|System: Xbox 360, PS3*|
|Dev: Grasshopper Manufacture|
|Pub: Warner Bros.|
|Release: June 12, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language|
by Josh Wirtanen
You want to scribble another tick mark on the scorecard of "games as art?" Well, you might want to pass Lollipop Chainsaw by. However, if you want to turn off your brain and mindlessly slaughter zombies with a chainsaw while punk rock blares in the background, boy have I got a game for you.
Lollipop Chainsaw is the newest title by Suda51, the man you can blame for No More Heroes and Shadows of the Damned. It follows in a similar tradition to those titles, with a quirky, always overstated sense of humor. Suda tends to push his creations so far over the top that they become ridiculous, then keeps on pushing them even further. Lollipop is no exception; it's completely absurd.
The game tells the story of Juliet Starling, a cheerleader who happens to be the middle sister in a family of zombie slayers. Juliet's weapon of choice is a chainsaw, of course, which she uses to dismember any undead unfortunate enough to shamble across her cute little path. She also wields a lollipop, because apparently it makes her sexy or something. Or else she just likes the taste…
It's Juliet's eighteenth birthday, and her high school, San Romero High, is being overrun by zombies. To make matters worse, her boyfriend was bitten, and the only way to save him was to remove his entire body. Now she wears his still-living, still-talking severed head around like he's the latest fashion accessory. Kind of a crappy birthday, no?
The combat in Lollipop Chainsaw begins deceptively simple. In fact, when you first begin the game, you'll most likely just mash buttons and pray for the best. And this works for a while. But soon you start to learn the intricacies of the combat system—one button for low chainsaw attack, one for high chainsaw attack, and one for a pom pom attack. Obviously the chainsaw attacks are far more powerful than pom pom attacks, but pom pom attacks are much quicker and able to make zombies "groggy," which is basically a stun. Whenever a zombie is groggy, Juliet can use a chainsaw attack for a brutal insta-kill. Yes, this even works on the named zombies who are essentially mini-bosses.
Eventually you'll find a rhythm to the whole thing, and that's when you realize just how much fun Lollipop Chainsaw's combat is. Of course, you can also purchase combos with the zombie tokens you collect, further increasing Juliet's deadliness on the battlefield. (And yes, any cheerleader worth her salt is going to find an excuse to go shopping during the middle of a zombie plague.) Oh, and because it's her birthday, Juliet keeps getting presents from her family to upgrade her chainsaw.
Each stage has you slaughtering zombies to your heart's content, though most of them are broken up by minigames. Generally, these are just quick time events (the penalties for failing these can be downright brutal in some instances), but there are a few incredibly bizarre minigames thrown into the mix. Zombie Baseball in particular completely redefines the phrase "frustrating escort mission."
Now, this wouldn't be a Suda game without insane boss fights, and this is definitely a Suda game. The first boss, for example, is a punk rock zombie named Zed who plays electric guitar and hurls gigantic letters at you. Yes, letters. Don't ask. If there were any underlying sense of logic behind all this, Suda fans would be asking for a refund. You see, this is a world filled with magical flying Viking ships, zombie chickens, and mind-altering mushrooms. None of it has to make any sense.
All of this craziness comes with a cel-shaded visual appeal that wouldn't be anything special if it weren't for the fact that everything is so damn stylized. Lollipop Chainsaw has this comic book vibe that carries over into its UI, menus, and even loading screens. It all works in conjunction to make a game that's not pushing the boundaries of what your console can do but is just plain fun to look at. And we can't really complain about that, now can we?
To compliment the game's insanity is the soundtrack, a brilliantly schizophrenic mix of punk rock and 50's rock 'n' roll (among other things). Not only does it work extremely well in the context, but it's super fun to listen to.