All through our review, Lollipop Chainsaw never really felt like it had a huge outlook. It seemed content with the limited bits of inventive entertainment it had on offer. Nevertheless, a pompom-waving, lollipop-sucking cheerleader going around town decapitating zombies with a fancy chainsaw is a novel concept that deserves plaudits. Grasshopper Manufacture however hasn’t been able to pluck out the ultimate product from this idea. The game has various moments wherein it shines beyond doubt, but an equal number questionable choices hold it from achieving brilliance.
It’s Juliet Starling’s eighteenth birthday, and she’s all stoked about finally introducing her boyfriend Nick to her family. She however also has a secret to reveal to Nick – the fact that she’s a zombie hunter and that everyone in her family does the same for a living. Her earnest plan bites the dust when a zombie outbreak hits her school, turning Nick into an undead whose only hope of surviving is letting go of his body.
Bizarrely enough, he’s now just a head hanging from Juliet’s waist. Together they must go into battle with the zombies and put an end to the mayhem brought about by an ostracized goth from their school who goes by the name Swan. As much as it is ludicrous and funny, the story of Lollipop Chainsaw doesn’t quite manage to take care of a number of loopholes that pop up every now and then. Take for instance, the back-story of the town in which the game is set. It may be sprawling with undead fiends right now, but details of such occurrences in the past have been left unmentioned, and this in turn fails to explain how Juliet’s family boasts of zombie-hunting as an occupation.
The voice-actors excel in their parts with memorable performances. The limelight in this department is hogged by Michael Rosenbaum who plays Nick with utmost splendor. There’s unforeseen humor pumped into practically every situation, thanks to his banter. Juliet’s family consists of two sisters and her parents, and the portrayal of all these well-realized characters does bring some much-needed depth to the story. But another small hiccup that the game suffers from is that during gameplay, the lips of all these characters don’t move while they’re speaking. Cutscenes don’t take up too much time in Lollipop Chainsaw, and pointless vulgarity in addition to some hilarious moments have been woven into them in order to make them look interesting.
The game’s hack and slash action doesn’t have the right kind of enemies to complement it well. What we’re trying to imply here is that the zombies take quite a lot of hits before dying, making the slaying experience a bit weary at times. Gameplay additions like Star Soul and Pole Dance therefore save the day. The former is a power-up that allows Juliet to behead zombies with a single swipe of her chainsaw while also scoring high points for combo kills. Pole Dance on the other hand, enables Juliet to slaughter the undead while showing off her moves on the pole.
And these neat features are kept company by a number of mini-games that are based on everything from baseball to basketball to even classic games like Pac-Man. If not that, Nick’s head can also be used to trigger mini-games that grant bonuses. Juliet’s chainsaw doubles up as a grenade launcher in the latter part of the game. The coins earned during combat can be spent at special shops mainly for buying combo attacks. Although well choreographed, these attacks don’t really make you relish them. They feel just as effective as the other attacks.
Lollipop Chainsaw has some memorable boss battles however, which are annoyingly funny owing to their design. Annoying, because they tend to stretch too long. And funny, because well, they are. Your ultimate goal here is to slash through these zombies, and keep doing that until they stop resurrecting themselves. What adds more flavor is that these bosses, who have a penchant for throwing in gimmicky pop culture references from time to time, have been modeled after stereotypes pertaining to various genres of rock music.
Punk rocker Zed is a foul-mouthed brat, while hippie Mariska is immersed in her psychedelic trip. And there’s even the viking metal zombie Vikkie and funk rocker Josey who blabbers in an auto-tuned voice. We have to admit, these touches had us looking forward to boss fights all throughout the game. The game’s graphics are uninspiring, but the tremendous use of colorful imagery makes it look remarkable at times. An exceptional soundtrack has been brought together for the title by Grasshopper Manufacture. A host of tracks can be unlocked by gamers while playing, and can be used to create playlists that can be switched on during gameplay.
Final Word: Lollipop Chainsaw is short in length, but features a Ranking mode with worldwide leaderboard support for players to jump into levels again and best their scores. Despite its shaky graphics, the game is a treat to look at with its multihued artistry. Its hack and slash model is not a bad one, but only if we weren’t made to wait so long for a zombie to die. Overall, the game can be enjoyable, however its limitations are made frequently apparent. The short length might even make you wonder whether it justifies its price tag.
Replay Value: 7.5/10
Overall (not an average): 7/10