Review by Rareware0192

"The Perfect Eighteenth Birthday?... Only Juliet Starling."

Introduction

Lollipop Chainsaw is a recent release developed by Grasshopper Manufacture which stars a busty, blonde high school cheerleader whose name is Juliet Starling and goes to a fictional California high school called San Romero. It's Juliet's eighteenth birthday during the length of the game and she is to meet her boyfriend, Nick Carlyle, at the high school parking lot who's waiting to give Juliet her present.

Now as the name of the game implies, "Lollipops" and "Chainsaws" both hold very important roles in the game. Juliet's favorite food (or treat, rather) are lollipops, and the Starling family are secretly professional zombie slayers, where the chainsaw comes in as that's Juliet's weapon of choice to fight against said zombies.

Gameplay

As mentioned before, Juliet fights with a chainsaw. Which indeed is no spoiler as by the game cover you can see her wielding a chainsaw, and the fact that she takes it out from her school bag right in the beginning of the game. The gameplay can be fun to play at times, but at the same time can get a little frustrating. For people who enjoy more of a "button-mashing" hack and slash action game, this is definitely a part of the game they will enjoy indefinitely.

There are a bunch of combos that can be used between attacking with your chainsaw for more damage, and your pom-poms for quicker attacks that add a stun effect to enemies. More combos and skills can be unlocked via the ingame shop, Chop2Shop.zom. You'll find yourself smashing around the Y and X Buttons to kill hordes of zombies that come after you. Sounds fun, right?

Unfortunately, the game can and will hurt your fingers after a time, especially if you're still an amateur at button-smashing concepts like I am, only having played slightly similar games like Bayonetta and Dante's Inferno, I found myself pausing and tossing the controller to the side just so I can rub my sore fingers before delving more into the game. In all honesty, it was kind of fun getting to murder a bunch of zombies with a whole bunch of nice moves.

As far as how fun the game is, I'd have to say it had its moments of interest but mostly towards the beginning of the game when I was still figuring out most of the controls and getting to kill all these zombies. But honestly after Chapter 2 or 3 or so, the game got too repetitive and all I realized I was doing was just killing a group of zombies, moving onto the next area, doing a frontflip into a platform, killing more groups of zombies, etcetera.

The difficulty of the game is average (at least in the normal mode setting which I played on) although I found some moments of the game highly unfair especially in button pressing/smashing sequences where you had to shift between A, B, X, and Y to complete some actions moving onto the next, as I found most of these sequences wanted to be royal pains and go by in a split of a second. Especially in the end of the last boss a simple mistake as messing up one button in the sequence will have you going to the very beginning of the boss fight.

I found most of the controls decent as well. Most things are explained to you in the prologue and new controls and systems would add on as you progress through the game, such as spinning on a pole (yes... spinning on a pole), getting new weapons, learning how to dash, etcetera. Yet you end up getting so many skills and so many different controls that most of them will be easily forgettable, of course to some that might be a positive while to others such as myself that might be considered a nuisance trying to figure out all the different controls.

I should also mention most of the game takes a more humorous/comical approach at many things. Lots of Juliet's remarks, Nick's responses, hell even the zombies tend to try their luck at humor throughout most of the game. Juliet acts very "girly girl" like most cheerleaders tend to do. The only problem I have with this is that most of the humor seems forced and plain out unfunny. Sure there were those moments I laughed or chuckled every time they would make a funny reference, but having a fat zombie pop out of the crack of the wall and saying "I'm so f**king fat" isn't necessarily humorous; or having a random classmate who was just a few seconds ago cowering in utter fear from being surrounded by zombies suddenly come up with "I'm SO gonna jerk off to you tonight, Juliet." Yeah... you do that...

Also, the game introduces many systems to you as you progress that aren't even that important. As mentioned before there's pole-spinning/dancing, yet you only really pole-spin/dance twice or three times in the game. They introduce a system where you jump on the heads of the zombies which would trigger an instant-kill, yet I've only remembered seeing that about twice in the game. In other words, they introduce lots of mechanics, yet these mechanics return into the game very little.

One last thing I feel that I should really include is that the game is very glitchy. Possibly one of the most glitchiest games I've ever played on the XBOX 360. One moment of the game I remember was during the last boss fight, a zombie grabbed onto me and the animation went by so slowly that I had to wait nearly 3 minutes for the whole animation to play out before getting back into the fight (not to mention I was already frustrated in the fight before this happened). So yeah, pretty glitchy.

I would rate Gameplay at 6/10.

