Nothing shows off your school pride more than a little zombie decapitation
|Along the same lines of what I did for my Xenoblade Chronicles post, I’m opting out of writing an actual “review” of Lollipop Chainsaw. There’s something that feels too mechanical about going through what I liked about the technical aspects, the graphics and other such areas related to game reviews. While I could just tweak my reviews to be more free-flowing, I figured it would be more interesting (for both you and I) to pick a topic the game itself inspires me to write about. This will probably be the common trend for now on regarding video game reviews for me, as most games that convince me to actually shell out some cash have at least one issue worth writing a post about.|
First thing’s first…you’re gonna need to know a bit about Lollipop Chainsaw. If you’ve played it already just hang tight, buddy. This rainbow-filled, zombie-killing beat-em-up has entered our mortal realm courtesy of the mystical powers of Suda 51. This is the studio that has brought us No More Heroes and Killer7, among other games that are known for having a zany flare. Lollipop Chainsaw is no exception to this rule of taking everything to the nth degree without shame. You play as Juliet Starling: a cheerleader/Zombie Hunter with a decapitated head for a boyfriend who goes around town killing zombies with her pom poms and rainbow-spewing chainsaw. Pink hearts, glitter, and and panty shots serenade your retinas constantly as you make your way from level to level.
This is already shaping up to be a ridiculous game, but they created a purposely cheesy script full of pop culture references to push things to the extreme. There’s a mix of genuinely witty banter and token idiotic lines such as “you king of jerk-off-ians!” and “DICKBALLS!” all delivered with a saccharine, valley girl voice. There isn’t a lick of seriousness and long-winded philosophical monologues in this game at all, unless you consider “what the dick?” to be the work of the second-coming of Shakespeare.
If I still haven’t convinced you yet…please just take my word for it that this game is very exaggerated and tries to ham it up as much as possible. Just trust me. I mean, Juliet activates “Sparkle Hunting” when she decapitates 3 or more zombies at once, which shows a slo-mo shot of them all spurting blood like a sprinkler while the background turns into BLINDING PINK SPARKLES. Can you tell I’m having fun just DESCRIBING this masterpiece of lulz to you? It’s ridiculous, campy, corny, cheesy….and I love it. Amongst all the gritty shooters and all-too-serious RPGs about shadows, light and saving the world – we need more dumb fun like this.
Lollipop Chainsaw is a brief game that can be completed in one sitting (I consider 6 hours or so to be “one sitting”), but the experience while playing it is invaluable. It’s the sort of game I’d suggest everyone rents or mooches off someone to play JUST to witness the style and atmosphere of the game firsthand. It has the air of something trying to be so bad it is good, and actually succeeds in being good. They were very careful in making things over-the-top and crazy, yet self-aware. Juliet is nothing but a glorified sex object for men to lust over, but even that is taken to such extremes that it’s just comical. She’s like Bayonetta, or Mine Fujiko in terms of how blatantly sexual she is. There’s a trophy for looking up her skirt, for Christ’s sake! Suda51 set out to make a ridiculous game, and the result is something quite impressive: a glorious universe filled with rainbows and zombie gore. At one point, Nick (Juliet’s boyfriend) asks her where all the rainbows come from and she replies “from awesome.” Yeah, they know what they’re doing.
Above all, this game is FUN. There is a bounce in every level, every cutscene, every circumstance that is very hard for a video game to capture. My favourite thing about this game is how it FEELS to play it.
The same campy fun can be found in Devil May Cry 4 (and a little bit in 3), Bayonetta, and Sengoku Basara. I don’t know how many times I’ve linked to this, (it’s a lot) but the scene where Dante receives Lucifer in DMC4 scene always sticks in my mind as a great, cheesy moment. Dante always tries exceedingly hard to act cool, which often ends up making certain situations a little too hard to believe. Addressing this fact and going the self-satire route actually made Dante a more likeable character in my opinion. “Yeah, this is crazy…and we know it’s crazy!” is the message you get here. You don’t stop and wonder if they honestly think this sort of insanity is normal.
Bayonetta, which is probably the most like Lollipop Chainsaw, is actually a worse game for trying to stick a serious story in. I would be perfectly content with Bayonetta being about a sexy witch killing things without the drama of her past getting in the way. It makes you think you should take a woman summoning demons from Hell with her hair while naked…seriously. And you shouldn’t! Bayonetta is obviously there for you to oogle and awe over as she does all this crazy shit, but the fun is actually kind of ruined by an attempt to make things serious. If you’ve got a good cheese-factor going, just embrace it! There is no need for every single video game to have a mature, engaging storyline. Some games just don’t need it!
The cheese-factor tends to work best in action/beat-em-up games. If you didn’t notice, all the games I’ve mentioned are action games. Because the main point is senseless violence, players just want to have fun. They want to kill things and feel empowered with whatever sweet weapons the main character possesses. There is less need for a serious storyline in these kinds of games, I find. I just want to kill things and be done with it.
So there you have it – my ode to campy fun in video games. It’s kind of along the same lines of why I enjoy anime like Phi Brain. It’s not something I want every single game to do, but I appreciate it when certain games pull it off properly. Lollipop Chainsaw has a great mood that stays constant through, a killer soundtrack (Jimmy Urine does the boss music, and I’m a huge fan of his band’s music. Mindless Self Indulgence, baby!), and a sweet combat system. It’s undeniably enjoyable, but it’s the sort of thing you’ll blaze through quickly and then be over with. It’s like eating a bag of candy – SUPER FUN AND GREAT AND SUGARY AND WOOWWW THE WORLD IS RACCCINGGG but then when you’re done, you’re done. Like Catherine, I’m probably gonna return this once I’ve had my fun and trade it for something else. Do I regret buying it though? Not at all. Any game that plays “Mickey” as its power-up music is worth any trial life could ever throw at me.