decent core combat can’t hide the fact that this is Suda51’s most ridiculous, nonsensical plot yet, and an offensive “courtship” minigame is a further black mark on the proceedings. This one may even turn off Suda’s most hardcore fans.

The Good The most rewarding combat ever seen from Suda51.
The Bad If you thought Suda’s stories were convoluted before, Killer Is Dead redefines that idea.
The Ugly 100-foot-tall, mutated scientists. Yep. I just typed that in a legit review.
Killer is Dead is available on Xbox 360 and PS3. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.

At GDC, I had the distinct pleasure to once again sit down with Grasshopper Manufacture CEO Goichi “Suda51” Suda and talk to him a bit about his studio’s upcoming game, Killer is Dead.

In the game, players will take on the role of Mondo Zappa, an executioner for a covert hitman agency that specializes in cases revolving around weird happenings around the globe which could specifically threaten large groups of people.

Knowing that Suda also draws huge amounts of inspiration from music, I wanted to know more about where Mondo and Killer is Dead fit in regards to his personal tastes.

“Music is really important—not just in this game, but in how I create games,” said Suda. “For example, the soundtrack is done by Akira Yamaoka; he did the music for Silent Hill and other titles. But the title itself, Killer is Dead, I got the inspiration for that name from “Queen is Dead” from The Smiths. And for Mondo Zappa, “Zappa” is from Frank Zappa. There’s no direct relationship, it’s just—it’s who I am, and how much I love music just comes out and starts affecting the games that I create.”

In our time with Suda, I also learned more about Mondo in regards to his design and inspiration, and that he is far more used to removing bad guys from the world than we may have originally been led to believe.

Specifically, I was very curious about Mondo’s arm. His business attire gives off a very distinct personality, very much that of a stone cold killer. But then, he has this mechanized arm that can act as a gun. So, I wanted to know where the idea for the arm came from.

“So this won’t be said in the game,” Suda explained. “It’ll never be said in the actual game. But, the concept is that Mondo was one of the assassins that killed Osama Bin Laden, and in the [Killer is Dead] world, when there’s somebody that’s really bad, and they have this malice within them, when you execute them that malice will be transferred to the person who killed them. Mondo was part of the team that took down Bin Laden, and the other team members were affected as well. In fact, one of the team members will be showing up in the game. Mondo’s arm got infected, and he couldn’t control it—so he had to change it into a mechanical arm. But, that’s not explained in the game; that’s just the concept, where the basis of the game started from.”

If Mondo didn’t have enough going for him already, he’s also got a bit of Ash from Evil Dead in him as well. We will just have to see what other interesting character traits Mondo has when Killer is Dead is released this coming summer for Xbox 360 and PS3.

Are you excited about Killer is Dead? How do you think this will differ from Suda51’s previous games? Does Mondo Zappa compare to the likes of Juliet Starling and Travis Touchdown? Let us know with comments below!