Oh, the things I could say about the glory and misery that is Lollipop Chainsaw. First off, I’d like to say I’m a huge fan of Grasshopper Manufacturer—so even though I wasn’t particularly vibrant over Lollipop’s premise, I knew I had to get it once I found out it was developed by the insane Suda51 studio. And off the bat, I can say Lollipop Chainsaw accomplishes everything that made its predecessors great while failing at everything they could not succeed in.
Lollipop Chainsaw follows the story of Juliet Starling, the upbeat, energetic, and if I can say, spry, typical chainsaw-wielding-cheerleader. Her name is a play off of Shakespeare’s, Romeo and Juliet as she and her boyfriend together fight off the hoards of zombies that have invaded from The Rotten World. Suda51 does what it does best by providing a completely ridiculous plot while intentionally playing off the humor of the player. “What makes their games so great is that they create a space for their videogame universe and they play all the correct keys, granted you have to know the steps to the song before you can waltz.”
I remember at one point of the game I innocently (and I use the term loosely) decided to change Juliet’s outfit only to hear Nick yell out, “Oh my god I wish I still had my penis.”
That being said, Lollipop’s heroine is from a family of zombie hunters who must take arms when a plague begins to transform her fellow high school students into zombies. When her boyfriend Nick is bitten, she does the only thing she can think of to stop him from transforming into a zombie: she cuts off his head and performs and ancient demon spell to keep his head alive, all in the name of love! It is here that the medium for sexual innuendo Suda51 has made a name for itself is established. I remember at one point of the game I innocently (and I use the term loosely) decided to change Juliet’s outfit only to hear Nick yell out, “Oh my god I wish I still had my penis.” Together the two (yes Nick plays a part too) must fight off zombie bosses based off of different rock motifs who are summoned to Earth by an emo/goth teenager named Swan (his favorite food is Pez and his hobbies include murder and planning world domination). “Lollipop Chainsaw definitely has the pieces needed to put together a great videogame, however that doesn’t mean they fit together without making a jagged and ugly mess.”
Graphically speaking, Lollipop Chainsaw will impress very few save for those still playing on their PS2s. Despite running on the Unreal 3 Engine, most of the eye candy will come from the shock and awe of chainsaw-ing a zombie in half however the concept easily drags on. “Also, because this is a story about a mindless teenage cheerleader, the player is constantly drenched in rainbows.” If you’ve ever played a Suda51 game then you know their basic style: the pseudo 70s vibe mixed with the charisma of the main character. For Travis Touchdown it was the slick, fresh-cut 70s, for Garcia Hotspur, it was the horror, Grindhouse 70s, and for Juliet Starling, it’s punk rock combined with everything plushy and rainbow colored.
The music in this game is a bit of misleading. At a first glance look, the sounds are amazing. The groans and moans heard by dismembered zombies combined with the quirky happy-time cheerleader adds to the ridiculous nature provided by the Suda51 studio. However, six hours into the game and you realize one thing: it’s the same music from the beginning, changed ever so slightly to mask its deed. Luckily the player won’t be concentrating on what the sounds around them are making, but rather on the conversation between Nick and Juliet.
It’s always good to highlight the things that make videogames great before trudging through the mud to point out everything that makes it bad. Like I’ve said before, I’m a huge Grasshopper fan and I can easily say Lollipop Chainsaw pays tribute to the games that have lead to its development. “Grasshopper expertly understands the world they’ve created and they aren’t afraid to push the limits.” For example, Juliet’s sensei is everything you would expect in hiring an old man to spend countless unadulterated time with, well let’s just say Juliet’s assets. He’s perverted and somehow lands on Juliet’s breasts whenever he’s launched into the air—an aspect you will see more than once. Another thing Lollipop does best is its chemistry between Juliet and her beau. Everyone in this game is the stereotypical character played to the max and Nick is no exception. He’s the high school football jock overdosed with teenage hormone and isn’t afraid to say what’s on his mind—penis not required.
Now-a-days the term Hack and Slash is a simple euphemism coined to mean pressing the same buttons in different sequences over and over again.
Now it’s time for the mud trudging. Lollipop Chainsaw’s game mechanics are horrible. Sadly it’s the same problems that plagued Grasshoppers last entries. With the exception of possibly Killer 7, both No More Heroes, Shadows of the Damned, and Lollipop Chainsaw suffer from stale mechanics and repetition. Now-a-days the term Hack and Slash is a simple euphemism coined to mean pressing the same buttons in different sequences over and over again. “The learning curve is almost a joke as an expert combo master has the same effect as a four year old button masher.” The biggest problem Lollipop perhaps then is its lack of ingenuity that it seems to be overabundant in when it comes to developing interesting characters. In a world constantly changing to outdo the last generation, Grasshopper too must adapt to the new generation’s requirements. Perhaps Suda51’s Killer is Dead, the next console game set to premiere in 2013 will show maturity it lacks not just in the characters they create.