Has heart but is bogged down by poor production values.
Immediately after finishing Lollipop Chainsaw, I reminisced on the five hours I spent hacking up zombies. I couldn’t remember too many specific moments. The only things that really stood out were some one-liners from characters such as, “I’m so going to masturbate to you tonight!”. Not because they’re funny, but the crude humor sprinkled throughout the game is totally random and unnecessary. Some quirky elements like a handful of character performances were genuine, but the poor attempt at funny juxtaposition falls flat virtually every time. Some people will appreciate the game’s weirdness and find a few reasons to enjoy the ride, but no one will appreciate the combat, which makes up the bulk of the game.
Lollipop Chainsaw stars zombie huntress, Juliet Starling, bubbly cheerleader by day, chainsaw wielding zombie hunter by night. Her sexuality isn’t as in your face as Bayonetta, but most of the game’s jokes are sexual innuendos at her expense that she’s completely oblivious to. There’s even an achievement for panning the camera under her skirt. One moment she finds a stripper pole and tells her boyfriend she pole dances naked in her room. No, not to be sexy, it’s for exercise. The sexuality is largely innocent, but I was rolling my eyes mostly due to the lazy writing.
Juliet isn’t the only character in the Lollipop Chainsaw. A colorful cast of characters mostly including her zombie hunting family joins her. Most notable is her boyfriend, Nick, that is bitten early on and she has his living decapitated head on her belt. Nick carries most of the game’s clever elements. He was constantly throwing out dry and witty observations. He’s the straight man in a world gone mad. Early on, Nick is screaming at the insanity of the zombie apocalypse and Juliet’s carelessness about the entire situation. Eventually he accepts it, seeing a later boss saying, “Oh, a zombie that shoots lasers, of course…”
More moves and character upgrades can be purchased in a store that fittingly plays the song, “Lollipop” on loop. The amount of money gained from killing zombies never amounts to much. I was able to purchase a handful of moves and health upgrades, but it was too difficult to see the full arsenal of abilities due to a lazy attempt to create replayability. You can go back to rescue missed classmates and gather those extra abilities, but who would really want to? Playing through Lollipop Chainsaw once was ok at best, but I can’t imagine anyone going for round two.
There’s a good game in developer, GrassHopper Manufacture’s latest. There are genuinely funny moments and the game is bursting with character. However, it’s wrapped in low production values, slightly above Onichanbara’s quality, and has one too many jokes that are more crude than funny. There’s something very direct-to-DVD about Lollipop Chainsaw. It has a B-Movie charm and the weirdness is often charming when it puts its best foot forward. But there simply aren’t enough great moments to make up for the uninspired gameplay. For a game about a highschool girl with a decapitated head as boyfriend, chainsawing her way through the undead, the craziness isn’t embraced as much as it should be. All these problems combined, leaves a game that never gains enough momentum to be satisfying in any way.