Review: Lollipop Chainsaw: Premium Edition [Asia] (PS3)

A high-school cheerleader arms fullkwith a pretty pink chainsaw and the disembodied head of her still live and still loved boyfriend clipped to her skirt with glitter, rainbows and lollipops. Suda51 has some pretty lovely fantasies.

Lollipop Chainsaw tells the story of protagonist Juliet Starling as she watches people around her eventually turn into members of the undead through the slow deterioration of San Romero as it becomes consumed by demons, and on her birthday, too!

The game throws you into a street fight with a bunch of zombies on your way to San Romero High School. As an agile chainsaw-wielding cheerleader, Juliet has access to high chainsaw attacks, low chainsaw attacks along with defensive jumping and stun punches, with other moves she unlocks later on.

Coordinate your key presses and you’ll pull off combos to make zombie hunting more efficient. Perform a dr/pkick to toss zombies across the screen to stun them or leapfrog over a zombie and get it out of play from the crotch up. Getting more creative with your kills earns you gold, or sometimes platinum zombie medals. You also earn bonuses for taking out more than three in one swing.

Needless to say, level progress is made through the killing of zombies. A counter will appear on the screen telling you how many to expect. There will be opportunities for you to help some of your schoolmates out, which also involves the same counter, but the zombies must be defeated before the victim’s HP is gone and turns into a stronger zombie of its own.

Eventually you’ll meet hot-stud boyfriend Nick, who Juliet has to decapitate in order to save Nick from the perils of a zombie bite, thus revealing her little secret: Juliet’s a zombie hunter, and it runs in the family, so Juliet is capable of promoting Nick to “talking head”. Nick is strapped to Juliet’s skirt for convenience and the secondary part of the game carries on from there. Nick can eventually be used to possess certain headless zombies to open new paths in a minigame of quick-timed events and with a Nick Pass, he can be used as a mace by Juliet twirling him around bashing the heads off zombies.

The few things that survived the mayhem are the computer terminals Juliet can stop to shop for items on. These items include lollipops, your only source of health that are also scattered all over the place; Nick Passes, stat-changing items and new attack combos, as well as collectable items platinum coins are spent on, like new music, concept art and outfits Juliet can further tantalise the player with.

Levels usually stretch over 45-minutes of play, with a couple of checkpoints between segments. There are also some insta-kill parts of the game used to test your speed and skill, like Zombie Basketball’s objective of lobbing zombie heads into the net using your chainsaw within an allotted amount of time. Fail these segments, and you’ll essentially get a black mark on your final grades, not to mention the amount of frustration there is to be had.

If there is one thing about this game, it’s that the game is an oxymoron. Here we have the strong, cheery female protagonist fuelled by the love of her school who does all the work in style, and she gets those zombies good to eventually save the day. On the other hand, Juliet Starling is also portrayed as your stereotypical ditzy American teenager in a skimpy outfit, who gets hurled obscenities at by a lot of people from where these stereotypes exist. The first few sexual jokes and innuendos from Juliet and Nick ran fine, until the appearance of certain zombies and then the first demon boss, who is a rude little man hurling hateful, disgusting words at Juliet (literally, they appear as words that can hurt Juliet if she doesn’t avoid them). The crude sexual humour and abuse may be too much for some tastes.

Other caveats in the game involve visible graphical glitches. An example of which is when you fail an insta-kill portion of the game that forces you reload to the last checkpoint, presenting you with a reloaded rendering of the current scene that has to load up like a Google Map. Then there are the many loading screens that slice into your fun by showing up abruptly between portions of the level and the little camera issues that make you lose track of your enemies, and the bad aim-snapping that will make you want to hate baseball forever.

If there was one feature I stopped using, it’s the Nick Pass. Simply because I tend to click on the L-Stick when the action gets too rough, and clicking on the L-Stick here calls up one of your valuable Nick Passes, which you can still hit X to cancel, but you can’t remain focused on everything when you have a bunch of steroid-infused zombies coming at you.

Lollipop Chainsaw is a game on a class of its own. It’s voiced well, most of the good dialogue is fun and the it has an appropriate soundtrack from the happy-chirpy to the dark-punk and Toni Basil’s “Mickey” as a bonus. It has it’s flaws, but that doesn’t stop it from staying enjoyable. You don’t move around mindlessly slaying zombies for hours on end. New add-ons to your chainsaw, as you progress the story converts it into a gun or a little motor engine that could. You play the game, finish it and come back to find all the collectables and beat your previous scores. Just do us all a favour: Keep this game far, far away from children.

Graphics 6.0
Some graphical glitches, like props that don’t look completely loaded when the level is reloaded and cameras the smashes up towards certain walls. Otherwise, cutting up zombies to produce blood and rainbows show no lag.
Sound 8.0
Japanese voices were not tested with, leaving me with the English voices (Juliet’s American after all), which is very well done, despite the content in the dialogue.
Gameplay 7.0
There are plenty of zombies to smash up in various ways, although you’ll be hitting up the same favourite combos of yours again and again.
Lasting Appeal 7.0
Other difficulty levels to come back for and lollipop wrappers and high scores to collect. Plus, the unlockable music, concept art and outfits.
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Declaration of Unbiasedness
Before this review was written, I told myself I had to keep things professional and not blindly like a game just because the protagonist is voiced by one of the greatest voice actresses of our time, Tara Strong. Neither did it help that there was no option to play the game in with Juliet in her Japanese voice. So I was stuck with a cheerleader’s voice that sounded uncannily like a certain character from a certain pony show.

Lollipop Chainsaw is a Kadokawa Games game developed by Grasshopper Manufacture for the PlayStation 3 as well as the Xbox 360. The tested Asian/Japanese Premium Edition has the slightly more brutal Zaku-Zaku gameplay option not available in the North American version.