Anyone who calls themselves a “gamer” is aware that Suda51 is many things. A developer for the people. A creative visionary. A goddamned psychopath. All of these are endearing to a man who, in a world of Call of Duties and Maddens, continues to create new and compelling intellectual property for people to play, enjoy and criticize. Say what you will about the control scheme of Killer7, which was certainly not one of its most acclaimed features, but to this day, I dare you to find someone who played through the game and does not still remember how original and though-provoking the one-time member of the Capcom Five truly was.
As someone who remembers the Christmas morning when I opened a giant Christmas box to find a new Nintendo Entertainment System and has not put down a controller since, I have been in touch with an industry that was once a hobby just as much as stamp collecting and model trains, a private escape from the rest of the world at large. We have seen companies transition from small video game developers to multinational corporate giants. Activision-Blizzard and Electronic Arts now budget games with money that rivals every comic book franchise that Hollywood demands we see and enjoy year after year. While it can be argued that it’s great for the industry, there are still many of us who feel left out in the cold, yearning for something refreshing and unique in the shadow of another first-person shooter sequel.
Goichi Suda, better known by his numeric moniker- a pun on his given name – broke into the industry with his work on Super Fire Pro Wrestling. This is only fitting, as to this day, the series remains near and dear to the crossover community of wrestling and video game fans. It wasn’t until 2005 that Suda51 dropped a bomb of a game on North American audiences in the form of Killer7, a game which can be described in no other way as simply a mindfuck. The story began with a team of assassins and quickly spiraled into commentary on world conflict, child soldiers and human psychology. Unsurprisingly, the game didn’t sell like hotcakes across the Gamecube and PS2. This didn’t stop Suda from telling British and Australian publication Official Nintendo Magazine that the game was his “proudest moment.”
Since that time, Suda has given us a plethora of material to digest as game aficionados. We’ve seen Travis Touchdown’s quest to become the best assassin in the world in No More Heroes, the first creation by Suda to warrant a sequel, but still limited in its appeal due to its initial Wii-only release. He continued to creep the hell out of horror gamers with Fatal Frame IV, the most recent entry in the terrifying franchise which was unceremoniously dropped from Nintendo of America’s publishing schedule in April of 2009. In his most cerebral adventure yet, Suda, along with Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami unleashed Shadows of the Damned on the PS3 and Xbox 360 masses, sending us on a trip to the underworld with all the crazy shit you would expect from a collaboration between the two aforementioned names.
Despite these excellent entries, Suda remains a name very much like his self-imposed punk rock image – endeared by enthusiasts, unknown to the unwashed masses. For every copy of Shadows of the Damned that was sold, dozens more were downloading the latest content available for Black Ops. Ask somebody which game they most remember from 2005 and it wouldn’t be Killer7 – everyone was pouring money into another entry in an established sports franchise.
Enter Lollipop Chainsaw.
The list of talent attached to this game is enough to make the most jaded gamer rock-hard with anticipation. Suda is serving as creative director of his own Grasshopper Manufacture and went out to grab a huge name to write the story for the game. James Gunn, the man who took a George Romero film and made it better than the original (in my worthless humble opinion) and also wrote the films Super and Slither, penned the story. Oh, the story? Just your average, run-of-the-mill tale about a teenage zombie slayer, descendant in a long line of the same in her family, fighting along side her boyfriend’s severed head…wait, WHAT THE FUCK?!
I truly believe that as outlandish as this game is, this will be the one to break down Suda’s boundaries and cross him into mainstream blockbuster territory. Think about it: everyone in the world can’t get enough of zombies right now; they’re in every high-profile release on the market, whether they be an intricate part of the story or an odd side quest as DLC. You’ve got a zombie expert writer (Gunn) writing for a character designed by a woman known for incredibly sexy and dark female renditions (NekoshowguN) and who channels shades of early Buffy the Vampire Slayer under the guise of a mad genius (Suda).
How could this not blow the fuck up?
Suda51 image courtesy of Now Gamer