Lollipop Chainsaw Xbox 360 Review
Lollipop Chainsaw is the type of game that would make your grandmother cry, your mother cringe and your dad glaze over. It unabashedly tells the story of zombie-hunter/star cheerleader Juliet, whose college is taken over by the undead – but does so through the use of chainsaws, excessive shock comedy and short skirts.
Chainsaw comes from the twisted mind of Suda51, the man behind popular titles Killer7, No More Heroes and Shadows of the Damned. Sticking true to form, it is a barrage of filthy humour and scattered puns. How it differs from his other works is apparent upon beginning the game; where games such as Shadows of the Damned and Killer7 were games with a sprinkling of comedy, Chainsaw seems to be a comedy combined with a libido driven slashfest.
The game begins in a heavily clichéd American high school, where Juliet is supposed to be meeting her boyfriend, Nick. Due to unforeseen circumstances, their meeting clashes with a zombie outbreak, resulting in Nick being infected and consequently beheaded. Luckily, not all hope is lost as his decapitated head survives the ordeal and presents the viewer with one of the most peculiar love affairs of modern times. Both Juliet and Nick are well voiced and the scripting lends itself to showing the affection between the two. It’s a shame that the writing feels flat in a number of places, often with the use of jokes too crude to be funny; however, references to pop-culture such as Katy Perry and Myspace keep banter between characters amusing enough for a cheeky smirk or two.
Aesthetically, Lollipop Chainsaw is excellent – the cel-shading fits the atmosphere perfectly, and is combined with some spectacular comic-book styled menus. From this, there is no denying that a fair amount of work has gone into the visual design of the game (and into the shaping of Juliet’s buttcheeks, or so you’d think from the number of times the camera pans over them). The zombies themselves are fairly varied, from fat farmers to basketball players, and act as satisfying punchbags throughout your experience.
A large proportion of the game is presented in the form of combat, where enemies can be dispatched using a number of different combos consisting of quick pom-pom attacks, powerful chainsaw driven swings and evasive maneuvers. Unfortunately, as the game starts you off with nothing in the way of combos or special moves, the first couples of stages can feel long-winded and repetitive, with controls feeling fairly clunky until more combos are purchased. Upgrades take the Devil May Cry approach, where tokens can be spent on new combos and improvements in health, strength, recovery and homing (improving auto-aim attacks).
I found that the further I progressed through Chainsaw, the more stylish and enjoyable the combat became, making decapitating the undead a rather pleasurable experience. Despite being a hack ‘n’ slash, the developers have clearly done their best to mask the repetition, mixing in sections of third person shooting, mini-games and obstacle courses; however, these range from average to awful. This, combined with Nick’s annoying habit of repeating wisecracks until the deed is done, can lead to some infuriating moments. It does, however, put you back in the mood for laying the smack-down on some rotting flesh.
After killing a number of enemies, a ‘star soul’ meter fills, which when activated makes Juliet capable of one-hit kills and sparks the horrifically cheesy ‘Hey Mickey’ as background music. It never gets old. One of the most interesting features of Chainsaw’s combat is known as Sparkle Hunting – if three or more zombies are topped with a single blow, you are treated to some sweet slow-mo and a huge token bonus. This helps transform a standard button mashing affair into one of a little innovation, rewarding strategy when possible.
Each stage ends with a boss battle, which are all remarkably different. Each requires a completely different approach, and take long enough to give the impression you’re fighting something of a higher power without feeling too drawn out. There’s a certain satisfaction in slicing a tough boss in two through with the control stick to finish them off once and for all.
Last but not least, Lollipop Chainsaw has a phenomenal soundtrack, with a number of popular tracks from bands and artists ranging from oldies The Human League and The Chordettes, to the modern Five Finger Death Punch and Skrillex. The original score was also created by the renowned Akira Yamaoka and Mindless Self Indulgence frontman Jimmy Urine, and everything about it just works. There’s also a huge amount of unlockable tracks, which can be made into a custom BGM playlists for all your zombie slaying needs. It’s just a shame there’s no sign of a full original score up for grabs.
In the end, Lollipop Chainsaw does what it says on the tin. Where it shines in soundtrack and style, it fails by providing little range in entertaining gameplay. It is also a rather short title, clocking in around 6 hours for a standard playthrough. This is aided by a ranked mode with online leaderboards, but does not completely detract from the lack of playable content. As a whole, Lollipop Chainsaw is worth a try, but don’t expect anything less than a perverted take on zombie bashing with all the comedic qualities of a foul-mouthed school-kid.