The main character, Juliet Starling, is a pom-pom shaking, chainsaw wielding blonde eighteen year old school girl who just happens to have a thing for short and revealing attire. This isn't a video game you'd want your girlfriend, sister or mother to watch you play, or for that matter even see.
Juliet spins and jumps her way through zombie killing carnage, her skirt flying up, while characters remark on her sexuality, and oft times implying their sexual fantasies involving her. But this is the style which Lollipop Chainsaw goes for and to that end strikes it to a tee, if you allow it.
For what story Lollipop Chainsaw has it does an admirable job of justifying the intense lunacy that takes place during the games ten or so hour long campaign. Juliet Starling comes from a family of zombie hunters, so when the resident Goth kid (totally Gwath man) at fictional San Romero High School opens up the door to 'Rotten World' (where all Zombies come from, apparently) and monsters start overrunning the town, Juliet sets out to put a stop to it. Along the way you'll be introduced to her odd-ball family, two sisters and an Elvis inspired father, as well as her newly decapitated, bodiless boyfriend Nick.
The writing is a pretty shallow affair, but collaborator James Gunn (writer for the live action Scooby Do films) does well to connect all the dots so it's always clear why you're slaughtering hordes of zombies. While the story itself is completely throw away, with some surprises here and there, the writing is at its strongest when it comes to the humor and jokes peppered throughout the game.
Juliet's boyfriend is strapped to her belt for the majority of game (being a head and all) so the two often converse with each other, resulting in a few laugh out loud moments. In one stage you'll have zombie cow's thrown at you, and Nick will remark how he now dislikes cow's for this reason to which Juliet replies, 'Don't be racist to cow's Nick!'. This sort of back and forth between them become stand out moments in Lollipop Chainsaw, Juliet's ditzy yet badass personality against Nick's more grounded, and sarcastic attitude.
There are more than a dozen or so references to Juliet as a sexual object. Zombie's, other characters and survivors you'll end up saving will throw out lines like, 'I'll be thinking of you in the bathtub tonight Juliet,' to more direct innuendos, 'remember to get Juliet to do cartwheels while wearing those panties with the brown bears on them,'.
Coarse language also seeps its way into the game, with a particular boss who'll scream 'f***ing b**ch' and 'stupid wh**' and have his words transform into flying red letters that will be hurled towards you. While many may be turned off by this type of haphazard use of profanity and sexual reference's, you need to take it in your stride.
Lollipop Chainsaw in no way attempts to take itself too seriously. From the cliched elderly perverted Japanese sensei to overblown and unrealistic boss fights, the entire game is built to be exactly that, a video game, and a pretty sub-standard one at that.
Whereas Lollipop Chainsaw exudes style and flash, thanks to the games producer Goichi Suda (otherwise known as Suda51), it's gameplay feels bland and mundane. You're given a low attack (A), a high/powerful attack (Y), a standard attack (X) and a jump/doge move (B). While essentially hack and slash in design, you first need to 'tire' out zombies before hacking off their heads with Juliet's chainsaw.
Spam the X button to unleash a flurry of pom-pom attacks until stars spin around their heads and proceed to hack away with either you low or high attack. While you can mix it up a little with combo's purchased in-game you can get through with just mashing X and Y and or A. Though if you're like me and want to achieve high scores, unlock bonuses and just be awesome you'll use combo's to try and decapitate whole groups of zombies, which will reward extra tokens (used as currency to unlock combo's and upgrade Juliet's health/power) and points.
In an attempt to mix things up you will unlock different weapon modes for Juliet's chainsaw, adding the ability to dash-charge or use it as a chain gun for example. For the most part these upgrades are central to the level which you unlocked it, though in the case of the chain gun you'll use throughout the rest of the game.
I would had preferred extra weapons which you could equip either before or during a stage, like a hockey stick or a massive meat clever, since these additional 'modes' for the standard chainsaw doesn't provide enough variety in the gameplay. Though honestly, I don't think it would had made much difference.
One of the major issues I had in relation to gameplay was the camera. You can move the camera around as you'd expect by using the right analog stick. You'd also expect that, fixed camera sections notwithstanding, the camera wouldn't start acting on it's own and flying all around the place. During a boss fight, or a time when faced with hordes of enemies, I found this to be the case. I'd move the camera so to get a better view of my opponent(s) and plan my attack only to have the camera say otherwise and reposition itself to exactly where it was. While not game breaking in any sense, it was cause for utter frustration.
Chainsaw Lollipop isn't a downright ugly looking game, it has an excellent comic book/grind-house aesthetic to it. Though while the character models look nice, especially Juliet's (and no, not in that way) there is just a hint of cell shading in the visuals which makes everything look a little off. This is used mostly on the characters whereas environments are rendered normally.
For a game centered around killing hordes of zombies there is a surprising little amount of blood and gore, replaced with bright neon colours. Kill multiple zombies at the same time and you'll trigger Sparkle Hunting. The background will fill with neon sparkles, with big bold letters reading 'sparkle hunting' plastered on the screen.
For the most part Lollipop Chainsaw is a shallow, albeit fun, game. It's not pushing any aspect of the medium forward, other than the main character. Casting a very sexualized eighteen school girl holding a giant chainsaw will no doubt be a contentious issue for a lot of people out there, but does invoke a unique style. Whether you agree with the tone of the game or not, I recommend you check it out.
- Fun, stylized tone
- Humorous, sarcastic writing
- Boss battles are involving and fun
- Suitable for adults who aren't afraid of a crude video game
- Gameplay is underwhelming, boring
- Camera proves more difficultly than the actual game
- In-stage cut scenes can't be skipped, even on replays.
- Not suitable for younger players, parents discretion highly advised
Lollipop Chainsaw is available for Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony Playstation 3
Very good review Jayden. I'm not really sure what to think of this game, it looks interesting and creative yet I think I will hate the main character and don't find unnecessary, incessant vulgarity funny for 5 straight hours.
On second thought I do think I know what I think of this game.