Aside from the fact that he represents a stand-in for the main character's penis, the character of Johnson in Shadows of the Damned embodies (or em-skulls) why it feels less like a Suda51 game to me. Why? Because his role is to act as a source of exposition that explains the background of the world and characters. And if there's anything totally uncharacteristic of a Suda51 game, it's things being explained. No More Heroes played kind of fast and loose with what plot points it had towards the end, but the game that mapped Suda51 onto my internal star chart was Killer7, a game I have played and watched played over and over again and I still don't have a clue what it's about. But it was only when I heard that No More Heroes was developed by the same guy as Killer7 that I said "Ooh, I'm definitely checking that out, then."

Killer7, as well as being a game I can't stop banging on about, was one of the Capcom Five, a series of five games developed by Capcom's Production Studio 4 to be exclusive to the Gamecube (all of which closely involving Shinji Mikami). They were Killer7, P.N.03, Viewtiful Joe, Dead Phoenix and Resident Evil 4. Of those five, one was never released, one was shit, and the other three were all eventually ported to PS2, so so much for that. Anyway, Killer7 was developed by Grasshopper Manufacture, the company headed by Suda51 (aka Goichi Suda,the nickname is a pun based on 'Go-ichi' meaning '5-1' in Japanese) who acted as writer and director.

Now, let me make one thing clear straight away: I do not recommend Killer7 except in very specific circumstances. I love it and I think it's great, but it's polarizing for a reason and really, as a game, it's very very lacking indeed. It's definitely not something I'd point someone towards if they were a non-gamer and I was seeking an argument for games being really good and fun and immersive and whatever else. It'd be more likely to alienate them further. Whether or not I can recommend it depends on how much you like "alternative" media. By which I don't mean indie-alternative, but alternative in every possible way. If a normal game like, say, Call of Duty is a Superman comic, then Killer7 is Tank Girl, or one of those comics written by schizophrenics you find photocopied and hand-stapled together on a shelf in a youth community centre.

Not that it's a meaningless stream of random nonsense like, say, Super Meat Boy. Killer7 has quite an in-depth connecting plot, and if anything that makes it even weirder, since that creates the implication that it actually made sense in Suda51's mind. The protagonist(s) is/are an assassin with the surname Smith and eight distinct personalities (see, already it's stopped making sense), physically transforming their body, clothing and voice as they switch between them. The seven "field" personalities range from a suit-wearing young man who rests his hand cannon on his shoulder in a way that can't possibly be comfortable, to a spacey young woman in bloodstained negligee, to a masked lucha libre wrestler who approaches virtually every problem by suplexing it. They take orders from the eighth persona, Harman Smith, a gravel-voiced wheelchair-bound preacher, who appears to have several versions of himself running around. It's established swiftly that all eight personalities were (or perhaps still are) individual people with their own lives but it's never fully explained how they were all absorbed into one. Establishing who the "original" persona was ends up being the central mystery of the many mysteries on offer.

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