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Suda 51

Liberation Maiden sequel photo
Liberation Maiden sequel

Report: Liberation Maiden to get sequel on PlayStation 3


We fight for our people!
Apr 17
// Kyle MacGregor
Liberation Maiden is getting a sequel! Well, sort of. It seems like Grasshopper Manufacture has decided to eschew Shoko's roots, following up last year's 3DS shooter with a visual novel for PlayStation 3. According to Si...
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Suda51's next-gen, online game coming 2014


Brand new IP
Apr 05
// Dale North
Edge has the first word on Grasshopper Manufacture and GungHo's new action game. It doesn't have a title yet, and they haven't locked down which platforms it'll land on, but they are shooting for next-gen platforms and are cu...
Killer is Dead photo
Killer is Dead

Killer is Dead is pure Suda 51 insanity, as per usual


Giant aliens! Giant aliens! Bring it on! Yeah!
Apr 01
// Kyle MacGregor
Grasshopper Manufacture has released another trailer for Killer is Dead and, as you might expect, it's looking as bizarre as ever. Alongside cutthroat protagonist Mondo Zappa, the video features cyborgs questioning the meani...
Suda 51 photo
Suda 51

Did Suda 51 just unveil No More Heroes 3?


HNNNNNNNNG
Mar 28
// Kyle MacGregor
Killer is Dead hasn't even hit shelves and Grasshopper Manufacture is already teasing its next project. Speaking with Famitsu, studio boss Goichi Suda showcased some concept art for an unannounced action title that looks to f...
Killer Is Dead photo
Killer Is Dead

Become a gigolo in Killer Is Dead's side missions


Mondo Zappa likes the ladies
Mar 28
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Killer Is Dead is the next big game from Grasshopper Manufacture, and among the many things you can expect to do, one aspect specifically stuck out to me: Gigolo Mode. Simply put, players will see protagonist Mondo Zappa sedu...

Talking Killer Is Dead with Suda51

Mar 28 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
[embed]249818:47821:0[/embed] On the name Killer Is Dead "I'm a fan of [The Smiths], the band, and they have a song called The Queen Is Dead. This was just a tentative title and I just switched out the Queen with Killer. There was talk that let's change the title to something else [as] it was sort of vague that it really doesn't describe anything. And then grammatically it might be incorrect, but I thought it gave more uniqueness that really matched what the gameplay was about so we decided to leave it." On the soundtrack Suda51 confirmed that Akira Yamaoka is indeed heading up the soundtrack to Killer Is Dead. As for what we can expect out of the music, Suda51 doesn't even know. "In the very beginning I explained what the concept of this game is about and what I'm trying to do within the game. After that we came up with a few ideas of what to do, and did some idea exchanges. But other than that I just threw the whole thing at [Akira]. At this time he's still working in the Tokyo office, still chugging away." On the Flower, Sun, and Rain connection "There is some kind of similarity because Sumio Mondo was wearing a suit as well, and I just like that character. I don't know, they just look similar. And then I liked the name Mondo so I decided to make him in a more action game this time. Originally I was thinking about Mondo Smith, but it's a little close to Sumio Mondo so we decided to change it." Both Mondos are two totally different characters, but they do share influences. "Just think of them like long distant cousins, or relatives," Suda said. [embed]249818:47822:0[/embed] On the visuals matching Project Heroes (the concept video that would go on to become No More Heroes) "I'm surprised you'd remember that, I sort of forgot! That was something that I really liked, and I wanted to put that in a HD format and I think in Killer Is Dead I was able to achieve that." On the James Bond inspiration "For this title, there isn't specifically a Bond movie, it was just that 007 as a series. He's a British agent that goes into different places, different countries to solve something. That was the backbone of how we created this. "My personal favorite is probably Living Daylights. I really liked the theme song, that's my favorite Bond movie. I don't think that many people say that's their favorite [laughs]. It has that uniqueness that I really like." On any influences from Killer 7 I wasn't really specifically thinking about Killer 7 when I was doing [Killer is Dead], but I think it's just a compilation of all the stuff that I was creating. This theme of executioner and the Killer 7 kind of matches. There's a lot of stuff that I'm utilizing from the back catalog, and ideas that I had. Nothing really specific that connects those two together.  How the Samurai Champloo game changed Grasshopper's design approach When asked about why Grasshopper games continue to focus on melee combat action, Suda 51 said that he thinks it's a culture thing as Japan used to be a sword country. "I think it's in my DNA or genes," Suda51 told us. Yet before the success of No More Heroes, Grasshopper had another successful title on their hands with Killer 7, a game that was primarily shooting focused. So how did the design direction shift come about? "After Killer 7 we played around with a title called Samurai Champloo, and then from there the idea became No More Heroes. When we created No More Heroes and launched that it did really well in Japan, and abroad, and in the US [it was] highly recognized." "And like the culture thing, I think it sort of spread throughout our staff members and they got the know how of what to do. From there it's sort of based on that, it did well, we really liked the slash action, and it just sort of continued on from there." Suda specifically cited understanding the know how of going up close to an enemy and killing them while designing the Samurai Champloo game as being one of the major inspirations for No More Heroes, and pretty much everything else since.
Killer Is Dead photo
How past Grasshopper games influenced their latest title
XSEED Games and Grasshopper Manufacture's Suda51 showed us Killer Is Dead this past week during the Game Developers Conference here in San Francisco. Once we were done checking out the gameplay, XSEED opened up the meeting to...

Suda51 photo
GungHo merger lets Suda focus more on the creative side
I, along with many of you, was pretty surprised to learn that Grasshopper Manufacture merged with GungHo Online Entertainment earlier this year. Personally, I was worried that this would ultimately hurt Suda51's studio, but a...

