I have to be up front with you about two things: first is that I rarely enjoy “hack and slash” games, and second is that I have never played a single Suda51 game until now. I can happily say that, despite those two things, I enjoyed what Lollipop Chainsaw brought to the table.
Lollipop Chainsaw stars Juliet Starling, just your normal high school teenager. She is on her school’s cheer squad, is self-conscious about her weight, is worried about her boyfriend meeting her family… and is a zombie hunter. The game opens with her explaining her current life situation, which includes the fact that it is her 18th birthday (just in case you were worried that this fictional character was not legal, fret not) and that she is late for school. Once she arrives she finds out that the school has been overrun with zombies and we are instantly treated to seeing some of her skills as a zombie hunter put to work. After the zombies are dealt with, we’re finally introduced to the actual gameplay.
Unfortunately, this is where the game could of used some extra work.
There’s a lot of repetition in Lollipop Chainsaw, and this ends up being the main negative of my experience with it. Frankly, if you are looking for a deep and engaging combat system then you’d better go looking elsewhere. The combat is boiled down to — like most hack and slash games I’ve played — finding which combos do the most damage but require the least effort. Before I had any good combos I was just mashing the heavy attacks (i.e. chainsaw attacks) but eventually I found some that I could master and liked (and by “liked” I mean they killed zombies and bosses quickly). Though it’s a negative strike against it, what Lollipop lacks in gameplay it makes up for everywhere else.
The dialog in this game is something that you will either love or it will be the cause of your constant ire. The jokes are lowbrow to say the least, and as long as you are the kind of person who is willing to laugh at those types of jokes you will have no problem playing along through the mediocre combat. The dialog between Juliet and her boyfriend Nick is very cute and playful, while the zombies and bosses constantly fling sexual insults at her. If you are easily offended or not a fan of dirty humor then you’d better stay away. The jokes and the humor were one of the main reasons I could actually tolerate the gameplay. They kept coming and kept me laughing, and managed to distract me from the sometimes tedious combat.
The other reason I kept chugging through was the soundtrack. While the background music was enjoyable, it was the licensed music that got me excited when it showed up. When I heard “Cherry Bomb” by Joan Jet and the Blackhearts on the main menu I knew I was going to have a good time. The licensed songs show up at just the right moment, too, whether it be “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” by Dead or Alive while driving a combine harvester around a wheat field while running over zombies or “Pac Man Fever” by Buckner & Garcia when decapitating zombies while wearing parachute pants in a giant arcade.
The jokes and music made it easy to plow my way though zombies all the way through to the end of the game. The end does come quick, though. With only seven levels and each taking anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour, Lollipop Chainsaw does not overstay its welcome. For those looking for replay value, do not fret; there is plenty to do after the game is completed. By plenty I mean three things: a much harder difficulty, collectible hunting and leaderboard climbing. While I very much enjoyed my first playthough, I feel that if I were to do any of these extra activities the humor would get worn thin, seeing as how I have already heard it all before.
All in all, I enjoyed my time with Juliet and Nick. Everything in this game fits well together and the developers have created a wonderful world that I would not mind returning to in a sequel. Here is a new property that if they were to cut back a tiny bit on the blatant sexuality and really get some engaging gameplay a sequel could be a welcome addition to any gamer’s library. As it stands though, Lollipop Chainsaw will go down as an average game that was too over the top for some and too tedious for others.
As I hacked and slashed my way through countless zombies I was reminded of how much I like driving around in my car in real life. It’s not the act of driving itself that I enjoy but the things I hear and see while driving that make it one of my favorite experiences. Much like driving, it was not the gameplay I enjoyed but the music and jokes that came along with it that made it worth the price of admission.
While I won’t be making the trip back anytime soon, I could see myself returning to Lollipop Chainsaw in a year or two, and I will make sure to check out any future destinations Suda51 puts out on the map.