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Review

Lollipop Chainsaw Review

  • Game release: June 12, 2012
  • Reviewed: June 18, 2012
  • X360

Lollipop Chainsaw is cheery and obscene, but it doesn't hit its marks consistently enough to be more than a passing amusement.

by

Juliet isn't having the best birthday. Sure, she's a chirpy, fresh-faced, popular 18-year-old cheerleader with a perfect body and a loving family, but her handsomely chiseled boyfriend has turned into a zombie, and things just aren't looking up. But Juliet's nothing if not resourceful, so she does what any right-thinking teenager would: she cuts off his head with a chainsaw, performs a bit of black magic, and ties his still-sentient head around her waist.

Clearly, you aren't supposed to take Lollipop Chainsaw seriously. You play as the sucker-loving Juliet, who, like the rest of her family, happens to be a zombie hunter. As luck would have it, her hometown is having a bit of trouble with the undead, and it's up to her and her chainsaw to slice and dice her way through her high school, across a baseball field, and through other mundane locales rendered all askew by vibrant neon-colored graphics and a general disregard for social propriety.

Just how improper is Lollipop Chainsaw? The opening cutscene features a just-18 Juliet welcoming you to her bedroom while the camera lovingly caresses her bare torso. She complains that she's getting fat from sucking on too many lollipops, though she has a physique women of any age would envy. Later, a high school classmate, saved from a zombie attack, happily calls out that he'll pleasure himself to thoughts of Juliet that night; elsewhere, a zombie-fied football player growls that he'll--well--let's just say the activity involves Juliet's noggin lodged somewhere you don't expect a noggin to comfortably fit.

Meanwhile, the screen explodes with pink hearts, yellow stars, and a million other bedazzlements, amping up the "cheerleader" theme just as Lollipop Chainsaw amps up its "sexual imagery" theme. Cheery pop tunes like Toni Basil's "Mickey" and "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" from Dead or Alive brighten the tone, too. With such touches, the game makes a clear attempt to take the pure pandering of Onechanbara (another game about scantily clad zombie killers) and twist it into something cheeky rather than downright crude. The first hour, however, takes these themes to the limits without doing much to outright parody them, which can be mightily uncomfortable. Eye-opening remarks about Juliet's breasts and anorexia references have shock value, but many of these early "jokes" are hardly clever.

Poor Anastasia. So much for finishing that college entrance essay.

Lollipop Chainsaw remains tasteless from beginning to end, but eventually, "funny" joins "dirty," and the game dredges up some real wit. When Juliet's rock-and-roll dad enters the picture, he and bodyless boyfriend Nick exchange some playful banter; their dialogue might involve a certain use of Nick's tongue, but it has the familiar touch of a protective father grilling his daughter's beau. It's the clash of the absurd and the authentic that makes this silly scene so funny. Exchanges between Nick and Juliet about his head-only state also tend to be hysterical, because they contrast Nick's mournful attitude about the loss of his body with Juliet's perpetual optimism. Even if the sexual drivel makes you feel uncomfortable, pop culture references ("I got that Katy Perry song stuck in my head. What a terrible way to die!") and surreal exclamations ("It is fun! It almost helps me forget that all my friends are dead!") can get you giggling.

The erratic quality of the writing carries over into other design elements too, though let it be said that on a basic level, Lollipop Chainsaw is fun to play. Your basic attacks are a pom-pom pummel that can stun undead freaks, a slower-but-solid chainsaw slice, and a downthrust that carves up zombies crawling along the ground. These attacks--along with an overhead leap--can be combined in various ways, and you buy more combos with the currency that showers down on you like pennies from heaven during battle. On normal difficulty, Lollipop Chainsaw isn't that much of a challenge, and the combo system doesn't have the depth of, say, Bayonetta or Ninja Gaiden. But this isn't Dynasty Warriors with zombies, either: various enemies explode, toss volatile canisters, and generally make nuisances of themselves, so you can't just rely on your standard chainsaw move in every encounter.

Juliet's prowess on the basketball court extends beyond her time under the bleachers.

A simple combat system like this can fall into a rut, however. Lollipop Chainsaw doesn't entirely avoid repetition, but it does a commendable job of keeping it at bay in the later hours. Battles are broken up by any number of ridiculous moments: driving a combine over fields of creeps; sticking Nick's head on zombies and watching him dance as you perform a series of timed button presses; and shooting boulders from the top of a school bus with your powerhouse of a ranged weapon. One video game-themed chapter offers one surprise after another, playing with your expectations while mixing up the visual style in fun and vibrant ways.

