Lollipop Chainsaw (LC) is the latest game from famed/overrated developer Goichi Suda AKA Suda51 (depends on which side of the fence you’re on) and it’s freaking weird. Of course, you already knew that because everything from Suda51 is laced with over-the-top humour, inappropriate sexual innuendos and stabs at Western pop culture. This has largely worked for him in the past, granting his games critical if not commercial success. However, Lollipop Chainsaw falls flat on most fronts coming across as annoying and awkward because it’s trying so very hard to stand out from the crowd.
Now before you roll your eyes at the back of your head and assume I don’t “get” his brand of your humour, know that I really enjoyed Shadows of the Damned. I totally dug the game’s grindhouse vibe and literally laughed out loud at a lot of the game’s juvenile, yet seemingly appropriate dong jokes. With Lollipop Chainsaw, I sensed something amiss right from the time I inserted the game into drive. I think a huge chunk of that has got to do with the game’s protagonist, Juliet Starling. In SoTD, I could get behind Garcia Hotspur because even though he felt like a cocky ass, he was on a noble mission to save his girlfriend from eternal damnation. Starling comes across as someone quite unbearable from the get go with her overtly chirpy demeanor and juvenile babble. I understand her character has been significantly exaggerated for comedic effect, but all it did was rub me the wrong way.
Bleeding rainbows, only possible in a Suda51 game
In case you haven’t got it by now, Lollipop Chainsaw puts you into the boots of Juliet Starling, a regular American teen who loves pop music, lollipops and of course, killing zombies. You see Juliet and her entire family are age old zombie hunters who’ve done a remarkable job of blending into society showing their true colours only when the undead start walking all over their turf. All’s well for this seemingly normal family till some Goth kid starts resurrecting the dead in town because well, he’s a troubled Goth who hates society and that’s how they roll.
As if having your hands full with a potential zombie apocalypse wasn’t bad enough, Juliet finds out that her boyfriend, Nick Carlyle has been infected and will soon turn into one of the undead, unless of course, she decapitates his head. Won’t that kill him in the process you ask? Normally we’d go with the same assumption, but since this is a Suda51 game, he of course continues to live on without a body and even pulls his weight (poor choice of words?) during all the chaos.
Lollipop Chainsaw’s level design feels like Suda’s love letter to campy American teen movies, like Grease or shows like Happy Days with a whole lot of weird thrown in. In that respect you have to give him props for nailing that vibe pat down. You’ll prance around high school gyms, indulge in some amusing mini-games like zombie basketball and even slaughter hordes of high school stereotypes like jocks, nerds, football players and teachers with your trusty chainsaw. Of course it does feel a bit weird when rainbows start pouring of
zombies along with blood.