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Video Game / Killer is Dead

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Yep, that's Suda51 all over.

"The job... KILLER IS DEAD."

Killer Is Dead is a Hack and Slash Action Game by Grasshopper Manufacture, blending the modern action gameplay of games like Lollipop Chainsaw with a surreal world more reminiscent of Suda51's classics Killer7 and No More Heroes, although the game was actually directed by Hideyuki Shin. The game was released in Japan by Kadokawa Games on August 1, 2013 while XSEED Games released an English version in North America on August 27, 2013.

Set 20 Minutes into the Future, the game follows 35-year-old Badass in a Nice Suit Mondo Zappa: a professional "executioner" commissioned to kill supernatural criminals with his trusty katana and cybernetic swiss-army-arm. As the lead operative of the Bryan Execution Firm, Mondo embarks on a psychedelic story of seduction, revenge and lunacy.


This game has examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: How Mondo knew Moon River when he was a child or why Moon River denied having known him is dropped right after the reveal that those memories were real.
  • Action Bomb: The Red Eyes if damaged enough with melee attacks. One of Scarlett's challenges involves killing a number of enemies using only exploding Red Eyes.
  • Alice Allusion: The first "real" execution mission is to eliminate a girl named Alice, who is dressed like the character and whose house is full of allusions to Wonderland.
  • Arc Number: Guess which? The number "51" makes its obligatory appearances: one stage takes Mondo to "Area 151", another has him fighting Tommy the TM-551 locomotive, and the DLC level is labeled "Episode 51".
  • Armor Is Useless: Played straight with Mondo and some of the bosses but averted with the Wires as their armor actually helps protect them from Mondo's lethal Adrenaline Bursts.
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  • Artificial Limbs: Mondo's Musselback is the first and most obvious, but befitting his role as a Retired Badass, Bryan's got both an arm and a leg.
  • Author Appeal: An oddly shaded assassin using a katana with heavy emphasis on the moon as a symbol? That's Suda51, alright. Technically, he was only one member of the writing team, but the point is that his obsessions still remain intact.
  • Awesome McCoolname: MONDO ZAPPA
  • Bald of Authority: Bryan Roses, head of the Bryan Execution Firm.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Suda says that Mondo's appearance is designed to look "so frail you question whether he can actually kill anyone."
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The "Legendary Executioner" costume. It's just Mondo's suit, minus his artificial left arm, and a slightly different haircut. No powers, no hidden bonuses, no score multipliers, nothing. Just a snappy looking costume for a whopping $100,000,000! (For perspective, the average rewards for each mission range from about $30,000-$2,000,000 depending on the mission and final score, not to mention how you may end up spending much of that money on gifts and upgrades.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Characters casually talk about the game itself, especially in David and Mondo's first encounter.
  • Bishōnen Line: David, in the last boss fight.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: You can buy XP items and moon crystals for upgrading your skills with in-game cash, but it's prohibitively expensive ($1 milliom each) and gets more expensive with each one you buy.
  • The Cameo: Juliet Starling from Lollipop Chainsaw can be found trapped in a barrel during a mission from the DLC.
  • Camera Abuse: Blood splatters on the camera twice in the trailer.
  • Casual Interplanetary Travel: Lunar tourism is a reality in this game.
  • Cel Shading: Much like killer7.
  • Character Tic: Mondo slicking back his hair, even though it doesn't seem to do much with his hair at all.
  • Charged Attack: A few:
    • With no upgrades, holding down the attack button will make Mondo charge up for a Spin Attack. Upgrades will increase the number and speed of spins and add a finisher where Mondo leaps into the air and slams the ground with his katana, causing a huge shockwave that greatly damages any enemy near him.
    • One of the Musselback's optional alternate modes is the Charge Cannon, which is a much more powerful, chargeable blaster.
    • An optional upgrade for the Musselback is a charge punch, which will break a guard in one hit.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: Inverted. Throughout the game, the various beauties that Mondo has Gigolo Missions available for will call him in the middle of the main story missions to remind him to go see them.
  • Counter-Attack: Dodge Burst, Counter Smash, and Counter Shot. Counter Smash works after doing a Just Guard (pressing block when a Wire flashes red) and pressing the button prompt that appears (Y on 360/Triangle on PS3). The Counter Shot works by doing a Dodge Burst on gun wielding Wires. The last two counters you have to buy with your upgrade points.
  • The Corruption: Dark Matter is an energy stemming from the Moon, negatively affecting humans and creating monsters.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: Redeeming a Mika Ticket summons Mika to pound on Mondo's chest, kickstarting his heart.
  • Downer Ending: After spending the entire game fighting off the corruption within his arm, Mondo is corrupted at the last second by David's blood. The ending shows what seems to be his profile from the back repairing David's wrecked mansion with immense dark powers, both arms restored.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: Most of the Execution Targets that have been "gifted" with Dark Matter. Mondo too, by the end.
