killer7 (キラーセブン, kiraasebun) is an action-adventure game developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and published by Capcom for the Nintendo GameCube and, later, the PlayStation 2. The game was written and directed by Goichi Suda, and published by Shinji Mikami.
The gameplay of killer7 mixes elements of shooting, limited exploration and light puzzle-solving. The player's character moves on rails, running forward at the touch of the A button and turning around in response to the B button (on the PlayStation 2, these functions are relegated to the Triangle and X buttons, respectively). From time to time the player will encounter intersections and crossroads, at which point he or she must select which path to follow for the time being; this is the most control the player has over their character's movements.
When the player encounters an enemy, known as a Heaven Smile, it will emit shrieking laughter (in fact the laughter of Kun Lan, the game's central antagonist), and begin to attack, usually by walking slowly towards the player. However, because the Heaven Smile are normally invisible to the naked eye due to the power of Kun Lan's God Hand, the player must use the laughter as a cue to enter first-person perspective by pressing and holding the R button, then pressing L to scan the immediate area, revealing any hidden Heaven Smiles that may be around. Once he discovers them, the player can fire his weapon at them with the A button. The player is rewarded for precise shooting over wild trigger-happiness, as blowing off an enemy's limbs will yield Thin Blood used for restoring health, and hitting its secret weak point, revealed by scanning it a second time, will immediately defeat it and award the player with some Thick Blood, which can be converted into serum used for permanently upgrading characters' statistics and abilities (except those of Garcian Smith, whose characteristics are set). There is a limit to the amount of serum that can be converted from Thick Blood, which varies between stages.
Throughout the course of the main game, the player has access to seven different personae of Harman Smith, the ostensible protagonist, who has the ability to physically transform into any of seven multiple personalities while in the field. This can be accomplished at any time through the pause menu, except that Garcian is accessible only at Harman's Rooms (save points) and scripted story scenes (in earlier builds of the game, all character-changing was done at save points). Each personality has his or her own specialties and a unique weapon, adding some gameplay variety and encouraging the use of changing characters frequently to make the best use of their individual strengths. If a character is killed by Heaven Smile, they must either choose a different personality, or Garcian must go to the place where they died and retrieve their bloody head in a paper bag, which he then brings back to the nearest Harman's Room for revival. If Garcian dies, the player gets a game-over.
Another substantial part of killer7 is its puzzles - some require the talents of a specific persona, while others are simply based on heavy logic and critical thinking. There are six rings the player may gain throughout the course of the game, not counting the Vision Ring he possesses from the beginning: Fire, Water, Wind, Time, Stamina and Power. Not only does collecting them offer a small statistical bonus, but they are necessary to complete certain puzzles and progress. When the player successfully completes a puzzle, he is given an audio cue consisting of a relaxed guitar twang; if, however, he attempts a puzzle that he is not yet equipped to solve, he is greeted with the same sound with the jarring sound of someone dragging their fingers all the way up the fret board. Items necessary for the completion of puzzles are automatically used for the player if they are in his inventory, but rings must be selected and equipped in order to work.
After successfully completing the game once, a new Start menu will appear. This menu is nearly the same as the previous one except the text has become yellow and now displays the word killer8, although the "normal" killer7 mode is still selectable. In killer8, the young version of Harman Smith is now a selectable persona, and the difficulty level is much higher. Nearly every single attack from a Heaven Smile in killer8 mode is fatal. Every single character except for Mask, Harman and Garcian dies in one hit. Additionally, critical weak points are not visible on Heaven Smiles in this mode. The bosses also have more health, although their attacks do no additional damage. Also, in the battle against Greg Nightmare in Target 05: Smile, the seventh Black Heaven Smile runs toward younger Harman Smith instead of Garcian, since there are now eight playable characters instead of seven.
A final mode appears after the completion of killer8 called hopper7, which is just a joke mode, a reward for having beaten the brutally hard killer8. In this mode the Heaven Smile look like normal people except that they wear giant grasshopper masks (a reference to developer Grasshopper Manufacture), and all are killed in one hit, as if their entire body was one giant critical point. All other gameplay is unchanged, but only the first level is playable.
- Harman Smith - a wheelchair-bound old man and leader of the Smith Syndicate
- Garcian Smith - the most dominant of Harman's multiple personalities, he uses a silenced pistol and carries an attache case with him everywhere. He is also the only character capable of reviving the others if they are killed.
- Dan Smith - a former cop who uses a powerful revolver and the Collateral Shot.
- Coyote Smith - a thief skilled at lock-picking, who uses a modified pistol.
