Remember when video games were praised for being crazy and over the top? Now it’s all about realism, grit, and cinematic experiences. All of these things are okay, but eventually games stop feeling like games and start feeling more like interactive dramas. Well, the same can’t be said about Lollipop Chainsaw — it puts the game back into videogame, and it’s not afraid to make you laugh.
The Story – Juliet Starling is the captain of the cheerleading squad by day and a zombie hunter by night. On her 18th birthday one of her classmates unleashes a deadly curse on the town – turning most of the townspeople into zombies. Now it’s up to Juliet to save the day.
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Title: Lollipop Chainsaw
Genre: Action, Hack-and-Slash
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360
Release Date: 6/12/12[/toggle_box]
- Pop Art – The graphics aren’t aiming for realism, but there’s a decent amount of detail in the environments (check out the posters and confetti littered throughout the hallways in the second stage) and Juliet’s character model looks impressive. Everything is glossy with black outlines. Lollipop Chainsaw is one of the best looking cell-shaded games around. It’s nice seeing the Unreal Engine used for something colorful instead of another grey and brown shooter.
- Straight From the Pages – Presentation wise Lollipop Chainsaw’s menus have a comic book look to them. The comic book influences also make their way into the gameplay. There are speech/sound bubbles everywhere and a pop-art filter is always present.
- Barely Legal – I wasn’t expecting to like the plot, but it has some exciting twists. It’s like a great R-Rated teen comedy with a few heart warming moments sprinkled in. Plus I’m a huge fan of stories that chronicle one crazy day.
- Zombie Bash – Bayonetta would destroy Juliet (Lollipop Chainsaw’s combat is more grounded in reality), but Juliet’s no pushover. You can button mash your way through the game, but if you want to unlock everything and get a good grade you’ll have to use the proper tactics (here’s a hint — stun a group of zombies and then kill them). Overall I really enjoyed the combat, it’s fast and there are a decent amount of combos to unlock.
- Zombie Bash Part II – In combat the face buttons are used for a normal and low chainsaw attack, jumping and dodging, and to stun zombies with Juliet’s pom-pons. You can also shoot zombies with your trusty blaster. This comes in handy when you start to run into flying enemies.
- Epic Boss Battles – Boss battles are going the way of the dodo so it’s refreshing to see a game that brings them back in a big way. Each boss has a rock and roll theme and they’re far from boring. They’re so good you’ll wish there was a mode just with back-to-back boss fights.
- A Love Letter To Gaming – Let’s revisit what I said at the beginning of this review. Lately it feels like video games desperately want to be movies, and thus they’re purging old gaming mechanics. Well, Lollipop Chainsaw embraces its gaming heritage. Thanks to some crazy boss battles, medals, high score modes, and unlockables this feels like a blast from the past. This wouldn’t be out-of-place in an arcade. Speaking of arcades, wait until you see…
- Hey Mickey! – I’m in love with this game’s soundtrack, it features 80’s tunes, metal, noise rock (I love me some Sleigh Bells), punk rock, and some equally impressive original tunes. When a game has “Cherry Bomb” as it’s menu music then you know you’re in for one insane musical journey.
- Top-Notch Voice Acting – Tara Strong voices some of my favorite cartoon characters (Timmy Turner from Fairly Odd Parents, Raven from Teen Titans, etc.). She does a wonderful job at bringing Juliet to life. And Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luther from Smallville) gives his funniest performance to date as the voice of Nick.
- Juliet + Nick – These two lovebirds have great chemistry, Juliet is a little oblivious, while Nick plays the straight man.
- Doesn’t Try Too Hard – I was afraid that this would try too hard to be funny and edgy. But I’m happy to say nothing feels forced, the characters don’t drop f-bombs just for the sake of dropping f-bombs.
- Amazon, Facebook, & Justin Bieber – Games rarely namedrop real products and services. So I smiled every time someone mentioned something from the real world.
- The Starlings – Juliet has the best family ever, all of them are likable.
