Lollipop Chainsaw User Review
The game starts with zombie hunter Juliet Starling getting out of bed on her 18th birthday so you won't be accused of questionable ogling. A local high school outcast has opened a path to a terrible netherworld and let five evil stereotypes out along with a zombie infection that has turned most of your fellow students into flesh eaters. Juliet teams up with the severed head of her boyfriend Nick, her martial arts teacher, and the totally off the wall members of her family to overcome the hordes with a multipurpose chainsaw and some great moves.
The graphics are good enough and clearly not the focus of this adventure. There's nothing to write home about here (that is if you even tell anybody you are playing this guilty pleasure) but I was a little more pleased than I was with Grasshopper Manufacture's last effort Shadows of the Damned. The presentation is lively and colorful with mostly smooth animations depending on how much is happening on screen. Graphical shortcuts are unfortunately easy to spot but you'll be having so much fun you shouldn't care. On screen you get something that occasionally borders on a cell shaded look without crossing that line and a very subtle comic-book like overtone of “Ben-Day” dotting. The most important cut-scenes sometimes come with obvious screen tearing. The makers clearly hope you dismiss the graphical issues and to be honest it's a very easy thing to do when your mind is on what wild thing could happen next.
So what can you expect while playing? Variety. If you're worried about the sparkles and pink stuff mixed in with the blood you shouldn't be, it just works somehow. The basic chainsaw combat system is not particularly varied though, and honestly I had hoped for more there. You have a pom-pom attack to soften up the zombies, a chainsaw attack to cut them to ribbons, and a slick jumping dodge maneuver to begin with. You might have seen this one coming: lollipops equal health. You'll grab gold and silver zombie medals from your defeated foes which can be spent on upgrades. Upgrades include health and strength increases, better range attacks, new combos and moves, roulette options for Nick's head, and various items. You can also buy different outfits for Juliet because well . . . you know.
Because Juliet carries a gigantic chainsaw she isn't terribly fast but she is very flexible, the slight sluggishness is easy to get used to but it makes combos feel off. I wanted to execute the button sequences in concert with her strikes but they work best if you just input them and then let her do her thing. It's a little counter intuitive to the frantic frenzy of action that will make you want to button mash but the good news is you can certainly get by with mashing if that is your taste. The design of the levels is all about constantly changing backdrops and varied layouts, however Lollipop is extremely linear. The linearity didn't bother me because I was too busy keeping up with the game but more open maps would have been much appreciated. I still challenge you to find all the lollipops.
The structure is old school; survive each level and take on a boss. The strategies to defeat them differ of course but there's nothing ground-breaking or particularly challenging about them. That was fine by me because the battles were entertaining and the bosses themselves are very cool and very good at making you want to kill them.
I feel I'd be remiss not to give you some examples of what to expect from the lunatic fringe's poster boy Suda 51 in this outing. Sparkle Hunting: slice off three or more heads in one swing for rewards, Chainsaw Dash: drive Juliet and her saw through zombies more or less like a motorcycle, Nick: whether shooting him at enemies or plunking him onto zombie bodies for help you'll be glad he's around. Sports: thrilling rounds of zombie head basketball and chainsaw-cannon powered baseball make for great past times. It's all over the top and very goofy. Juliet even has the foresight to cover her herself if you try to tilt the camera up her skirt (however you will get a trophy for attempting this peep.) I won't give it all away but there's plenty more and something is always happening.
From sparkling sparkle kills to chainsaw against metal the sound is exactly what you'd expect for this kind of cheesy fun. The effects are usually on schedule with actions that complement the experience all around. The voice acting is well done most of the time however I'm not oblivious to the fact that some of these performances could easily grate on people. Juliet and Nick get most of the voice time and they are pitch perfect, constantly offering quips and silly dialogue. The music sticks to two genres that normally shouldn't go together, classic pop and hard rock. You can't help but enjoy “Mickey” playing in the background when you spend your star meter on a major strength boost. Occasionally the sound effects and music will duke it out for air time on your speakers, which is a shame because it even interfered with my Mickey vibe.
Believe it or not there's some replay value here. There may be no multiplayer but you can certainly compete for rank in the online leaderboards once a stage is complete. The varying difficulties change the locations of the lollipops, and you'll have to play more than once to get the medals to unlock all the outfits and art.
This game is for any gamer that ever enjoyed a B horror movie, can appreciate the super cheesy, or wants to grin like a kid while playing a game. A technical wonderland it is not, but for a good time call Juliet. She doesn't have a cell phone, but there is a big red phone receiver inside her chainsaw.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.