Like, so totally cool!
In my house, there was some hype around this game. I had a close family member asking me to request this game for review. It just looked too awesome to pass up, so I made the request. I'm glad I did, especially since Nick handed it to me as soon as we got out of the car from our return drive from E3. Good thing, I was feeling wiped, but as soon as I saw that box art and cheery logo, I was ready.
Lollipop Chainsaw is the story of Juliet Starling and her family, a clan of zombie hunters, taking on the task of saving an entire city from the onslaught of the undead. Nearly everyone in her high school turned, students and teachers alike, as did the bus driver, patrons of the local arcade (They have an arcade! *squee*), punk rockers and anyone else encountered on the street. A bunch of terrible, that is. Luckily, you're playing as Juliet, and she's (like) fuckin' crazy-good with her trusty chainsaw!
Oh, and on her hip at all times is the decapitated head of her boyfriend Nick, who's somehow not dead, with magical powers of possession and a biting wit. That, coincidentally, is the only ability he has anymore... beyond blinking. [I guess I could live like that too. ~Ed. Nick]
Story-wise, the package is reminiscent of Portal in that it's short but tells the story well enough to make it work. It could be disappointing for players who want a more in-depth experience. The story is at the right length, but for a game of this style I would have appreciated a longer experience. With the amount of extras and power-ups included, stretching things out would have really helped. The dialogue is hit or miss; though the in-game moments are usually amusing, the conversations with the Sterling family are at times stale and bland.
The game looks great, an early-stage apocalypse landscape of an imploding school and the middle of the city looking like the end of a Godzilla movie. The characters are sharp, but there are some odd shadows that come up sometimes with close-up shots of just about every character (even Nick, the disembodied head boyfriend). The cel-shaded style looks otherwise beautiful, fluid, and detailed, and the bright pinks and pastels are gorgeous when placed so close to dark and dingy zombie bastards.
And the environments themselves… oh, they're pretty. The fires littering the landscapes look static and flat, but otherwise they're fine. The game can be beaten quickly, since the stages themselves aren't long at all and the bosses pick up the slack, with some being long and awesome. I never would've thought that slicing a punk-rock zombie in half multiple times (and multiple ways) would make me so giddy. To top the kills off, every different kind of zombie has a personalized entry in the database. I didn't know zombies could be furries or perverts... thank you for the insight, James Gunn and Suda51!
Lollipop Chainsaw controls well, which is a high point. There are plenty of special combos and attacks available for purchase to upgrade your Juliet, along with unlocking all kinds of new songs, outfits, and concept art. The amount that's available to unlock is impressive and worth playing through the game a second (or third) time to earn the scratch, along with beating all of "Dad's" scores for the achievements.
But there does feel like there's some spark missing, a split-second of latency between attacks. This leads to more button-mashing than necessary, cathartic as it might be to go Sparkle Hunting which activates whenever three or more zombies are decapitated at once. Even then, there's something satisfying about multiple bonuses as Toni Basil's "Mickey" plays in the background.
The only main downside of Lollipop Chainsaw is the short length, despite the phrase "short and sweet", because everything else looks to have been stylized out the wazoo. Slicing and dicing through floods of zombies as diverse as students, teachers, cops, rockers, punk rockers, cheerleaders, nerds, fat old people, and many, many others has never looked so damn glittery.