PAX Hands On – Lollipop Chainsaw

Suda51 and Grasshopper Manufacture are quickly becoming known for creating games with unique visual and comic styles, such as Shadows of the Damned and No More Heroes. The latest game to follow in that vein is Lollipop Chainsaw, and we got some hands on with the game at the Warner Bros. PAX booth.

Lollipop Chainsaw puts players in the cheerleading shoes of Juliet Starling, a highschool cheerleader who does a little bit of zombie hunting on the side. Fortunately, she doesn’t have to go too far as zombies have infested her old school and she must now fight to save her classmates from the undead.

Our demo placed us inside one of the hallways of San Romero High School, as the zombie outbreak has begun to engulf the school. In the game, your player will have 3 attacks to choose from; heavy and light chainsaw attacks, and an attack with her pom-poms. The cheer attack is used in the game to push and group together your zombies, allowing you to use your chainsaw attack to decapitate the zombies. The goal here is to try to take off as many heads as possible in one swing, gaining you bonus points. You also have a dodge at your disposal which will help you quickly back away from zombies or leapfrog over their heads, allowing for a quick chainsaw to the private regions. A power up can be attained, making Juliet invincible, if you collect stars throughout the game.

All of this combat flows great, as you move from dodging to attacking, without any real hiccups, though the camera angle can fight you a bit from time to time. In the playthrough, we encountered three different levels of zombies. First was the basic school student turned zombie, which were slow but attacked in groups, a nice change of pace from some games where enemies attack one at a time. The second zombie was a mini boss, which is this demo was a teacher. These zombies are a bit more powerful and take some planning to beat. The last one is of course a boss, which we encountered at the end of the demo. Here the combat branched out and began to use more quick time events and more strategy than past fights. Now the quick time events fit in well with the rest of the gameplay, so don’t be worried about out-of-place QTEs. There are also kids around the school that we had a chance to save. When we succeeded, money was given to us; however when we failed and they were turned, they came back stronger than the normal zombies, hell bent on revenge.

Visually things looked impressive, with the zombies, Juliet, and the environments looking solid. The flare from combat, with pink all over the place instead of blood, was a nice touch and made this unlike the rest of the zombie games on the market. The voices of the characters were well done, though I could see Juliet becoming a bit annoying. The signature Suda51 humor was there in full force, with some quick wit and well told jokes. Add in a busty cheerleader who makes some anime chicks jealous, and there are some great opportunities for plenty of humor.

Lollipop Chainsaw is a game that some people might shy away from because of its humor or main character, but early returns from our playthrough are very promising, with lots of potential in this title. Time will tell if this potential is reached when the final product releases some time next year.