It’s not every day that you see a zombie killing game with a young high school cheerleader as the main protagonist.
Lollipop Chainsaw is without a doubt one of the most unique gaming experiences you will ever encounter in 2012. This is because the game is the brain child of both Goichi Suda and Hollywood filmmaker, James Gunn. If you’ve played Suda’s "No More Heroes” game and saw Gunn’s Movie "Slither”, you might have an idea the type of horror-like humour Lollipop Chainsaw provides…
Juliet Starling may look like your average 18 year old girl, but what lies underneath her cutesy appearance is that she’s a trained zombie hunter. Not only is she a bloodthirsty zombie hunter, but her two sisters and her father are all trained zombie/monster hunters as well. The only "normal” people in this game are her mother and possibly Juliet’s boyfriend Nick.
Lollipop Chainsaw is a third-person hack-n-slash title. It plays a little bit like Capcom’s Dead Rising games, albeit the level design is a little more linear and there not an army of zombies littered throughout the game world like in Capcom’s game. Although this may sound like your usual action game, it’s the game’s dark humour and many references to modern day popular culture that separate this from many other games out there.
One of the first times you will encounter the game’s unique sense of humour is on the first level when Juliet’s boyfriend Nick saves her from being bitten from a zombie. As a result of his heroic act, Nick gets infected and could turn into a zombie himself. What comes next will be unexpected for most people playing this game. Juliet "saves” his life by decapitating him leaving his zombie-infested body to rot while his head is intact. Juliet then uses a spell so Nick is kept alive as a taking head!
The humorous dialogue and banter between Juliet and Nick from this point forward is comedy gold. The script is witty and even some of the zombies themselves pull off some great one-liners. After I killed a zombie, he uttered something along the lines of "why do I have this Katy Perry song in my head, what a horrible way to die.”
The voice acting is excellent here too with some recognizable names behind the main characters. Tara Strong is famous for playing Rikku in Final Fantasy X and her high pitched voice is perfect for the bubbly attitude that Juliet Starling possesses. Michael Rosenbaum who played Lex Luthor in Smallville is surprisingly enthusiastic as Nick as well.
As humorous as this game is, the story itself is a little clichéd. Juliet’s class mate (named Swan) is an emo-like outcast who was bullied throughout his life. To take his hatred out on the society that teased him, he opens a portal that allows zombies and other nasty creatures to wreck havoc all over the Earth. It’s up to Juliet Starling, her family and her body-less boyfriend Nick to save the world.
In terms of gameplay, Lollipop Chainsaw doesn’t really add anything new to the hack-n-slash genre, although there are elements of varied styles of gameplay to keep the game fresh and exciting on the seven levels that are available in this game. Some of my favourite moments in the game include a section where you have to mow down 300 zombies using a harvester. There’s also a Pac-Man inspired level where you have to avoid navigate your way through a maze.
As a cheerleader, Juliet Starling can use her cheerleading skills to work as she can even use combos to stun zombies using her pom poms. Stunning zombies becomes a crucial part in Lollipop Chainsaw as this makes it easier to kill them off using her chainsaw. Her chainsaw can even become a Gatling gun later on in the game. Ammo is limited, but her job is made easier by blasting enemies that can fly. Another cool feature is that Nick’s head can be used as a weapon in this game too.
You can also earn coins while playing Lollipop Chainsaw. The more coins you earn, the more unlockables you can purchase at the shop. This includes new combos, improved stats, concept art and even numerous bonus costumes for Juliet to wear. It’s great to see that Grasshopper Manufacture (the game’s developer) decided to add a decent number of costumes for you to unlock. In this day and age of DLC, most games have forced us to pay extra for costumes nowadays…
Graphically, Lollipop Chainsaw isn’t the brightest and vibrant 2D cel-shaded games I’ve encountered, but at least the character models are designed well. Juliet’s father looks like a younger Johnny Cash while the end boss resembles Elvis in a weird monster-like kind of way.
A little downside to Lollipop Chainsaw is its short length. Most gamers will be able to complete the game the first time around between six to seven hours. There’s no multiplayer mode or any other extras for you to play. The single player campaign though is meant to be played more than once. Most people may have only seen the "bad” ending of Lollipop Chainsaw. Also, Juliet Starling’s more racy costumes cost a lot of money so if you want to unlock them all, playing the game all over again is a must if that’s your prerogative.
Lollipop Chainsaw could have been a very shoddy game but overall, there are elements this game offers that make it a very fun and unique game. The characters are likeable enough for you to play the game until the very end to see what happens to them. Not to mention, it’s one of the few action games out there that doesn’t take itself too seriously like with most FPS games released these days. Hopefully if a sequel is to be made for this game, the levels will be less linear and the game is longer.
Lasting Appeal: 6.5