Lollipop Chainsaw review
Lollipop Chainsaw is the silliest, bloodiest, sweariest game we’ve played this year. And we love it. Available now on PS3 and Xbox 360 – Lollipop Chainsaw puts you in the sparkly shoes of a playful zombie-hunting-lollipop-loving cheerleader, armed with a disarming smile and a rusty chainsaw. Stephen Ebert found plenty to cheer about, in our Lollipop Chainsaw review.
Lollipop Chainsaw is the brainchild of developer Grasshopper Manufacture and Goichi Suda, known also as Suda51. The last time these two came together we were treated to the over-the-top horror thriller and cult-hit Shadows of the Damned.
Like Shadows of the Damned, Lollipop Chainsaw is not a game to take seriously. It’s a gore-filled jaunt through zombie-filled stages oozing with as much personality as it does blood from the many undead to feel the razor sharp ends of Juliet Starling’s pink chainsaw.
She’s the 18-year-old cheerleader tasked with restoring order to Earth, after an invasion of creeps from the aptly-named Rotten World arrive to turn her high school into a horror scene.
Expect some of the craziest enemies and most demented end of level bosses since, well, Shadows of the Damned. The action is fast, silly, crude and comes with a heavy dose of parental advisory, but it ain’t half fun.
Typical of developer Grasshopper Manufacture, combat is fast, varied and deeper than first appears. Juliet’s pink chainsaw is one of the coolest weapons we’ve had the pleasure of swinging around in zombie-sawing anger. Juliet’s many moves enable combos in just a couple of button presses. And it gets better, based on light and heavy attacks. Light attacks are mostly composed of pom pom jabs that leave your foes dazed and confused, leaving them open to heavier, limb tearing chainsaw attacks.
Mixing up combinations like a chainsaw-wielding boxer is the best way to earn star power to energise Juliet for special attacks capable of clearing out a room full of undead. Lollipop Chainsaw is one of a growing number of games that award style. Decapitating a minimum of three zombies at once earns you medals and coins you can use to purchase new abilities.
A weapon shop lets you upgrade and add new combos, paving the way for all kinds of pom pom-bashing-chainsaw-wielding-aggression. By the end of the game Juliet’s expanded repertoire easily makes her the deadliest, likeable cheerleaders you’ll ever meet. Her eagerness to tear zombies limb from limb, combined with her almost innocent, naive nature is almost disarming. You get the feeling she thinks it’s all one big game to her. And that’s what makes Lollipop Chainsaw so unique.
This is a game that doesn’t always make sense. It just wants you to have fun. Even the end of level bosses don’t mind sharing their humourous side, albeit in some very crude ways. We’ll say it again: this is not a game for the easily offended, but one that shows it’s not afraid to do whatever it wants.
There is some reasoning behind it all. For instance, one of the bosses attacks Juliet using swear words that physically appear in written form. A metaphor that bad language is harmful? Possibly. You see, underneath all the silliness is a moral, somewhere, that bullying is bad, and that an eye for an eye isn’t always the best way to resolve conflict, or get your own back.
To avoid spoilers we won’t go any further, but when you do clear the game, a variety of time attack and ranking modes add further replayability. And believe it or not, the game is better second time around. There are still items, combos, and outfits to purchase, but even better, you get to play earlier levels with a fuller repertoire of attacks.
Composer Akira Yamaoka once again does as sterling a job on the soundtrack as he did on Shadows of the Damned. The soundtrack fits in, and at times deliberately clashes with what’s happening on screen, in a fashion similar to a Quentin Tarantino movie -a mish mash pick ‘n’ mix of musical wackiness that somehow works.
For all its joyous excitement and silliness, Lollipop Chainsaw runs short. Its main campaign will take experienced players as little as 5 hours to finish, or around six if you’re keen on searching through levels for the goodies to be found. The game is short, but is as sweet as Juliet’s favourite strawberry lollipops.
The camerawork could do with tweaking. You’ll find Juliet prancing through corridors, and up stairs to discover that the camera tends to focus on Juliet instead of showing you what’s ahead, leaving you with a blind side instead of focussing on the enemies, and requiring the player to manually tilt the camera. But only very rarely. It doesn’t spoil the game one bit.
It’s fair to say Lollipop Chainsaw is not for the faint-hearted. Its enthusiasm for language as colourful as its cast will have even the most cuss-hardened player wide-eyed. Look past the crude humour, and Lollipop Chainsaw is a fun zombie slasher.
The bottom line
Lollipop Chainsaw is a shamelessly silly on the zombie-slashing genre that never fails to make you laugh or smile. It’s brash, crude, stupid, and at times vulgar, but it ain’t half fun.