  • Elite Mooks: First, you have your basic, unarmored Wires. Next, you have your gold-armored ones that can take more damage. Afterwards, there are the hardier and more vicious enemies that wear headdresses. Finally, there are the Wires that are protected by a high-class alloy who can only be killed via Adrenaline Burst decapitations.
  • Fingersnap Lighter: One of the many uses of Mondo's artificial arm.
  • Finishing Move: Lots of them. The aforementioned Counter Shot always kills any Wire in a single hit as it's an automatic head shot and Adrenaline Burst can be use to instantly kill any non-protected enemy and is often used to finish off stronger ones when you damage them enough. There's also Judgement, which becomes available when you kill an enemy with maximum sword level and allows you to pick which type of Power-Up they drop afterwards, with a different animation for each one that also varies depending on enemy size.
  • Gainax Ending: Individual episodes have them (e.g. the client was actually a bird!), and the ending cutscene of the game, although literally describable, is presented quite indirectly. After killing David, Mondo cuts his arm off. Back in Mondo's yacht on Earth, Mika cries. Moon River gives the firm a new target. Mondo is shown putting David's mansion back together, with his left arm restored. The implication is that Mondo has become corrupted by darkness, which makes more or less sense, but the boss fight he has with David beforehand is bizarre as well, confounding things further.
  • Gatling Good:
    • Mondo can transform his left arm into a fast and deadly-powerful machine gun.
    • Bryan can link up with his Bryan Turret to form a gatling gun that the player can control. It's considered the ultimate execution weapon.
  • Guide Dang It!: Some of the additional mission bonuses required for high ranks are extremely vague in their description, and their name is the only form of ingame help you'll get.
  • Handsome Lech: Mondo during Gigolo Mode.
  • Heroism Won't Pay the Bills: State-sponsored execution (read:government-approved assassination) isn't exactly a paragon of heroism, but the protagonists save a lot of bystanders. And they never get paid enough; even though you earn millions by billing the state, in this economy, $10K isn't enough to buy two packs of gum.
    • Episode 1: The reason why Mondo didn't get paid a fortune to save news-phenomenon Mika from a cowardly (but smart) Wire? This was David that the player was controlling, not Mondo.
    • Episode 2: Mondo needs to kill off a former employee who has gone insane and is summoning Wires. Not much payment for executing their own.
    • Episode 3: A painter wants his homicidally-insane neighbor executed. He can't pay the main fees because he's dead.
    • Episode 4: Mondo fails to kill the target, though it was an obvious tie. Not bad for a rookie. So his client decides to stay at his place. Rawr.
    • Episode 5: Dream episode.
    • Episode 6: A talented pianist was subjected to experimentation by a corporate executive turned musician. But it turns out that her best friend was the one who requested the execution, because the shock killed said pianist. And she can't pay the bills because she's literally a bluejay.
    • Episode 7: Bryan decides to put his former partner out of his misery. Even though the guy had manifested a fuzzy killing machine, there wasn't any real reward for killing him.
    • Episode 8: Dream episode.
    • Episode 9: A scientist at Area 151 accidentally activates an alien artifact, mutating him into a rampaging giant baby monster. The alien turns out to be the scientist who commissioned the job. He pays them, but the team can't pick up a miniature sun, and they consider this sun worthless anyway.
    • Episode 10: David augments an old locomotive with excessive amounts of dark matter, turning it sentient and angry. The team FINALLY gets paid for saving the streets of Moscow from 20 tons of roaring dark-matter augmented death. Aaaand then it all goes towards buying Bryan golden robotic parts after he was injured during the mission.
    • Episode 11: Dream episode.
    • Episode 12: This is personal.
    • Episode 51: A pureblooded vampire requests a hit on a halfblooded vampire who decided to get some Wire upgrades. They had a lover's spat. Mondo's spat goes off better, but Betty decides to renege on the payment for shits and giggles.
  • Hot Coffee Minigame: The Gigolo Missions.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: A major plot point is how killing Wires and Execution Targets releases varying quantities of Dark Matter. Most of it is sent to the Moon but a good quantity of it engulfs the general area, possibly infecting everyone therein if they aren't adequately shielded. Large levels of infection result in the afflicted gradually turning into Wires, gaining vast physical enhancements, but ultimately robbing them of their humanity.
    • Ultimately, this is enforced after the Final Boss, as killing David results in Mondo getting corrupted by Dark Matter and taking his place.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Mondo doesn't actually remember getting his cybernetic arm. He also doesn't remember Takeru the unicorn that well.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: What Dark Matter does to you.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: David turns out to be Mondo's brother.
  • Magical Realism: The world is populated by various supernatural effects from mad science to aliens that mystify some, but are treated casually by most. The magic provides the physical and emotional conflict, but in itself merely serves as background.
  • Meaningful Name: Mondo means "world", and he represents the Earth in the game's cosmology. His last name is a Shout-Out to Frank Zappa, as Suda confirms here. Mondo is also the name of the protagonist of Flower, Sun and Rain, and they also resemble each other a bit.
