Lollipop Chainsaw Review (PS3)
Suda51 is well known for making bizarre games. Killer7, No More Heroes and Desperate Struggle are all fine games that overflow with crazy. Never one to run out of weird, Suda51 and his team have made another masterpiece of insanity. The easiest way to describe Lollipop Chainsaw is to call it Buffy the Vampire Slayer ‘cept with zombies. Since I love Buffy and am a fan of crazy, Japanese games, I knew I had to give this one a shot. No surprise, it turned out exactly like I expected.
What You Need To Know
Lollipop is an action-adventure, arena brawler where you are locked in an area with a horde of zombies and you have to chop their heads off to proceed. You play as Juliet Starling on her 18th birthday; how convenient. Things start off as a normal school day but as Juliet is off to meet her boyfriend Nick, she realizes things are far more undead than usual. In the process of fighting zombies, Nick gets bitten and Juliet uses some magic spell to save him; or his head at least. With her chainsaw in hand and her boyfriend’s head on her hip, Juliet must fulfill her role as a zombie hunter and save her town from impending doom. Lollipop is strictly single player with the only acknowledgment of the outside world being online leaderboards which tracks high scores on each level. There are collectibles scattered throughout the world and there are upgrades, concept art, music and outfits you can purchase with medals you earn from playing. The formula is well known but how well does the zombie slaying, pom pom shaker stack up against other games wanting your time and money?
I Can’t See… Oh, Never Mind
It’s 2012, folks. How are we still having camera problems in video games? I guess camera controls are harder than they look (get it?). I don’t want to call the camera in Lollipop broken but I did struggle with it for the first few hours. In most cases you have complete control of the camera but once you move the view snaps back to its default position. Notice how I said most of the time. There are sequences where control is taken away from you. This typically happens when you have tight surroundings, probably to keep the camera from clipping through a wall. When fighting off several enemies at once, you don’t really have the time to manage the camera anyway, so total camera controls is somewhat unnecessary. There is a lock on which will focus your view on a single enemy, but that isn’t the best solution when fighting 15 zombies. After a few hours I just left the camera alone and got along well enough.
Wait, What Was That?
Lollipop is really bad about relaying information to the player. The tutorial screens don’t hang around long enough to read them. Several times, I received power ups and I was never told how to use them. Turns out they were only usable by buying special items in the store. As you may expect, Lollipop has some quick time events. When those were triggered, I often had no idea I what was happening, so I would hit the wrong button. This even led to game over in some cases. During the game Juliet will receive phone calls from her family. The first time this happens, she answers the phone automatically. After the call a tutorial goes by way too fast telling you to answer all phone calls for important information. However, it doesn’t tell you how to answer the phone. After missing a few calls and digging through all the in-game tips I could find, I gave up and went to the internet. Turns out you can’t answer the phone. You can only check Juliet’s voicemails in a menu. It’s this same lack of direction that made me feel like I was making all the wrong decisions when buying upgrades. Perhaps the game is made to scale or maybe the upgrades aren’t as powerful as in other games, but my Juliet felt no more capable at the end of the game than she did at the start.
Juliet Has Some Pep
As Suda51 does, he has created another great character with Juliet Starling. She’s a good girl who loves her Mom, America and her boyfriend too (wait…). She isn’t some fowl mouth, valley girl as the advertising made her out to be. She’s funny, level headed (but can show emotion when needed) and can totally kick some zombie butt. What impressed me most were her animations – no, that isn’t an innuendo. Juliet’s movements are surprisingly well detailed considering there is little-to-no animation priority. As you jump, kick, cut and smash zombies, Juliet’s moves flow quite well. It’s pretty impressive especially when you realize she is a cheerleader doing summersaults and back flips around an army of undead. I only noticed two hitches in her animations; turning without walking and getting knocked out of a combo.
Suda51 All Over
If you’ve played any of Suda’s past games, you know exactly what that means. Allow me to elaborate for everyone else. Suda has a unique flare to make things completely insane. When you destroy zombies, their bodies explode with medals. When Juliet swings her chainsaw, you leave a rainbow trail in the air. You carry the disembodied head of your boyfriend on your hip and can stick him onto headless zombies. If the game looks unique, it because Suda’s fingerprints are all over it. For me, with the flood of cookie cutter shooters that fill game stores, I like a little variety in my games. Lollipop delivers the same style of crazy that No More Heroes did. If you’re looking for something different, you can stop here.
Lollipop turned out exactly as I expected it would. It’s a fun game with a few problems and a lot of style. Juliet is another awesome character from the mind of Suda51 and I hope we get to see more of her (again, not an innuendo). Honestly, the game is a hard sell for $60. I would recommend catching it on sale or waiting for the price to drop a little before taking this one home. If you are the renting type, Lollipop would be perfect for a lazy weekend. You should give this one a shot at some point. Just don’t expect a God Of War polish from your new, favorite cheerleader.