Famitsu recently sat down with Kadokawa Games’ Yoshimi Yasuda and Grasshopper Manufacture’s Goichi Suda to discuss upcoming PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 action game Killer is Dead.
Yasuda revealed that Suda had already pitched the idea for Killer is Dead towards the end of 2009 as development on Lollipop Chainsaw was progressing. Yasuda personally chose Killer is Dead as the company’s next project, as he is personally a fan of Suda’s “Koroshiya” series (professional killer, assassin). He wanted to make a game in the that series together with Suda.
(Yasuda explicitly chose the term “I chose Killer is Dead …,” which makes it seems as if Suda has at least one other project up his sleeve for the future. Color me excited!
Suda corroborated that notion by saying that one of the next projects he pitched was Killer is Dead. He wanted to continue the Koroshiya series with another entry, so Suda and Yasuda saw eye to eye.
While Lollipop Chainsaw was bright “sunlight,” Suda wanted to follow that up with “shadow” as his next game.
Asked about their respective roles during game development, Yasuda said that he is broadly responsible for QA and quality control, the battle system, and event scenes, while Suda directs the whole game and acts its visual designer. Their roles were separated during development of Lollipop Chainsaw as well.
Moving onto Killer is Dead‘s protagonist, Mondo Zappa. While Killer is Dead is the third entry (after Killer7 and No More Heroes) in the Koroshiya series, Mondo himself is not an assassin. Famitsu asked why.
According to Suda, Mondo is not an assassin, but an executioner. In other words, he’s murdering other assassins. These are ”AAA-class international criminals,” people who have committed heinous cries or are affiliated with the “Daiaku-tou”, the “(Political) Party of Atrocities.”
Suda is a huge fan of the historical play Hissatsu (certain kill) series and Hirata Hiroshi’s Kubidai Hikiukenin drama comic strip series, and was influenced by them for Killer is Dead. Furthermore, he even joined a theater establishment called “America,” which was the modernistic influence that led him to christen his protagonist Mondo. Suda further had the idea that everybody who enters Brian’s Executioner’s Office wears suits.
The publication also asked whether Suda considered the overseas market in creating Killer is Dead, as overseas, middle-aged, macho characters are popular. Suda answered that he entrusts that question to Brian (one of the game’s characters).
Usually, Mondo has a smart appearance and is a little bit uneasy about killing, but once his “work switch” kicks in, his aura changes completely. It’s similar to Christian Bale’s two-faced performance in American Psycho, said Suda. Mondo loses all emotions each time he begins work as an executioner.
The story is not really hard-boiled, as Mondo has friends supporting him, instead of leading a completely solitary life. He himself leads a solitary existence, however. It’s a story of a team working and growing together, nothing classically hard-boiled.
Whether Mondo can romance both Mika and Vivian (his assistant and boss) is best explored at each player’s pleasure, but Suda is certain that both girls are heroines.
Vivian, age 25, is 10 years younger than Mondo, but due to her “beautiful witch” image, Suda had in mind she acts more like an older sister. Mika rather plays the role of Mondo’s younger sister or a “charming pet.”
Romance plays an important role in the world of Killer is Dead, as there exists a “Gigolo Mode,” where players can woo the women of the game world. Mondo has more of a 007 image, and you can expect a “Mond(o)-Girl” appearance.
Yasuda is also assertively designing “Gigolo Mode” but unfortunately, cannot share any more details at this time. Initially, the mode was not very important, but it gradually gained significance during development, and is now a great way to relax after tough battles. The girls in Gigolo Mode have not been modeled after “Suda’s tastes,” but their looks were instead decided by the entire development team.
Suda calls Killer is Dead a “Dark Side 007,” as it shows a dark, unpleasant world of a spy where constant fighting ensues.
The game uses a new toon shader called “high contrast shading” to give the game a unique and immediately recognizable look. It’s a natural evolution of the visual style used in Killer7.
While the sword is the main weapon of choice in Killer is Dead, there are certain situations that primarily require the Mondo’s “driver” arm, particularly during some boss battles. Huge enemies require the assistance of the “driver,” which then turns into a drill and finishes them off.
Enemies’ siphoned blood was imagined like a magical power in an RPG by Suda. It temporarily increases Mondo’s power and is called “Dark Matter.” In other words, it could be referred to as “energy.” Defeated enemies release crystals that can be used to power up weapons, which also works as the primary character growth system.
One of the more crazy ideas, as fans expect from Suda, was a fighting a tiger-riding Yakuza in a classical Japanese building in Kyoto while Mondo was riding a bike instead. Suda had that idea in mind for a long time because he wanted to show foreign players what Kyoto looks like.
Finally, Suda expressed his desire to create a game that gamers will be glad to have bought. He wants to create a genuine Japanese action game and is pouring all his energy into the project.
Killer is Dead is due worldwide this summer for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.