Tag Archives: Lollipop Chainsaw

Killer is Dead

By Boogie Knight:

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After feeling a little burned by the excessive grinding created by roadblocks in the last couple Disgaea games I happened upon a little game called Thomas Was Alone. A short game, but I was so engaged I marathoned through that puppy like I was about to solve the mystery of the number 23. Conventional wisdom in the game industry has been that the more you can pad the length of the game the better, and these experiences were evidence in my mind that perhaps a more compact game with concentrated awesome would make for an overall better game experience. I don’t think this alternate line of thinking is necessarily wrong but upon playing Killer is Dead I get the sense that shorter and more concentrated game experiences will only result in us getting sold half a game.

Killer is Dead tells about a quarter of the story of Mondo Zappa, an unflappable katana wielding jerk working for the ostensibly state run Execution Office. Rounding out the cast is Older Cyborg who runs the office, Vivienne the supervisor, and Mika who is Mondo’s pet Japanese schoolgirl. In this job Mondo hunts down and kills nefarious characters as well as countless nondescript robot skeleton monster things. You’d think that something like the Execution Office would be part of a comic book universe which was not retarded, where guys like the Joker would be sentenced to death but would have to be tracked due to their supervillain tendency to break out of jail. However it operates more like the shadowy office of a dime novel detective story and characters make broad absolutist statements which may not be necessarily true. While stories which treat the audience like drooling idiots spoon feeding them every plotpoint gets insulting the lack of explanation for the world is more than a little aggravating. The big reveals would have felt more meaningful if we had more of a foundation and were let in on more of what was going on.

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A simple combat system is not inherently bad, but the subweapons control like crap and are powered by blood which you can refill from power ups and from slashing the enemy with the katana. Suffice to say that you will almost exclusively be using the katana as you mash the same button and try to dodge once in a while. Dodging does not make you invincible so you have to evade in the right direction and time it properly. Yet the challenge is almost nonexistent as about a third of the story missions are glorified tutorials and the game is practically over once it really gets started. The boss battles themselves tend to be easier than regular enemy encounters, though the battle with Big Head was somewhat enjoyable because it felt like an upgraded version of the Killabilly boss fight from Lollipop Chainsaw. In light of the insufficient challenge I decided to give the game a try in Ultra Hard mode under the presumption when the stakes are raised one can see clearly the nuances that might have been missed. Harder difficulties in general instruct the player in how to play a game the way it was intended.

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Ultra Hard is a joke until Episode 9 when the stronger enemies show up and they mob you like crazy and a single hit can take out a big chunk of your life. You practically have to use the Ulti-Mondo costume to boost your stats and get through parts which are tough due to imbalanced design, but once you use that special costume then Ultra Hard is really no harder than normal mode. At least Lollipop Chainsaw kept things interesting by incentivizing the player to perform simultaneous decapitations of enemies, Killer is Dead has fight mechanics which you have no drive to master because it is too childishly simplistic.

It’s hard to believe that this game was made by the same man who gave us No More Heroes and was able to solve the problem of transcending money. In No More Heroes you still needed to hand over cash to access the next rank battle and progress through the story. Even after you did bought all the clothes and upgrades there would still be a reason to spend money and want to earn money. Contrast that with Killer is Dead where cash is separate from the items which upgrade your health, blood, and abilities. Enemies spews out some combination of the upgrading goodies so there is no reason to spend money to boost your character. So cash is primarily used to buy gifts for dates (more on that mode later) but the rewards are so paltry that there’s no incentive to sink time into spending time with dates. Replaying missions for a higher ranking is an end onto itself because there are only a few alternate costumes you unlock and the rest of what you unlock are more gifts to buy for dates. Going to a lot of trouble for rewards I don’t want to be used in a gameplay mechanic I hate is the very reason I quit playing Assassin’s Creed III after I finished the story.

Then there’s Gigolo Mode… oh dear god there is Gigolo Mode. I looked up info on this side objective and allegedly it was originally something planned for Shadows of the Damned but was cut from the game. Thank goodness for that as it would make cheerleading for Shadows of the Damned so much harder. These “missions” follow a simple pattern: Eye bang the life out of your date when she’s not looking, get worked up enough to give her a gift, and repeat until you bang the life out of your date. No dialogue, no real interaction, and no real sense of who the hell these women are. The first one you see briefly in an early cutscene but the second woman inexplicably calls you in the middle of a mission and declares her interest in meeting Mondo. I want to be able to defend it by arguing Gigolo Mode only takes the bullshit of videogame character courtship to its extreme.

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Let’s try to keep this in context: How many games can you list of the top of your head where the main character can easily hook up with women because of his aura of main characterness? Well done. Okay. Okay, you can stop now. In all likelihood satirizing this element of game design was not the intent even though the way the game responds seems to convey Mondo has an inflated sense of himself. Yet this mode troubles me as the rewards kinda suck, the dates are non-entities for all practical purposes, and while there is little reason to indulge in the modes the game is built in a way that getting gifts for dates is pretty much all you can really do with your money once you max out everything.