Our first detailed look at Suda51's Killer Is Dead

Mar 28 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
[embed]249843:47820:0[/embed] Killer Is Dead (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)Developer: Grasshopper ManufacturePublisher: XSEED GamesRelease: Summer 2013 Half the story involves Mondo hunting down terrorists, but the other half sees the hero trying to solve his own mysterious past. He's lost his memories, and as he struggles to piece his life back together he'll be taking on evil -- all the while, chasing after beautiful women. All this is presented in an episodic approach instead of the typical mission structure you're accustomed to by Suda51's other games. Episodes will have a beginning and end to them that will take you to various locations around the world. Suda51, through an XSEED translator, told me that the two concepts he had was "one, to be an executioner, and two, to have jobs in different parts of the world, and then to combine those two together." The episodic stories made the most sense. "I also had this darker image, or darker 007 James Bond in my mind. James Bond travels around the world to solve crime or stop a terrorist attack. That's one of the things I wanted to do. Like Shadow of the Damned or Lollipop Chainsaw, it's usually just one night that everything happens. I wanted to make it more of a daily thing [with Killer is Dead.]" In our hands-off demo, Suda51 showed us one of the game's first boss fights against a terrorist named Victor. Victor has the power to steal sounds preventing the victims from ever hearing again. Mondo was hired by a client that had her sound stolen from her, and after tracking down Victor, Mondo learns that he intends to use all the stolen sound he's collected to destroy the Earth. Once the typical protagonist versus boss insult exchange is over, Victor transforms and wields two giant arms that you have to cut off. The fight comes in three stages, with Mondo needing to empty Victor's health meter to zero three times. Once it's depleted, players will have to perform a couple of timed button prompt presses to cut an arm off. After repeating this for the other arm, Victor will then stumble around the room as the building collapses around you. You then have two minutes to finish off Victor, at which point Mondo ends it all by cutting off Victor's head. He's defeated, but not before he gets to launch a laser beam that strikes the moon, thus infecting it full of pure malice. Suda told us that there's something happening on the dark side of the moon that has a big purpose and theme to the overall story. What I saw of the combat was pretty straightforward and more or less what you'd expect out of a Suda51 game. The katana is your main weapon where you can perform all sorts of attacks and combos. Your robot arm, at least during this part of the game, will double as a gun that's more useful for keeping enemies off balance and stunning them so you can go in for finishers with the katana. Previously released screenshots showed off Mondo's robotic arm transforming into a giant drill. Did I mention that the visuals are just absolutely wonderful? Because they really are. It's one thing to look at screens or trailers, it's even better seeing it all in action in front of you. The motion style comic feel is just amazing and it's simply gorgeous watching the action live. "So the graphics [are] one of the things we really concentrated on," Suda51 told us. "As you can tell the shading is really different and unique. Not only in the cutscenes but just overall the gameplay too. We just wanted to make something that's memorable and just people taking a glance at it they'll tell right away that it's Killer Is Dead." There was a moment where it was kind of hard to keep track of all the action, but I have to see more than just 10 minutes of gameplay to know whether this could harm the overall experience. A very short hands-off demo is hard to judge, but I can at least say that the visuals are damn impressive in Killer Is Dead. The gameplay looked great, and really I've enjoyed every past Suda51 title and I'd be shocked if I don't end up getting lost in yet another one of his worlds.
Killer Is Dead photo
Zappa, Mondo Zappa
Killer Is Dead is the next big game from developer Grasshopper Manufacture and the mind of Suda51. The basic idea echoes many past Suda games where you become a highly skilled badass taking on overpowered enemies by means of ...

Killer is Dead photo
Killer is Dead

Killer is Dead debut trailer now in English


So that's what they were saying!
Mar 18
// Conrad Zimmerman
A new version of the first trailer for Killer is Dead, originally released back in January, has appeared on the interwebs which features the game's English voice acting. I think my favorite part of the dialogue is when (what...

