Lollipop Chainsaw Review: Fun is my Favorite Flavor
|Game Name:||Lollipop Chainsaw|
|Plaforms:||Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3|
|Publishers:||WB Games, Kadokawa Games|
|Developers:||Grasshopper Manufacture inc.|
|Genres:||Action, Comedy, Arcade|
|Release Date:||June 12, 2012|
Lollipop Chainsaw exposes our internal need for something a bit mindless and fun. In a time when games are going great lengths to become big blockbuster events, Lollipop is exactly the opposite. It knows its audience. It knows what it really is shooting for which is to give you a good time playing a video game.
The universe of Lollipop Chainsaw consists of three worlds: Earth, The Place Beyond Words, and Rotten World. It’s your basic heaven-versus-hell setup. The walls between Rotten World and Earth have been broken and zombies have spewed into Juliet’s high school. Juliet will be forced to close the hole and send the zombies back and defeat whomever broke down the wall. She soon finds out this is bigger than any zombie threat she’s ever dealt with in the past as she must team up with her family of zombie hunters to kill a strong team of five boss zombies who each embody musical stereotypes of Punk, Metal, Folk/Hippie, Funk, and Rock.
Meet Juliet Starling
Juliet Starling is a cheerleader as San Romero High School who is prepped and ready to celebrate her 18th birthday with her boyfriend, Nick Carlyle. She is an overly-optimistic girl with a heart of gold. The story begins with her heading to school to meet with Nick, but on her way she rides her bike straight into zombies. Then you learn a little more about her, as she is a well-practiced zombie hunter and her family is full of them. She prefers a chainsaw to dispatch any and all zombies in her way. The chainsaw is decorated in hearts and has a pension for creating sparkles in the air, but that doesn’t seem to distract her from her main goal, which is to kill the zombies.
Juliet’s attacks are mixed between pom-pom strikes, cheerleader moves, and her chainsaw. Cheerleading and wielding chainsaws never crossed my mind as essential career-building skills, but I’m also not a zombie hunter. As you play through the game, you can upgrade Juliet’s health, strength, special moves, and other skills through her favorite store chop2shop.zom. You can make purchases with the zombie medals that fallen zombies drop, and you can purchase new moves as well.
The Only Mission is Fun
Suda51 is known for games with a quirky sense of humor and strange elements in games, and Lollipop Chainsaw doesn’t differ from the lot. The game is over-the-top in many aspects in language, violence, and sexual objectification of Juliet. The sexual innuendos and the treatment of Juliet can be taken one of two ways: with offense or “it’s just a game.” I fall in the latter category. While I don’t support sexual objectification or exploitation of women, I do look at it from a point of view that Juliet never once acts like a victim. She is insanely oblivious to the fact her enemies are saying some very funny and at other times very horrid things. Her boyfriend Nick even at times gets on her about how wonderfully ignorant and oblivious she is to it all. She just knows two things: her love of Nick and she must “eff these zombies up.”
There will be plenty of opportunities to feel like a pervert, as the game does give a panty shot here and there and some of Juliet’s outfits are very revealing and leave little to the imagination. All the humor, however, feels like it’s in a light-hearted place and does very little to victimize Juliet or women which is why I have no problem with it. The game is meant to be over-the-top fun. I relate the game to grindhouse movies which are often known for their shock-value in all aforementioned categories.
Mixing Things Up
Lollipop Chainsaw has a great knack for mixing up the gameplay and keeping things fresh. Just when you finish the prologue and stage 1 you, might think you know what’s coming, but you will be pleasantly surprised. Each stage is built around the “arcade” concept and generally takes a little over 35 minutes to complete on average. Each stage also has a unique feel in terms of location and mini-games throughout. Games include zombie basketball, zombie baseball, handling large farm equipment, and video games. You play video games within a video game. It’s Lolli-ception. These mini-games do a great job at incorporating the overall goal, and they do nothing to take away from the forward momentum as you finish each stage. They serve their purpose of breaking up the monotony that is typical in some hack-and-slash experiences.
Each boss battle is a unique experience which will likely bring you back to play them again. Each musical zombie boss has their own personality and attacks which range from flying words, bubbles, lighting, and a giant mechanical elephant. Different skills are needed to succeed, and each boss can be handled in a variety of ways.
After clearing each stage you can revisit it to beat your own score in story mode. There is also a ranking mode for each stage to compete with other players in online leaderboards with three distinct sub-modes
- Score Attack - Accumulate the highest score as possible.
- Time Attack - Clear the stage as quickly as possible.
- Medal Attack - Collect as many zombie medals as possible.
The soundtrack is amazing and has a little something for all musical tastes, but there is a strong focus on various forms of rock music. It’s too early to say “Soundtrack of the Year,” but you can’t play without taking note of the music.
Not Without Issues
Fighting controls are a little cumbersome and if you find yourself surrounded by zombies, you will likely take several hits before escaping the situation. There’s little you can do to dodge or escape danger besides mashing buttons and hoping for the best. For a hack-and-slash game, the rough controls should be more fluid. The camera also doesn’t follow Juliet intuitively, and there are times when I found myself retreating from a situation just to have time to move the camera. You won’t be able to skip many of the cut-scenes, and this can be troublesome if you’re returning from a continue or replaying a stage. The game is also short for a full-priced game. At first this didn’t bother me, but these six stages are not enough. I’d like to see a couple more stages to round out the experience.
Can’t Help But Love Juliet
What’s amazing about the game industry is you can’t compare one game to the next easily, especially with such diversity. I had a hard time comparing it to any others I’ve recently played. When the final credits rolled, I knew I had fun, and the experience was satisfactory. The concept of Lollipop Chainsaw shouldn’t be taken seriously. The soundtrack, variety, and humor are unique from the rest of the market. Despite the constant crap and danger thrown at Juliet she kept a great attitude, and when it was all said and done I couldn’t help but love Juliet Starling.
Lollipop Chainsaw was released on June 12, 2012 and is available now on Xbox 360 and PS3 from WB Games.
Lollipop Chainsaw is a lot of fun, but the full price tag of $60 isn’t what I would recommend. The game offers more enjoyment than most arcade games on the market, but its length leaves some to be desired. I was able to catch the game on sale, but unfortunately not everyone will fall into that category. My recommendation: wait for the discount prices for Lollipop Chainsaw. Value score: 3.5/5
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