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juliet-nick

Review: Lollipop Chainsaw

by June 18, 2012

Lollipop Chainsaw is the latest game from Suda51, his games range from unconventional to bizarre and it’s safe to say that Lollipop Chainsaw is firmly set in the bizarre.

You play as Juliet Starling, a cheerleader who’s planning to meet her boyfriend Nick in the park when the undead start walking the Earth again. This sets her off on a mad dash to the park to make sure her boyfriend is safe while bringing along her two most important possessions, her chainsaw and her lollipops.

The game starts with a prologue that has you learning the basic attacks and moves of Juliet. One button takes care of heavy chainsaw attacks while one button does low chainsaw attacks, there’s a button for a jab type attack with her pom poms and then a jump button. Combat is stiff at the start of the game and as you kill zombies you’ll earn gold and┬áplatinum coins that will let you shop for more and more moves until you’re a smooth moving killing machine.

When you attack zombies the main thing you’re trying to do is decapitate them, that’s when they’re truly dead. Now for some types of zombies that might mean 4 or 5 hits until it happens but if you pull off certain combos you can make it happen faster. If you decapitate three or more zombies in one blow you activate Sparkle Hunting and you’ll earn extra gold and platinum coins.

2-4-6-8, who do we decapitate?

Many classify this game as a hack and slash/button masher but I think they’re missing a large part of the combat.The entire point of the combat system is to chain together attacks to get Sparkle Hunting activated and that means you have to play almost like you do a fighter. If you just mash heavy attack you’ll clear out zombies after a lot of time and hacking but you’ll never activate Sparkle Hunting. On the other hand if you use your skills to parry and dodge to get a crowd of zombies around you then do a finishing move, you’ll pop the heads off a half dozen and be showered in gold and┬áplatinum coins.

Early on in the game you wont have the skills to take down zombies stylishly to activate Sparkle Hunting so the game gives you a hand. As you kill zombies you’ll earn Star Souls that go towards filling a Star Soul meter in the bottom left hand portion of the screen, once you fill that you can activate Soul Star mode which will make Juliet sparkle and glow in rainbow colors while Toni Basil’s “Mickey” plays. When Soul Star mode is activated you’re able to decapitate all zombies except bosses with one hit so it’s easy to rake in Sparkle Hunting rewards.

After the prologue is over you’ll come to find that Nick lost the rest of his body and now you’re toting around his still living head. Bringing his head along gives you special attacks that let you use his head as a weapon including some portions of the game where you stick his head on a headless zombie and control the body through button prompts to clear obstacles in your way and open up new paths.

The game takes place during the span of one day with Juliet and Nick traveling to one area after another trying to defeat each boss of that area before moving forward. After you defeat the boss of a certain level and move on you’ll gain access to a new weapon add on. This means that your character is constantly evolving until the end of the game, becoming stronger and stronger.

I can’t hear you back there.

Each level sets you on a linear path but there are certain parts of every level that can be explored to find hidden lollipops and coins.

Coins are used to buy upgrades, combat moves, outfits, music and artwork in the game and lollipops are used for health. The way they’re used is simple, just press on the D pad and you’ll pause the game and have the option to use a lollipop to regain your health. It’s a simple system that will make sure you’re not trying to fight and heal at the same time, even during boss battles.

The coins on the other hand come from killing zombies and destroying items in the world, the faster and fancier you kill the more coins you’ll get. There’s a bit of a grind to get some of the higher priced things from the store so the faster you get a hang of killing with flair the better off you’ll be.

The best thing to say about the cast is that they’re a family like the Munsters or the Addams Family and it works.

The story is well written, with each main character having their own distinct personality and tone, and the cast is off the wall. Along the way we meet Juliet’s family members along with her Sensei and they’re just a family of zombie hunters where this is the norm, they’re all perfectly written and so absurd that it actually makes sense.

Nick is a great addition to the story because he’s us through the entire game, with all of this craziness going on Nick is the one giving the “normal person’s” commentary on how weird and messed up this entire situation is. It’s brilliant to add this sort of character that is making a direct bond with the player the entire time.

The best thing to say about the cast is that they’re a family like the Munsters or the Addams Family and it works.

Enemies are well thought out too, while it has the usual “100 of zombie type A and 100 of zombie type B” all the major players and bosses have a great style and personality to them.

Especially the bosses, if there’s one thing that Suda does as well as anyone it’s bosses and this game is no slouch. Every stage you finish ends with you meeting a larger than life boss character that will have you go through a lengthy and enjoyable battle. You want to get through each stage just so you can see what the next boss will be.

It’s hard to hold a hall pass with no arms.

To finish the game you’re looking at about 8 hours but there’s a very “arcadey” feeling to the game that will have you going back to play it again once you level up. Playing the previous levels over once you’ve gained a few abilities makes it a breeze to cut a swath through hoards of zombies and helps you unlock higher quality items.

Once the single player campaign is over you can go online with ranking mode which allows you to compete globally in three different categories:

  • Score attack: Get the highest score on a stage.
  • Time attack: Get the best time on a stage.
  • Medal attack: Get the most medals on a stage.

You’re able to check your scores against friends or everyone.

Music sets the tone in every level. There’s a huge swing in genres going from death metal to 80’s pop to 50’s doo-wop and everything in between. Everything fits so well that even if you don’t like a genre you won’t mind hearing it in the game, I don’t like death metal that much but the parts of the game that featured the music just felt right.

One part I was especially fond of was a mini game where you had to run down zombies at a farm with a thresher machine while Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round” played. It’s crazy and makes literally no sense but at the same it makes all the sense in the world.

Voice acting fits like a glove. These are big, absurd characters that needed to be voiced in a way that sounded authentic and this cast pulled it off. Every character has depth because the voice work is believable, there are no phoned in robotic voices in the game.

Also the game has an extraordinary amount of vulgarity and cursing and usually when a game throws so much vulgarity at you it feels forced and loses it’s impact but just like the other components in Lollipop Chainsaw it works perfectly. If vulgarity bothers you then this is not the game for you because it lays on a very liberal dose of it.

Why it may be helpful for people with anxiety.

  • Great characters
  • Interesting story
  • Fun combat
  • Stellar soundtrack

Why it may be unhelpful for people with anxiety.

  • Dark and creepy
  • Quick time actions that can be hard with cold/numb hands

Why you should be playing this.

Lollipop Chainsaw is everything that’s right with games today. It has a great cast and while it’s not going to win an Oscar, the story is fun to play through. Lollipop Chainsaw is a perfect example that a game doesn’t need to be serious and lifelike to be enjoyable. Next to nothing is realistic in Lollipop Chainsaw but it’s a ton of fun to play. Usually when I review a game that’s it, I have to move onto the next game just because of deadlines but with this one? I let myself replay some levels and just have fun with the game.

The game looks, plays and sounds great. There’s not really anything more you can ask when picking out a game. Everyone should take the time to sit back and enjoy a game that’s built to be enjoyed.

This review was based on the Xbox 360 version that was provided by the reviewer.

Overview
Release Date

Jun 26, 2012

Digital or Retail

Retail

Platform

XBOX 360, PS3

Developer

Yager

Publisher

2K Games

Badges
Positives

Amazing story, fantastic characters, good use of environment

Negatives

Combat is a little clunky, some AI problems, some parts feel too scripted

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8.0
Gameplay
8.0
Story
8.0
Sound
8.0
9.0
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