Bond, psychos, and gigolos: Suda51 talks Killer is Dead

Mar 13 // Raz Rauf
The return of the "Killer Series" Yasuda recalls KID [Killer Is Dead] coming about at the end of 2009, during the development of Lollipop Chainsaw where Suda51 came up to him to present ideas on what to work on next together. Being a huge fan of Suda's "Killer Series" [Killer 7, No More Heroes, and No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle], he really wanted to work on such a game, so it was an easy choice for him. For Suda, the idea of those games had been on his mind for a while previously, namely the desire to improve on them. Upon showing the idea to Yasuda, he realized that he wanted to compliment Lollipop Chainsaw's "sunny" and joyful existence by making a dark, "shadowy" contrasting piece. As with Lollipop Chainsaw, there's a natural allocation and division of roles between the two guys, with Suda taking command of game planning, and Yasuda quality management. Regarding game content, Suda usually handles the game design and visuals, and Yasuda deals with the battle systems and event scenes. As you are probably aware by now, the protagonist of the game, Mondo Zappa, is not your conventional professional killer. He's an executioner -- a man whose manner in which he kills his enemies has a nuance of someone waiting for their execution. In Suda's words, he's a "big-AAA international criminal-obliterating-businessman-type hero." He goes on to state he's a big fan of the Japanese TV institution, the Hissatsu period drama series, and Hiroshi Hirata's manga series 'Kubidai Hikiukenin.' Add the modernistic influences gained from being in a theater establishment called "America," and that is how he was able to create the hero, Mondo Zappa. Famitsu asked about whether Suda was conscious and concerned about the Western market, and whether it affected his decision making, such as trying to make macho protagonist that Western gamers would accept. Suda wondered why that machismo didn't come about in Mondo's character. He instead left that role to Mondo's boss, the half-cyborg Brian Roses.  Suda says that Mondo is a smart guy who's uncomfortable about killing but has an on switch in his head that allows him to change instantaneously to do his job. He likens Mondo's character to a one Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, particularly the separation of work and life, resulting in a man of emotional restraint. Not just your average hard-boiled affair Moving onto the nature of the story, the tone from the trailer suggests that KID might be a hard-boiled existence. Suda does agree that it has a serious tone, but Mondo is not a solitary hero here. Though he has an air of superiority and arrogance about him, he does have people who support him. Suda says the story thus becomes one of how Mondo grows as a professional, and hopes for not only a hard-boiled tale, but also a tale about an executioner's solitude together with a glimpse into the bonds between comrades. When Suda first announced the game back in April 2012, he teased that the game incorporates the "dark side of 007." He finally elaborated here by saying that though Bond is a secret government agent and goes deep underground to solve incidents, those incidents are typically public. Suda feels that there is a deep-seeded underworld that is separate and not at all visible to the public living on the surface, "like a red-light district." Never bringing themselves to the surface, Suda feels there are men who fight night and day within these confines, and him wanting to show that is what he meant by KID portraying the "dark side of 007." Mondo Zappa -- Japanese gigolo Suda has portrayed romance in intriguing ways in his games, and KID is no different with "Gigolo Mode." Keeping with the Bond theme, all Suda could say for now is that it's a mode where Mondo emulates the secret agent, having the opportunity to charm ladies of the world. He also jokes and deduces that the girls will probably come across as "Mondo Girls" due to the reference. Famitsu asked if this curious mode was a version of one of Suda's hobbies to which he laughed and denied. He insisted was a decision made by everyone. It had small beginnings, but much like the stress felt by the development team as deadlines encroached closer and closer, they realized that this could be a mode where through its ridiculously wacky system of "light and easy bartering for women," you and Mondo can relax and enjoy yourselves here after each long, arduous fight to the death. With women being from all over the world, this also means that you'll also be fighting all over the world. But sadly it won't be as much as you think, as though Bond has been to many parts of the world in his 23 films, the game had to be more limited and it just wasn't possible. However, regarding the vast array of women on offer, Suda does advise players to be careful. Mess around too much then there can be some undesirable consequences, particularly from the two female leads, Vivian and Mika. The first female lead Vivian is 25, and Mondo is 35, leading to an impression that she's like his little sister. Suda heartily revealed that initially she was to be a 68-year-old plastic-surgery-laden "beautiful witch." Instead, she has a calm wisdom about her, and it is Mika who is in fact the contrasting junior character here, being the "charming pet" younger sister Mondo never had. Suda teased you would have to play to find out to see whether anything happens between Mondo and the two women, though he did say that it was never good to get involved with a co-worker and laughed, as if he was talking from experience. He did confirm that if Mondo's the hero, then Vivian and Mika are definitely the heroines of KID. Lights, camera, action From the trailer, many of you will have seen that Suda's distinct visual style is back in full force. Suda was proud to introduce their new and unique tone shader, dubbed "High Contrast Shading." It has enabled him to make some damn pretty pictures, and ones he feels are the best they've been able to achieve so far, and will allow people to be immediately able to say "that's KID." As you also may have noticed, KID does look visually reminiscent of Killer 7, and feels like a significant improvement. "With Killer 7, I feel what we produced was the best we could achieve at the time. However, upon looking back on it, no matter how you look at it, it does feel outdated," Suda reflects. However, this is what gave him the motivation to improve and arrive with the new visual techniques today. Yasuda claims the development has resulted in really picturesque images. However, though realistic, Yasuda says they "strove more for stylistic beauty with the visuals." He goes on to say that they are the most extraordinary feature of the game, and even claim that "it will express the delicate touch characteristic of Japan, in showing a world where the intent to kill and love is bared so." Onto the action, swords and guns are both present in this game, but the sword will always be the main weapon. Yasuda explains the gun in the left hand can be used to, among other things, to "break the enemy's posture and eradicate the core parts of the enemy." Furthermore, you can exchange parts of your left hand weapon, which "will change its effects and prove useful, particularly in boss battles." It will also change the way you fight depending on the situation, and help expand the battle system. This idea of weapon exchange was always part of the plan according to Suda, who wanted the left hand to be able to do numerous things, such as "becoming a fork for mealtime, or a drill to dismantle large, heavy mechanical enemies." When it comes to romancing, however, Suda laughs by saying it is only then you can't turn your arm into a drill. So no luck for sadists. Furthermore, Mondo's left arm also has the ability to steal and absorb enemy's blood, which is inspired by magical powers seen in RPGs. The blood is called "Dark Matter" and upon fusing with humans, "it embraces the evil within them and gives them energy" to slay your enemies. There's also a growth system for Mondo, which by doing things such as using the same moves often, is pretty orthodox at its core. "For example, when you're about to deliver the final blow to an enemy, you have a choice of various arts to perform, and depending on that choice the skills and abilities of the character will change," Suda explains. Thus there's an emphasis on growth through action. Moreover, upon defeating an enemy, mineral items are dropped and can be collected to power up your weapons. The amount you get per enemy depends on how effectively you kill them, and that's another fun factor Suda wanted to add in. But rather than button mashing, Suda hopes you will enjoy playing the game with the thought of how you wish to see Mondo grow. And now for something completely different Another unique characteristic of a Suda51 game is presenting us with some crazy, extraordinary moments that we can never realistically experience. Famitsu asked if there would be any more of that in this game, and Suda initially laughs, saying that there were many ideas that he wasn't able to include. One thing he was able to put in the game is the "Fight the tiger-riding yakuza" situation. "Within the traditional scenery of Kyoto, a bike-riding Mondo fights a tiger-riding yakuza!" Sadly there's currently no image showing this ridiculously awesome moment. Instead, Suda points out that in fact there are other games that are fully loaded with moments we can never experience, but for him with KID, he just always had a "marvelous image" of fighting in Kyoto. He guesses that it must've meant that he just wants to show foreign players the grandeur of Kyoto. Right now, the game is around 70 percent complete, with a summer release scheduled. In the meantime, they are hard at work fine-tuning the balance and brushing up the game. In his final comments, Suda hopes that players will be able to appreciate KID's beauty from just one frame and button press, and be able to say "that's Japanese action!" Yasuda reflects on a long and eventful journey the two have traveled together, and asks us to look forward to some exciting promotions that will be in the similar vein of the Lollipop Chainsaw's ones. So all in all, expect a fun time killing bad guys and their tigers, sexing women all over the world, and battling with your deep-seeded conscience. Only in a Suda51 game, eh? 新たな"殺し屋"シリーズ、『KILLER IS DEAD(キラー イズ デッド)』! 開発のキーマンを直撃!! [Famitsu]
Killer is Dead photo
Suda51 dishes the dirt on his upcoming game
2013 is the year of Suda51's next production, Killer Is Dead. In January, the game began its PR train with a cool, stylishly seductive trailer that oh teased us so. However, Famitsu was able to get a detailed interview out of him and his partner-in-crime from Kadokawa Games, Yoshimi Yasuda, in which they discuss everything from American Psycho and Bond, to gigolos and tiger-riding yakuza!

