Lollipop Chainsaw is a title that I knew I’d have a hard time reviewing. Though the concept was interesting and I’m a fan of brand new IP’s (like any person should be), it was tough deciding how I felt about it. I wasn’t disinterested in Suda51’s latest title, but I was definitely apprehensive. A high school cheerleader is killing zombies. That’s so ridiculous that I know I won’t be in the middle; I’m going to love it or hate it. I knew I wouldn’t be getting so much back-story about the characters or the world—I just had to accept what was going to be happening. So when the time came and I finally got some ample time with the title, it hit me like a huge duffel bag full of rainbows and zombie heads. I really could not stand playing this game.
Even as I went into this game with an open mind, I started to dread the idea of Lollipop Chainsaw and that I had to play more of it. My mild interest turned into blatant hatred and the more I thought about it, the less and less I enjoyed it.
Lollipop Chainsaw starts off with our protagonist Juliet lying in bed talking about how she doesn’t go “too far” with guys from school unless she really likes them and that lollipops are the best kinds of calories. That was the first of many eye rolls that occurred while playing Lollipop Chainsaw. That scene was then immediately followed by Juliet talking about her family as we watched her silhouette slowly caress her body in a hot and steamy shower. The words “Oh my God,” immediately spilled from my lips.
Putting The Chainsaw To Good Use?
Lollipop Chainsaw doesn’t take much time at all before it throws you right into the nitty- gritty against the teenage zombie outbreak. The aforementioned cutscene precedes your un-coordinated battle against a zombie horde with chainsaw in hand. It’s great to just hop right into the meat of the game (since the story is nothing to brag about) but it’s a shame that it’s rather mindless and you’ll excel with random button mashing and flips out of danger.
With each button press, it feels like there’s a split second delay between you and your chainsaw which throws you off a bit. Controls are sluggish and uncomfortable, so you never really enjoy simple movement in the game. For a hack and slash title, responsive controls are crucial especially when you’re being harassed with upwards of 10 zombies simultaneously while also trying to save other students in the school.
You can perform combos that you’ll buy from the in game store and while some do have more benefit than others (making a group of zombies groggy for example), once you find one good attack, there’s no real incentive to use another. These attacks are so strong that after a maximum of three or four repetitions, you’ll have a whole group of zombies lying in pieces and that’s not counting the strength upgrades you’ll get later on. One attack in particular that you get towards the beginning of the game has Juliet do several front flips while spinning her chainsaw. That’s all I ever really needed to use from that point on and that includes the dozens of mini-bosses and the first couple of main bosses.
You do get a couple of other weapons and ways to dismember your fallen classmates with. You get a blaster that shoots lipstick shotgun shells, a chainsaw rush attack, and you also get your boyfriends enchanted, decapitated head. I won’t ruin how you end up getting your boyfriends head as a weapon (he’s still alive by the way), but it’s one of the more fun things to do in the game. Before you use the head you have to have a ticket which gives you the chance to use this attack. You can’t just use this head as freely as the chainsaw, you have to successfully land on the head icon in a brief roulette wheel mini-game for it to activate. If you mess up, that’s it; you lost your chance at this super move. The head is also used to take control of headless bodies which open up the path for Juliet to travel. You don’t directly control the body and instead complete a series of button presses until the objective is reached.
If anything, the game has a lot of variety for the player to take in. You’ll be rushing on rooftops with the chainsaw dash, then controlling another body with your boyfriends head, then shooting zombies in a baseball field, and then knocking zombie heads into a basketball net. This will all take place on the same level and it stops the game from feeling like a monotonous hack and slash. That’s a great accomplishment in this game because you’re essentially running from section to section eliminating “x” amount of zombies before you can move on. That is all you do and they managed to make that somewhat entertaining.
Extravagant doesn’t even begin to describe some of the things you’ll do in this game, but there’s so much of that it faults itself. Never in my life would I have thought about seeing a high school cheerleader spin on a stripper pole in the middle of a classroom while killing zombies. Yes, it’s just as stupid as it sounds.
The whole time it felt that the game was saying “Hey look, I did something ridiculous! Did you notice!?” Then it would wink at me and stare until I responded with an unenthusiastic yes. There was no laughter, just looks of disappointment followed by constant head shaking and embarrassed sighs.
If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ll know that this game has a ton of brightly colored rainbows in tandem with dismemberment. It sounds like a great contrast on paper, but when a game looks like it was developed about six years ago, it’s not as successful. Graphically, Lollipop Chainsaw just doesn’t look that good. Every visual element, from animations to the environments to the character models, looks dated and the game starts to feel like an overpriced budget title.
They Just Keep Talking
As if the gameplay itself wasn’t all that hot, the dialogue and writing in this game couldn’t be more irritating. I understand that this is supposed to be a campy, grind-house horror like experience; I really do. I expected cheesy catch phrases and borderline idiotic content but Lollipop Chainsaw is overwhelming. It started after I noticed the zombies were actually calling me a bitch repeatedly and not making groans and other zombie noises. Then I encountered my first punk rock themed boss who would call me a “vanilla slut” and used the letters of that word as an attack. I should have noticed that I wouldn’t like anything that these characters were saying after I head Juliet spew this classic line, “zombies suck dick at driving.” That just isn’t amusing to me, which is surprising because this type of humor is something that I’ve enjoyed before. Juliet reminded me of an over sexed version of Dee-Dee from Dexters lab. I wanted her dead at all times and whenever she was on the screen, I couldn’t bear to watch.
Thankfully, the odd pairing of oldies and punk music provide for a pretty entertaining game soundtrack. The only thing I heard and enjoyed. Surprisingly, the soundtrack with the combat works pretty well together. Hearing Toni Basil’s “Mickey” while using Juliet’s super attack actually worked and of course, hearing The Chordettes “Lollipop” while shopping is the perfect combination. Too bad Juliet had to chime in every so often with yet another catch phrase. What the hell does “click-click” mean?
Yes, Lollipop Chainsaw is unique and definitely a one of a kind game. With clunky controls, bad humor, and a protagonist that has you wondering why she even exists, you hope that it stays a one of a kind game. If you do decide to pick it up, you’ll love it or hate it. There will be no in between for this instant cult “classic.” I don’t find the ridiculousness charming or endearing in any way, shape, or form. It pushed me so far away that playing the game became more of a chore than a chance for enjoyment. I can completely get behind ridiculous games with ridiculous dialogue and ridiculous gameplay. Bullet Storm was one of those games that did it right. No More Heroes did it right. Lollipop Chainsaw was just wrong.
I’m sorry Suda51, but I’m not laughing with you this time.
This copy of Lollipop Chainsaw was provided by Warner Bros. and Played on an Xbox 360.