If we told you that there was a video game which revolved around an 18-year-old cheerleader with the body of a goddess who runs around with a rainbow coloured chainsaw which she uses to decapitate zombies and is available right now for your beloved Xbox 360 console… you’d probably call us liars but thankfully today, that is something we are not.
The entire game takes place over the course of one in-game day and that day happens to be Juliet’s 18th birthday. It also happens to be the day where ‘shit hits the fan’ and zombies infest the school she attends as one student isn’t happy with his current life and opens the gates to the rotten world. Thankfully, Juliet comes from a family of experienced zombie hunters but Nick, her boyfriend, gets caught up in the action right at the start of the game. Juliet does the only reasonable thing; beheads him and casts a magic spell on him to keep him alive and attached to her at all times… can’t doubt that logic.
Juliet may be an *ahem* well-developed blonde cheerleader but she knows how to deal with the zombie onslaught. Her arsenal consists of a multi coloured chainsaw which can be used by hitting A for low chainsaw swipes and Y for higher chainsaw hits while the X button is used for a pompom stun attack which you’ll never use again after the first level. A few more items are available as you progress through the game such as a chainsaw blaster and the ability to use your boyfriend’s head as a weapon.
If you can overlook the self-acknowledged cheesy storyline, you’ll find the game’s story to be entertaining as hell. The endless one liners will put a smile on your face as Juliet makes a comment about her ‘fat ass’ as she inhales lollies left, right and centre to replenish her health or Nick making a passing comment about being by Juliet’s butt and it going completely over her head. Gotta love those innuendos.
When you first start the game you can’t help but love the games art style. The general theme throughout is extremely cartoony/semi-cell shaded and it works well with the games over the top gameplay and story… y’know, a zombie hunting 18-year-old cheerleader who pulls a chainsaw out of her backside – not literally.
As with any beat ‘em up, a lot of the game comes down to the skills that you unlock and how you use them. In Lollipop Chainsaw, you unlock them by killing zombies and earning medals; the gold and platinum medals are then spent in the Chop2Shop.Zom store, allowing you to unlock anything from health upgrades to new weapon combos. There’s a fantastic range of items and skills to unlock but it’s a shame that they’re all useless as soon as you realise the chainsaw-front flip-swing (A, X, X) is the best move in the game and that combination is going to be something which you’ll be using constantly.
This one quick button combination will beat every-single-enemy in the game in a matter of seconds; yes, you heard that right. It gets worse… this same weapon combination will even wipe the floor with the end of stage bosses once you’ve successful hit some very simple and near impossible to miss quick time events.
You’ll encounter a whole range of zombies from the bog standard brain-dead zombie to special zombies which have health bars above their head and have special abilities such as firemen zombies breathing fire or NFL player zombies who are able to charge and knock you down. Even though most special zombies are easy to beat, the zombie cop who fires a pistol is something nightmares are made of; it’s up there in the ‘most frustrating enemies ever’ category as they make it impossible for you to get up as they knock you down the second you regain your balance.
Depending on the type of special zombie you come across, you may find they can take one hell of a beating but Juliet has a special ability up her sleeve. After enough zombies are slaughtered and enough stars are collected, you can enable sparkle-mode where you insta-kill every enemy in a colourful and sparkly way. This backed with some awesome 90’s pop-punk, what more could you ask for? You’ll find yourself trying for more impressive combinations just so you can use this special more.
I know for me personally, I’ve always had an awful habit of getting lost in beat ‘em up titles simply due to never really knowing where you’re meant to be heading. You’ll never have to worry again about that in Lollipop Chainsaw as there are literally giant flashing arrows at every corner pointing you in the direction you need to head. Not only are there giant arrows flashing in your face, you’re only able to move onto the next area if you completely clear all the zombies in your current location.
Lollipop Chainsaw’s tactic of ‘only able to move on if you clear the current area’ becomes incredibly boring and feel like a constant grind, especially when you’ve done it potentially 8 hours to complete the game. It’s only broke up by the games cheesy one liners and occasional special zombies before you eventually unlock a new chapter and your environment changes… to then do it all again.
Unfortunately Lollipop Chainsaw doesn’t feature any real multiplayer but it does have extensive leaderboards for each stage, we all love spread sheets with our friends name on them with a string of numbers. As you play a stage, you earn points by performing impressive combinations as well as earning bonus points at the end of the stage depending on grades you get in specific areas such as number of times you die and the number of zombie medals you collect.
If you’re able to come into Lollipop Chainsaw with an open mind and not expect a super-serious action game, you’ll have a blast as it is an entertaining game. The problem is that the novelty of a chainsaw swinging cheerleader does wear off eventually; you then realise it’s nothing more than a mediocre hack n slash with broken mechanics in an extremely perverted world.