A chainsaw-weilding cheerleader, zombies, gratuitous upskirts, and violence that explodes in a barrage of blood, body parts, rainbows, and glitter. You’d think it’d be an easy recipe for one of the greatest games of all time. Not so much, but it’s still pretty damn fun.
- Diverse gameplay always keeps things fresh.
- Terrific voice acting.
- Killer soundtrack.
- Campy potty humor (When it works).
- In a world where FPS games reign supreme, it’s refreshing when something this completely ridiculous and original comes along.
- Too short.
- Fighting system is “meh” and a bit monotonous.
- Normal difficulty is way too easy (seriously, play it on Hard your first time around).
- Campy potty humor (It doesn’t always work).
Considering it’s a collaboration between iconic cult game maker Goichi Suda a.k.a. Suda51 (Killer 7, No More Heroes, Shadows of the Damned) and cult filmmaker James Gunn (Tromeo & Juliet, Slither, Super), it’s no surprise that Lollipop Chainsaw has all the makings of a cult classic. When a game stars a pigtailed, nubile blonde cheerleader who wields an enormous chainsaw, keeps the sentient severed head of her boyfriend clipped to her belt, and kills zombies at San Romero High School, you pretty much know what you’re in for.
If OneChanbara and Bayonetta had a slightly less compitent baby, this game would be that baby. The over-the-top story is entertaining enough to keep your attention, but the gameplay – while diverse – has its fair share of flaws. Mainly: the combat.
Juliet can stun zombies after pummelling them with her pom-poms and cheerleader kicks, hit them with low chainsaw attacks to eventually de-leg their sorry asses, or go all out with a heavy chainsaw swing. If you manage to kill enough zombies at once with a single swipe, you’ll snag a Sparkle Hunting bonus which give you extra coins and medals that can be used to buy new combo moves, upgrades, powerups, costumes, and more. Herein lies the problem. Sparkle Hunting bonuses tend to happen more often on accident instead of when you actually try to get them.
The whole time I was playing, I felt like I wasn’t playing the game the way the developers intended. The only combo I really used was one where Juliet leap-frogs over zombies and them cuts them in half from the bottom up. Whenever I bought and tried a new combo, zombies kept interrupting the freshness. After only buying about three or four, I gave up on that whackness and stuck with my sweet leapfrog trick. Sorry, Sparkle Hunting, but you’re weird and I don’t fully understand you. Thanks for all the extra coins, though!
Speaking of buying stuff, let’s talk about the Chop Shop – the in game store for buying all sorts of zombie-killing things. There’s kind of a lot in here, but you’ll never get it all on your first playthrough. I was mostly bummed about the lack of costumes (because I’m a pervert). I beat the living shit out of this game and only had a measly four costumes show up in the shop. EVER! There’s a HUGE list of secret outfits that I have yet to unlock. I find it hard to believe they’re all gonna’ be paid DLC. If so, I’ll be kind of pissed off.
Aside from the costumes, I spent every coin and medal I possibly could and got less than half of the offered combos and stat upgrades. Maybe I’m oldschool, but I kind of feel like you should be able to experience a good portion of what a game has to offer on your first playthrough. I killed pretty much every zombie and snagged almost every coin I could. It almost felt like I was being penalized. If I was at least presented with the possibility to earn enough coins to buy the store out on the first playthrough, but I wasn’t and I feel gypped.
Maybe I was supposed to aim more for those Sparkle Hunting bonuses to get skrilla, but goddammit it’s hard! And not in a you-have-to-be-good-to-get-them sort of way, either. It was more of a this-particular-gameplay-mechanic-wasn’t-executed-properly type of deal. I guess the devs just want you to play through the game multiple times to make up for how short it is. I picked my copy up around 2:00 P.M. and beat it a little after 1:00 A.M. There’s still time attack leaderboard challenges, a new unlocked difficulty, and a second ending to obtain for those who want to get their money’s worth.
Lollipop Chainsaw does a good job of introducing way more types of play than just pom-poming and chainsawing. Just about every level gives Juliet some new upgrade or attack to play with. There’s even one that gives her chainsaw a motorcycle engine-looking thing that lets you dash and soar over ranbow-colored ramps in areas that brought back fond memories of playing Sonic Adventures on my Dreamcast.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg of diversity that this game has to offer; there’s also plenty of minigames. There’s Nick Tickets which can be used to play a slot roulette game to pick a random attack that utilizes Juliet’s boyfriend, Nick’s severed head as a weapon (I only used this about three times ever). There’s stripper pole sequences where Juliet works the pole while slicing up baddies.There’s Zombie Basketball where you have to make score a certain numbers of points by decapitating as many zombies as you can before time runs out. Once your chainsaw gets upgraded to a gun you can play Zombie Baseball where you’re stuck on home plate and have to protect the bodyless Nick as he takes over a headless body to run around bases. But the creme de la creme is the arcade level which sucks you into neon Tron-looking parodies of classic games like Pac-Man, Pong, and Elevator Action.
Each level has a theme and appropriately themed boss. Every boss battle is super fun and each boss has multiple forms.
- A farm full of hallucinogenic mushrooms that gave you bad trips in which you slaughter giant chickens and plow over zombie hordes with a tractor with an undead hippy boss at the end
- A punk junkyard rock show with a punk rock zombie boss who attacks by yelling profanities that come out in the form of huge block letters
- My personal favorite, the aforementioned arcade which leads to a funk-a-delic auto-tune speaking boss zombie that drops giant 8-bit bombs before you eventually chop his spaceship in half while flying through the stars at warp speed.
- Holy shit the final boss! Three words: Giant Elvis zombie that shoots lasers out of its eyeballs!!! There’s also Michael Jackson Thriller zombies in this level
If you’ve read this far and couldn’t already tell, Lollipop Chainsaw is a fucking weird game.
While most of its weirdness is a good thing, some of it comes off as a little bit lame. For instance, there’s a line where you save a dude and he says “I never thought I’d be rescued by someone with such great tits!” I mean, I didn’t think it was funny, but I thought it was funny that someone actually that would be a funny line in a video game. But to make up for it, there’s lines like “Shitmuffins!” and “I’m gonna’ fist my ass with your head!” to make up for it, so yeah.
There’s also the whole degradation of women thing which may not be for everyone. While upskirt panty shots are used to (mostyl) comedic effect, like when Juliet angrily covers her bum if you try to aim the in-game camera up her skirt (there’s even an achievement for sneaking a peek!), just about every other zombie baddie calls Juliet something deragatory like slut, whore, or cocksucker, but they’re bad guys and, at the end of the day, she kills the shit out of all of them, but feminist organizations won’t be awarding this game any medals.
Although it’s a little rough around the edges it’s unique and charming enough to warrant a solid recommendation. It may not be worth the full $60 price tag to every gamer, but it’s definitely something every gamer should play through at least once.