Then there’s Scarlett, the nurse who hides in several spots throughout the real levels in the game. Finding her means getting your blood supply refilled and that can help you out in more demanding levels. Each time you find her in a different location you unlock special challenge missions which get creative sometimes but are largely straightforward. Like any other missions, success results in cash rewards but they also get you point and once you reach the cap a “special challenge” unlocks in which sex happens. Still very self involved but at least these scenes are purely optional and Scarlett is sort of a character as opposed to an anonymous lay (Which now makes me think of the Fable marriage option with the interchangeable NPCs).

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I feel a need to talk about the DLC content because there’s so little game and I keep wondering why the hell this content couldn’t have just been in the “real game.” You get a whole level with a unique setting, not a recycled stage, with a story that has at least one element from the main one even though it’s a side story. The vampires Betty is the client for this story mission and also appears in an additional Gigilo Mode mission. Gigilo Mode still remains creepy as hell but slightly more tolerable because she’s a character.

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Killer is Dead may not be a terrible but there is so little game there with so little to offer. At best the game is a rental even though it’s the limited edition which for now seems to be exclusive on the DLC content. In the Japanese version there was a contest for finding Juliet Starling from Lollipop Chainsaw hidden away in Killer is Dead. Looked up info on it and the Easter Egg was in the DLC mission. There was a little speculation on whether Juliet was playable in Killer is Dead, but that doesn’t appear to be the case and it’s probably for the best. Never remind the player they could be playing a better game in your not so good game.

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Original Post by Boogie Knight:

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Lollipop Chainsaw

For some time, when friends would complain that the zombie games need to go away I would add that they should go only after Lollipop Chainsaw comes out. The advertisements and trailers played up the raunchy parts, but the real appeal is in the sheer madness and unabashed old school fun. While the game itself doesn’t innovate, the game is a solid, albeit brief, experience.

The story revolves around a cheerleader with a knack for zombie killing and a giant chainsaw fighting through a horde of the undead. Her boyfriend gets bitten, so she removes his head to save him and proceeds to carry him around like a set of keys throughout the game. The player character with a bodiless sidekick sounds like the winning formula from Shadows of the Damned, and it works well. Nick, the boyfriend, makes a good Sancho to Juliet’s Don Quixote. As a rule of thumb, I don’t like stupid heroes, but Juliet comes off more as ditzy than oblivious. That she more often explains to Nick the way the universe works than others explain it to her is refreshing, and she is having a blast killing zombies which fits the goofy tone of the game.

Combat is straight forward, but it should be noted that the name of the game is getting a high score and lots of medals. The first time around, just winning will be the goal, but as you progress through the game and make sufficient upgrades, you’ll become quite a killing machine. Sparkle Hunting is when you deal the fatal blow to three or more zombies simultaneously, and this nets more points and medals compared to killing zombies individually. This will be difficult to do early on, but this is compensated for with a gauge you can fill up and trigger at will a special mode where Juliet is invincible and can smite zombies with a single blow, set to a memorable one hit wonder. Stage 5 has to be my favorite level in the game: it’s minigame free, all about putting the lessons and upgrades you acquired to use, and it culminates in an awesome boss battle.

Minigames and QTEs, these are ubiquitous in modern games and it’s no shock that they would be part of this one too. Overall, minigames are a nice way to break up the normal gameplay though to be honest I don’t think it ever gets boring. One stage is minigame heavy, but it works with the nature of the level. QTEs in general are a pain in the neck, but they are done at times that make sense, are practically telegraphed to the player, and you have plenty of time to do them. There are QTEs where failure means death, but they are very hard to screw up.

Seems like everyone can’t avoid talking about the risqué humor and pantyshots, so let’s get this nonsense out of the way. As upskirt action goes, you find it if you’re looking for it, if not then it’s pretty sparse. Yes, there is plenty of perversion in the scenes involving the elderly Japanese gentleman, but he’s a minor character. The alternate costumes are par for the course, and the one that managed to raise my pulse was the Shiro from Deadman Wonderland outfit hugging Juliet’s curves. I can’t help thinking about the time some friends got up in arms because of the sexual themes in the game Catherine because the ads overplayed it, but in the end it was a good game that simply had some grown up subject matter. Plainly put: If any talk of sex bothers you and you don’t care about playing good games, then don’t play it. If you want porn and you don’t care about playing good games, then don’t play it.

The one real defect of the game is that it’s too damn short. The first run could be finished in less than six hours, but there’s replay value in fulfilling objectives like beating the high score, buying extra outfits, or tackling the Ranked Mode. However, Ranked Mode should be challenged in earnest after getting all the goodies you care to get as those medals received don’t count for buying stuff in Story mode. The gun can be wonky between the autolock sticking to one enemy and you’re trying to pick off the explosive barrel behind him. Nick Tickets let you use a special move, but are of limited usefulness even though using those fit with the absurd tone of the game. All in all a fun game that is only hindered by being a little too short, but the crazy fun to be had is abundant though a frugal gamer might be better off renting or waiting for a major price drop.