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REVIEW – Lollipop Chainsaw

If you can look past the overtly sexual and gory undertones, there's a ton of escapist fun to be had.

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Lollipop Chainsaw is anything but subtle. The latest game from Suda51 takes the over-the-top lightsaber battles out of No More Heroes and replaces them with chainsaws and decapitated zombies. Not to mention, Lollipop Chainsaw features an 18 year old slutty sensual cheerleader hell bent on making zombie-slaying the cutest thing since My Little Pony.

There’s a whole lot of story going on and it acts as the core of the gameplay experience. To say that Lollipop Chainsaw is peculiar would be an understatement. If it wasn’t for its derivative gameplay, Lollipop Chainsaw could be considered unique. You play as Juliet the aforementioned slutty cheerleader. She seems like just a regular stereotype until zombies attack her school and almost kill her boyfriend, Nick. Fortunately for all of us, Juliet just happens to come from a family of zombie slayers. She wrecks house and saves Nick’s head from the undead walk of shame.

You are reading that correctly, Juliet saves Nick’s head.

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As the story unfolds, Juliet uses Nick’s head alongside her adorably violent chainsaw and pom-poms to battle through legions of zombies, bosses and psychopaths. Along the way, she’ll team up with her sisters and dad to try to save the day and to return sanity to our world. She unlocks upgrades to her weaponry and new items to vary her attacks. These upgrades provide new tactics and options when battling the hordes.

While Lollipop Chainsaw’s gameplay is derivative of games like God of War, the focus is less on complex combos and more on humorous storytelling. If it weren’t for the game’s over-the-top sense of humor, slaughtering enemies might feel like going through the motions. Luckily, Suda51 has recognized that story can trump gameplay when planned accordingly. Also, although the combos and gameplay get to be a bit repetitive, the enemies are varied enough to present a new challenge on every level. This was a welcomed change for me, having played enough B-grade games recently that spent too much time on guns and graphics and not enough time one varying enemies.

Besides slaying hordes of zombies and their boss counterparts, silly mini-games make up the rest of the gameplay experience. For the most part, I was able to pass through the boss battles on my first or second try on normal difficulty. Defeating the bosses required some problem solving, but I always had enough health to not worry about dying. While it made my experience more enjoyable, I think gamers looking for a challenge might think the game’s default difficulty might be too easy.

The mini-games were a welcome break from non-stop battling. I especially enjoyed the retro-gaming levels that took Juliet back to the 80’s for old school Atari-style action. There is also a basketball mini-game to play and a poorly designed baseball mini-game. Attempting to complete the baseball mini-game was the only instance where I had to change my difficulty to get through a level.

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This brought to light my only qualm with Lollipop Chainsaw’s gameplay: shooting. While cutting and slicing through zombies with Juliet’s chainsaw was fun and therapeutic, the gunplay was inefficient, unfinished, and anything but precise. I would have been okay with wonky gunplay if it wasn’t required to pass through a level. Unfortunately, the baseball mini-game is not a section that can be skipped. Even after upgrades to my gun, it was problematic. Turning off auto-aim helped a bit, but I still walked away from the mini-game frustrated and disappointed.

A lot can be said about the overt sexuality of Juliet. Players are provided endless boob shots, mid-riffing, and are rewarded with an Achievement for looking up her skirt. (I’m sure Fox News is drooling to do a story on this game). However, once you get past the surface of the game, Suda51’s intention is less to titilate and more to entertain. I’ve read that the zombie genre has gone stale for many gamers because of the emphasis on horror, gloominess, and death. Lollipop Chainsaw is the polar opposite. Full of pinks, rainbows, and glitter, Lollipop Chainsaw is the Liberace of zombie games.

If you’re not too sensitive to some overtly silly play with sexuality and gore, Lollipop Chainsaw can be a ton of escapist fun. Just think of your favorite shock-jock morning DJ schtick with some zombie mayhem thrown in for good measure. Sure, Lollipop Chainsaw has some deficiencies; but, in the end, if you’re looking for some enjoyable adult fun, this game has plenty to share.

8


Full Disclosure: CraveOnline received 1 copy of Lollipop Chainsaw for the Xbox 360. Before starting our review, we played 100% of the main storyline on normal difficulty.