OK, lets forget for a second about the blatantly obvious aspects of Lollipop Chainsaw, like the fact that you control a scantly clad, sexually charged 18 year old cheerleader with a pink chainsaw and a really dirty mouth, I’ll get to that in a bit. Lets instead talk about the game for a bit.
When you strip all that other stuff away (pun intended) the thing you’ll notice you’re left with is actually a really fun game. At its core it’s a hack-n-slash game and if you’ve ever played Devil May Cry or God of War then you’ll feel immediately at home. What makes this game so much fun is that it is so accessible. I am rubbish at this kind of game. I have to play on easy or I spend hours replaying the same levels over and over and to me that isn’t fun and even then I struggle usually because I can’t remember all the combos to do the really cool moves and I forget about some awesome power that kills everyone on the screen. In Lollipop Chainsaw this problem didn’t come up at all for me, the controls are pretty basic; Triangle controls your chainsaw, square is your pompoms – which are light attacks used for dazing zombies, X makes you do a low chainsaw swing for zombies crawling on the floor and Circle makes you jump. These can all be combined to make combos and you can unlock more complicated combos in the shop but it is never anything more taxing then pressing Square 4 times followed by Triangle or some variation there of. This means even for idiots like me those really cool moves that clear all the zombies in one fell swoop are attainable even by just randomly hitting buttons which is what I did for the first couple of hours of the game. By the end though I had become more strategic with my combat and was using powers and moves to my advantage but you’re not forced to which is great for casual gamers or people like me who just suck.
One more note on the combos. They look frickin awesome, I don’t know if it’s because of the person pulling off the combos but they are excellently animated and all feel unique and useful in the right condition.
Combat is varied too, but with some other aspects that do feel a little bit shoe-horned in and so don’t stand up when compared to the awesome hack-n-slashing. For instance, part way through the game you are awarded a gun attachment for your chainsaw and you have to use this periodically throughout levels to defeat certain enemies or solve specific problems. The issue is that it breaks up what is normally very fast paced action and brings it a snails pace which for me was a very jarring experience. I found myself rushing these parts in an effort to return to doing what this game does best – chainsawing zombies.
There are a few other things that break the action up too but they are only occasional. I can see why the developer put these bits in – to make the gameplay feel varied. But to be perfectly honest it didn’t need it. If you’re playing Lollipop Chainsaw then chances are you’re not after an intelligent gaming experience anyway and just something to keep your thumbs busy.
Now feels as good a time as any to discuss the theme and style of this game and that means talking about the elephant in the room. Yes she is an 18 year old cheerleader, yes she has a very short skirt on and yes the game does force you to look up said skirt and directly at her arse more than a few times. Oh and yes I know she’s not real but she is hot too so whatever.
Honestly I did feel very guilty even putting this game into my PS3 at first and I felt embarrassed the first time the game showed me Juliet’s behind. It’s something I never quite got passed and I think this will straight away put off a lot of gamers. This is a shame because if you can get cope with being forced to look at a barley league bottom for about 6 hours then you’re eyes are in for a massive treat (I mean the rest of the game not Juliet). The style of this game is beautiful and striking. Clearly Suda 51 knew what he wanted here and just went for it full force. I’ve never played a game where the sole aim is to kill and maim that had so many primary colours in it. When you decapitate zombies as well as the normal blood that you’d expect to shoot out you also get a pretty pink rainbow and stars that flow out too that according to Juliet “come from awesome”. Every pour of this game is bursting with colour and stars and shiny things which when combined with the b-movie style low grade camera that has a faint black frame and a grit to the visuals looks really cool and totally unique. This weird ultra American/Japanese cheese also flows into the characters who all have a great individuality to them within the game but are also great parodies or versions of typical over used character types that you find in old American or Japanese b-movie horror flicks. There is a good dialogue despite the actual story being complete and utter nonsense with the stand out character being Juliet’s boy friend Nick who gets decapitated in the first level and spends the rest of the game living on Juliet’s belt resting on her bum. Throughout the levels and during the cut scenes Nick’s dry and despairing sense of humour keeps things moving and when you start to get annoyed by Juliet’s unwavering peppy and joyous nature you can count on Nick to keep things grounded and funny.
Lollipop Chainsaw is definitely not a game that everyone will enjoy its themes and art style will be just to jarring for some people to see beyond. However there is a seriously fun game here for anyone who likes a hack-n-slasher done well. It isn’t big and it isn’t clever but it was never trying to be. I know a lot of people will and have had a go at this game for being down grading to women and blah, blah, blah. The fact is Juliet – however you look at her is a kick ass chick taking on hoards of zombies and making it look easy. I can see exactly why she had to be an 18 year old cheerleader. If she was a generic male hero then this game would have flown under the radar and straight into the bargain bin at your local game store. By making her look like this people have taken notice. I wouldn’t have even heard of this game otherwise, I guarantee it. The fact a game like this still causes a stink within the gaming industry shows just how immature the industry is because if this was a film no body would care.
To get back on topic, buy this game. It’s short (around 5 hours to do the story) but there are collectables to keep some people busy, it’s stupid but it is a hell of a lot of fun.