Lollipop Chainsaw is a raunchy zombie slaying adventure, filled with juvenile humor, teen angst and a whole lot of Suda51 personality. In contrast to AMC’s The Walking Dead, based off of the Robert Kirkman comic, this story isn’t so much about the zombie apocalypse as it is about giving gamers a totally irreverent approach to the undead genre. In that vein, Lollipop Chainsaw is more Shaun of the Dead meets your favorite CW teen show, topped off with enough Adult Swim humor to make both Seth MacFarlane and Seth Green giddy. The combat can get monotonous at times as you rip your way through legions of zombies with chainsaw in hand and your boyfriend’s head attached to your butt. Most players won’t realize Lollipop’s full array of zombie slaying tactics without playing through the game two or three times. However, giant boss battles, jokes aplenty and a sprinkling of mini games keep this hack-and-slash adventure fresh.
The game stars Juliet, a teenage cheerleader who would conform to the typical blond bimbo stereotype if not for her family history in zombie slaying. Lollipop Chainsaw introduces you to Juliet by panning across her body. Right away, you get the sense that this game is wrongfully inappropriate regardless of the “M” Rating. Sure it’s just a video game, but panning across a teenage girl’s body, even when it’s digital, is so Japanese Bishōjo. On Xbox 360, there is even an Achievement for taking a peak underneath her dress. Juliet is very aware of her sexuality and notes that her friends call her Dad a D.I.L.F. (the daddy version of M.I.L.F.).
As Juliet would say, she’s like “the worst girlfriend evvvver.” Today is her birthday and she was supposed to meet her boyfriend Nick. Unfortunately for Nick, she’s running late. After some quick pom-pom and chainsaw zombie slaying action to introduce you to the gameplay, you realize that a zombie took a bite out of your boyfriend. In order to save her boyfriend from a tragic undead lifestyle, Juliet slices off his head and performs a mystical ritual on him to preserve his life. It “like totally sucks” for Nick, who must now go through life attached to Juliet’s belt like a clothing accessory. However, Juliet gets to use him as a weapon throughout the game. She can even launch his head through a canon and it magically returns to her waste like a boomerang.
There are three basic attacks in the game: a pom pom attack, a low chainsaw attack and a high chainsaw attack. The pom poms are mostly used to wear down your enemies. The chainsaw is your real weapon of destruction; the only way to kill one of the undead teens or teachers attacking you is to slice off its head. Gamers will also be able to shoot off a zombie’s head using the chainsaw canon later in the game. As players button mash their way through zombies, they will earn tokens that can be used to buy different attack combos. Instead of just slicing off a zombie’s head, Juliet can buy more inspired attacks that make her spin like a turbine, while shredding through zombies. The fun is in slicing off different zombie limbs, and then watching the undead continue their onslaught against you. Slice off a zombie’s legs and it will crawl towards you with all its might.
Lollipop Chainsaw has a nice plethora of mischievous zombies. Zombies don’t conform to any preconceived archetype, but rather range from hippies to auto-tuned singers. Some have bombs attached to their bodies, while still others get more powerful when they hear the sound of a boombox. Teacher zombies are also just as pesky as they were when you handed in an assignment late or talked in class.
Buying combos helps you to earn more tokens. Killing juiced up zombies with a power meter over their head will earn you more rewards. Players will also enter sparkle time by slicing off three zombie heads simultaneously for even more multipliers.
Although the game is based around Juliet’s high school, San Romero High, the action switches between school settings to city streets and even farms. Suda51 included jokes to match each of the varied settings. For instance, on the farm, giant roosters will attack players, while in the city you will face off against break dancing zombies.
Similar to No More Heroes, this game is all about adding a mishmash of gameplay into your adventure. Each location has its own set of mini games, which take you away from the typical hack-and-slash action. At the school, you may have to play a game of basketball, which involves slicking off heads and launching them into the basketball hoop. In the city, you’ll play 8-bit inspired video games, ranging from a Pac-Man knock-off to a basic platformer. Since the offbeat style of the game is established earlier on, nothing feels out of the blue. Players will come to expect the unexpectedly odd gameplay almost immediately. You will even get to mow down zombies using farm equipment.
It would have been great had there been double the number of mini games and possibly two more levels. Unfortunately, this game does run on the short side. Most players will be able to finish this game in six to eight hours on normal difficulty, depending on how quickly they rack up multipliers. Once you play through it and earn all the power-ups, the second and third time playing through the game will be much quicker. The biggest challenges come from the boss battles. Each boss has two to four levels of escalating difficulty during a battle. Until you figure out the pattern, it’s easy for a single boss battle to take anywhere from ten to twenty minutes to defeat.
There are incentives to playing through Lollipop Chainsaw at least twice. Players get rewarded for beating Juliet’s father’s all-time score on each board. There are also two endings to the game, a happy ending and a not-so happy ending depending on how many innocent victims you save.
Lollipop Chainsaw is a surprisingly good adventure, despite the egregious dolly shots of Juliet. She even has a lecherous sensei who loves checking out her underwear. Secondary characters like Nick and Juliet’s sisters keep the story lively. The combat is a little uninspired and tends to wear on you after a while. However, Lollipop Chainsaw’s humorous personality and quirky mini games are a definite treat and another fun journey into the twisted mind of Suda51.