I’m sure everyone is sick to death of zombie games, and Lollipop Chainsaw is another of many. But Lollipop Chainsaw is a zombie game featuring a ditzy cheerleader with a decapitated head for a boyfriend. And killing stuff with a chainsaw makes rainbows and sparkles. Plus you can enjoy such delights as Zombie Basketball and Zombie Pong. All to The Human League, Joan Jett or Sleigh Bells. So just like any other zombie game then.
Lollipop Chainsaw is a simple hack n slash game packed full of weirdness to make it stand out from the crowd. On Juliet’s birthday all her classmates have been turned into zombies and she just about manages to save her boyfriend Nick by cutting his head off and strapping some device on his neck so he still lives. The two with the help of Juliet’s family must find and destroy the five super powered zombies to save the day. Just an average day then.
The game plays like a simplified Devil May Cry, with main lead Juliet having to kick and slash her way through the undead. Tap X for light attack, Y for heavy attack, A for under attack and B to dodge. It is as simple as can be, making for what initially seems like a rather bland experience, despite all the unusual events taking place. But once you’ve bought a few combos, the game opens up and things begin to get really fun.
Moving through each of the seven stages killing zombies with the basic controls was never the intended way to play, as to score big you have to be able to go sparkle hunting. Sparkle hunting is when you kill three or more zombies with one swing of the chainsaw. This typically requires stunning them with light attacks first and then taking them out for a bunch of medals which can be spent on new moves, health items, costumes, or other such delights. Once you have a full set of moves, taking out zombies becomes a lot more fun and the rainbows and sparkles only add to the pleasure of mowing down the undead. I particularly like the three jabs with the pom poms the Juliet lifting from the ground as she swings her chainsaw crashing into the zombies. You can also use her decapitated boyfriend Nick as a weapon too. He makes a good swinging device as well as providing some of the most hilarious lines in the game. Pop culture references galore.
The game keeps things fresh with the upgrades, mini-games and boss fights it sticks in each level. The chainsaw gradually improves, turning into a motorbike engine to a gun and each level has at least one different way to play, from driving a combine harvester round a field while ‘You Spin Me Right Round’ plays to collecting keys while some dogs in fez’s hunt you down like Pac-Man. They help break up the killing though not always with successful results. They tend to be passable rather than anything special, though one mini-game involving a gondola moving up a skyscraper while dodging obstacles is infuriating. At least it is done with neon colours and to The Human league. The boss fights are the highlight however as you battle some truly psychotic monsters. Dodging swear words from a punk rocker zombie and facing an auto tune UFO driving zombie are events you are unlikely to forget.
Lollipop Chainsaw is a simple game with an insane mind behind it. The gameplay can sometimes feel archaic or limited along with the visuals, but once it opens up it becomes as fun as the crazy characters suggest. And I definitely want a decapitated head to stick on my hip.