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My expectations when diving into Lollipop Chainsaw were rightfully low. I enjoyed No More Heroes 2 and Shadows of the Damned to an extent, but never really fell in love with them like so many other people did. And from seeing all the gameplay videos for Lollipop Chainsaw, I wasn’t excited about the creepy schoolgirl main character, either as I knew it would inevitably lead to awful sexist jokes and her responding with an unknowing giggle.
Sadly, I was correct in that worry and that is nailed in your head from the beginning intro as Juliet introduces you to her life, parents, boyfriend, and most importantly, her chainsaw. Upon her waking up, it’s clear this day is going to go poorly as she is late to meet Nick (aforementioned boyfriend) and on her way there, zombies start eating brains. Have no fear, though because Juliet is a zombie hunter. One of the funniest things in the game takes place early on as Juliet spots Nick being eaten by zombies but refuses to let him die like that. So like every other great girlfriend, cuts his head off and latches it to her hip. Then through unknown rituals, he’s still alive, for better or worse.
The first few hours of Lollipop Chainsaw ended up being one of the most boring few hours of gaming I have ever fought through. The writing would occasionally spew out a funny line, usually from Nick, but most of the time it was just slight sex references or Juliet doing her best to be cute by saying curse words or by referencing Facebook. It just didn’t work and quickly the game felt like a thrown together mess that not even Suda51 would have laid his hands on.
As it slowly progresses, the ridiculous storytelling and characters somehow begin to come together and form a likable game. Not even I can explain why or how I eventually became attached to the Nick/Juliet relationship or how I actually cared if we left Nick’s head in a mailbox or not. It’s a stupid thing to care about but dammit I did.
The boss fights are typical video game bossfights. Usually three life bars, snarky antagonist being a dick, and ultimately a gruesome, murderous kill that more than likely features some kind of decapitation. While they were all mostly generic, the final boss fight in the game had some style and excitement that was not processed earlier on in the game. While all the bosses have a bit of character to them, whether it’s their personality or the arena they force you to fight in, none of them, apart from the final fight, become extremely entertaining and instead stay on the line of mediocrity.
Just like in every other action adventure game, the combo system is everything. That is definitely the case in Lollipop Chainsaw as there seems to be near one hundred separate combos for you to unlock and then purchase in the store. The only real issue was the fact that once you find that right combo (mine was the one where Juliet spins on the ground, taking out every zombie’s legs), the others don’t really matter. I found myself hammering on the light attack then busting out my one combo upon the beginning of almost every encounter. I did occasionally dabble into more combos, seeing how they worked and responded and they all seem fine. None of them are too difficult to achieve nor are any of them completely useless. The controls for activating the combos are swift and quick and can be done simply by pressing X and Y in a certain order.
Though it is small, that doesn’t change the fact that apart from the mostly likable characters, my favorite thing about Lollipop Chainsaw is the music. The reason it isn’t my favorite thing is due to one thing: Japanese Screamo that breaks out whenever the zombie chopping begins. But when a man isn’t yelling about wanting to sex the devil up, glorious songs such as Lollipop and You’re So Fine (Hey Mickey) are playing and nothing can beat the atmosphere they set up.
From a gameplay standpoint, the biggest issue with Lollipop Chainsaw is that there really isn’t much to it, apart from the combos. The game introduces new attacks to do with Nick’s head (such as shooting it out and stunning all zombies in its path) after every level but none of which change the gameplay enough to keep the combat encounters fresh. You find yourself running into almost all of what the game has to offer within the first hour. On top of that, Lollipop Chainsaw is just barely 5 hours long, making it feel like more of an Xbox Live Arcade game than a full retail release.
There’s no arguing that Lollipop Chainsaw is one decisive game. There are people that love it and just as many people that hate it. I found myself falling in the middle of those groups, admiring the intriguing storytelling and occasionally comedic writing, while still being offended and disgusted at every turn with how the game treats women. It’s hard to recommend Lollipop Chainsaw as it is offensive, short, and rather dull but on the other hand, it eventually all comes together and makes one cohesive and absurd experience that you have to see to believe.
So what did you think of the feature? Or of Lollipop Chainsaw? Also, what game should I play next? Let me know in the comments section!
Current Gamefly Q:
The Amazing Spider-Man
The London Olympic 2012