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Lollipop Chainsaw review: Silly, sexy... stuck in the past

Candy-coated Grindhouse from Grasshopper's mental auteur

Suda 51's desperately demented hack-and-slash opens with a jailbait cheerleader splayed on her bed. We're treated to some morning aerobics, then the blue-eyed, perky-arsed Juliet Starling throws on a San Romero High uniform - one of many winks - and to a throbbing soundtrack introduces the game's key points: a boyfriend she adores ("If he broke up with me, I'd just die!") a family of promiscuous pigtailed siblings, and a love of noisily sucking lollipops. Titillation is Suda's aim, but aside from big tits and chainsaws, the game is one massive turn-off.


Think a sickly sweet but less combat capable Bayonetta crossed with No More Heroes' vibrantly varied and culturally scattershot design. For your first lesson in fighting you'll bike ride to a school besieged by zombies sent from Rotten World by evil goth druid Swan.

Juliet whips out a pink chainsaw and pirouettes, lopping off heads and arms with rainbow-trailed slashes and making stumps of heads which explode into confetti. She vaults away from the throng and uses pom-poms to stun, setting up stragglers for button-mashing crotch-to-jaw cleaves while targeting with the trigger - useful for those sliced at the waist and biting at your ankles. These are your moves, so get used to them, because you won't see many more for quite a while.

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Brainlessness is the theme. It's a button-masher set to the sounds of rhythmic clackity-clacking as you press X...X...X...X and watch sparks fly. There are two routes a game like this can take: either put an emphasis on deep, layered combat like Bayonetta, or make mashing buttons so fun it never gets old. Lollipop Chainsaw is caught in the middle, a jean fly zipped up halfway with a rotten todger hanging out.

You can buy chaining moves and enemy-launchers from mid-level kiosks, but the game never promotes their use. Button-mashing, therefore, is less a case of wilful ignorance and more because alternatives aren't encouraged. Good games teach grabs, counters and executions, introduce them seamlessly, and stress the importance of each. Lollipop Chainsaw makes like the BBC and tells you there are other brands available, without giving compelling reasons to switch.

LAME SAW

Colourful language and even more colourful kill moves distract from the lack of what's vital - fun. A shame, as there's real effort here to make Lollipop Chainsaw as off-the-wall as possible. As a brawler it's limited, but as a collection of intertextual parts designed to shock and amuse it's brilliantly, madly, uniquely insane.

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It seems a real backhanded compliment, but menus are the highlight. Self-knowingly crass observations populate pop art pages, with sections detailing characters (according to Juliet's bio, she likes being told she's not fat), and enemies (there's a rather inappropriate description of what the policewoman zombie does with her truncheon). You can freely switch between locations too; visit Juliet's bedroom to change into daisy dukes and other unlockable outfits, view concept art, and set playlists. The eclectic soundtrack is a saving grace, featuring Sleigh Bells, Skrillex, The Human League, DragonForce, and Joan Jett. Music is clearly as indispensable to Suda as it is to Tarantino and Scorsese

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