- Kevin Smith - a silent, knife-throwing wraith with the ability to turn invisible and incorporeal.
- KAEDE Smith - a scope rifle-wielding woman who reveals secret passages and hidden items by showering them with blood cut from her own wrists.
- Con Smith - a teenage hooligan with dual pistols and super speed.
- MASK de Smith - a masked lucha libre wrestler who brings two grenade launchers to bear.
The plot revolves around Harman Smith and Kun Lan, demi-gods fighting a battle of good versus evil over several centuries. In the game's present, the earthbound incarnation of Harman has taken on the form of a sixty-year-old assassin bound to a wheelchair, tended to by a maid named Samantha. He is capable of manifesting seven personalities into the real world, each with their own style of killing; the group is collectively known as the killer7. In these manifestations, Harman does not just believe he is someone else; rather, his personae actually take on a unique physical body when called upon. During the course of the game, the player is introduced to other ghostly figures from Harman's past that attempt to help the killer7, including Travis Bell, the first target the group ever assassinated, and Iwazaru, a subservient personality that appears from time to time to give the player hints.
In 2011, the Japanese United Nations Party is trying to unify the world under Japanese control. In response, the United States government sends Garcian Smith, through the medium of their agent Christopher Mills, to assassinate a number of targets who are working with the party in order to prevent this from occurring. As Garcian and the killer7 carry out these assignments, they find their efforts thwarted by a militant terrorist group of mutant suicide-bombers known as "Heaven Smile." Their leader, Kun Lan, has transformed their bodies into living bombs using the power of his "God Hand".
One of the last missions takes the killer7 to Coburn Elementary School near Seattle, Washington. While exploring the school, the killer7 discover tapes that reveal that the school was a front for the United Nations Party to train young students to become brainwashed assassins for the Japanese government. One such child, Emir Parkreiner, was mentored by principal Harman Smith and stood out from the others, but his fate is unknown. Clues at the school point to a shooting massacre several years earlier at the Union Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the hotel Garcian discovers that all of the killer7 personae were victims of the massacre, all killed by Emir, except for Garcian: Garcian's persona is actually that of Emir, who committed suicide after realising that he had shot his mentor, Harman. Emir reincarnated as Harman, Garcian, and the killer7 personalities, but had forgotten his past. He screams in despaired denial at the painful revelation.
Three years later, Garcian arrives at Battleship Island near Japan, via the transcontinental expressways between the United States and Asia. Intending to put an end to Heaven Smile and ease tensions between Japan and the US, he meets with Kenjiro Matsuoka, leader of the majority United Nations Party, who gives him a choice: keep Matsuoka alive, which will allow him to rally Japan underneath him for an assault on the United States and result in Japanese worldwide takeover, or kill him, which will lead to the United States discovering that their elections have been rigged by Japan and the destruction of the foreign power, cycling into the establishment of an American world-state. Regardless of the choice the player makes, Garcian discovers the Last Heaven Smile in the door Mastuoka was sitting in front of, and gives chase. He kills the Last Heaven Smile only to discover that it is Kun Lan himself, in Iwazaru's body, ending the threat of the Heaven Smile forever.
The game concludes a century later in Shanghai, as Harman and Kun Lan have a fight strikingly similar to the one from the first level, at which Kun Lan proclaims:
"Harman, the world won't change. All it does is turn."
- Main article: killer7 Original Soundtrack
Music director Takada Masafumi composed all tracks originally for killer7. "Rave On," the rave music heard when the player crosses the Vinculum Gate, is often touted as a memorable and game-defining track. The third-level theme, "Tecks Mecks," is also highly praised, as is Where Angels Play.
Development of killer7 began around 2002. The game was originally planned to be released in both Japan and North America in June 2005, however Capcom delayed the game's North American release by one month, and ultimately killer7 saw release in the region on July 7, 2005 (or 7/7).
In 3 years of development the game changed a lot from its original concept trailer and when killer7 was finally released many parts of the story were removed..
In an interview conducted by Rising Star Games, director Goichi Suda told viewers, "I'm really happy to hear every time I come to London that the fans want to hear about a sequel to killer7. This is a title that made Grasshopper a worldwide name so it is very important to us. In the future we're interested in making a similar game, but there are no definite plans yet."
North American GameCube scans
North American PlayStation 2 scans
- killer7 at IGN (Nintendo GameCube)
- killer7 at IGN (PlayStation 2)
- killer7 at Gamespot (Nintendo GameCube)
- killer7 at Gamespot (PlayStation 2)