Killer 7 is stylish. It has so much style that style becomes its substance. It was polarizing. Thousands got angry that they paid 50 dollars for it at release; only for the price to drop after a few weeks to 20. I bought at Fifty and loved every second of it. It was what we needed more of in video games. Video games don’t have to adhere to any rules of reality. They can be weird and nonsense and yet make you think there is an essence of cohesion to it.
Flower, Sun, Rain is just as incoherent as Killer 7. It’s about solving post-graduate level math puzzles and running incredibly long distances. It’s looking into a boring person’s two hobbies. It’s also about staring at the in-game or real world travel guide many times for clues and solutions.
Contact is dissonance. You are being ordered by the character on the top screen of your DS to control the the character on the bottom screen of your DS. It’s a Diablo-like. It’s effortless to play. So effortless that turning it off takes more effort than continuing to play. You continue to play. Eventually the bottom screen character revolts against you and the top screen character runs off with your money. He asks you to forgive him and keep your memories. He says to play again so that he can take even more of your money. He’ll pretend he hasn’t met you the next time.
These games set up expectations of Grasshopper Manufacture. It gives their studio flavor and style. Its figurehead Goichi Suda (Suda 51) supposedly wanted to appeal to mass audiences and yet had no idea how to. He didn’t understand why Killer 7 was a failure.
In Japan, No More Heroes was released in 3 forms. Its third incarnation sold more than the first 2 combined. It was a bug-fixed version of a terrible terrible PS3/Xbox360 port of the original Wii game. This was eventually released in the States. It features dream sequences where you can fight bosses from No More Heroes 2. You can also get DLC to try to see the female character’s gentalia.
Every enemy in No More Heroes: Heroes Paradise requires that you FINISH HIM. If you’re playing with a controller, this means clicking R3 and then swinging the stick. This quickly becomes robotic and lifeless. Between story missions you have to do side-jobs to earn money. Most these are robotic and lifeless.
You drive around an empty city that was cut in half because it was so empty on the Wii. The other half of the city is still there on the map, you just can’t drive to it. There is absolutely nothing interesting to the city. If you look around you can maybe find new t-shirts you can equip your character with.
The consumerism and lifeless GTA world could be twisted into commentary on at-the-time-modern game design. Or it could just be bad game design.
The bosses you fight have grandiose speeches before you fight them, none of them stick in my mind as everyone in Killer 7. The empty city made me feel empty. FSR’s giant empty world was boring and hypnotic and boring. Eventually Travis Touchdown starts talking about himself as a video game character. It feels like a last gasp for personality that comes long after anyone reasonable should have lost interest.
No More Heroes never feels like it lives up to the promise of a game where a loser buys a lightsaber off eBay and starts to kill assassins because maybe he’ll get laid.
ADVICE: Referencing your previous games an easy way to make your new game world have more personality. This can be as simple as a billboard.