If you took a group of people, sat them down and showed them a trailer for Lollipop Chainsaw and asked them to sum up their thoughts in one word, the results would probably include words like ‘Grindhouse’, ‘Sexy’ ‘Funny’ and upon seeing Lollipop Chainsaw for the first time, those words fit perfectly.
Unfortunately if you let that same group of people actually sit down and play Lollipop Chainsaw for longer than an hour and then asked them the same question, the word they would most likely use to describe it would be Mediocre.
Lollipop Chainsaw is the candy-coated brainchild of Suda 51, the mastermind behind games such as Killer 7 and No More Heros. This is a development house who like bringing you something different and with Lollipop Chainsaw, they seem to want to skate on thin ice with its overly colourful aesthetic showcasing a somewhat raunchy jail-bait protagonist.
You play as Juliet, an all-American cheerleader by day and professionally trained zombie hunter by night, armed with her trademark gas-powered, rainbow coloured chainsaw and enough lollipops to make any dentist cringe. Juliets mission is to discover why zombies have infected her high school (and subsequently her hometown) and threatened her friends and family.
This brief synopsis offers more than enough back story to get most gamers interested, whether it’s the lure of hacking up zombies in a Lichtenstien-esque cartoon world or the fact that the main protagonist wears a cheerleaders outfit throughout the game. Either way, it’s bound to be appealing to most gamers, right?
Well, you’re almost right – the somewhat provocative nature of Lollipop Chainsaw is enough to incite a few childish giggles and the dropping of multiple F-Bombs throughout the opening few scenes makes you realise that the candy-coating on this game is most definitely aimed at an older audience but Suda 51 simply couldn’t stick with that formula and seemed to have pushed Lollipop Chainsaw too far.
The excessively profane enemies and NPC’s are repetitive; for every zombie skilfully beaten with pom-poms and dissected with a chainsaw – there’s a survivor commenting on the size of Juliets breasts. For every QTE successfully executed there’s a tastelessly obvious cleavage or panty shot.
Titillation in video games is fine personally, sometimes it’s slightly unnecessary but the standard rule of thumb for myself is that if the game beneath the risqué exterior is solid enough then you eventually stop seeing the gratuitous underwear shots and have long since cared about any use of innuendo. (See Skullgirls for a prime example of this)
The main problem with Lollipop Chainsaw however is that the main game mechanic isn’t very strong to begin with. With sometimes sporadic controls and frankly heavy and clunky combat, Lollipop Chainsaw quickly feels like it’s wading through treacle rather than skating on thin ice.
The profane one-liners spat out by every NPC soon become a reason to try and ignore all the voice acting altogether – which is a shame because the banter between Juliet and her disembodied head boyfriend (this IS a Suda 51 game after all) is sometimes golden and – at times – laugh out loud funny. The games almost perverted obsession to get as many lingering camera angles on Juliets assets quickly goes beyond the realms of taste and plants itself firmly in the category of plain vulgar.
But it’s not all boob and gloom for Lollipop Chainsaw, there are actually some very good aspects to the game – like I mentioned, the banter between the characters can sometimes be pretty funny. The monotonous action sequences are sometimes broken up by smaller QTE’s and minigames ranging from running around a Pac-Man esque level to cheering on your boyfriend-head as he shambles to control a decapitated zombie body. The soundtrack itself is actually surprisingly good also. As is the ability to go back through levels after you have completed them to rank against other players around the world.
I cannot say that Lollipop Chainsaw is a fundamentally bad game, it’s reasonably fun to play, it’s got a catchy soundtrack and a unique aesthetic and it’s not too long that it outlasts its welcome. Unfortunately for Suda 51 it’s also disappointingly slow, the combat is clumsy and the characters (whilst being comical at times) just end up being shallow.
Review Score : [starreview tpl=16]
Title : Lollipop Chainsaw
Format : PS3
Developer : Suda 51
Publisher : Warner Bros
Release Date : Out Now
Warner Brothers provided SlimGamer.com with a review copy of Lollipop Chainsaw.