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PlayStation 4 makes Suda 51 'horny'


Cloud gaming 'will become totally commonplace'
Mar 11
// Jim Sterling
Grasshopper Manufacture CEO Suda 51 is apparently more than a little excited for the PS4. In fact, the eccentric game designer claims to be horny for Sony's upcoming console. Let's hope it's not because he's had some thoughts...
Liberation Maiden photo
Liberation Maiden

Suda 51's Liberation Maiden soaring to iOS (Update)


Shooter now available on App Store in New Zealand
Mar 06
// Kyle MacGregor
[Update: Liberation Maiden is now available worldwide via the App Store for $4.99 / €4.49 / ₤2.99.] Well, this is unexpected. Liberation Maiden has arrived on the iTunes App Store in New Zealand. One...
Lollipop Chainsaw photo
Lollipop Chainsaw

Lollipop Chainsaw Valentine Edition now available


Import away!
Feb 16
// Kyle MacGregor
Valentine's Day has come and gone but the so-called most romantic day of the year has left one lasting festive treat for everyone to enjoy in its wake. The Lollipop Chainsaw Valentine Edition released on Thursd...
Killer is Dead photo
Killer is Dead

XSEED confirms Killer is Dead for summer release


Holy publisher of Forbidden Treasure bring us another unclaimed gem
Jan 31
// Jim Sterling
XSEED, fast establishing itself as the leading champion for games nobody else wants to publish, has confirmed that it'll be bringing Killer is Dead to the West this Summer. The latest Grasshopper Manufacture title looks gorge...
Suda 51 photo
Suda 51

Grasshopper Manufacture merging with Ragnarok publisher


Does this mean punk is dead?
Jan 30
// Kyle MacGregor
GungHo Online Entertainment, the company behind the Ragnarok series, has announced plans to merge with Killer is Dead developer Grasshopper Manufacture. The companies hope the move will enhance their respective stre...
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The DTOID Show: Killer Is Dead, Revengeance & SimCity


Plus: Fallout TV show?
Jan 18
// Max Scoville
Hey gang, The Destructoid Show wasn't live today, because our producer Zac has his fingers cut off for failing at his Yakuza duties. Er. He cut his hand by accident. Something, I forget.   Today, we discuss the possibili...
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Jimquisition Awards: Lollipop Chainsaw


Five Days, Five Games, Five Awards
Dec 20
// Jim Sterling
The very first Jimquisition Awards are here! Five days, five games, five awards! Games win awards for being innovative, intelligent, mature and memorable. Not many win them for being bloody funny. Lollipop Cha...
Lollipop Chainsaw import photo
Special re-release will need to be imported
Lollipop Chainsaw Valentine Edition has been announced for Japan, slated to arrive on February 14, 2013.  The special edition release will include a "perfect unlock code," as well as two DVDs, and computer stuff includi...

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Sine Mora coming to PlayStation Network next week


Time-travelling anthropomorphic pilots. What more could you want?
Nov 17
// Kyle MacGregor
As a shmup enthusiast and Grasshopper Manufacture zealot I was pretty vexed to hear that Sine Mora would be exclusive to the Xbox 360. Not only did that mean that I'd personally miss out on the game, but a large swathe of the...

