Review: Lollipop Chainsaw

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Grasshopper Manufacture and Suda 51 (Killer 7, No More Heroes, Shadows of the DAMNED) are back and they aren't messing around. They brought with them a high school cheerleader wielding a humongous chainsaw and her boyfriend, Nick, whom she wears like a piece of jewelry from her waist. You see, he's a severed head.

And the craziness doesn't stop there. An over-the-top action game to say the least, you play as Juliet Starling, who, when she isn't talking on the phone or worrying about her big ass (she said it, not me), is smearing zombie blood all over the neighborhood.

The story and dialog are surprisingly hilarious. Suda 51 got some help in that department from Hollywood writer/director/actor James Gunn. Who? He wrote the the Scooby Doo films among other things including the first draft screenplay for the Dawn of the Dead 2004 remake. Although the dialog does get a bit repetitive, especially the one-liners from Juliet and Nick, it's often quite amusing and I found myself laughing out loud numerous times. I even stopped the game a few times I was laughing so hard. OK so it's mostly sexual innuendo but it's funny! The storyline and dialog is written as if it were a poorly translated port from Japan and, at times, seems almost brilliant the way it cleverly pokes fun of itself and that genre. Easily one of the most funny games I've played.

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The goofiness carries over to the gameplay and graphics as well. Juliet's skirt is precariously short and when pulling off certain (most) action moves you can catch glimpses up said skirt. She's proportionately modeled like a Barbie doll and doesn't wear much to cover it. That being said, I didn't think when playing the game that the sexuality was too overt and it didn't detract from the experience. To me it seems more complimentary rather than necessary. If you're in to that sort of thing, Juliet's character model won't disappoint. If you're not, you probably won't be bothered by it or notice it too much.

The campaign is fairly short and is easy to complete. There are multiple endings which adds some incentive to play through a couple times in addition to there being some lite-RPG elements that allow for upgrading your character, adding moves to Juliet's attack repertoire (she's a zombie hunter after all) and then more non-essential things like concept art, mp3's from the soundtrack, etc. Unfortunately upgrading character and attack moves isn't all that important and you can play through most of the game with mashing and some finesse. Definitely not on par with games like Ninja Gaiden and God of War. In order to prevent the experience from becoming tedious (and it feels that way at times), there are quite a few quick time events and mini-games. They're included right within the storyline and help to break things up a little. Like the rest of the game, they're usually over-the-top and goofy rather than complicated or difficult.

The hack and slash gameplay is clunky which is why I did more of a mash job rather than spending too much time with added combos and such. You can stun enemies and then lop off their heads for a bonus. Lop off 3 or more heads at a time and get larger bonuses/points. Problem is lining up enough stunned enemies to pull these off isn't easy and becomes more of a chore because you're fighting with controls to do so. It's still fun however and there is added replayability in earning higher level grades for damage taken, points earned, etc.

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The soundtrack is all over the place but it does some fun things. When upgrading your character for example, the 50's classic "Lollipop" is played. Strange when that occurs during a section wherein you're killing zombies with background metal music blaring, but I liked it. When Juliet is in a special attack mode (sparkle) "Mickey" by Tony Basil plays and everytime it did I cracked a smirk.

Overall I enjoyed the game but paying full retail ($59.99 US) might be too high in my opinion. Lollipop Chainsaw is like a guilty pleasure experience and may not be enjoyed by all. Check out a demo or maybe give it a rental before deciding especially at a higher price point. If you can find this game for real cheap- buy it. If you like Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacture games- buy it.

I played the XBOX 360 version but it's also available for the PS3. I'm assuming they're both very similar if not identical.

Joel Sherfinski

Brookfield, WI 53005

Founder, Co-host & Producer