Lollipop Chainsaw is a pretty simple game in most respects.
It utilizes rather simplistic mechanics, it's humour often stoops to lowest common denominator and one could argue the games sexy, zombie-slaughtering lead character is just pandering as all get out. And I for one am all for it. Not every game needs be complex, needs to be clever, needs to portray characters in a realistic fashion. Lollipop Chainsaw revels in fantasy and ridiculousness and that's what will keep you rapt from start to admittedly quick conclusion.
There's a story, not that it really matters.
Zombies happened! And Juliet Starling, Zombie Hunter & Cheerleader Extraordinaire is tasked with dealing with the situation. Well her and her severed head boyfriend. And she does this by beating them up.
Yes this is a beat-em-up in a fairly old school sense.
Like games of old you'll follow a linear path, killing zombies along the way whilst trying to set a high score.
Your basic weapons are your pom-poms and your over-sized chainsaw.
The strategy is basically to stun the enemy with your pom-pom attacks before finishing them off with your chainsaw, if you can kill at least three at a time you'll get scored better for it and additional gold & platinum coins to boot.
The former of which procures stat upgrades and new combos, the latter will garner you new outfits, background music and concept art which you can purchase from any of the stores you'll come across in game. So while you can button mash your way through the game and do fine, the game encourages some strategy by rewarding you with the funds for extra goods.
As simple as the combat is the game at least does a decent job at mixing up the scenarios and making the zombie killing interesting. There are survivors to save, zombie basketball to play and later on you'll get your hands on a gun and you'll be able to throw some shooting into the mix.
There's a lock-on system in the game as well but frankly I found it extremely unnecessary.
It doesn't really do you good to lock-on to one enemy when you're typically fighting them in groups, so just wading into groups and swinging the chainsaw around rather than trying to focus on one guy is the way to go.
Sometimes boss fights and such will force a lock-on and it works okay there, but otherwise it just makes things a hassle.
Speaking of boss-fights they might well be the best parts of the games to boot.
They're way more involved than your typical zombie encounter and feature some of the games most colourful characters as well. Whether you're fighting a zombiefied punk-rocker or an undead viking these battles are the games most interesting.
The game is visually quite striking, if not technically then certainly artistically.
I quite enjoy the juxtaposition of having the cliché, ditzy blonde cheerleader wielding a massive chainsaw and eviscerating hoards of zombies. And the 50's horror comic style of a lot of the HUD and menu elements is pretty rad too.
Lollipop Chainsaw also has a pretty rad soundtrack, with some great original compositions as well as good use of licensed music. And the voice work is top notch, especially on the leads. I think Michael Rosenbaum kind of steals the show as severed-head Nick, the straight man to Juliet's (played by the talented Tara Strong) constant, bat-shit crazy. As far out there as Juliet is, I think Nick gets the cleverer lines.
With all the current fervour over sexism in gaming it's quite easy to imagine that this game is going to get dumped on a fair bit and I'd argue unnecessarily so. For as long as it lasts, the game is terrific fun. It doesn't take itself seriously and nobody else should either.