Review: Liberation Maiden

Nov 02 // Tony Ponce
Liberation Maiden (3DS eShop)Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture, Level-5Publisher: Level-5Release: October 25, 2012MSRP: $7.99 A century from now, a war-hungry nation known as the Dominion attempts to annex Japan in order to drain the land of its natural energy. The Japanese government decides that the best way to combat this threat is to adopt a Metal Wolf Chaos brand of foreign policy -- give the President a giant mech. Thus, the government is restructured, the Prime Minister position is dissolved, and a President of New Japan is elected. Unfortunately, President Yokuichiro Ozora is assassinated before he could fulfill his duties. In what was obviously the only sensible decision for the sake of national security, his high school daughter Shoko is elected Second President and charged with piloting the Liberator "Kamui," an aerial battle craft that draws its power from nature. [embed]237693:45600[/embed] Liberation Maiden plays a lot like a scaled-down Zone of the Enders -- patrol the airspace above occupied cities and attempt missions that your navigator sporadically feeds you. Unlike ZoE's Jehuty, Kamui only has three types of actions. Using the circle pad, you can fly in any direction, and by holding down the L button, you can lock your view and strafe through the sky. To attack, drag the stylus across the touchscreen to lock onto any enemies in your cursor's path. This is the same "stick + stylus" control combo found in titles like Kid Icarus: Uprising and Dillon's Rolling Western. The limited number of available actions means that you ought to be able to find your "sweet spot" much easier than in the aforementioned games, but I wouldn't blame anyone for being initially turned off. But even if right-handed players can learn to mitigate hand strain, lefties are essentially hung to dry -- there's sadly no lefty option. Cramping concerns aside, attacking couldn't be any simpler. The main game screen is on top, so moving the cursor on the touchscreen won't impede your vision. You can lock onto several enemies at once, or you can pass over the same enemy multiple times to bombard it with back-to-back volleys. Once you lift the stylus, your missiles will automatically fire. Surrounding Kamui are a large number of Deflector Nodes that have both offensive and defensive capabilities. These nodes act as an overshield that prevent direct damage to the hull; the more enemy fire the nodes absorb, to more brittle the shield becomes. You can replenish the shield by scoring chain attacks, which gradually restore power to out-of-commission nodes. These same nodes double as your missile supply, which means that you are completely exposed while attacking or prepping for an attack. This also means that the more nodes you lose, the fewer enemies you can target in a single strike. It's a very clever risk system -- you can choose to stay well guarded by performing smaller attacks, or you can launch your full strength and rely on your maneuverability to keep yourself from harm. In the second stage, you gain a second, more powerful weapon: a focused laser. Similarly to how the missiles function, the duration of continuous laser fire is directly proportional to the number of Deflector Nodes still active. The laser is even riskier because you can't lock onto enemies and must instead manually maintain the cursor's position. This shifts a good deal of mental focus away from movement, increasing the likelihood that you'll take damage. There are only five stages in total, and your goal in each is to destroy three Conduit Spikes embedded into the surface before attacking a much more well-guarded Greater Conduit Spike. While you can easily breeze through all the stages in as little as half an hour, you can choose to explore each level thoroughly in search of enemy installations. Destroying these installations -- which include towers and bridges -- will restore a small patch of nature to the immediate area. The higher the percentage of purification by the level's end, the greater your score will be. You can also unlock concept art and additional backstory by completing specific tasks, ranging from performing all possible attack maneuvers at least once to achieving 100% purification in a level. The main campaign is so short yet packed with so much action in that brief period that it never feels like a waste of time and effort to attempt "just one more" achievement. Every goal is within short reach, compelling you to keep playing well after the credits roll. I wouldn't consider it a grand amount of replayability, but it's enough to satisfy anyone who enjoys their action games in quick, digestible bursts. For a small game that was originally part of a larger entity, Liberation Maiden is very polished. In addition to the animated opening and ending cutscenes, there's plenty of fully voiced dialog between Shoka and her First Secretary Kira, who also doubles as Shoka's navigator. Though the constantly repeated sound bites -- "Enemy missile closing in!" "We'll fight for our people!" "What a rush!" -- can be rather grating, it's lovely to see such care in making you feel like you're playing a sci-fi anime, right down to J-rock vocal songs that mark two major battles. What drags down the experience ever slightly is the fact that the Dominion is completely faceless. You see and hear a lot of Shoka and Kira, but you don't even get so much as idle radio chatter from the other side. It also doesn't help that Dominion machinery is utilitarian to a fault -- Conduit Spikes are literally giant, unadorned screws, for one. It's not a deal-breaker, but I'm just surprised that Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacture, known for birthing outrageous and memorable characters, would settle for such a plain antagonist. Liberation Maiden isn't Suda 51's crowning achievement or anything, but it is a simple, fun shooter with a clever offense-defensive mechanic and several coats of glossy finish. If you aren't bothered by the stick and stylus control scheme, you'll enjoy this hearty dose of anime mech action. Certainly, the remaining Guild01 games have a lot to live up to.
Liberation Maiden photo
Real ultimate executive power
The Japanese-exclusive Guild01 is a "game jam" of sorts that bundles four games created by four notable designers in a single collection, and aside from Level-5's co-operation in their development, they are wholly unrelated t...

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Check out Suda 51's Liberation Maiden in action


Oct 07
// Jonathan Holmes
Liberation Maiden is one of the four games from Level-5's Guild 01. It was suddenly released in Europe last week, with a US release pending for this year. The lovely Nintendaan has already got a video to share with us of the...
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Those three Guild 01 games are leaving Japan via eShop


Level-5 partners with prolific Japanese devs
Oct 04
// Jordan Devore
As briefly mentioned in our post about this year's upcoming 3DS eShop release schedule, Level-5 has partnered with three high-profile Japanese designers on three separate games all due out this fall. Yes, the games of Guild ...
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No More Heroes gets a free-to-play social mobile game


World Ranker comes to Android and iOS
Aug 30
// Jim Sterling
No More Heroes returns to your life as a free-to-play social mobile game. Something tells me that the unique blend of F2P, social gaming, and the mobile market isn't having NMH lovers jumping for joy. In fact it seems perfect...
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Lollipop Chainsaw is Grasshopper's most shipped title


Aug 26
// Jonathan Holmes
This past weekend, Grasshopper Manufacture and Kadokawa games held a "Lollipop Chainsaw Summer Appreciation Event" in Japan. It's awesome that GhM and Kadokawa appreciate their game, but what did consumers think of it?  ...
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Is Level-5 localizing Guild 01 for the US?


Aug 14
// Tony Ponce
Guild 01, for those who have forgotten, is a recent Japanese 3DS title that features four original games by four different designers for one big jam session. The team includes Grasshopper's Suda 51, Seaman creator Yoot Saito,...

