When I first got my hands on Lollipop Chainsaw at PAX Prime last year, I was excited by my brief playthrough and the possibilities of this crazy world created by Suda51. That excitement quickly faded, though, as I delved into the full game for this review…
Lollipop Chainsaw doesn’t beat around the bush. The first five minutes after you start the game, you will experience a shower scene, a sexy cheerleader, and a lot of evil zombies. This is what most of the game is all about, as you are pushed constantly through the story to your next combat sequence. In fact, much of the game relies on quick, one-line jokes to pass the time between slaying zombies. Like much of the game, it works to a point, but most of the jokes and dialog fail to deliver and grow upon the experience.
You star as Juliet Starling, a normal, busty high school cheerleader who moonlights as a certified zombie hunter in her off time. Not just Juliet, but her entire family is filled with exotic zombie hunters, but you won’t have to worry too much about backstory, as there isn’t any. Just know that there are zombies to kill and you just happen to be there with your trusty chainsaw to do it. If that was not enough, your boyfriend-turned-hip decoration is there to add some actual comedy relief to the game; which for some reason is sorely lacking. In fact, for a Suda51 game, it is surprising just how terrible the dialog is and how few times it actually makes you laugh.
Adding to the rather lackluster jokes and story, the dialogue in the game is atrocious and the voice acting doesn’t help. Juliet’s sister Rosalind was the worst decision ever made, turning a whole level silent as the best course of action is to mute your TV instead of listen to her laugh the entire time. None of the other characters really provide anything special and almost all of the bosses are equally annoying.
Now that we have all those elements of the story and characters out of the way, we can dig into the gameplay aspect of the game; which is what it’s all about, right? Sadly, the core of the combat falls extremely short. Juliet has a low and high attack for her chainsaw and an attack with her pom-poms. The idea here is the stun the zombies with your pom-poms and then decapitate them with your chainsaw. You can also just deal them enough damage and finally take their head off. Line up at least three zombies in a row and decapitate them all at once to receive a “Sparkle Hunting” reward. Problem is, it is extremely difficult to get this, as zombies will disrupt your attacks more often than not and it takes a while to get their health down enough to take off their head. It makes it worse when you finally do a sparkle hunting on accident, because every time you do it, you are greeted with a splash screen telling you that you succeeded and how much money you are getting. If you have a fight and happen to do this multiple times, it really takes away from the combat as it goes to this splash screen every damn time.
Making matters worse, the combat gets extremely repetitive and the moves that you can purchase with coins collected throughout the game don’t really grow your arsenal of attacks, leaving you to button mashing and frustration. Also adding to this negativity is the fact that the camera angles are horrendous. I found myself constantly fighting the camera more than I was the zombies on-screen. All these negatives really take a unique and fun looking experience and lets you down, turning an already powerful zombie hunter who killed her first one as a baby, into Buffy before she found out her powers. Combos and strength upgrades never feel like upgrades. Later levels really showcase this, as longer combos are almost always interrupted, and shorter ones make an extremely small dent in the more powerful zombies.
Boss battles attempt to break things up, as do modes where you dash through the world performing jumps; or another where you must save citizen’s from hordes of zombies. These don’t do enough to make a difference, and overall are extremely disappointing. In fact, these “boss” battles are extremely easy and never made me break a sweat, even on the hard difficulty. Lollipop Chainwsaw is full of combat elements that could be cool, but don’t feel finished. The worst offender of this is possibly your decapitated head of a boyfriend, whose attempt to help in combat is laughable and rather useless.
The presentation front is where this game really shines, with sparkle attacks, some solid looking enemies, and character models. The soundtrack is full of some great hits from bands such as MSTRKRFT, Joan Jett, and DragonForce. Checking out the store to buy items and having Lollipop by the Chordettes playing in the background is just solid gold.
When the smoke has cleared and you have completed the game in under five hours, you will most likely have a fairly mixed amount of emotions. You can see where Grasshopper Manufacture was going with this game and you see the potential, but around every turn there is more to find wrong with this game. You can forgive the shoddy dialogue and lame jokes as that is what they were going for, but you cannot forgive rather boring combat, a short game, and absolutely zero replay value. Is this a good game to rent for a weekend and enjoy, sure. It is not, however, a game that you will want to head down and purchase at full retail price, because you will be sorely disappointed by all the ‘what ifs’ that plague this title.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
-Combat does very little to help the game along
-Short game; about as bad as the lame jokes