I really do enjoy Suda51. He makes games that are interesting and doesn’t follow the trends that run rampant in the gaming industry, and he does it well. When I heard he was making a game where a cheerleader killed zombies with a chainsaw, I was hesitant; I wasn’t sure if he had gone off the deep end, or if this would be great. So when it finally came out. I was excited to see where this would go….
Ok, play the song…
This game centers around the just-turned-eighteen Juliet Starling. It’s her birthday, and as she’s getting ready for school. Her boyfriend, Nick, begins to face the encroaching zombie horde. By the time Juliet arrives on the scene, the zombies are numerous, but her trusty chainsaw makes quick work of them as we see her skill as a zombie hunter. After she decapitates her boyfriend to keep him alive (go with it), she finds her sensei and learns that something has created an opening to the Rotten World (more or less, Hell). Now Juliet must find and stop the person responsible for creating the opening and defeat the Rock and Roll lords to help protect her school
The game plays a lot like No More Heroes did. The world is fairly open, but with a path that can be recognized. You use a series of unlockable combos involving cheerleading moves and chainsaw maneuvers to get through the hordes of undead within the school safely.
If your concern is that this seems like it would get old fast, let me disavow you of these fears! The game does a great job of making sure it stays fresh in two ways. The first is that when fighting the hordes, you aren’t facing normal undead. There are all different kinds of zombies: fire zombies, dynamite zombies (when the two meet, it isn’t pretty), and zombies with guns, stronger zombies, and others that help to keep fights interesting. The second thing is the different game features. Wondering what that means? I’m happy to explain:
Zombie sports, to start with. Zombie basketball gives you the chance to decapitate zombies to score more baskets than the away team, and baseball, where you stick Nick’s head on a body and shoot zombies so he can score home runs. There are other events that occur in game, as well as quick time events that are easy enough to get through.
And as I was playing through some of these early on, someone asked why these things were happening. And I soon realized that it’s simply because it’s fun, and that’s really what games are all about, having fun, right? One of the treats is certainly the boss fights – they’re Suda’s specialty. Each boss represents a different genre of music, and a different member of a band. It is a blast to go through the clever fights, and the final two bosses were some of the most fun I’ve had, and so satisfying to beat.
Audio and Visual
The music…oh, is it good. A lot of the music for this project was done by Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill franchise and Shadows of the Damned). Much of it has a strong rock feel, and it fits the current environment great. There is occasionally some outside music used from different bands, which just add to the fun.
One of the best parts: When Juliet uses her power boost, the song “Mickey” plays, and each time it is hysterical.
The game looks great. It’s made on the Unreal engine, with a crisp and colorful vibe. There are plenty of rainbows thrown into the mix, giving the game a bright look that is charmingly out of place for a zombie game. Occasionally, the camera will freak out on you, but it’s easy to fix and not overly common.
The game feels a bit loose, sort of like No More Heroes could. Thankfully you can lock onto enemies, and often you can still get a few zombies even when you lock to one (you gotta love groups of enemies). In the game, you are given high and low chainsaw attacks to work with, and physical moves that can stun enemies. A long list of combos can be unlocked with enough coins, which, while unnecessary, are a fun addition and make gameplay more interesting — and can help you get special kills when you take out three or more zombies at once. As you play, you also get upgrades to your chainsaw, a rocket launcher, a weapon that shoots Nick’s head, and other features.
Lollipop Chainsaw is fun; it takes the idea of zombies attacking and runs it through Suda51’s own style to make a game that is pure enjoyment. It brings together great boss fights, wonderful visuals, and good music, with sharp characters to see it through. Though some loose controls and occasional odd gameplay can be frustrating, it doesn’t ruin the experience. I would highly recommend this game to just about anyone. Something designed to entertain players while still delivering a good story is certainly something I can get behind.