Also available on: PS3
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Lollipop Chainsaw contains everything you would expect from the man behind Killer7, No More Heroes and Shadows of the Damned. Featuring a scantily-clad protagonist, a talking decapitated head, hordes of zombies, lots of blood, guts and gore, not to mention a giant Elvis, Lollipop Chainsaw is a Suda 51 game through and through, but is that a compliment or criticism?
The game takes place over the course of lead character Juliet Starling's birthday, a day that starts with the discovery that her high school is at the centre of a zombie outbreak, and ends with a battle against the demon king of the Rotten World. Fortunately, though appearing like a typical high school cheerleader, Juliet comes from a family of zombie hunters and never leaves home without her trusty chainsaw.
However, the constant swearing, sex jokes and general lack of maturity does begin to grate after a while. The game is sometimes guilty of trying too hard to be crass and vulgar, a problem that crops up in many a Suda 51 release. If you weren't impressed by the obscene content in his previous titles, chances are there's little in Lollipop Chainsaw to change your mind.
The gameplay is equally divisive. Lollipop Chainsaw is a hack and slash title with old-school sensibilities, something that once again works for and against the game. Combat includes high and low chainsaw attacks, pom-pom moves and specials, including pole dance attacks and unique offence involving Nick's severed head. Purchasing combo cards introduces increasingly elaborate combinations, and it's not long before Juliet's chainsaw doubles up as a gun.
Unfortunately, though the combo system is flashy and uncomplicated, it lacks the depth and sophistication of something like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta. It's sorely missing a launcher attack and subsequent aerial combos, and fails to combine gunplay with melee moves, something that worked so well for the aforementioned Devil May Cry. While it's by no means a poor system, and decapitating zombies or cutting them in half never gets old, it doesn't quite live up to its potential.
Just as continued zombie encounters begin to grow a little tiresome, the game throws in a mini-game, boss battle or, in the case of a stage later on in the game, level after level of old-school arcade action. Playing a round of zombie basketball or baseball is as fun as it sounds, while attempting to survive a Pac Man-inspired retro encounter shouldn't fail to put a smile on your face. Knowing that a surprise or counter culture reference is never far away should motivate players to soldier on to the end.
But it's the boss battles, in particular, that really steal the show. Bosses grow stronger and more spectacular with every slice and shot, culminating in battles against rockabilly robot elephants or foul-mouthed punks on walls of speakers. Perhaps our only complaint is that these encounters aren't quite as tough as you'd expect when played on the default difficulty setting, but there's always the hard modes. Either way, they leave a lasting impression like any good boss battle should.
There's also an alternative post-credits ending, but it's not exactly essential viewing. Whether or not you wish to collect all of Juliet's costumes, learn all of the combos and unlock additional songs - the majority of which are excellent - is a matter of preference, but we were happy calling it a day after one playthrough.
Lollipop Chainsaw is a typical Suda 51 game, something that can be taken as a positive or negative. On the one hand, it's unpolished and immature, lacking both sophistication and depth. But it's also funny, contains many a memorable boss encounter and is packed full of video game and counter-culture references. Lollipop Chainsaw is silly, short-lived fun that won't appeal to everybody, but shouldn't fail to leave a lasting impression on players who stick with it to the end.
Copyright: Warner Bros.
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