Developer(s): Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher(s): Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Kadokawa Games
Genre: Action, Hack and slash
Release: June 12, 2012
Have you ever had that birthday that just…didn’t quite go the way you wanted it to? You didn’t get the present you wanted or your friends didn’t show up or your jealous younger sibling ruined your birthday cake because you were getting all the attention. Or maybe there is a zombie outbreak that you must deal with. Ok, that last part may not apply to you but it does to one Juliet Starling.
Lollipop Chainsaw is an action hack-and-slash game developed by Grasshopper Manufacture. It centers on Juliet Starling, a zombie-hunting cheerleader who attends San Romero High School. She arrives on the morning of her 18th birthday to discover that nearly all of her fellow students have been turned into flesh-eating undead horrors. Armed with a chainsaw, she sets out to stop the zombie menace. She soon finds her missing boyfriend Nick just in time to see him get bitten by a zombie when he tried to save her. To save him, the only solution was for Juliet to cut his head off before the infestation went to his brain.
The game offers intense action and dazzling effects. Juliet has light attacks which consist of her pom-poms and cheerleading moves, and heavy attacks with a bedazzled chainsaw. You basically herd the zombies with light attacks to set them up to finish them with the chainsaw. Kill three or more undead in a row and Juliet will be awarded a Sparkle Hunter bonus which grants her more zombie coins, the game’s currency, to be used to purchase upgrades and combat maneuvers. Juliet can also use the disembodied, yet still living, head of her boyfriend Nick to attack enemies or place him on headless zombies to assist her in various parts of the game. Killing enemies and saving classmates that are being attacked by zombies will fill up Juliet’s star meter, which is used for super attacks.
PRO: The combat mechanics of Lollipop Chainsaw are easy to control with th ability to mix light and heavy attacks. If you played games such as God of War or Bayonetta then this set up shouldn’t be a problem. The zombie enemies do put up a good fight and you’ll realize these are not your typical lumbering, brain-hunting undead monsters. The close quarters combat is reminiscent of the Devil May Cry games. The game also pays homage to Bayonetta with its star heroine’s affection for lollipops and stylish combat moves. But what really makes this game entertaining is the theme and music. Lollipop Chainsaw’s characters have clearly been influenced by teen horror movies. There’s the hot cheerleader, the cute boyfriend and the social outcast who is sick of being an outcast. Dialog in the game is atypical of California teens in the 80’s with cheesy pick-up lines from the guys and snooty remarks from the girls. Speaking of the which, it is a fun treat to hear Toni Basil’s breakout hit “Mickey” as the theme for Juliet’s Star Meter when activated.
CON: While the combat is easily controllable, there are a few quirks. First off, Juliet tends to stall in the middle of a fight to perform a cheer pose if you don’t follow through completely. I understand that this is part of her character but it is a hindrance when you’re facing an undead horde. There is no real way to compensate except to allow her to finish and hopefully dodge in time to avoid being struck. Another is the chainsaw combos which are effective for dealing death but the ending strike has a little too much lag that could spell danger for Chainsaw’s pom-pom shaking heroine unless you end in a position away from the crowd. Juliet is able to dodge attacks, but this is not as fluid as the protagonists in the aforementioned titles. You can’t really dodge-cancel attacks except for Juliet’s light attacks. As previously mentioned, you must wait for Juliet’s heavy attack to end before there is a moment for evasion. For the record, Kratos, Dante, and Bayonetta can dodge during their heavy attacks.
OVERALL: Despite the quirks, Lollipop Chainsaw is a fun and entertaining game. Its sparkling rainbow, Regan-era pop influence fits nicely with Juliet amidst the more modern heavy metal of the zombies. Tara Strong, known for her vocal work as Raven on “Teen Titans” and Ben and Gwen Tennyson on the “Ben 10”series, lends her talent to the game’s spunky, bubble-headed yet fearless zombie hunting cheerleader. The game is cute enough for female gamers and the fun of turning zombies into hamburger will attract the guys.
Lollipop Chainsaw gets 4 pom-pom shakes out of 5.
See you on the next level.