Lollipop Chainsaw's James Gunn talks sexiness and sexism

Jul 18 // Jim Sterling
"Essentially, it's true," said Gunn, discussing Nick's objectification. "Nick is objectified by Juliet -- he's literally turned into an accessory, a commodity, and his humanity is denied. Nick is not only emasculated, he is SUPER emasculated. He starts off as this cool high school jock, and he thinks his girlfriend is this demure cheerleader, and then discovers she is a thousand times tougher -- that is, more traditionally 'masculine' -- than he'll ever be. And, on top of that, he loses his body and penis (which is just sort of the straw that broke the camel's back)." "But within this emasculation, Nick has to find some worth other than being the strong one. He needs to find strength through trust. And Juliet needs to learn how to let go of control. So, yes, that is definitely gender role reversal. That said, while writing it, I didn't think of this in terms of gender, I thought of it in terms of character and plot. I think males and females -- and especially teenage males and females -- tend to commodify each other and that's a dangerous thing to any relationship." The idea for Nick as a magically resurrected head came from -- who else -- director Suda 51. Gunn can't take credit for the initial idea, but would share how he came up with Nick's personality and overall influence on the narrative.  "He was always a head -- or at least from the first time I interacted with Suda, he was," Gunn explained. "I helped to change things about the general look of the characters, but the fact that he was a head hanging from Juliet's waist seemed to be a part of Suda's original vision. The story stuff, the relationship and commodification through-lines, their personalities and dialogue, that was my addition." "When I came on board, there was no conflict at all in Nick and Juliet's relationship. The visuals were coming into place, but it was pretty much all 'I love you, baby!' 'I love you too!' I wanted to add some conflict between the two of them, something that both of them needed to learn, and something that approached a three-act structure. It seemed natural to me that Nick would be upset about being a head, and would feel emasculated. And Juliet is still in the early stages of the relationship, where she sees Nick more as an ideal and less as an actual person." Regardless of what Lollipop Chainsaw says about relationships and no matter how much it objectifies Nick, there's no escaping the fact that Grasshopper's game features a cheerleader in a very skimpy skirt who isn't shy about providing gratuitous panty shots. The game has been accused of objectifying the lead character, and it's certainly difficult to deny it. James Gunn, for his part, doesn't try to, but he refuses to classify the game as "sexist" in any way.   "Well, listen, like it or not we are, actually, all objects," he responded. "Our physical forms -- and the idealized forms of those physical forms we find in pop culture -- are something most of us find appealing, whether it's Juliet's butt or Batman's ripped abs. Lollipop Chainsaw is titillating, for sure. A lot of that is just because Lollipop Chainsaw took an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach -- it's utterly shameless in that regard. And there's a lot of grindhouse and Russ Myer in LC -- a fun, floppy, over-the-top sexuality that plays with those old forms but is self–aware of them the entire time." "But I think it's important people don't confuse sexuality with sexism. There is nothing in the game, ever, that makes females somehow less than males. To be honest, I think a lot of the criticisms of LC's 'sexism' are really coming from a place where the secret message is sex is bad, sexual attraction is bad, lust is bad. I was raised Catholic: I get it. Yes, Juliet Starling is hot as hell. And, yes, that probably helps to sell copies of the game. But my question is, so what? How in the world does that convey that women are less than men?" "If you're saying that Juliet Starling is, like Barbie, an impossible ideal that makes women feel bad about their own bodies in comparison well, okay. You have a point there," he continued. "But welcome to NEARLY EVERY SINGLE THING IN POP CULTURE EVER. I am an avid reader of Marvel comics and, believe me, Wolverine's ass makes me feel shitty about my own ass in comparison. Wolverine has got a tight, hot ass. If I watch the Bachelorette and those dudes take their tops off and every one of them has amazing pecs -- yeah, that makes me feel like crap as well." "I work out every fucking day. I don't know how these people do it. So, yeah, I look forward to the day I can make a videogame with a chick with flat, droopy boobs and fat butt who's still sexy, or a superhero with a pot belly who still knows how to come off looking cool. I would love to be a part of that movement. However, I'm not sure I can get away with it today." While Gunn will defend Juliet's sexuality and agrees with the points concerning Nick's role in the story, he interestingly countered those pundits who argued for the protagonist as a bastion of female empowerment. He stated that he disagreed with Juliet Starling being a symbol of such a thing.  "I mean, I guess she is, in some ways, but truthfully, although Juliet is remarkably good at fighting supernatural beasts, she's a fully developed character all to herself. She's smart about some things, dumb about others. She can be remarkably kind and remarkably self-involved. She's a cartoon, but she's also a person. Like many of the characters I've had a hand in creating, I have a real love for her. But she's not better or worse than anyone else, in terms of who she is as a person. I believe when characters become symbols of female empowerment it is, in many ways, a reaction to sexism that is sexist in itself -- you're still taking away a woman's humanity and replacing her with a symbol." Lollipop Chainsaw has been but one element in an ongoing and increasing discussion of women and their treatment in the game industry. I asked Gunn -- as somebody who's worked with both games and movies -- whether or not the videogame industry had a particularly unique problem with women, something that it needed to address moreso than other media.  "First of all, let me say, I think the gamer community has a big problem with women, and that is that so few women are in the industry! Going around to gaming conventions, I was shocked by the small percentage of women who work in gaming -- there are barely any on the creative side, nor on the business side, nor on the journalistic side. I think more than worrying about how fictional women are treated in fictional worlds, we should care about how real women are treated in our real world -- and that means hiring more of them within the gaming world, on all sides of the business. That, of course, would affect how women are treated in games as well." "Other than that, I really think we need to create women as more full characters," he stressed. "I think games are even worse than movies in this respect, and movies are pretty fucking awful. If you want to see sexism in entertainment in action, look at 95% of mainstream film comedies. There are a bunch of funny, multi-dimensional guys with interesting characteristics, and then you have one female character who is 'the girl' whose only real trait is that she's pretty. By creating full characters you automatically combat sexism." Women as actual characters? How novel! But seriously, it's a noble endeavor, and something we need more of in all media. It would also be great to see more of a female character being built for her own sake, not serving merely as a patronizing, counter-culture symbol. Then again, perhaps some of these symbols are required right now, to beat audiences in the head until they're ready to accept female protagonists who offer more than gratuitous sexuality or moral messages that women are empowered. It's obviously sad that this should have to be a conversation in the first place, but I'm glad that the game community is, at least, talking about it.  I'm glad, also, that Gunn spoke with us about Lollipop Chainsaw and his approach to creating a sexy -- not necessarily sexist -- character. Agree or disagree, I think it's at least a step forward that we're analyzing this stuff rather than brushing it under the carpet, and as such, thank Gunn for speaking with us.
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Love it or hate it, Lollipop Chainsaw has opened the floor for some interesting discussions, especially with regards to its portrayal of women. Is it objectifying female game characters? Is it subverting that object...

