I was skeptical about Lollipop Chainsawuda 51 is one of my all-time favorite game designers; his avant-garde 2005 opus Killer7 is what made me realize video games could be art. But his past few games have been progressively more disappointing, perhaps as his studio Grasshopper Manufacture has become more successful. FromNo More Heroes to its sequel to last year’s Shadows of the Damned has become slightly more… mainstream.
While Grasshopper’s schtick has always been irreverent silliness, a punk-rock attitude, and over-the-top action, the gameplay has become more generic. Killer7 was silly, but it also had a very dark tone. Its “kinda-sorta on-rails shooter but not really” gameplay was hard to grasp, but once you got the hang of it, the strange controls only added to the experimental experience. He hasn’t quite recaptured that essence since.