Lollipop Chainsaw: Suda 51 on inspirations, music, and creating games on the toilet

We sat down for a brief conversation with Suda 51, before his zombie-killing action game hits shelves worldwide this week.

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There's no shortage of games that feature strong-willed female protagonists, and Lollipop Chainsaw aims to not only deliver that with main character Juliet Starling, but also ooze a B-movie vibe that includes humor at the undead situation. GameSpot recently sat down with project producer Goiichi Suda (whom you probably know better as Suda 51) about his collaboration with movie director James Gunn, the game's soundtrack, and other titbits.

How did the idea for the game come about?

I got the idea out while I was in the toilet one day. I played around with the idea of a zombie outbreak happening in the confines of a typical American high school, but instead of the usual B-grade soundtrack, I decided to imagine the whole vibe of the situation containing nothing but pop songs playing. Thus, a prototype of the game was born.

The visuals were inspired by the art direction of the '80s, also a time when many zombie flicks were made. While the main essence is vivid in colour palettes, we attempted to present the graphics in a matte texture. The finishing touch was the addition of American pop art styles, drawn from Western comics. The work of Japanese illustrator Neko Shogun was another source of inspiration.

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Since James Gunn has a movie-directing background, and yours is in developing video games, were you worried that there wouldn't be any synergy between the both of you?

I don't think we are working in different mediums, because I draw up the scenario of the games by myself. I felt privileged for receiving the request from Warner Bros. Interactive Games for the opportunity to work with James Gunn, and I was also very looking forward to the final scenario.

We first created a rough scenario and then made adjustments, according to his method of drama-making and story-boarding. The story became very fun and attractive, thanks to his superb sense of language and rewriting. I also felt that his distinctive lines were translated well in the Japanese version of the game, which is something that would be hard to do in most games.

All of the previous main characters in No More Heroes and Shadow of the Damned were male leads. Why choose a female lead character this time around?

I just wanted to create a new heroine that would succeed Lara Croft.

Concerning the game's soundtrack, what will it be like, compared to past Grasshopper Manufacture projects?

We will be using instruments, rhythms, atmosphere, and music played and used in the '80s; this was the original idea, back when I was shaping Lollipop Chainsaw's world. Once you listen to them, you will have the feeling that you have travelled back in time. The soundtrack also includes existing songs, such as:

The Chordettes - Lollipop
Buckner & Garcia - Pac Man Fever
Skrillex - Rock 'N' Roll (Will Take You to the Mountain)
Five Finger Death Punch - The Way of the Fist
Destroy Rebuild Until God Comes - Stop Reading, Start Doing Pushups
Sleigh Bells - Riot Rhythm
Toy Dolls - Turtle Crazy
MSTRKRFT- 1,000 Cigarettes
Dragonforce - Heroes of Our Time
Arch Enemy - Nemesis
Children of Bodom - Needled 24/7
Toni Basil - Mickey
Dead or Alive - You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)
The Human League - Empire State Human
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts - Cherry Bomb
Atari Teenage Riot - Speed

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The similarities with zombie-killing series Onechanbara are inevitable. How do you feel about the comparison, and what would make Lollipop Chainsaw stand out among the many zombie-themed action titles out there, like Dead Rising and Dead Island?

I don't care about Lollipop Chainsaw being compared with other titles. Honestly speaking, there aren't any fun zombie games out there in the market. The only zombie game that has hearts and rainbows is Lollipop Chainsaw; I suggest enjoying it while eating popcorn!

What are Grasshopper Manufacture's thoughts on the current Japanese game development scene? Do you personally see more Western influences creeping in as of late, with titles like Monster Hunter, Binary Domain, and Dark Souls existing in this age?

All I will say is this: I don't deny the influences, and also I don't think being influenced is a bad thing.

What can we expect from the future of Lollipop Chainsaw in terms of DLC?

All I can reveal at this point in time is that it does not have any extension of current campaigns. However, we do have score attack, time attack, and medal attack.

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