The overall structure isn't so surprising: the game leads you down a set path, opening new doors when you kill the predetermined number of meanies and concluding chapters with foul-mouthed boss characters. These multistage boss fights are entertaining, though--long enough to keep you invested in the fight, but not so long as to get monotonous. Like the rest of the game, boss battles aren't that hard, but they keep you on the move. One such boss is a giant Viking with an electric axe. He splits in two, lower and upper body attacking separately; returns as a giant head that eats his own legs; and spews lasers at you from his mouth. (According to this demon's character bio, his hobbies include disemboweling, drinking blood, and balancing a ball on his nose.)

Nick finally finds a way to come out a head.

And so Lollipop Chainsaw is enjoyable, but it isn't carefully assembled in the way of the best action games. The camera, for example, tends to get stuck in tight environments and doesn't move fluidly at even the best of times. Collision doesn't work properly; you can clearly make contact with an enemy yet do no damage, or do damage even when no clear contact is made. Quick-time events are often sloppy, the scene ending when the button press is still in progress, or the game not providing proper visual cues that one prompt has ended and the next (using the same button) has begun. Then there's the auto-aim on your ranged attachment, which annoyingly snaps to the closest enemy regardless of which way you might actually be facing.

There are other such foibles, a mix of loose details and awkwardly executed fundamental mechanics. They don't keep you from enjoying Lollipop Chainsaw, but there's no mistaking it for an action classic. Once you purchase a sizable repertoire of moves, you might have a shot at a good place on the online leaderboards. Actually, Lollipop Chainsaw is built for return visits: the game lasts for five hours or so, pushing you to chase high scores and buy enough combos to earn a fabulous end-level grade. If you do return, Juliet will be at your side, cheering you on while bemoaning her big fat butt. But like many strong personalities, she--like the whole of Lollipop Chainsaw--can grate your nerves. The game has lots of spunk, for sure, but it's ultimately no deeper than its vacuous star.

The Good
Some funny jokes and references
Frequent gameplay excursions mix up the pace
Fun boss battles
The Bad
Too often crude without being clever
Control and camera quirks
Combat lacks depth and finesse
6.5
Fair
About GameSpot's Reviews
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About the Author

Discussion

143 comments
camichan
camichan

At the current $20 price point, this game is a screaming deal, being worthy of twice that figure. No More Heroes 1 and 2 were my favorite games on the Wii and Lollipop Chainsaw is the closest I've come to finding that excitement again since. Unexpectedly, I've come to like Juliet Starling even more than Travis from NMH. Travis was a kind of an "anyman" where Juliet has her own unique story and personality. Many elements of the game shine, from the various minigames to racking up the star popping multi kills. Most of the stages are great to play through multiple times -- which is the intent. This game is underrated -- it should rate right up there with Shadows of the Damned.  

Thyasianman
Thyasianman

"I think 6.5 is too low" Then go to the user ratings section of the game and rate it whatever the hell you want! Jeez. It's just one man's opinion! He just knows how to write a review. His opinion doesn't mean it has to work with yours.

hammerforce
hammerforce

baaaaaaaaad

best thing in this game is juliet.

HKILLER88888
HKILLER88888

seems like a good game but i ain't no Console gamer and don't have one!if there would be a PC verson(like Version 2 of it) i think it needs more gore and less Bitch Slap!thou it's still seems really good!but 100% would be great on high graphics of PC!

fanaticsm
fanaticsm

get this game.....u wont be disappointed......

345tom
345tom

Which joke cracks you up, the witty joke with the peadiatrist or the crude one about some drunk?

Wensea10
Wensea10

Pretty much this is one of the more funnier hack-in-slash games around.

jslapbass
jslapbass

what do you expect from a player RPG gamer,

I think an rewiever has to be a hack and slash gamer to make the review.

in my opinion the game should have at least a 8.5

but is no from ROCKSTAR, so this is imposible

my opinion

(sorry for the bad english)

Setsuka13
Setsuka13

This is one person's opinion folks. It isn't the all knowing, definitive truth of this game. I know I'll still check it out and I'll decide for myself whether or not I enjoyed it. If you focus a little bet less on the numbers and a little more on the words, you'd see that he actually makes some very valid points. But again, that's just my opinion.

TiGHT_CTRLs
TiGHT_CTRLs

I recommend people read Gamespot´s article "Understanding the 6.0s" or something like that. Risk takers and raw games are often good for the industry in providing ideas. For example, Alpha Protocol´s choice system and intricacies could very well be implemented in adventure, choose your path games or even graphic novels, ditching the unpolished action gameplay (which is tedious in AP) for something that would allow several types of input and consequently a broader release to portable devices like iPhones and iPads.