Story

As recently aforementioned, Juliet Starling is part of a family specialized in zombie slaying, and is the middle sibling and daughter of the Starling family. It's the special day for Juliet Starling as she transitions from turning into a teenager into a young adult and plans to meet up with her boyfriend, Nick Carlyle, in the parking lot at the high school they both go to, San Romero. Nick was going to meet Juliet's family for the first time. Juliet is also head cheerleader of the cheerleading squad and everything goes smoothly at the very beginning of the game where she rides her bicycle to school.

Now this is where the game leaves you going WTF?! Out of nowhere, as she's riding her bicycle, zombies show up rampaging the streets and her bicycle crashes into a stationary crashed bus and she flies off landing on both her feet, takes out her bag one might first guess is for her cheerleading, and pulls out a chainsaw from said bag to kill the zombies.

More is explained as you play but I know for certain when I was playing I had absolutely no idea what was going on for nearly a half hour or so. First of all, she apparently carries a chainsaw with her all the time yet her boyfriend never knew she was a zombie slayer. Anyway, a little bit into the game Juliet arrives at the spot where she was to meet her boyfriend and finds only corpses of zombies. Worried she looks around for any signs of her boyfriend, completely neglecting an approaching zombie from behind when Nick heroically tackles the zombie into the ground and takes a bite into the arm.

Juliet then proceeds to chopping off her boyfriend's head off before the zombie venom seeped into his brain and turned him into a zombie himself, in which she then places his head somehow on her belt and continues killing zombies in search of her mentor, which brings about the biggest unanswered question in the game: how Nick is still somehow alive.

A little later the two meet Juliet's sensei, Morikawa, who gives a small bit of information to the two regarding the realms of their universe and explains that someone somehow opened up a portal between their Earth and the Rotten World, and goes leaves the two in search of that person. It's later figured out that a gothic guy named Swan had it with all the bullying he's endured through his high school years and he used black magic to open up the portal and lead the zombie plague into their world, as well as five demon lords that are themed after different types of rock music (alternative rock, hardcore punk, psychedelic rock, disco funk, and rock & roll). It then becomes Juliet's main goal to kill these five demon lords and she goes throughout the game to different areas which would lead her to a different demon lord.

By the way do not worry none of this is spoilers as it's all part of the beginning of the game. (Prologue and a bit of Chapter 1)

I would rate Story at 5/10.

Graphics/Sounds

The graphics of Lollipop Chainsaw are very similar to many other Suda51/Grasshopper Manufacture games such as No More Heroes. They have a very vibrant yet animated/sketched vibe that many of their games have. Everything seems bright and colorful and for the most part very pleasing to the eye. Honestly one of my favorite things about this game.

The sounds are also very enjoyable. Most of the background music holds a rock soundtrack that you get to play via the main menu for your enjoyment. Some songs you get to buy off the ingame store so you can add it into your collection but I never really got to buy all of them, but from what I have heard it's pretty good if you're into rock that is. The ingame store's music is the infamous "Lollipop" song by Chordettes. "Hey Mickey" by Toni Basil is played every time your zombie soul meter is full and you unleash a berserk mode.

The voice acting in the game is also pretty well done. Juliet sounds like a girly girl cheerleader, Nick sounds like he could be a totally confused athletic boyfriend who makes sarcastic yet casual responses once in a while, the voice acting of the first demon lord is done by none other than the lead singer of the band Mindless Self Indulgence, Jimmy Urine.

I would rate Graphics/Sounds at 9/10.

Play Time/Replayability

Now like most games of this type of genre, usually hack and slashes aren't that long. Lollipop Chainsaw is no exception, as you're looking at about 10-20 hours of play time. 5-10 if you're familiar with these types of games and have the natural tendency to know where you're going (which in Lollipop Chainsaw most of the path is pretty straightforward).

Replayability is an option for those looking to get achievements such as beating Juliet's dad's score in levels, getting both the good and bad ending, etcetera. However other than that it's not really anything new once you've beaten. I believe you get Nightmare mode unlocked which is also for an achievement if I recall correctly, but again nothing that really captivates someone to play the whole thing over.

Final Recommendation

For those who enjoy hack and slashes, button mashing, silly yet sexual humor and high school themed action games, this game would more than likely be a good addition to your video game collection. For those who are unsure after reading this review, I would recommend watching a few gameplay videos first before considering purchasing or renting it. I rated it a 6/10 because I myself enjoyed the game yet found the game somewhat repetitive and silly, although to some they might find those certain things enjoyable.

Overall Rating

My overall rating for Lollipop Chainsaw would by 6/10, which to me is a little below average. Here are some quick to read pros and cons:

+ Fun gameplay
+ Controls were decent
+ Graphics were nice
+ Sounds were nice

- Your fingers will hurt after a while (part of button-mashing, I know)
- Many unnecessary game mechanics
- Gets repetitive
- "Meh" story


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 09/10/12

Game Release: Lollipop Chainsaw (US, 06/12/12)


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