Lollipop Chainsaw promises hours of comically gruesome entertainment
Goichi Suda (the man more famously known as Suda 51) wants you to play as a cheerleader in his latest game, Lollipop Chainsaw. Not just any cheerleader, but Juliet Starling, a zombie-hunting cheerleader who just happens to own a chainsaw. Voiced by Tara Strong (Batman Arkham City's Harley Quinn), Juliet is a cheerleader who comes from a family of zombie hunters — and someone who insists on decapitating zombies with her weapon of choice in her cheerleader outfit. If you can't stomach all of what you've read so far, stop reading now, because Lollipop Chainsaw is shamelessly sexy, packed with crude humour and bucket-loads of violence. It's so over the top that dismissing it because of its absurdness, being offended by its content, or even taking it seriously would be missing the point entirely.
Needless to say, your primary weapon in Lollipop Chainsaw is, well, a chainsaw. Juliet is able to wield one of these with great ease, effortlessly slicing and dicing zombies with a low and high attack at first. Not to be ignored are the cheerleaders biggest weapon (other than cheer, of course), the pompom, which by Wikipedia's definition, is a “loose, fluffy, decorative ball or tuft of fibrous material”. In Lollipop Chainsaw, however, this is a thing of doom, stunning zombies for later decapitation. Combos can be unlocked by purchasing them at the store using coins earned from slaying zombies, and they make combat even more fun (as if it were possible). The more powerful attacks require skill and timing to execute and can be very useful in sticky situations and boss fights. Speaking of which, the game's boss fights are simply awesome — some of the best you will see in this genre (if you can endure their absurdness, of course). There are tonnes of other things to unlock, including health and weapon upgrades, or if you want to play dress-up, outfits for Juliet. If you want to take your game online, there's also a challenge mode and online leaderboards which can be unlocked after beating a particular level.
LC has a unique visual style featuring lots of bubblegum pink, swirling rainbows, and flashy stars, but from a strictly-business standpoint, the game isn't exactly a graphical powerhouse. While the game's sexy protagonist (despite her odd wardrobe selection) and main characters look good and are well-animated, the enemies can look terrible at times. Level design leaves a lot to be desired as well, and while some neat locations have been picked to set the game in, there isn't a lot of attention to detail. Fortunately, the game's aesthetic, quirky interface and crazy visual effects just about make up for the otherwise grubby graphics. The soundtrack on the other hand, is a different story. Lollipop Chainsaw's OST is a bizarre mix of every genre of music, ranging from 80s pop and electronica to Viking Metal, and yet, it seems to work, adding a great deal to the game's atmosphere. The rest of the aural space is populated by silly sound effects and sillier voice acting, which again, fit in perfectly with the theme of the game.
Lollipop Chainsaw's appeal isn't universal by any means, but if you liked Suda 51's previous games, chances are high that you will enjoy his latest work. The combat is fluid and requires strategy; its humour is a little hit-and-miss while its premise is so over-the-top and ludicrous that labelling it sexist or ultra violent is absurd. The game is undoubtedly violent, but it is inherently silly and doesn't take itself seriously even for a second, and it is hard to be offended by the game's supposedly sexist jokes and sexual references. The game's shortcomings lie elsewhere, with annoying cutscenes that cannot be skipped, wonky camera, broken shooting controls and long loading times. Look past those issues however, and Lollipop Chainsaw will give you hours of comically gruesome entertainment. The game is available on PS3 and Xbox 360.