Recent PS3 and 360 release Lollipop Chainsaw is the latest lunatic progeny of Suda 51. Familiar as I am with the proud, disconcerting and befuddling tradition that brought us Killer 7, No More Heroes and other delectable oddities; I approached these newest travails with tongue firmly ensconced in cheek. Suda?s take on the zombie-infused hack and slash genre was sure to prove a delicious anomaly in many respects, and I certainly feel he delivered with wanton gusto in this regard. But what of the game as a whole?
The outlandish shenanigans open with an introduction to our heroine, Juliet Starling. On her eighteenth birthday, she arrives at her alma mater, San Romero High School; only to find the establishment in the grip of a zombie apocalypse. It soon transpires that a rift has been opened betwixt our Earth and the Rotten World. (There was, as I?m sure you could have ventured, some NOTORIOUS AND REALLY RATHER FIENDISH INDEED dark magic involved. Swan, a bullied student, is the perpetrator. Avenging himself by ravaging the planet and summoning five zombie demon lords (Dark Purveyors) could be neatly filed into the pigeonhole marked what the hell overkill, but we shan?t dwell upon this farcical overreaction. Admonished by her Sensei, Morikawa, Juliet sets out to destroy these hideous wraiths; armed only with her cheerleader pompoms and a pimped-out chainsaw. Because, as I may have neglected to mention, she?s the progeny of a prestigious zombie-eviscerating family (which constitutes much of the unhinged cast.)
Of course she is. Nothing screwy there.
Lollipop Chainsaw provides some wonderfully nostalgic arcade gameplay. You have two methods of attack, comprising the aforementioned juxtaposed arsenal. Your pompoms have a generally laughable damage output, but will leave the encroaching shamblers stunned. At this juncture, a simple chainsaw attack with decapitate them. You are free to forego the ?poms and endeavour to eviscerate a path through the horde with the saw, but that way lies abysmal score-ville. Herding is the name of the game, as dazing a group and sending heads flying en masse will initiate Sparkle Hunting. Hilarity prevails with this mechanic, which prompts a fleeting cutscene of sorts depicting rainbows gleefully erupting from the crumpling corpses and coins being wantonly flung about the arena like a celebratory ticker tape parade. With combos to purchase to bulster your belligerent repertoire (and further combat options liberally sprinkled about the levels, a certain firepole for instance) there are rather subtle nuances that elevate the game to a rather loftier status than a mere button-masher.
Your quest will take you betwixt a small crop of some of the most frenetic levels seen in gaming. You?ll fight your way across a farm, taking in a fleeting crushing zombies in a combine harvester detour. You?ll then arrive in a fiend-beleaguered arcade, and indulge in some bleep-tastic action in the machines themselves. It is certainly a brief game, five or so hours depending on how leisurely a pace you set. Most pertinently, it?s also a veritable cornucopia of creativity. Lollipop Chainsaw isn?t intended as a one-time experience. It?s a high-score demon?s title, stellar performances and leaderboard assaults abound.
The game is unashamedly offensive. It wantonly spews profanity and gratuitous adult themes. Heads and limbs alike propel themselves across the screen with vigorous gusto as you wave your death-stick. All of this is belied, however, by the playful nuances instilled within every moment of Lollipop Chainsaw. Unleashing your turbo-murder mode takes place to the ridiculous juxtaposition of 80?s pop ?classic? Mickey. Rather than great arcs of repellant viscera-bloodiness, you?re more apt to see magnificent sprouting rainbows.The staccato dialogue between Juliet and her boyfriend Nick (a disembodied cranium that dangles precariously from her hips throughout play) is peculiar, infinitely unpredictable and often highly entertaining.
A fine metaphor for the game itself.