Suda51 is back and this time he’s bringing the severed limbs, decapitations, blood splattered walls and the 18 year old chainsaw wielding cheerleader we all know and love from that classic genre known as ‘the zombie game.’
Yes, you heard me right, I did say ‘18 year old chainsaw wielding cheerleader.’
For now we have a new heroine in our lives, she goes by the name of Juliet Starling and loves nothing more than ripping through the zombie hordes with her heart adorned pink chainsaw and a lethal one-two from the pom-poms.
Oh wait, I say she loves nothing more than all that slashing and tearing but actually that’s not quite true. She does seem to have a genuine love for boyfriend Nick. He’s the decapitated, but still living, head that hangs from her ridiculously short skirt and forms what could be the weirdest double-act to yet grace a video game, or anything else for that matter. Yes folks, we’re swimming into some particularly strange waters here, but when we’re dealing with a game made by such notoriously ‘out there’ creators did you really expect anything else?
This is Lollipop Chainsaw and it’s a new breed of zombie game…….or is it?
You see, underneath the insanity, off-the-wall characters, puerile humour and in-your-face sexuality beats the undead heart of a fairly bland slash-em-up.
The story is pure cult B-movie fare. It’s Juliet’s 18th birthday, zombies are running amok, her boyfriend was bitten saving her so rather than see him turn she cuts off his head with the chainsaw and using some ‘magic’ keeps him alive, he’s a little shorter but at least he’s breathing and then she sets about taking the fight to the undead. It’s simple and paper thin but thanks to some witty dialogue and over-the-top action it works.
The action involves running from encounter to encounter and laying waste to everything that crosses your path. Zombies can be taken down with a variety of moves and well implemented combo’s. The chainsaw of course does the majority of the damage, in no time limbs are scattered and heads are a rolling, with the pom-poms used primarily for stunning the zombies as a stunned zombie is far easier to decapitate than a clear headed one. There is also a special sparkle hunting section, do some serious damage to your foe and you’ll get to enter this zone in which you can literally lop off heads like popping dandelions.
The game hopes to challenge you to string together more and more elaborate combos and skilful attacks but to be honest it’s far easier and comfortably possible to travel Lollipop Chainsaw’s roads using just a couple of the moves. Jump, stun, slice seemed to be my own method of destruction.
Along the way coins are collected and used to purchase new moves, outfits, music and other such goodies at scattered shopping points.
There are a number of mini-game moments dotted about the game which always come as a welcome break from the main game’s zombie bashing routine. The opportunity also arises to shoot at the enemy but this is much less slick than the hand to hand fighting and leaves you welcoming the return to the chainsaw.
The biggest problem though with the game is quite simply that the fighting, which is basically the core of the action, quickly becomes a mindless, brain-numbing chore. Clear a group of zombies, hope for a change in the play or a different action sequence, in comes another group of zombies, and, groan.
Although during the opening minutes it’s exciting and fast paced when this carries on and on throughout the short journey to the end credits it screams monotony and begins to kill the fun far quicker than any of the walking dead die.
The bad guys themselves come in a number of forms, some are standard and relatively weak, some far tougher ones require a bit of a brawl to take down while the bosses themselves throw up a decent challenge. Boss battles are broken down into three sections and require a change of tactic and a little nous to prevail, but in terms of the combat these fights are a high point in an otherwise fairly drab experience.
Graphically the game is hitting the middle ground. The visuals are okay and the animations nicely fluid but nothing is jaw dropping or spectacular. The camera angles sometimes go a little awry but not often to be game breaking and the cut scenes are pretty but forgettable.
The soundtrack though is another matter as a great mix of tracks pound along in the background and massively enhance the gameplay. It seems like a lot of thought has gone into the music choice and Lollipop Chainsaw is all the richer for it.
So how do we score this one?
It’s tricky. By no means should any gamer approach this with anything but a light-heart. If you want a serious, deep thinking game then look elsewhere, in fact look a long long way from here. Lollipop Chainsaw doesn’t take itself at all seriously, it concentrates on bare bones arcade action, colourful characters and witty dialogue. The core of the game does become a grind rather than a breeze but played in short bursts the game stands up quite well, any longer and the lack of variety quickly drags things down to the level of boredom most games this zany tend to avoid.
Lollipop Chainsaw is short, sweet, violent and a tad insane, but sadly it fails to deliver in key places and that is a failing far too important to overlook.