Well, it’s time for the summer games drought to come into full effect and boy, is it harsh! There’s pretty much nothing until the end of August, especially with Anarchy Reigns being delayed until 2013, another “brilliant” by the “genius” managers over at Sega! So Lollipop Chainsaw has the unenviable task of trying to keep me going (video games wise) for pretty much 2 months. A battle which it lost before it even began…
For those who aren’t in the know, Lollipop Chainsaw is the latest game by Suda51 and Grasshopper Manufacture, the brains behind games such as No more Heroes and Killer 7. Basically, their games tend to be weird, a little experimental, loved by critics and generally bombs at retail. On the plus side, LC seems very much mass market compared to previous games and didn’t do too badly at retail for the first week.
In the game, you play Juliet Starling, an american high school cheerleader who moonlights as a zombie (and many other mythical creatures) hunter using her chainsaw and also has an unhealthy love for lollipops, hence the title! Early on in the game, her boyfriend gets bitten by a zombie and to save him, she casts a magic spell on him and cuts his head off and he spends the rest of the game as a head attached to Juliets waist, trading lines with Juliet and occasionally comes out to help as a (really demeaning) powerup attack or attached to a zombie body temporarily to access other parts of the stage. Along the way, you have to kill 5 powerful zombies and meet up with the rest of Juliets family, who are all Zombie hunters as well. The script was written by film-make James Gunn and is one of the best/worst B-movie cheesy, tongue-in-cheek scripts you will probably have ever seen.
The game itself is pretty much a standard hack and slash affair with Juliet brandishing her chainsaw to kill as many zombies as possible to collect zombie coins, which can be spent on stat upgrades or new combos. Occasionally, you get the chance to save your classmates who will reward you with more zombie coins and some, kinda disturbing, lines. “I’m so going to masturbate to you tonight!” comes to mind… Other minigames come forward at various stages, such as mowing zombies down with a combine harvester or various games based on old 8-bit titles which serves to break things up a little.
So, how does it fare?
- The soundtrack – The rock music used for most of the game works really well, but it’s when they use licensed tracks where it comes alive! Killing zombies in hyper mode while “Mickey” by Toni Basil or mowing down zombies in a combine harvester to the tune of “you spin me right round (like a record)” by dead or alive elevates it to a new level.
- Sheer slaughter with rainbows! – It takes a while, but once you unlock the higher combos and start mowing down zombies left, right and center (and get the kill bonus for killing 3 or more zombies in one go), it gets really addictive. The question is whether or not your interest in the game lasts that long…
- The Bosses – they aren’t particularly challenging and don’t hold a candle to the ones in Pandoras Tower on the wii (a really belated review is coming, I promise!! and I have a good excuse!) but they’re so well designed and a great laugh, except for the last one…
- Additional Costumes – Yes, there’s obligatory bikini costumes and an overtly sexualised pink biker costume for Juliet but none of those matter cos the only one you will ever need is the Haruna Maso Shoujo costume from Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? That costume fits the game so well it’s uncanny!!
- Really short – this game could easily be completed in a day or 2 of solid play. You can tell that they tried hard to make it a replay title but…
- Unskippable cutscenes and assorted other niggles – There are various minor issues which don’t really show up too badly when you’re playing the game for the first time and want to follow the story, but on subsequent playthroughs they stick out like a sore thumb and breaks the flow of the game a little too much when you just want to go through score attack!
- The setting and tongue-in-cheek humour – This is a personal thing but the clichés and jokes used in the game really started to wear thin very quickly. Various people will have differing levels of tolerance but mine was kinda low.
- The Dub – Fair dues, Michael Rosenbaum, who voiced Nick, did a great job and the zombie bosses were good too. Tara Strong was OK, though her attempt at doing a single line of japanese was cringeworthy but the rest were abominations. Particular scorn goes to Rosalind Starling, the younger sister. I swear that my ears bled every time she opened her mouth!! Oddly, the credits actually listed the Japanese voice cast as well. No idea why though, since I’m pretty sure the jap version will have a different set of credits, most likely in japanese!
- Really unbalanced – when you first start the game, you’re pretty underpowered and your limited moveset is kinda dull, but by the time you get the good stuff, you’re so overpowered that the game isn’t challenging anymore. I pretty much cakewalked through hard mode with my Juliet already having all the combos. There is a very hard mode but that’s about it and it’s not that much of a step up from hard.
- The end - The story ends well enough by cutscenes but the actual gameplay part really just stops abruptly and leaves you with a strong “that’s it?” feel.
Ultimately, the game takes a little too long to really get going and by the time it does, there’s no real incentive to go back to it (unless your a cheevo/trophy whore). That leaves the game in a somewhat awkward position. The combat itself, is somewhat satisfying once you power Juliet up but doesn’t hold a candle to the likes of Dante or Bayonetta. And since you can blast through the game in a day or 2, it’s probably best settle for a rental or wait until it goes cheap.
Also, Jim Sterling over at destructoid actually made a good point about the game for once! I’m sure that the feminists had a field day with lollipop chainsaw when it was announced, decrying how (once again) the female main character is overtly sexualised and objectified in the game by being shoved into impractical costumes and the like, but spare a thought for poor Nick! The guy was literally objectified, as in he was turned into a mere ornament! The guy has it pretty rough throughout the entire game with the Starling sisters speaking as if he was a fashion accessory and Rosalind even using him as a practice mannequin, putting makeup on the guy! Juliet also drags him everywhere and does whatever she wants regardless of his wishes just because she wants to (or in her words she “loves him”)! But then again, we’re probably all too busy mowing down zombies to really take notice, until the final stage at least, where it’s so obvious, it hurts!
In any case, Lollipop Chainsaw is a fun game but just don’t expect it to last in your minds (or console) for too long. Now, I have to figure out what to do to keep me busy until tales of Graces F comes out. Maybe some more Virtua Fighter 5?