Note: This discussion may include spoilers for some of Suda51's previous games, including Killer7; Flower, Sun and Rain; Moonlight Syndrome; The Silver Case; and No More Heroes.
Goichi Suda, often called Suda51, is a man who has been working on video games since 1993. He started out under the company Human Entertainment and remained there until they disassembled. At that point, he created his own company which we all know today as Grasshopper Manufacture, and with some of his old colleagues, they continued to create strange games. Over the years, his work has become more accepted by Western gamers, but we have unfortunately missed out on a handful of titles.
With certain games missing from our libraries, it is hard to get a full grasp as to what Suda was doing with his directorial positions for earlier games. Current fans probably have played Killer7, No More Heroes, Shadows of the Damned, and even Lollipop Chainsaw, but these titles do not all follow the old lineage that he initially crafted during his tenure at Human. It was there where he began to create titles under what is known as the â€œKill the Pastâ€ timeline. Unfortunately, most of the games U.S. fans have played are not part of that narrative, but it looks like his new upcoming game Killer is Dead may be returning to it.
We only have so much knowledge about the game right now, but it definitely seems closer to that narrative theme than any other Grasshopper game lately. So what exactly is Kill the Past? Basically, it is the idea that in order for one to move forward, they must first accept (or â€œkillâ€) their past. If one dwells on their past traumas, they will never be able to move forward in life. This theme ran through many of his older works prominently, but has dropped off quite a bit since. Of course, Suda“s work has continued to flourish, but via very different themes.
The games most often defined as fitting into the Kill the Past timeline are Moonlight Syndrome, Flower, Sun, and Rain (FSR), The Silver Case, and Killer7. Of these, two titles, FSR and Killer7, have reached American shores. The Silver Case was previously stated as coming to DSes worldwide, but that has yet to happen. Moonlight Syndrome itself is a spin off of the Twilight Syndrome series, but is not usually included as part of the informal trilogy. Killer7 is not technically part of the trilogy either according to statements Suda made before its release, but has been informally added in by some.
This may all seem confusing, and that“s because it is. Anyone who has spent any amount of time with a Suda51 game will probably find it confusing enough by itself. Trying to condense each game and see how they connect is hard when oftentimes the stories themselves are obscured. Regardless, it has been officially discussed in Japanese interviews that the Kill the Past theme is meant to be present in these titles. So, let“s go about explaining them a little and why it seems like Killer is Dead is about to be the next part.
Moonlight Syndrome is a spin-off of the Twilight Syndrome games. The story focuses on high school students who investigate a strange series of events. The events basically boil down to the â€œTwilight/Moonlight Syndrome,â€ which causes certain people to go insane during a full moon. In effect, the point was that the phases of the moon would reflect a character“s current mental state. Although it was a side-story, it ended up being the jumping-off point for The Silver Case.
The Silver Case launches into its narrative continuing, in a sense, from where Moonlight Syndrome leaves off. Although the story isn“t a directly connected continuation, it is in the same universe. What happened in that game was a small incident and The Silver Case gives a larger view of what else was happening around the time. The â€œSilver Case Murdersâ€ occurred 20 years before the start of the game, and once you“re in, you are tasked with finding the killer. The past in this case is fairly obvious, and the moon still plays a role. It is at the very start of the game that a full moon distracts the lead character, which is rife with symbolism that had been built up from the preceding game.
From there, we reach the last game of the traditional Kill the Past trilogy. Flower, Sun, and Rain focuses on the character Mondo, who is brought to a resort island to discover and diffuse a bomb. However, instead of simply tackling this and leaving, he continuously is unable to stop the terrorist attacks, but it never seems to affect anything. Each day, the day is â€œresetâ€ and he is forced to try and find a way out of the pattern. It has since been stated that the Lostpass resort is nothing more than a dream, and one which Mondo must overcome to continue on with his life. Again, this brings us back to the cycle Suda seems so keen on. It also contains the moon expressing information, as the character is at one point told that he can break the cycle when there is a crescent moon.
With that, we should be at the end of Kill the Past. However, since the release of Killer7, things have become more complex. The worlds in which the previous games inhabited versus this one are different. Still, it fits in with the overarching theme once you complete the title. Killer7“s group of Smiths are who the entire game is played through. As it turns out though, it is much like FSR in regards to obscuring reality. The Smith Syndicate are all dead and it is the character Emir who has been visualizing their existence. This revelation only comes to pass in the ending, which seems like the ultimate â€œkillâ€ for his past. Full moons and only that phase of moon are shown throughout the game, pulsing and colored. Killer7 is a part of Kill the Past when the world is in a constant state of insanity.
From there, Kill the Past has not been taken up much since. Facets of it have appeared in No More Heroes, but more as inside-jokes. For example, it is speculated that the man at the end of No More Heroes is Emir, but beyond that, the games seem entirely separate. What seems to most connect the previous games together is their overarching ideals, characters, worlds, and themes. Insanity as reflected by the moon is constant, as is a lack of sense for what is real. Then there is also a concept of love, although love which is expressed through determination, obsession, and loyalty instead of a typical romantic love.
Why does it appear that Killer is Dead fits in with these titles as opposed to a new, entirely separate title? One of the first things that was ever mentioned about the game was the keyword â€œmoonâ€. It“s obvious Suda has a special interest in the moon, but by making that one of the few things you state about the game seems like it will be a very important aspect. Since then, we have seen screenshots which also have the moon as prevalent in some. Time will tell if the moon is an indicator for sanity/insanity or something else entirely.
The next big component of the game which was mentioned before is love. Although it is uncertain how love will manifest itself in this game, it would be great to see it in another unexpected light. This hallmark of Kill the Past may very well still run through this game if the â€œloveâ€ ends up being atypical, less so if the lead character is protecting a loved one. Either way, it is interesting that two massive themes of the series have been brought up to describe his new game (if it is all coincidental).
Then there are the little things. For one, the new character is named Mondo Zappa. Mondo was of course the name of FSR“s protagonist. Of course, Suda is no stranger to reusing names. For example, the ghost character Travis in Killer7 had his name recycled for Travis Touchdown of No More Heroes. Further confusing things is the fact that, back around 2005, Suda penned a short story titled Killer7: Killer is Dead which focused on Dan Smith. It is certainly interesting to see that he is bringing back the name for his latest project, regardless of the purpose. Some have said the character even looks like Dan Smith, but that takes speculation a bit too far.
When Suda left Human Entertainment, he kept the components of Kill the Past close. As is evidenced by his later games, he still had a strong interest in presenting these types of stories. With his more recent efforts such as No More Heroes and Lollipop Chainsaw (itself written by James Gunn), he seems to have instead turned to focus on pure killing. That“s not to say anything is wrong with his more modern efforts, just that they no longer appeared to reflect on the mantra he had previously established in many of his titles. If Killer is Dead hearkens back to that sort of storytelling, then it may be the first time many fans get a taste of the way Suda used to be.