Monday, October 10, 2011

How can Suda possibly top Lollypop Chainsaw?

Goichi Suda is batcrap insane. It works for him, he’s created some of the most memorable (though not necessarily the best) games we’ve seen over the past 10 years.

It’s not just that the gameplay mechanics are oddball. In fact, it’s easy to argue that the mechanics and gameplay are the weakest parts of Suda’s creativity. The man is a visionary in terms of plot, style and story, and that often leaves his games unable to live up to their promise once the controller is picked up.

Consider his most recent project: Shadows of the Damned. The descent into his special version of hell was up right up there with the best of grindhouse in terms of aesthetic and the characters were a fun bunch, and yet the gameplay itself wasn’t overly creative or interesting. Dare we say it was even traditional?

And Suda’s new game, Lollypop Chainsaw is easily the most batcrap insane idea he’s had to date. Sure, the limited gameplay information we have so far makes it look like the mechanics themselves to be a cross between Buffy and Left 4 Dead – a chirpy cheerleader and a bunch of zombies. Where it stands out is in the presentation, which is hyper energetic, to say the least.

Check out some of these animated gifs, made by fans and apparently sanctioned by Grasshopper Manufacturer, Suda’s development company:

The game’s leading lady, Juliet, bounds around the game with joyful abandon, slicing zombies to the tune of gore and rainbows. It’s spectacular, it’s sexy (the zombies almost slobber over her) and in Suda’s weird way, it’s a running commentary and joke on modern society.

In fact, it’s almost like Nabokov when he wrote the novel Lolita, based on his observations of western culture. Suda has seen something slightly crazy in modern teen culture, and has stretched that to the extreme for the core concept of its game.

Here, Juliet represents innocence and knowledge. She’s portrayed as a happy, energetic little thing, and yet the story is at core a violent, unpleasant one. In other words, Suda has in his usual style taken caricature to its absolute extreme.

I just hope the gameplay can back things up this time around, because unfortunately it looks like it plays very much like a No More Heroes game, and while that series is reasonable, it’s not exactly spectacular.

Then again, the gameplay of a Suda game doesn't necessarily matter - it's the experience and aesthetic that you're buying into, and Lollypop Chainsaw has that in spades.

And it raises this question; this game really is an overload on the senses. The colours, the hyperviolence, the extreme characters. As a man that has always been about transgression and pushing the boundaries of the form, where do you go from there? It’s an exciting thought, and indeed Suda’s games are more interesting before they’re announced, just to try and guess what his next nuts idea is.



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