Over the past 20 years, Suda 51 has been known for making some of the industries most absurd, yet original games. From No More Heroes, that has us playing as Manchild Otaku, Travis Touchdown; as he makes his way up the assassination ranks with his katana-styled Lightsaber. All the way to the latest fan favorite, the stereotypical-blonde, cheerleading bombshell, Juliet Starling, in Lollypop Chainsaw. As we ‘celebrate’ her 18th Birthday by chainsaw-ing our way through hordes of zombies, to save the world from utter darkness. So how about the Killer is Dead, the latest original title in the Grasshopper Manufacture portfolio. Is Mondo Zappa the latest cosplayers dream, or just another ‘Garcia Hotspur’? If your asking who this is, exactly the point.
Killer is Dead has us playing as Mondo Zappa, a 35-year-old assassin who finds himself working for Brian Execution Firm, an undercover organization headed by the half-cyborg Brian Roses. The firm sends Zappa across the near-future earth, where space tourism and cybernetics are no longer unusual, and where Zappa is tasked with executing a series of criminals, which range from Kidnappers, all the way up to a giant. The story, like other Suda games can be a bit forgettable, with most of the story missions seeming like they having nothing to do with the main plot. Also as you get in further into the story, you will unlock side missions; these are usually set in areas from the story, that have you killing multiple enemies, either finding them from around a set area, to shooting so many waves of enemies, before they reach a certain point. These can be fun at times but is nothing special except that it gives you more opportunity to receive more money that lets you unlock revives, objects that help level up your health and energy bar, unlockable costumes that will come available once you complete certain requirements in the game, also presents that you can give to ‘beauties’ during gigolo missions.
The controls are quite simple, the square/ X button is your sword strikes, triangle/ Y button is your punch attack, circle/ B button is your guard and dodge and X/A button is you jump and action button. Your Leveling up system works in 2 ways, one is by collecting objects from creates, and enemies (wires), these will increase your health bar and Blood bar, the blood bar is your energy bar, which you will use when using your cybernetic weapons, or when your force everything to slow down by pressing the R1/ RB button. The other way is by upgrading your weapons and skills, these range from using blood to regain health, to improving your weapons and unlocking other sword skills that you might not even notice your doing half the time. So its not that difficult to control, but then when it comes to action/ hack and slash games, they are usually not that difficult to control.
The gameplay can be split in to 2 areas, the ‘Gigolo missions’ which we will get to later on, and the story and side missions, which like most games from the mind of Suda, will have you bashing the same button over and over again throughout most of the game. But if you actually sit back and learn some of the other controls, you will have ways to stun your enemies with your fists and a dodge system that rewards you well, giving you opportunities to continue your hit streak that will let you do visually fancier sword strikes, or if you dodge just at the last minute, the whole game seems to slow down and gives you a opportunity, not only do multiple hits on an enemy, but also lets you increase you hit streak even further. Though these do look brilliant, in the end it will seem like you will be doing the same thing over and over again. Which after a while it can get quite repetitive, which wouldn’t be such a bad thing if best part of the game you will be fighting hordes of enemies.
But then there is your cybernetic hand that can be turned into one of 4 weapons, a drill, that you will more then likely only use to explore places behind walls that highlight that they can be broken, and 3 different guns, a rapid fire that you will use to clear annoying gun firing enemies from places you cannot reach with your sword, a power blast and a freeze blast that you might use once just to see what they do and then probably not use again, unless required to in Scarlett challenges. Also its not like it is difficult to get hold of these cybernetic add-ons, as it seemed that before the 4th chapter, you will have all the weapons.
Next we go to the ‘other’ half of the game, the gigolo missions, now if your not sure what these missions are, they are missions that will have you chatting and checking out a ‘beauty’ (this is the actual word they use in the game), giving you opportunity to what seems like, make love with them. To do this you have to get your guts up to a certain amount till you are indicated that you can give the beauty a gift. This is where your money you collect throughout your missions will be spent, as to get the opportunity to spend the night with these beauties. You need to buy presents for them, some will work better on one girl then the other, but in the end every item will increase the heart gauge at the bottom of the screen. So to increase your gut amount, you have to pretty much glare at one of 3 places on the beauty’s body, either the head/face, which will do nothing to creep her out, if anything it will also make her look away for a bit to give you opportunity to look at one of the other 2 areas of her body, her breasts and her legs,. These are the areas where you will obviously get most of your ‘guts’ from, but if the ‘beauty’ see you staring in either of these areas, the less interested she will be, lose her interest too much or you take too long to get her heart gauge to max, you fail and if you have given her a gift that will not be returned either.
These missions can be a bit awkward to play, not for how its controlled but more for what you are doing in the game, it wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact this is where you get most of your cybernetic weapons, but if you are in it for the full ‘experience’ of these missions, then I would highly advise getting the Scarlett glasses from Scarlett, to get these it is simple, all you have to do is fill up your guts bar by completing some of her challenges. To get these challenges you first have to find her throughout the story, she is usually hiding in crates and objects, or behind walls, so if you can smash it, do smash it, not just for the challenges, but also for the fact she will refill your blood meter. So once you have a challenge, you will be given an amount of guts depending on how difficult the challenge is, once you reach 1000 guts, you will be given an opertunty to do a ‘Scarlett Challenge’. This is just a cut scene, that will make you realize that it is just another girl in the gigolo missions. So what is so special about these glasses? They will give you the ability to know what presents will fill the heart gauge up faster… oh and will show the beauty in her underwear.
The gigolo missions can be quite fun and is a great way to unwind from the constant button mashing from the rest of the game, but it can be a bit annoying, once you have successfully completed a gigolo mission, it will lock untillater on in the game, this will be notified by the ‘beauty’ tying to communicate to you either when your with the other beauty, or in the middle of a mission. It can be very distracting, and can ruin the flow of the gameplay at times as, when they communicate during a mission, Mondo stops from running around to walking at a steady pace. This may seem like a minor problem but, when you have done all 3 cut scene I that beauties mission, and all you want to do is complete the game. Last thing you want is her phoning you like some kind of stalker girlfriend.
The games is really fun and what there is of the story, though confusing at times, is funny. There is a few bad points to the game, like I wish there was more to do, either more missions, or even more beauties in the gigolo missions. Also, even with Scarlett’s Challenges and all the side missions, there is barely anything that will make you continue to play the game once you have completed the story and maybe all the cut scenes for each of the beauties in the game. If you are a fan of Suda 51’s work then it is a highly recommended buy, if you have never played any of Suda 51’s games, buy it if you like games like DmC or Bayonetta, though the game does not match them in quality, it is fun and worthy of having a go… just maybe not when your family is around, the Gigolo missions can get a bit adult rated without any nudity. Plus if you like the game then you have others out there worthy of playing too.