- Juliet Isn’t Over-Sexualized – Looking at the boxart you’d think this game’s only purpose is to pander to lonely male virgins. But you may be shocked to find out that Lollipop Chainsaw doesn’t place Juliet in a lot of sexually suggestive situations. I hate to bring up Bayonetta again, but this is nowhere near as sexually charged as Platinum Game’s hack and slash masterpiece.
- Four Difficulty Levels – Easy, Normal, Hard, and once you beat the game “Very Hard” is unlocked. Oh, and you’ll encounter different zombies on the higher difficultly levels.
- Mixing Things Up – There are tons of enemy types and a decent amount of gameplay variety (basketball, baseball, tractors, mini-games, etc.)
- Time For Some Shopping – There are shops spread across each stage. Here you can trade in medals for new outfits, combos, and upgrades.
- Dress Up! – There are 19 unlockable outfits. If you take a look around this site you’ll discover that I’m an avid anime fan, so I freaked out once I saw the Haruna outfit (Kore wa Zombie desu ka?). And even though I found Deadman Wonderland lacking – the Shiro outfit is also pretty cool.
- Fun OTEs, What? – Cutting through obstacles with Juliet’s chainsaw never gets old. This is done by pressing “Y” or “Triangle” and pushing the left analogue stick in the right direction.
- Now I Hate You More Than Carrot Top – Zombies say the darndest things, if you’re playing this with someone else in the room get use to hearing, “Wait, did they really just say that?” Towards the end of the game Juliet says something about frankenberries and I started laughing so hard I had to press pause and go outside and regain my composure.
- Made to be Replayed – You can’t unlock everything in your first playthrough. Completionist will have to play through this a few times. Also there’s two endings, leaderboards, and three high score modes to keep you busy.
- Quitters Never Win – The quit option on the pause screen seems bugged. It says, “You will lose all progress beyond the last checkpoint!” But guess what? If you quit from the menu you’ll just lose all your progress. You’ll still have your unlockables, but you’ll have to start over from the beginning of the stage when you reboot the game.
- Quitters Never Win Part II – This is normal for some games, but I’m almost positive this is a bug in Lollipop Chainsaw’s case. Luckily this can be avoided by quitting via the home button on the Xbox 360 or PS3. Now you can start at the last checkpoint once you reboot the game (if the first thing isn’t a bug this is, both methods of quitting should take you back to the same checkpoint).
- Nick, Just Sit Back And Enjoy the Ride – You have to put Nick’s head on a body sometimes and press a series of buttons so he can clear the way for Juliet. These sections felt pointless, and the same can be said for every game mechanic he’s involved in. You can shoot his head at zombies, but it doesn’t really do anything useful.
- No Japanese Audio Track – The anime outfits are here, but you won’t find a Japanese audio track.
- Short & Sweet? – Lollipop Chainsaw only has seven stages and you can beat all of them in less than six hours. Some gamers will find this unacceptable for a game without a multiplayer mode. I won’t lie — I would have liked to see at least two more stages. Still, as noted above — this game is made to be replayed. If you want to unlock everything you’ll have to play through it a few times.
Suda 51 and James Gunn created an instant classic, I can see myself replaying this five years from now. Lollipop Chainsaw is a little on the short side and the gameplay isn’t going to send the best hack and slashers cowering in fear. Still, the combat is highly enjoyable and far from shallow, the soundtrack is one of the best to ever grace a video game, the writing is witty, and there’s enough extras to keep you busy for at least a few playthroughs. You can find faults if you pick the game apart, but this is something that you have to judge as a whole.
[box_light]We believe that the score is the least important part of a review. It’s tough trying to assign a numerical value to an experience. Furthermore, is there really a difference between a 7.5 and an 8? Gamers place too much importance on arbitrary numbers. This is why our scores are hidden by default. Only look at them if you absolutely need a number between 1-10 to see if a game is worth your time. You can read our review guidelines here. A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.[/box_light]
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Replay Value: 9
Amazing – This is a must have, you’ll see this game on top ten lists at the end of the year.[/toggle_box]