#656 Killer7

Posted: 7th November 2011 by Mulholland in Games
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98th played so far

Genre: Adventure/Shoot ’em Up
Platform: Gamecube/PS2
Year of Release: 2005
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: Capcom

Suda51 is one messed up dude. Yes, with three years of a psychology degree I have come to this conclusion  that this huge figure in gaming probably has a screw loose somewhere in the depths of his psyche.

By no means is this a bad thing. With his rather… let’s call it unorthadox take on game directing he has become one of the handful of gaming figures (alongside Sid Meier and Peter Molyneux) to not only be known by name but also to be associated with a certain gaming style. Yes, we’re going with “style” to describe his output, such as the earlier-covered No More Heroes, and… yea his love of violence and bathrooms are examples of style.

Our Thoughts

One thing I’m happy about: The only toilet we saw when playing was one that wasn’t in use that we needed to flush… and we didn’t see anything more than the handle to do so. True, but there was a severed head in the tumble dryer. Who was very annoyed you disturbed him and asked you to leave when you were done. Yes, the thing is that after you have played a few games made with Suda51 at the helm there are few acts of gaming strangeness that can surprise you. Then again our experience with Killer7 did not turn out as expected after a rather hard time with the gaming controls during the tutorial.

Yeah. The controls start out feeling very unintuitive and in the way, overblown for what you’d expect of a shoot ’em up. It took some time fully come to grips with them. This is, in part, due to the odd nature of the game. Except at intersection, you can only move forwards and backwards – no turning left or swerving, instead always sticking to the center of the hallway. Shooting has its own quirks, where you need to get your gun out, scan to find the enemies and only then shoot them. Be prepared to wait for a second or two every few shots as you reload, which takes you out of the shooting mode into what is almost a mini cutscene… even though your enemies keep advancing. It was that small reloading cutscene that really confused us in the tutorial. And threw us, as it seemed to interrupt the flow. Yes that and also the unbelieveably long loading times.

Due to the rather menacing nature of the enemies (known as the Smiles) there are some horror elements present alongside the adventure and rail shooter hallmarks. However, so much of the tension was diffused everytime you waited for the next room to materialize. Not helped by the loading screen being some red- or blue-coloured static that froze occasionally.

Despite that annoyance it remained remarkabley atmospheric due to the extremely messed up nature of the side-characters. With the gimp suit helper being the most obvious. Yes, Iwazaru is up there with Tingle as one of the more upsetting effeminate video game characters. His sheer obsession with things that are tight and being hung from the ceiling with what appears to be a gag in his mouth did make me wonder a lot about what did not get passed the censorship process. Same goes with the liberal amounts of blood on display, and the fact that you level up by drinking blood in order to feed your character’s multiple personalities.

That’s right kids, multiple personalities are on show here (the title’s Killer7) each with their own guns, abilities and weaknesses. To those who have never played this game I would advise you to not use Kaede in combat since she is freakin’ useless. Now, one of the interesting things about this game is that, rather than the multiple personalities being, well personalities, you, the player, actually physically change into different characters. Your character ‘explodes’ (for lack of a better word) and reforms into a different body. If that body dies, you still have all the other characters to turn into, and in that sense they also serve as different ‘lives’. The idea behind this is that you are Harman Smith, an assassin, who has absorbed these other assassins and uses them to carry out his kills. There’s also one last ‘personality’ whose focus is not to assassinate, but instead to retrieve soul shells, which are the representation of those characters, in case that one dies. I think that’s more or less it, but I might have missed some cryptic clues to explain that part of the game. These multiple personalities coupled with the unusual convoluted noir-style plot are some of the many reasons why this game received an incredibly mixed reception in the west.

Another thing that took some getting used to by us (and, quite possibly, other western gamers) are the graphics. We were greeted with what seemed like an unpolished, simple menu. Nothing special, just some simple text that’s hard to read and feels thrown together in ten minutes. After that, the graphical style is… strange. It would have looked dated at the time, and the reasons for that aren’t entirely clear. The main thing is that while playing, you don’t notice it as much – not so much that it gets better, but it seemsto fit together more. The graphics are a variation on cel-shaded and whilst it was released a few years after Capcom publishing-mate Viewtiful Joe it has aged a lot worse. It was around this time that Capcom started to experiment with cel-shading in a big way, culminating with the beautifully rendered Street Fighter IV, but I will be honest when I say that this was not their best effort. It’s unclear why this is… I’m not sure whether they wanted to look retro, or weird, or whether they want to look unique, or whether they really thought this looked awesome. I would go for unique, which it does, since it goes with the rest of the game.

When we started Killer7 we are wondering if we could ditch playing it under an hour but I am glad we did not. I suppose. Luckily the game didn’t feature as much shooting as the tutorial suggested, making it far easier to keep up with.

Final Thoughts

It’s one of those games which has endeavoured to get as close as possible to artistic expression.  Whilst this may not rank amongst those we would buy for ourselves (thanks again Chris) it  is a game that really did try to push the boundaries of what makes a game a game. For that reason alone it is not hard to see why this game made the list. I still think we should section Suda51 before he hurts himself…