Lollipop Chainsaw

For some time, when friends would complain that the zombie games need to go away I would add that they should go only after Lollipop Chainsaw comes out. The advertisements and trailers played up the raunchy parts, but the real appeal is in the sheer madness and unabashed old school fun. While the game itself doesn’t innovate, the game is a solid, albeit brief, experience.

The story revolves around a cheerleader with a knack for zombie killing and a giant chainsaw fighting through a horde of the undead. Her boyfriend gets bitten, so she removes his head to save him and proceeds to carry him around like a set of keys throughout the game. The player character with a bodiless sidekick sounds like the winning formula from Shadows of the Damned, and it works well. Nick, the boyfriend, makes a good Sancho to Juliet’s Don Quixote. As a rule of thumb, I don’t like stupid heroes, but Juliet comes off more as ditzy than oblivious. That she more often explains to Nick the way the universe works than others explain it to her is refreshing, and she is having a blast killing zombies which fits the goofy tone of the game.

Combat is straight forward, but it should be noted that the name of the game is getting a high score and lots of medals. The first time around, just winning will be the goal, but as you progress through the game and make sufficient upgrades, you’ll become quite a killing machine. Sparkle Hunting is when you deal the fatal blow to three or more zombies simultaneously, and this nets more points and medals compared to killing zombies individually. This will be difficult to do early on, but this is compensated for with a gauge you can fill up and trigger at will a special mode where Juliet is invincible and can smite zombies with a single blow, set to a memorable one hit wonder. Stage 5 has to be my favorite level in the game: it’s minigame free, all about putting the lessons and upgrades you acquired to use, and it culminates in an awesome boss battle.

Minigames and QTEs, these are ubiquitous in modern games and it’s no shock that they would be part of this one too. Overall, minigames are a nice way to break up the normal gameplay though to be honest I don’t think it ever gets boring. One stage is minigame heavy, but it works with the nature of the level. QTEs in general are a pain in the neck, but they are done at times that make sense, are practically telegraphed to the player, and you have plenty of time to do them. There are QTEs where failure means death, but they are very hard to screw up.

Seems like everyone can’t avoid talking about the risqué humor and pantyshots, so let’s get this nonsense out of the way. As upskirt action goes, you find it if you’re looking for it, if not then it’s pretty sparse. Yes, there is plenty of perversion in the scenes involving the elderly Japanese gentleman, but he’s a minor character. The alternate costumes are par for the course, and the one that managed to raise my pulse was the Shiro from Deadman Wonderland outfit hugging Juliet’s curves. I can’t help thinking about the time some friends got up in arms because of the sexual themes in the game Catherine because the ads overplayed it, but in the end it was a good game that simply had some grown up subject matter. Plainly put: If any talk of sex bothers you and you don’t care about playing good games, then don’t play it. If you want porn and you don’t care about playing good games, then don’t play it.

The one real defect of the game is that it’s too damn short. The first run could be finished in less than six hours, but there’s replay value in fulfilling objectives like beating the high score, buying extra outfits, or tackling the Ranked Mode. However, Ranked Mode should be challenged in earnest after getting all the goodies you care to get as those medals received don’t count for buying stuff in Story mode. The gun can be wonky between the autolock sticking to one enemy and you’re trying to pick off the explosive barrel behind him. Nick Tickets let you use a special move, but are of limited usefulness even though using those fit with the absurd tone of the game. All in all a fun game that is only hindered by being a little too short, but the crazy fun to be had is abundant though a frugal gamer might be better off renting or waiting for a major price drop.

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