Preview: Lollipop Chainsaw
Zombies and cheerleaders go together like, well, a large whale and a bowl of petunias. They simply don’t. But it’s this very contrast that is the basis for all things zany, whacky and crazy from none other than the all-father of zany, whacky and crazy; Suda 51.
This is Lollipop Chainsaw.
Name: Lollipop Chainsaw
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
Developers: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publishers: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: 15 June 2012
You are Juliet Starling; a high school cheerleader with blonde hair and boy problems, only your boy problems aren’t quite as mainstream as the rest of the teeny bopper females in the world. See, your particular boy problems involve the fact that your boyfriend is slowly but surely turning into a zombie. Yes, a zombie. In fact he’s not the only one; most of your former high school has turned into the single-minded — pun intended — bloodlusting abominations, give or take a few lucky survivors.
Thankfully you’re not just any cheerleader, no, you kick ten different kinds of zombie ass. Together with your boyfriend Nick, who has now been reduced (by you) to just a head in an effort to delay the transition to brain-sucker, you take it upon yourself to rid the high school of its pest problem, one zombie at a time.
Developer Suda 51 needs no introduction if you’ve ever played one of his games, most notably Killer 7, No More Heroes and last year’s grossly underrated Shadows of the Damned. Playing any of his titles is an exercise in craziness that forces the player to go into the experience with tongue firmly in cheek, and keep it there for the duration of the game. This game will be no different, even with its more Western-oriented focus as compared to Killer 7 and No More Heroes and even to an extent Shadows of the Damned; to date the only game off the top of my head that features a fully realised Mexican man as the protagonist.
What’s important to note is that although you have to be seriously warped to develop the kind of games Suda 51 works on, there is most definitely an element of charm to each game that is impossible to ignore. The games are endearing and a large portion of those who give each game a chance come out of the experience feeling rewarded for it, even if they’ve no clue what the fuck they just played.
We fully expect that this will be the same here, with Lollipop Chainsaw.
The game will primarily be a hack ‘n slash action title that plays out in the third person. Juliet will mix light attacks with heavy attacks, using light attacks to round up zombies and then dispatching of them with heavy attacks for devastating effect. She may also use Nick’s severed head either as a weapon or to control other zombies. Expect a bit of puzzle elements using Nick, no doubt.
Juliet has super attacks as well, which are used by filling her star meter (not a sexual reference) either by saving classmates or killing enemies, we’re going to hope for more of the latter in this case. Her trusty chainsaw is also upgradeable and will come with some nifty new features and abilities as you progress through the game and complete certain tasks.
Progressing through the game, you will also meet some other characters of noteworthy mention such as Julia’s two sisters; Cordelia and Rosalind, who may assist you at points in the game. There’s also the rock and roll lords; a group of intelligent zombies that we’re expecting to be the game’s bosses, perhaps having you battle one per chapter and through them, unlock a special ability for your chainsaw, a familiar progression method to Shadows of the Damned players to go with the combat style that is familiar to No More Heroes players. Finally there’s the evil goth sorcerer Swan, a former classmate of Juliet’s and the sinister soul who started the zombie outbreak in the first place. Presumably because he’s jealous of Nick, who constantly gives her head. See what I did there?
Lollipop Chainsaw will be a predominately action-oriented title and has been developed using the proprietary Unreal Engine 3 technology, and given the distinctly unique visual style you can expect something different, something worth experiencing.
Failing that, you get digital boobs and plenty of underskirt to keep you going for weeks.
I am of course joking, but the theme of the game does at first glance seem to be a gratuitous display of the female form with Juliet, of almost perfect figure if you’re the superficial type, wearing some extremely skimpy clothing as she progresses through the game. The key point though is the gratuity; this isn’t Dead or Alive: Beach Volleyball where it’s all about the boobs, this a satirical display of superficiality using a blonde cheerleader. It’s almost a parody of sexy in that respect.
The Western focus of Lollipop Chainsaw has helped to keep it relatively grounded but you can expect hilarity and oddball obscurity by the truckload, together with some stylish action and even a few interesting twists and turns as you go.
The influences from previous Suda 51 games are very apparent and welcome considering how many enjoyed those titles, and the fact that it was just the good bits that were pulled for inspiration.
It’s got some really high production values and with such names as Tara Strong (most recently Harley Quinn in Batman: Arkham City) voicing Juliet, Michael Rosenbaum (aka Lex from Smallville) voicing Nick, Sean Gunn voicing Swann and music from Jimmy Urine of electro-punk band Mindless Self Indulgence, you can expect some serious quality in the final product.
Lollipop Chainsaw releases June 15th on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and I’m looking very much forward to giving it a go. Take my advice and do so as well. You can thank me later.