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Party time: Lollipop Chainsaw ships 100,000 in Japan


Jul 15
// Kyle MacGregor
Kadokawa Games, Grasshopper Manufacture's publishing partner in Japan, has announced that the ever so divisive Lollipop Chainsaw has reached the 100,000 mark in terms of domestic shipments. Suda 51's game never tend to d...
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Grasshopper says it's Killer7's seven-year anniversary!


Jul 09
// Jim Sterling
Today has been officially recognized as the seven-year anniversary of Killer7, one of the most awe-inspiring and beautiful videogames ever created. Seven years ago today, the game launched in Japan. It actually came to North ...
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Killer is Dead looking to improve upon Lollipop Chainsaw


Jul 02
// Kyle MacGregor
Even as a massive Suda fan I'll be the first to admit that Lollipop Chainsaw hasn't been my favorite release of the year. Despite our glowing review of the title, it's had a pretty mixed reception around the co...

Talking to Women about Videogames: Lollipop Chainsaw Pt 1

Jun 29 // Jonathan Holmes
Juliet vs. Sexual Objectification One of the first things a lot of people thought when they saw Juliet Starling was "great, another vapid masturbatory fantasy, so this game is going to suck!" It's an understandable guess to make, but it's inaccurate. Sure, men and women are certain to masturbate to the idea of Juliet Starling, but the fact that some people think that automatically makes the game trash is a pretty terrible. It's sad that so many people are still quick to judge a woman (even a fictional one like Juliet) by her appearance alone. As I've found from the comments on Dtoid's YouTube page, there are still plenty of people who are quick to demean a woman because she chooses to dress in a sexually provocative way, and on the flip side, there are plenty of people who aren't necessarily attracted to Juliet who are just as quick to "slut-shame" her under the same pretenses. What's really strange to me is that Juliet isn't even that provocative! She doesn't moan, strip, or act horny at random times like Bayonetta did. She's in great shape, but she's not cartoonishly proportioned like the gang from Senran Kagura. She's more covered up than most female Street Fighter, Dead or Alive, OneChanbara, and SoulCalibur characters, or even real life celebrities. Compared to Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Snooki, and Katy Perry, Juliet is practically Martha Stewart. So why is it that Juliet has struck such a chord of lust with horny misogynists and of disdain with those who are desperate to see less sexual objectification in gaming today? I think it's because Juliet represents something bigger than just sex. She is Britney Spears in the ...Baby One More Time video. In fact, Juliet even says, "Oops, I did it again," at one point in the game. She is every booth babe, every Lolita fantasy, every tacked-on ounce of unnecessary sex that hormone-crazed teens have been trained to fetishize and anyone who cares about women's issues has grown to loathe. So why is that a good thing? There are a lot of reasons, but first among them is that Lollipop Chainsaw shows that this representation of modern femininity is more than just a doll to be trifled with. She is (quite literally) a grown-up Powerpuff Girl, a fully developed human being who seamlessly joins the love of the adorable and the disgusting into one cohesive whole. Juliet may be cute, but like she says, "she has a chainsaw" and enjoys using it. We'll get more into that later. For now, lets get into where Juliet comes from, and how she ended up growing into the woman that she is.  Juliet vs. Her Family Juliet sees the world through a fairly limited scope. She has the zombies, which are only good for exterminating; her helpless acquaintances, who are only worth anything if she manages to rescue them (and collect the "ego reward" that comes with that, paid out in zombie medals); and her family. Only her family are "real" human beings to Juliet. Her relationships with them show us who Juliet wants to be, who she respects, and who she dismisses. She looks up to her mother (the woman who taught her to "wear her vagina with pride") and her father (a DILF who isn't afraid to show a little skin and kick some zombie ass) in equal measure. I get the feeling that these two didn't bring her up to think that little girls are made of "sugar, spice, and everything nice" while boys are made of "snakes, snails, and puppy dogs' tails." It seems more like she was taught that she's made of "sugary-snails and rainbows' entrails." That would explain why she's so comfortable in mixing the "feminine" pursuit of cheerleading with the "masculine" exercise of whipping a chainsaw through the air like only horror film anti-heroes have done before. To Juliet, those two things don't appear that different. They are both physical expressions of freedom, fun, and mastery of one's personal space. We can assume she learned that from her folks. Cordelia is Juliet's other big role model. She's Juliet's big sister and is even more gender-rebellious and adept at controlling her personal space. Whereas Juliet is all pigtails, a skirt, and tank top, Cordelia rocks an androgynous faux hawk and is pretty much covered from head to toe in an outfit that would look badass on either sex. She's also packing a sniper rifle, which gives her a greater range to control (or in this case, destroy) the world around her than Juliet is capable of. It's Cordelia who grants Juliet the chainsaw upgrade that allows her to take out zombies from a distance. It's from her that she gains even greater control of her space and less reliance on the physical. The fact that this is someone who Juliet looks up to says a lot about her character. Then we have Juliet's little sister, Rosalind. She works as Juliet's foil, filled with the same lighthearted, joyful enthusiasm and fascination with death and destruction that Juliet has, but unlike her big sister, she hasn't learned to harness it. That gets her in trouble a lot, and she's as close as the game comes to a "damsel in distress," although that's not saying a lot in a game as filled with powerful women as Lollipop Chainsaw. Overall, Rosalind is more like the Tasmanian Devil than Princess Peach. There is merit to living her life like that, as she's having fun and killing a lot of zombies, but without Juliet to clean up her messes, she'd probably end up dead, or worse, a hippy. Like most younger teens, she's prone to falling in with the