It’s impossible to review Suda51’s latest, Lollipop Chainsaw without mentioning the words: Sparkles, rainbows, zombies and of course Lollipop and Chainsaw. So it goes without mention that, like the majority (if not all) of Suda51’s games, you’ll either going to love it, or hate it.
In Lollipop Chainsaw you play as the ever bubbly cheerleader Juliet, who like the rest of her family, is a zombie hunter. Which turns out to be quite lucky, as her school San Romero High is overridden with the undead hoard and it’s up Juliet, and the severed head of boyfriend Nick to save the day during 5-8 hours of Suda’s take on grindhouse horror.
The best thing about Lollipop Chainsaw is certainly the games style. Other than other Suda51 games, there’s not much else like it. The grindhouse aspects of the games designs are perfectly done and mash incredibly well with the cutesy Japanese\anime aspects of design. From the menu’s, map screen and in game shop, the overall style and design is fantastic & an immediate draw for the gamers who will love the game. Chances are, that if you’ve seen the promotional videos or screenshots and thought that it looks like great fun, you’ll find a lot to like with Lollipop Chainsaw.
The game plays as a basic brawler, with Juliet using her pom poms as a weak dazing attack and her chainsaw as the strong attack, slicing and dicing zombie parts in a glorious display of colours and rainbows rather than guts and gore (Similar to the pal release Suda51’s No More Heroes). Dodging is either cartwheels or leapfrogs & range attacks are also added later on at the game – With a whole host of new moves being unlocked via the games in game shop, which you use points you’ve acclimated via the destruction of Zombies.
Strangely, the vast selection of additional moves to unlock actually proves to be one of the greatest flaws with the game as the combat only becomes varied and fun towards the end of the first playthrough, so the majority of gamers just won’t see the depth and complexity of the games combat system – Which is a real shame as at it’s best, there’s a lot of depth there and a lot of fun to be found. You can also upgrade Juliet’s health, strength etc and there’s just not enough points to go round on the first playthough – You’ll constantly find yourself choosing between more health or a new move and it certainly has an effect on the first playthrough, which if you’re only going to play the game through once, is a real shame. Not only that, but the basic Pom Pom and chainsaw combos are not unlocked at the start and are in fact some of the most expensive moves to unlock which just doesn’t make sense from a design perspective for the players that only want to play through the game once.
But of course Suda51 doesn’t expect you to just play through the game once. There’s a whole host of miscellaneous unlocks from costumes to music tracks, as well as class mates to save and 2 different endings to see. It’s refreshing to see a game with a lot of bonus unlockable content that treats the gamers who put the time in, rather than just releasing them as paid DLC. If the combat system didn’t play into it the gameplay would be good enough for players to warrant another go to unlock everything, though as it stands there’s certainly a lot there for dedicated players.
The soundtrack is also worth a strong mention, as it truly stands out. Like the rest of the game, it’s a mash up of styles featuring tracks like Hey Mickey and You Spin Me Round alongside a selection of Metal and JPop. The soundtrack is fully customizable as well, allowing you to make your own zombie hunting soundtrack. Lollipop Chainsaw’s tunes will stay and play in your head long after the games finished, which is exactly what a soundtrack should do.
Lollipop Chainsaw is far from perfect, but it’s unadulterated fun. You will either play it through or refuse to play it at all, but for those who don’t mind the short story, some questionable minigames and having to put the work in to get the best from the combat system, they’ll find an incredibly fun, hilariously written game with a very unique style. And sparkles.
+ Unique grindhouse japanese mash up visuals.
+ Hilarious story with some genuinely funny moments & characters.
+ A lot of hidden unlockables.
- Combat system stripped complete bare to begin with.
- Short campaign.
- Some irritating set pieces & mini games.