STAFF REVIEW of Lollipop Chainsaw (Xbox 360)

Monday, June 25, 2012.
by Adam Dileva

Lollipop Chainsaw Box art Oh Goichi Suda (better known as Suda 51), you never seem to amaze me with your sense of humor and unique games. For those not in the know, Suda 51 is known for making very odd but hilarious games, such as Shadows of the Damned, Killer 7, and No More Heroes, and each one of his titles has a very distinctive style and direction that make his creations unique. If you played and enjoyed his last title, Shadows of the Damned, you?ll most likely enjoy Lollipop Chainsaw for the same type of humor and banter between characters.

The main character Juliet Starling is a zombie killer that just so happens to carry around a chainsaw, complete with hearts and bright colors. All you need to know from the get go is that this game is not meant to be taken seriously in any way, shape, or form. Lollipop Chainsaw is mindless fun and is self-aware at how absurd its whole premise is, and it?s proud of it. If you?re one for zombies, innuendo, humor, and especially school girl cheerleaders, you?re going to have a great time with Lollipop Chainsaw, albeit a short one.

Juliet is turning 18 today and is planning on meeting up with her boyfriend Nick later in the day. Turns out the cheerleaders special day is about to be ruined as there?s been a massive zombie break out at her school, San Romero. Juliet will have to try and save everyone rather than enjoying her birthday cake that her mom is making her; luckily her and her family comes from a line of zombie hunters, as this shouldn?t be any problem for Juliet.

When Juliet manages to find Nick, she?s just a few moments too late and he?s already been bit by a zombie, meaning he?ll soon turn into one of the walkers soon enough. To save the love of her life she decapitates Nick with her chainsaw then places a magic spell on him to keep him alive, even though it is only his head. Now Juliet has a cool bodiless boyfriend that she?ll take around attached to her belt, making for some hilarious banter between the two. You eventually find out who?s behind the zombie outbreak and set out to stop them by killing every zombie in your path.

As I said, don?t take Lollipop Chainsaw too seriously and you?ll have a fun time throughout. The game itself will only take you five or six hours to beat the first time through, but the dialogue between Juliet and Nick at times is absolutely hilarious (the line with Nick?s favorite color still makes me smile thinking about it). Sometimes the dialogue is so bad that it makes it even funnier, much like those terrible movies you watch, but they?re good because of how bad they really are.

At its core, Lollipop Chainsaw is a hack and slash game versus hordes of zombies. Juliet has light attacks that aim low to the ground for those crawling zombies, and heavy attacks that try and go for the heads of the undead. Juliet can dodge as well but she also puts her cheerleading skills to good use and can use her pompoms for quick attacks that will stun the zombies, thus making them much easier to kill in a single move. You?ll eventually start to mix up different combos and skills though once you find the combo that works best for you you?ll essentially stick with it throughout the rest of the game.

As you kill enemies and hordes of zombies you?ll start to fill up Juliet?s star meter. Once full you can use it to unleash super attacks that are instant kills versus any non-boss enemy. Making this skill even better is Toni Basil?s ?Mickey? song that starts to play every time you use star power, which I found a completely fitting song for slaying the undead. Nick isn?t just a useless head that hangs off Juliet?s skirt though, as he can be used as a weapon at times to stun zombies and setup for easy kills, or even putting his head on a decapitated zombie, allowing him to take control of it for a short time by completing a quick-time event. These sections are littered throughout the game and will basically clear a path for Juliet or launch her to the next section of the stage.

Level design is quite simple and bland, as you need to clear each section of zombies before you are allowed to progress for most of the game. There are a few sections though that try and break up the repetition, though these diversions were usually more frustrating than entertaining. There?s a section where you get to drive a tractor, mowing down any zombies in your path which was fun, but the others where you need to protect a statue from blowing up from fire zombies or protecting Nick as he runs bases in a stadium were very frustrating and took a few continues to learn the proper mechanics and strategy.

Like the majority of game design, each stage will end with a boss battle, and I have to say, the bosses that Juliet encounters from start to finish are very memorable and was easily the highlight of the game for me. While the majority of the game will be button repetition, it?s without a doubt worth it to keep playing if only to experience the entertaining and unique boss fights at the end of each level. While you plow through the hundreds of zombies, you?ll be collecting coins along the way that can be used to improve Juliet?s skillset with new combos, health upgrades, item replenishments, alternate outfits, and more.

As you complete levels you unlock the ability to replay them in ranking mode to try and get higher scores and put your name on the leaderboards. Your score depends on the speed in which you complete a level, how many zombies you kill, combos and sparkle attacks, and how many of the students you save from a zombie death. There are also many items to collect that will take at least two playthroughs and if you want to see the good ending, you?ll need to save every classmate in every stage. While people that strive for high scores and completitionists will want to play through again multiple times, I had no real desire once I defeated the last boss.

Lollipop Chainsaw boasts a surprisingly entertaining soundtrack that range from old classics like Lollipop from The Chordettes, You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) from Dead or Alive, Cherry Bomb from Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, to even Heroes Of Our time from Dragonforce. The music fits each section very well and I was quite surprised as it was noticeable and really fit the mood of each section quite well. The voice acting may be bad, but it?s partly because of the cheesy script, which may be slightly on purpose.

Lollipop Chainsaw never tries to take itself too seriously which is a good thing. It?s funny and entertaining in that bad-movie sort of way. While over sexualized women in gaming is nothing new, Lollipop Chainsaw will take every opportunity to show you that Juliet is busty and wearing a low shirt and will give you an up-skirt shot in almost every cutscene it can; there?s even an achievement to try and look up her skirt. If sex sells, then Warner is going to have a massive hit on their hands; for those of us that can see past this ?selling point?, it?s a very short game that can be beaten in a weekend and I?d suggest playing it simply to support Suda 51 and his crazy creations, but that?s once the price drops to your sweet spot.

Overall: 6.7 / 10
Gameplay: 4.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.5 / 10
Sound: 8.5 / 10


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