wrong crowd (in this case, a zombie hippy and a zombie funk alien in a diaper). It's up to Juliet, who has a firmly established identity, to help bail her out of those situations. Finally, we have the men in her life. Morikawa, her martial arts teacher, shares some of Rosalind's unhinged, youthful spirit, though there is more of a dichotomy there. He is both a lecherous pervert and a spiritual guru. His body is old but small like a child's, which makes his lecherous intentions less threatening. Juliet could easily overpower him physically if it came to that. Despite his relative harmlessness, he doesn't get away with being a creeper (which is another of Lollipop Chainsaw's themes). Morikawa's pervy ways are closely associated with his physical death, as he repeatedly bumps into into Juliet's bosom during his death throws. In the end, his spirituality grants him safe passage to heaven, though strangely enough, his little boy's body still has a role to play later in the game. Which brings us to the relationship that is most central to Lollipop Chainsaw, that between Juliet and her boyfriend Nick.  Juliet vs. Nick As I mentioned, Jim Sterling already wrote an amazing article on how Nick is objectified in Lollipop Chainsaw. I won't attempt to go over that ground again, since there is plenty more to say about this guy. He may be the most interesting male in gaming today. Like Jim said, Nick is treated like an object in the game, but he's also a subject. He's the epitome of the ideal boyfriend and a role model for males who want to some day have a girlfriend like Juliet. He's also a decapitated head. Make no mistake, these two facts are not unrelated. Nick starts off as a regular guy, which in Lollipop Chainsaw means that he may turn into a zombie at any moment. Sure enough, just a few seconds into his first appearance, he's bitten by a zombie and is about to be turned into a cannibalistic, undead maniac, ruled only by his primitive drives. That's the exact kind of guy Juliet does not want to date! Juliet takes matters into her own hands and separates Nick's head from his body, keeping his mind safe from the "impurities" that existed in every aspect of him from the neck down. Perhaps surprisingly, Juliet is not particularly unhappy with this turn of events. She may even see it as an upgrade. With just a head, she gets all the pros and none of the cons of having a boyfriend. She can still talk to him, joke with him, trade compliments with him, keep him close, and (as is hinted in the beginning of Chapter 4) do the things that women and men's heads sometimes do together, all without the troubles that tend to come from a male's body getting in the way. I've been treated like "just a head" by prior girlfriends, so it was very easy for me to relate to Nick. I can also say that it's not so bad being just a head. Sometimes you feel like just an accessory or like the relationship isn't entirely equal. The truth is, though, that no relationship is equal. What matters is that the love is equal, and that's what Nick and Juliet have, in spite of (or maybe because of) the fact that he's just a head. Still, it's not like Juliet is totally shallow. On those rare occasions that Nick gains a body for a brief period of time, she's quick to treat him like a star, even though he's obviously one of the most physically uncoordinated human beings "alive." That kind of blind love is something that I've experienced plenty of times, and it's nothing short of adorable to see it bloom between Nick and Juliet. Love almost always leads to a melding of identities, and Nick and Juliet's love is no different. By the end of the game, Nick says that he wants to be like Juliet, no matter how dangerous it is. In order to do that, he has to take control of Killabilly, the ultimate representation of American lust and gluttony (again, more on that later) by joining his head with that monster's body. In order to destroy all the ugliness and instinct-ridden perversity that makes up a man's body, he has to full accept it by joining with it, then kill himself. He is every male that ever admitted to a woman that he is a privileged, disgusting asshole, and that he's willing to kill those parts of himself in order to become a better person. His reward for his sacrifice is a second chance at life in a new body, the boy-like body of Morikawa-sensei to be exact. Due to some mystical weirdness, Nick and Morikawa become one, with Morikawa's soul somewhere in the cosmos, and Nick fully in control of his tiny frame. So in the end, Nick still escapes the curse of having a man's body. With the head of an adult but the nonthreatening body of a child, Nick can continue to be the kind of boyfriend who Juliet wants while gaining enough autonomy to have at least a limited amount of control over his physicality. For Nick and Juliet, that's about as good as it's going to get.  End of Part 1 That just the start of some of the stuff I got from Lollipop Chainsaw. It's really a new take on relationships for Grasshopper, one that I find endlessly fascinating. Whereas Suda's prior title, Shadows of the Damned, was the story of a man (Garcia Hotspur) overcoming his relationship issues (fear of his woman being taken away by a more "well-endowed" man, fear that her sexual power over him would give her too much control, fear of her dying, fear that his penis would run out of bullets, etc.), Lollipop Chainsaw's narrative is largely about Juliet's immediate mastery over her relationships and her general sense of mastery over the world around her. It's her capacity to coexist within the stereotypically masculine (chainsaw) and feminine (cheerleading) aspects of herself that allow her to gain that level mastery. That's something Garcia learns far too late in his adventure. Juliet has just about all those skills right from the start, and they only grow as the game goes on. That's just one of the many reasons why she's one of the few videogame characters I look up to. But I'm getting ahead of myself. In Part 2 of this two-part analysis, we'll be taking a look at Juliet's more violent relationships. It's Juliet vs. The Zombies, Juliet vs. Juliet, and Juliet Vs. A Male's Gaze, coming up in a day or two (depending on how much writer's block I have between now and then).
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[Talking to Women about Videogames is a series where Jonathan Holmes talks to different people who are women about the biggest videogame news of the week for some reason.][Header art by Linzb0t.] Out of all of Grassho...


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