Lollipop Chainsaw is a true example of how wacky and crazy game developers can be. The game combines grindhouse, cheerleaders and zombies together to create a truly fun experience. How does all of this come together? Easy–Lollipop Chainsaw does things simply and holds its own against other games of the same genre.
Meet Juilet Staring, a popular high school student with some serious issues on her plate. It’s her birthday and tonight her parents will meet her boyfriend Nick for the first time. This freaks Juliet out as she is concerned that Nick will find her family weird and creepy because of some of the ‘traditions’ they follow. However, things quickly change when Nick is attacked by a zombie and bitten whilst trying to protect Juliet. With her quick thinking she cuts Nick’s head off in order to keep him human. When questioned how she did it Juliet reveals that her and her family are zombie hunters and she kept him alive by performing a ritual. It turns out that those brain munching zombies out there are the result of some creepy Goth dude, who is responsible for opening up ‘the rotten dimension’ and unleashing five ‘dark destroyers’. Of course it’s then in the hands of our super-hot cheerleader/zombie-hunting heroine to destroy these zombies and restore Earth back to normal.
The game has a very interesting style as each level is in the form of an arcade style game, meaning you get points for killing zombies and a variety of other things such as combo kills. You are also rewarded with medals. Combo kills earn you more medals than regular ones and these add up and can be used to purchase items and upgrades from the in-game shop. The combat system works well too–it’s fun and simple to pick up, meaning you can master most of your combat skills quickly. To add to the arcade style of the game there are also challenges that occur at random points during the story mode, most noticeably of these being ‘Zombie Basketball,’ in which you have three minutes to earn one hundred points. You score points by ploughing your chainsaw through zombie heads, and during this you also get a glimpse at zombie cheerleaders. This type of humor is what makes the game so great. Each zombie in the game that you come across is unique and will even say a witty comment before trying to eat your brains out.
As if that all wasn’t weird enough Juliet’s health is in the form of lollipops. These lollipops can be collected at various points during the game or purchased at shops, which also appear randomly throughout the campaign. Just when you thought Lollipop Chainsaw couldn’t get any sweeter, there is also a variety of nicely challenging mini boss zombies as well as the main five bosses who each have a unique twist–making each boss battle a unique experience. To top it all off with some extra added sugar there’s also the chance to do some pole dancing! It’s not what you think as this actually provides Juliet with ability to spin round the pole and decapitate zombies at the same time, also giving players who wish to do so a chance to look at some of her best sides.
Additionally, the game features a rainbow gauge, which is filled after killing a number of zombies and once activated let’s you kill zombies with one quick saw. It also activates the song “Hey Mickey” by Toni Basil–not only is this a cool feature but it definitely adds to the craziness that is Lollipop Chainsaw, and is also a soundtrack highlight.
Lastly, the game tells you how well you performed at the end of each level in true arcade style, revealing your results in the form of a report card. It focuses mainly on your score and the number of deaths, but also on kills, medals and a variety of other key gameplay factors. Once all your grades have been given, you get a final level grade which can be as high as an A+.
Graphically the game does look dated but this works well with grindhouse style that Lollipop Chainsaw is trying to achieve. Lollipop also uses comic style graphics for its menus, maps, pause screen as well as loading screens. The graphics are reminiscent of “No More Heroes,” which despite its lack of wowing graphics, was able to tell a unique story. Lollipop Chainsaw is no different using the art styles well to create an interesting and exciting storyline that’s packed full of adventure, gore, explosions and wacky character designs.
Some of the best features to mention come from the characters themselves as both Nick and Juliet are written really well, using witty comments, mild swearing and funny animations to express themselves and comment on in-game situations. These sections really help bring the storyline together and are most definitely the cornerstone of Lollipop Chainsaw’s comedic style.
Collectible outfits add a great sense of challenge to the game, as some can be purchased through the store and others have to be unlocked by playing through the game, or even a mixture of both. These outfits add great character depth to Juliet, as well as increase Lollipop’s replay value, giving you a reason to replay levels to beat your scores.
As if the game wasn’t already wacky enough, our insane heroine carries a phone in her chainsaw! This further exemplifies Lollipop Chainsaw’s unique, off-the-wall humor.
The game features a selective soundtrack of sixteen songs (with more being available to purchase and earn) but each and every one of them is to die for. It’s a true collection of wacky 80’s music combined with some real grindhouse style tracks, and it really helps bring the game to life. My personal favourites were “Turtle Crazy” by Toy Dolls and “Lollipop” by the Chordettes, which I could not get out of my head throughout my whole time playing the game. But the songs don’t just sound great, they really help add depth, character and hilarity to certain sections of the game. A key example would be the section in which Dead or Alive’s iconic song “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” plays whilst you grind zombies up with a combine harvester.
Moments such as this and the majority of songs that play throughout the stages really help bring the themes of the game out as well as making it an enjoyable experience.
It’s not just the games soundtrack that speaks volumes either–the voice acting is spectacular. Both Tara Strong (Juilet) and Michael Rosenbaum (Nick) do a wonderful job at capturing the emotions of both characters, which in my experience never became dull or boring and just simply worked well with the game’s tone and themes.
The only negative thing I have noticed regarding Lollipop Chainsaw was how repetitive some of the combat can get. After playing the game for awhile I found the combat system getting stale, with challenges only offering a slight change to how combat works in particular sections.
With new skills and moves the combat system can become fun to use, just beware that it can get stale in certain sections of the game. Overall Lollipop Chainsaw is an absolute blast, featuring some truly unique features and offering a stunning comic graphic style that compliments all the craziness this game has to offer. Just be sure not to take the game too seriously. I recommend this game to players who are just looking for something fun to play with and it should be avoided by hardcore gamers to avoid disappointment.
Jordan S. Haslett
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