  • Mood Whiplash: The second trailer features a dying assassin having one last drink with Bryan before cutting to the Execution Agency having to contend with a grotesque and goofy alien invasion.
  • Mook Maker: Alice and the Dark Eyes.
  • Morality Pet: In the second trailer, it's said that due to all the darkness an executioner encounters in his profession, this is a must if one is not to be consumed by it.
  • More Dakka: Both Bryan and Vivienne can occasionally provide support for Mondo, and both of them provide it using this trope in different ways:
    • Bryan uses his Bryan Turret, which links up to his mechanical arm for a Gatling Good turret.
    • Vivienne provides cover fire with her pistols. 16 of them.
  • Mundane Utility: Bryan lights a cigar with his cybernetic arm.
  • Musical Assassin: Victor desires to accumulate enough of the world's sound to destroy the Earth itself and battles you using weaponized static.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Vivian sprouts 7 pairs of additional, natural looking, arms, each holding a handgun.
  • My Death Is Only The Beginning: Before he's killed, Victor tries to nail Mondo with a powerful beam of evil energy only to hit the moon instead, corrupting the satellite.
  • Naughty Nurse Outfit: Scarlett, who also rides a giant syringe
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: One of your clients looks suspiciously like Colonel Sanders and turns out to be an alien in the end.
  • One-Winged Angel: Both David and Mondo undergo transformations during their final battle. After beating this form of David, both he and Mondo assume their human forms.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The Wires are mindless beasts that either come from or were infected by the Moon.
  • Power Limiter: The upgrades for Mondo's katana, Gekkou, involve removing these: the more limiters are removed, the higher the katana's power will increase with higher combos and the less hits it takes to reach lower power levels. In gameplay terms, this translates to more damage and more elaborate combos, with lv4 adding glowing blue Sword Lines to all of Mondo's strikes and lv5 changing most of his attacks to elaborate flips.
  • Rank Inflation: Mission ranks go from C to A, and then AAA.
  • Recurring Riff: Snippets of Dvorak's New World Symphony appear often throughout the game's soundtrack, including (but not limited to) the music box in Alice's house, the BGM for Episode 8, and most obviously the final battle with David. Very apt, considering a recording of New World Symphony was one of the items taken to the moon by Neil Armstrong during the first moon landing.
  • Relax-o-Vision: This happens when Bryan gets hit by the TM-551 train.
  • Retired Badass: Bryan has retired from carrying out executions in the field, but still runs the agency (and will occasionally help Mondo out).
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: When he's wearing them, Mondo's glasses are almost always reflective to the point of looking opaque.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Moon is a giant repository of the Earth's evil energy that is only kept in check by several massive blood gems.
  • Serial-Killer Killer: An assassination agency (state-sponsored, mind you) that only targets killers, hence the name of the game.
  • Serious Business: Trains are a man's passion!
  • Shout-Out: When confronting Hamada-Yama, Mondo tells him that he became an executioner because he woke up one day with a mechanical arm. Hamada responds that it's a good thing he didn't become a poisonous insect.
    • The vampire Sebastian from the DLC mission turns into a demon that greatly resembles Dracula's final form from Castlevania: Bloodlines, with the main difference being that his torso consists of an entire face instead of just the crotch-mouth and he has an additional pair of wings.
    • One of Scarlett's hiding spots in Mission 7 which takes place in Japan is inside a glowing stalk of bamboo admidst a field of them, much like Princess Kaguya in the old Japanese story The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter.
    • In Episode 11, the Russian Ministry of Defense requests that the crew execute a dark matter-tainted steam engine nicknamed "Tommy".
    • Mondo has an epic one on one duel with David on the moon, with Dvorak's 9th blaring in the background. Y'know, that sounds awfully familiar..
  • Spiritual Successor: Almost everything in Killer Is Dead is inspired by some aspect of an older Grasshopper game.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: David's gold eyes, in contrast to Mondo's red eyes.
  • Swiss-Army Appendage: Mondo's left arm is cybernetically enhanced, and can be changed and upgraded to suit your fighting style.
  • This Is a Drill: One of the weapons Mondo's left arm can be transformed into.
  • Title Drop: Whenever completing a mission, Mondo says "Killer is dead," as the goal of every mission is, well, making various killers dead.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future
  • Unicorn: One appears throughout the game. Its name is Takeru. He claims Mondo is his master.
  • Unreadably Fast Text: Each mission begins with a title sequence that includes three paragraphs of text (different for each mission,) each of which is on-screen for a second at best.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Becoming a Wire makes you pretty powerful, ditto if you were pretty strong before you got turned into one. However, the evil energy will corrupt you, robbing you of almost all sense and empathy.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Downed Samurai Wires will immediately strike you if you attack them.