Lollipop Chainsaw, the upcoming cheerleader vs. zombies hack n’ slash from Grasshopper Manufacture and Suda 51 has received a lot of attention for its unique spin on a classic undead outbreak. Newcomers unfamiliar with director Goichi Suda (known as Suda 51) and his delightfully bizarre games might be confused at Lollipop Chainsaw’s mix of sparkling glitter and gory dismemberment via chainsaw. However, in the world of Suda 51, this type of insanity is completely normal. If you find yourself intrigued and want to prepare for Lollipop Chainsaw, check out these essential games from the mind of Suda 51.
Killer 7 (2005)
Like cult films, ‘cult games’ certainly exist, Killer 7 being the epitome of. The game tells the story of Harman Smith, a super deadly assassin with multiple personalities – in game, you get to play as the seven personalities, each with their own special abilities and weapons. Harman and his personalities, collectively known as The Smiths (a reference to the 80’s band), are sent to destroy a mutant terrorist group called Heaven Smile before they start a nuclear war between Japan and the United States.
The game is a surreal journey through the mind of Harman, marred by illusions and distorted reality. Lollipop Chainsaw has already revealed one of its characters to be a talking head – Killer 7 also has dialogues with storytelling severed heads, many of them hilariously morbid.
Killer 7 is also largely a political game in the vein of Metal Gear Solid, addressing real world nuclear issues and political conspiracy. One of its most intriguing features is the open-ended nature of its story – Killer 7 is largely interpretational. There have even been fan sites and groups on the internet devoted to interpreting the events and meanings of Killer 7. How many games can boast that kind of following?
Naturally Killer 7’s gameplay also finds itself anything but ordinary. Killer 7 is an on-rails shooter where you control whether you move forward, turn around, or pull out your gun to shoot down advancing enemies; your foes being relentless suicide bombers who can lose arms, legs, and heads (sorry Resident Evil players) before being taken down. The concept sounds like a hindrance at first but certainly compliments the game’s unique story approach. Also, it’s a lot of fun.
Although the game wasn’t a huge success, Killer 7 is now a banner for postmodernism in video games and has a large cult following that continues to bring attention to the title years later.
No More Heroes (2007) and No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle (2010)
Arguably one of Wii’s most important third-party titles, No More Heroes gave the mainstream Suda 51’s idea of ‘punk rock games’ – games as edgy works of art. In the game, you play as Travis Touchdown, an anime geek who happens upon a beam katana and joins in a massive killing spree against rival assassins to be ranked #1 in the UAA (United Assassin Association). Travis cuts countless henchmen to pieces in magnificent sprays of Tarantino blood to reach the other UAA ranked assassins, the game’s eccentric and varied bosses. The game also has a quirky and ridiculous sense of humor similar to what we’ve seen from Lollipop Chainsaw.
While Killer 7 addressed political issues, Suda 51 has said that No More Heroes tackles social issues. Interpretation of the story is again one of Suda’s strengths, which forced me to return to boss dialogues, listening word for word to find the meaning.
Despite being almost every bit as unique as Killer 7, No More Heroes found an audience and was successful enough to spawn a sequel, No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle. The sequel continues the story of Travis Touchdown and improves on the gameplay elements of the original. A third title in the series is sure to follow.
No More Heroes’ hack n’ slash gameplay appears similar to Lollipop Chainsaw’s zombie carnage. Although made for Wii, Travis’ beam katana is actually swung with the A button, while the Wii’s motion controls are used to perform a wrestling moves and violent sword finishes. Lollipop Chainsaw’s trailer mirrors No More Heroes with replacements for Travis, his katana, and his wrestling moves in the form of Juliet (the cheerleader protagonist), her chainsaw, and her cheerleading. No More Heroes also contains several nods to retro gaming, with an entire sequence played as an arcade shooter, to insanely fun retro style mini games in No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle.
No More Heroes and its sequel No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle have built a solid base of cosplayers and fan artists, solidifying itself, its characters, and Suda himself as modern gaming icons.
Shadows of the Damned (2011)
Suda 51’s first HD exclusive, Shadows of the Damned is very much like Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil series and Killer 7 producer Shinji Mikami even worked on the game. Accompanied by Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka, Shadows of the Damned was made by a dream team of survival horror under the direction of gaming’s mad scientist – Suda 51.
Shadows of the Damned puts players in the shoes of Garcia Hotspur, a hardcore demon hunter hell-bent on retrieving his girlfriend Paula from… well, Hell. A demon lord named Fleming is behind the kidnapping; all that stands in the way of Garcia are his endless hordes of demons, which function much like the enemies of Resident Evil 4. Headshots count, and Garcia has an arsenal to get the job done.
With a revolver called “The Boner” and his demon sidekick “Johnson,” Garcia’s adventure is full of sexual innuendo so over the top you might actually find it funny. Or not. This is all part of the intentionally cheesy aspect of Shadows of the Damned – after all the game is influenced by B movie horror and exploitation films, both of which seemed to have influenced Lollipop Chainsaw as well (Evil Dead anyone?).
As a third person shooter, gameplay in Shadows is incredibly similar to Resident Evil 4 and Dead Space, shooting down hordes of enemies and solving puzzles. If those games weren’t your thing, its unlikely you will enjoy Shadows of the Damned, as it never quite finds its own unique identity.
As a result, Shadows of the Damned never really found an audience, underperforming in sales. It even failed to establish a strong cult following like Killer 7 and No More Heroes despite sporting the Suda brand. I personally was disappointed by the game due to numerous technical glitches and the game’s story, easily Suda’s least intriguing. I’m hoping Lollipop Chainsaw is a return for Suda to the types of stories that gave him a strong cult fan base.
The House That Suda Built
Playing through Suda’s games will familiarize you with his distinct voice, his punk rock attitude, and his affinity for wrestling, assassins, characters with crazy names (Trevor Pearlharbor, Death Metal, Kess Bloodysunday, etc.), the surreal, postmodernism, and blood. Lots of blood. If you loved these games, even his lesser known title Flower, Sun, and Rain is worth checking out.
All of the games should not be missed. Even if they don’t quite sit right with you, games like Killer 7 will challenge the way you think about video games. When Lollipop Chainsaw is released this year in a shower of rainbows and blood, you won’t think twice about it; all is normal in the world of Suda 51.
Check out the demented trailer for Lollipop Chainsaw here.