Back in 2012, the world was a very different place. There was no pandemic, there was no energy crisis, and the cost of living was about as benign as it ever gets. What else was happening in 2012? Well, Suda51 and James Gunn, sometime film director, were collaborating on a game. The name of that game? Lollipop chainsaw, and it only got a little bit weirder from there on out. So come with me to a world of zombies, chainsaws and lollipops as we look back…
Now, Suda51 has long been known for his “unique” take on video games, with some odd titles under his belt like Shadows of the Damned and Killer is Dead. While Lollipop Chainsaw was a little different in terms of action, it was bang in line with his style for the other titles.
The story of the game is a good case in point as a strong element in his games is the visual style of the graphics and for Lollipop Chainsaw an illustrator by the name of “NekoshowguN” (yes, with two capital N’s) was recruited, and her designs for Juliet and the zombies were certainly memorable. It was her work on designing Juliet’s actual chainsaw that stands out, as for a piece of zombie slicing hardware it is certainly very feminine and pretty. Just what you want, right?
The music was also interesting, as the different worlds all had very different musical styles, based on the style of music the boss was supposed to embody. With Juliet’s squeals and revving chainsaw, it was certainly never a dull play.
Anyways, Juliet Starling is an eighteen year old cheerleader, in fact as Lollipop Chainsaw opens it is actually her 18th birthday, and she has arranged for her family to meet her boyfriend, Nick, for the first time. And wouldn’t you know it, but a zombie outbreak just so happens to occur right as Juliet arrives at school. Luckily, it appears that Juliet has been training all her life for this moment and so she busts out her chainsaw (not my first choice for fighting zombies, I have to say, I’d prefer something with a little more range) and slices and dices her way to meet Nick.
Sadly, Nick is bitten by a zombie, and so Juliet slices off his head. Can you see the Suda51 influence yet? Fortunately, Juliet has a few tricks up her sleeves (well, she doesn’t have sleeves, but you get where I’m coming from) and manages to keep Nick’s head alive in a jar, which she attaches to her belt so she can take him on an adventure. It turns out that the zombie attack has been organised by a Goth known as Swan and he has summoned five Dark Purveyors, intelligent zombies that are supposed to embody the spirits of certain types of music, from Punk to classic Rock n Roll. As Juliet works her way through all five of the bosses, and their surrounding hordes, she gets closer to a final showdown with Swan. I’m not going to say any more about the story, as the game is still worth a play today, although only if you have an Xbox 360 or PS3 kicking about, as it was never included in the Backwards Compatibility program, sadly.
The action on offer here is that of a third person hack and slash game, as you may have guessed from the title. The chainsaw is your default weapon, and while Nick can also be utilised in combat, mostly by plonking his jar on top of a headless zombie, you’ll spend most of your time slicing and dicing. Nick can also be of use by collecting “Nick Tickets”, which allow him to utilise various moves such as making groups of zombies groggy, or bombarding them from a distance. Luckily, as she goes through the game, Juliet’s chainsaw will also receive updates, allowing her to charge it and fly off ramps, or transforming into a Blaster to allow her to shoot enemies and obstacles from afar.
Killing zombies rewards her with coins and medals that can be spent at the “Chop2Shop.zom” store, allowing her to increase her stats, or buy new combos and so on. Making sure you are strong enough to face the ravening hordes is always a good plan. Juliet heals by using Lollipops, as expected, and while the amount of healing lollipops you can carry varies according to the difficulty you are playing on there never seemed to be enough for me. The slicing action did start to become a little stale, if I’m brutally honest by the end, but all in all, there was certainly enough to get your teeth and chainsaw into.
So, chopping up zombies, trying to get the star meter filled up to power Juliet and trying to achieve “sparkle hunting” status in order to get better medals; there was certainly a lot to think about as far as combat goes. And yet the sense of humour shone through: as you were fighting zombies the camera would be swinging around wildly, trying to show the best view of the action. There was an achievement tied to getting a look up Juliet’s skirt, believe it or not. Called “I swear, it did it by mistake!”, it is still one of the stranger achievements I have ever gotten. Not that I spent time trying to look up her skirt, you understand.
These then are my memories of playing Lollipop Chainsaw way back in the mists of time. But what about you guys out there? Did you play it back in the day? Do you still own an Xbox 360 gathering dust under the telly that you could play this title on? Let us know in the comments but your best bet would be to grab a copy off of Amazon. The Xbox Store page is just in place for fancy visuals.
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