Game play - 8
Presentation - 7
Story / Creativity - 7
Lifespan - 7
Lollipop Chainsaw is a great way to burn away a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. You may be a little turned off by the game’s short 4 – 5 hour length but it is still a worthy experience if you want to take a break from the overall stale macho games that are around at the moment.
If you have ever bought a Grasshopper Manufacture game you will know what to expect from the legendary game developer Suda 51. Lollipop Chainsaw proves that Suda has not lost his touch when it comes to fun, tongue in cheek weekend gaming sessions.
Lollipop Chainsaw follows the short but sweet tale of Juliet Starling, a charismatic, modern age depiction of the American cheerleader stereotype. The thing about Juliet though is that she has a secret, a secret that runs down her entire family tree to this day. Juliet is a zombie hunter. Things get “totally” uncool for Juliet though when the zombie apocalypse suddenly breaks out at her quiet, Sunnydale-esque high school and only Juliet has the tools to fix it.
The first thing to put forward is that Lollipop Chainsaw is a very fun game. While many gamers love a game that they can sink their brain into, Lollipop wants you to put that large lump of meat on the couch next to you and just laugh away at what you’re experiencing. The game doesn’t want to be serious and it also doesn’t want you to be serious when playing it. These is presented best through the game’s unusual take on hack and slash gameplay that uses the standard tools of the trade formula of light and heavy attacks but with an interesting aesthetic difference.
See Juliet doesn’t use a cheap sword or gun, this blonde badass comes equipped with a fistful of pom pom brutality and a custom chainsaw to dish out the finishing blows. Like other games that have come before it Lollipop gives the player a fun, freestyle fighting system that allows them to mix up moves and look the part of the rather flexible cheerleader through light attacks that initially weaken your undead enemies and then allowing you to add the pre-mentioned finishing touch with her trusty chainsaw heavy attacks. If you feel you are getting your butt spanked a little too much you also have a dodge button on hand to get you out of the thick of things. The cool thing about this as well is that even dodging can be used as an offensive ability by using mid air attacks, which backs up my original statement about being able to freestyle in the way you fight your enemies.
To fans of that kind of formula it is incredibly easy to get into and rather pleasing to watch. The combat can be taken further too with the ability to allow more experienced gamers to purchase additional combo moves and abilities. The thing is that the game never forces you to buy these additional move sets and is more than happy to let the player go on their merry way with the already given move set. You may think to yourself that things could get a little boring after a while but seeing as Lollipop has such a short length, you never find much issue to it in the end.
Juliet also has her wisecracking, care bear boyfriend with her, but not in the way you might think. You see Nick had been bitten during the opening segment of the game, which ultimately forced Juliet to save his life…or what was left to be saved. This resulted in Juliet cutting off his head and putting a magical spell on him to keep him in the world of the living. You may think that is a little excessive for a girlfriend to turn her boyfriend into a fashion accessory but I actually found that Juliet and Nick were a pretty well written team and it is great to see writer James Gunn not ignore the fact the Nick has to live with his new found “disability”. This leaves you having fun with their playful bubblegum banter but at the same time caring about if Juliet and her unlucky squeeze will make it to the end.
Luckily for the player and Juliet, Nick comes with a ton of useful abilities even though just looking like a talking paperweight. Later on in the game Juliet will unlock special abilities for Nick that serve as last stand moves that can be used on the fly. These range from instant stun abilities like swinging Nick like a whip to shaking his head like a bulging piggy bank and getting rare items and game currency for purchases. The currency in the game is also a major part of the game and how you upgrade Juliet and her abilities. As I mentioned new comers to the Japanese hack and slash genre won’t have to worry about buying more combos, but other affordable unlockables are also there for the player to work towards with the cash they make. These come in the forms of unlockable costumes, health and damage upgrades, etc.
All this cash can only be accumulated by killing zombies and this is something you will be doing a lot. The formula basically works like this: stun enemies with light attacks and then lop off their dizzy heads for coins. It is a simple thing to follow and it is always a joy to see the multi kill bonus rainbow pop over your victim’s headless corpses as you get a “Sparkle Hunting Combo”. If players want to take their coin collecting even further then they can also use Juliet’s “berserk” mode in the form of a gleeful one hit kill murder fest that is accompanied by the highly entertaining track ‘Lollipop’ that is performed by ‘The Chordettes’. As I mentioned the game doesn’t take itself seriously and everything you do in this game will be in some way making fun of itself, even down to its soundtrack.
This soundtrack is also supported by a stellar voice cast with the likes of Tara Strong from such fame as Harley Quinn from the Batman cartoons and Arkham games. The voice actors obviously had fun making this game and it is great to be able to feel that energy that the cast must have been omitting in the recording studio through the game.
Sadly those looking for an attractive game probably won’t find it here. Lollipop does look a little dated but this is all made up for with the great character designs of Juliet and her countless undead rivals. This doesn’t save the rather ugly environments though and you never feel like you are ever in a memorable location. To be honest you probably won’t even remember half the locations you visited after completing the game.
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