Lollipop Chainsaw Review
Written : Tuesday, June 26, 2012
By: Lee Abrahams
Zombies seem to be the one horror staple that cannot be depicted in truly horrific circumstances, instead usually having an element of comedy about our brain eating chums with the odd exception. Nothing before now has quite taken that sense of humour to the level that Suda 51 has though – with the high camp of Lollipop Chainsaw sure to divide gamers. Whether or not you take the subject matter seriously or not is really neither here nor there, as you are basically strapping yourself in for the ride and enjoying the show.
Considering all the gaming controversy around the role of women in games recently, it comes as something of a surprise to be introduced to our heroine in her own bedroom. After that the game also seems to take every opportunity to point out her distinctive assets, and some of the comments border on crass rather than comedic. However, before we all reach for the torches and pitchforks it should be worth noting that most of the game has its tongue firmly in cheek, and Lollipop Chainsaw takes every opportunity to mock its own cast and clichés. It’s fair to say that while some of the jokes and comments may be off base the game certainly has its heart in the right place overall.
"Taking zombies down in style."
Whatever you make of the tone of the game, the content is straightforward enough. High school cheerleader, and part time zombie slayer, Juliet Starling has a whole heap of trouble (and zombies) on her hands. Thankfully she can rely on her trusty chainsaw, torso-less disembodied head boyfriend and a host of slightly off-kilter characters to help her out. The story is fairly predictable but the random zanyness, and oddball cast help to keep things interesting – plus the banter between Juliet and pretty much everyone else, be it friend or foe, is nothing if not entertaining.
If anything the game plays more like the old side scrolling beat ‘em ups of yesteryear, like Final Fight, Streets of Rage et al, than more modern fare like Bayonetta. Juliet can string today combos with light pom-pom attacks, heavy chainsaw strikes, low thrusts and dodges, all of which enables her to cut a swathe through her foes. Each attack is accompanied by brilliant rainbows and star rewards which help Juliet unleash kaleidoscopic hell in star hunting mode, with heads being lopped off left and right. The main drawback to combat is the rather frustrating camera, that can be wrestled to your will with the lock-on feature, but can also be a major hindrance in some of the more confined areas. It is also a bit of a drag having to wait so long to unlock all of the combos on offer, as the start of the game feels more like a grind than a flowing experience.
"There’s always time for some fun and games."
Cutting apart zombies earns our heroine medals of both the gold and platinum variety, which you can in turn use to purchase new moves, outfits and upgrades. As you power Juliet up the game becomes markedly easier, even on the higher difficulties, so much so that it no longer feels quite as satisfying. On the plus side, some of the more advanced moves offer a bit more flexibility than the standard hack and slash fare. You can also soup up Nick, the head in a jar sidekick, with a variety of moves to make your life easier as well. It’s a neat system and one that is aided by your skill in battle, as the more foes you kill at once, the more loot you will have to splash out with. How much mileage you get from the combat is going to come down to how much you enjoy dispatching the seemingly endless array of zombie hordes..
As you progress through the game things are freshened up every now and then with the help of a few mini-games. Most of these seem like ideas that were just thrown in at the last second as they break up the flow of the game quite dramatically. That’s not to say they aren’t fun, as running over zombies in a combine harvester will never get old, but a few of them are rather jarring experiences and manage to overstay their brief welcome. As ever it is nice to see a sense of adventure and freedom from Suda 51, but some things never quite manage to stick and effect the game, and your enjoyment of it, accordingly.
"Zombie killing or pinball? Tough call."
As you make your way through the variety of ne’er do wells that are strewn in your path you can expect to pick up a handful of achievement points. A bunch of them are, as you would expect, tied in to natural progression and thumping the bosses that dare to stand in your way. You can also earn some points for beating the target score on each stage (cleverly set by Juliet’s monster slaying dad) as well as for rescuing all of your classmates and finding all of Juliet’s signature lollipops. A few fun tasks are on hand for dropkicking foes, mastering certain quicktime events and, bizarrely, trying to peek up our heroine's skirt. That last one, in particular, hopefully being more of a knowing indictment on the game's target audience than anything too sinister. It’s a neat balance overall though and one that encourages players to explore every aspect of the title.
On the whole Lollipop Chainsaw is a title of staggering contrasts. With wonderful, satirical humour mixed in with misogynistic barbs and varied, entertaining gameplay thrown in with a mish-mash of hit and miss minigames. On the whole this is a slick and fun package that benefits from a delightful soundtrack along with a vim and verve from its lead characters to tackle the most ridiculous predicaments. Lollipop Chainsaw is a game that suffers from a wonderful lack of pretension and, despite a few duff moments, manages to deliver a fun romp from start to finish.
A quirky mix of genres that never fails to surprise and raise a smile. "Hey Mickey" has never felt so right.
Bright and colourful to be sure, but decidedly rough around the edges if truth be told. The dated effect may be deliberate but it is hardly easy on the eye.
An eclectic mixture of styles and mini-games makes for an interesting adventure and the core combat is fun enough to keep you hooked, even if it never quite hits the heights of similar titles.
An enjoyable romp, even though some of the ideas and jokes fall decidedly flat in places. If you take the game too seriously then most of the fun will be lost, but head in with an open mind and there is plenty to enjoy.
A fun list and one that will ensure players get to see and experience every part of the game. It’s a nice blend of fun tasks, challenges and progression to keep you amused.
Juliet never manages to overtake some of her peers, which is a shame considering the potential on offer, but Lollipop Chainsaw is still a grand adventure that will entertain from beginning to end. It’s not perfect, but it wears its heart on its sleeve and delivers a game that is plain, good old fashioned fun.