_Mysty_
_Mysty_

6,5? Only 6,5 one of the best video games of the year? Oh, come on =\

varunvikram1
varunvikram1

I am not surprised and you shouldnt be either.

pycho22solid
pycho22solid

Meh', I think it's worth checking out, the bosses and style seem really awesome!

nathangray
nathangray

I think a 6.5 is plenty fair, that's just short of a 7. People are so used to seeing nothing but 8-10s from every game that comes out (which is the fault of writers and reviewers, by the way) that anything less looks like a failure. 6.5 counts as "Fair" as in, not the best but not bad. That seems to be the general vibe I'm getting from most people that play the game, and personally I like that Gamespot reviews haven't been 9's across the board lately. Let's see how long before they slip into bad habits.

ddt88
ddt88

Seriously Kevin. If everything pales in comparison to Skyrim, get someone else to do the reviews & stay in the background

Thorgallll
Thorgallll

I like Suda games, but this one is a kind of disappointment. I think a 6,5 is too much. I didnt enjoy the combat, it's boring. Some cutscenes are nice but it all gets repetitive in the game very soon. Lilian is a nice character but u have to be straight to enjoy that lol

suplax
suplax

Again GS let Kevin review a non-rpg game...

Fail.

theslovakian38
theslovakian38

how about... WHERE IS THIS IS VEGAS WARNER BROS!! why waste your time on this crap? ... really what were you guys thinking???

willfaria
willfaria

Come on Kevin, it's a very fun game, deserves more than 6,5 score.

saeed_11
saeed_11

i hate naked girls with a chainsaw

xdrmonkeyfishx
xdrmonkeyfishx

Just knowing that Tara Strong voices a character is enough to make me want to play this

wamsy102938
wamsy102938

Its not nessasarily a bad game it just didint deliver as expected.

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

I'm kinda bummed this one wasn't reviewed by Carolyn "GIRLS ARE NOT OBJECTS!" Petite. Would like to see her rage all over the game like she usually does in her editorials.

destinhpark
destinhpark

I got this game and I'm not disappointed in it at all. It fights right into the guilty pleasure genre such as WET and Mirrors Edge. I'm enjoying every minute of it.

reztoc
reztoc

If you want style and substance then go play Bayonetta.  If you want a guilty pleasure then go play this game.

QrGmNcShip016
QrGmNcShip016

Hilarious and a Fun Game to play...i just wish it couldve been longer though ._.

7h3_h4x3r
7h3_h4x3r

If I can unlock a birthday suit (u know what I mean!) costume I'm buying it :D

TomJimJack
TomJimJack

This game is a parody of the pop culture and it doesn't tries to be more than that, just pure, funny, screwball entertainment. The soundtrack was great and the action fast paced with really good college jokes thrown in. 

 

The review delivered by Kevin this time is just the over analysis of a brainiac!  

gamekingpin
gamekingpin

Dont be fooled by the score this game does not suck, I just think it didnt quite meet expectations

gamekingpin
gamekingpin

the closest you get I think is string bikini or something

Thorgallll
Thorgallll

 @isshiah

 

Does it show a lot that I am not really interested in that girl?

 

 I liked Suda51 former creation a lot more, Garcia Hotspur. Hey, I did remember that name!

Cillah187
Cillah187

@phatsanta Because he knows that if he gets a boner, she could potentially cut it off for being a pervert.

Steba93
Steba93

 @gamekingpin "Do not be fooled by the score" WTF? 6.5 means it's fair, not bad. Fair, 6.5, doesn't mean that it sucks. There's no need to say "Do not be fooled by the score" because 6.5 seems like fairly good for this kind of game. Same goes to the guy who said "I knew this game would suck." because at least I didn't hear Kevin say or write that it sucks, nor the score would give me such impression.

Thorgallll
Thorgallll

 @isshiah

 Guess you just wanted to taste something different. Sometimes you have luck and sometimes you don't :-)

isshiah
isshiah

 @Thorgallll i haven't played garcia's game. suda51's style isn't really my cup of tea...too crazy. haha

 

plus i don't like score based hack and slash games. i don't even know why i played lollypop chainsaw, to be honest.

Cillah187
Cillah187

@gamekingpin Due to the fact*

gamekingpin
gamekingpin

 @Steba93 

For most people, anything less than good 7.0 means it sucks do to the fact that there are plenty games getting 8.5 and better. So even though 6.5 is fair on this site a lot of people consider that a sucky score. 6.5 out of 10 on a test gets you an F and that does not stand for Fair, thats why I said dont be fooled by the score.  Not that serious really.

Lollipop Chainsaw

  • Xbox 360
  • PlayStation 3
Lollipop Chainsaw is an all-new third person action game featuring a killer heroine with a chainsaw that fights to stop zombies from taking over.
ESRB
Mature
All Platforms
Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language
Check out even more info at the Lollipop Chainsaw Wiki on Giantbomb.com