Lollipop Chainsaw First Look Preview -- Give Me a Chain! Give Me a Saw!By Kevin Kelly - Posted Sep 01, 2011
It seems like Suda51 can sneeze and have five games come out. Have you noticed that? At Gamescom alone he was previewing Black Knight Sword, Sine Mora, and Lollipop Chainsaw. That's a platformer, a side-scrolling shooter, and a 3D action game, all at the same game show. Plus, this is just a couple of months after putting Shadows of the Damned on store shelves. Either he has a crazy work ethic, or he's figured out how to clone himself.
He's also working closely, again, with Akira Yamaoka, composer of Silent Hill, to bring forth Lollipop Chainsaw, the newest game to burst forth from his overflowing Grasshopper Manufacture. But this one is about as far as you can get from platformers and side-shooters, although it does reside squarely in line with Shadows. But where that game is dark creepy with a dose of humor, Lollipop Chainsaw is bright and cheery with a dose of humor amidst a lot of horror elements. Think Army of Darkness with a buxom, bubbly cheerleader in the lead role instead of Ash.
Lollipop Chainsaw comes from minds of both Suda51 and James Gunn, the writer/director behind Super, Slither, Dawn of the Dead, and Tromeo and Juliet, so you can probably imagine what kind of game you'll end up with. And if you can't imagine, I'll just tell you right here in this preview. Sadly, Suda51 couldn't join us, although he did record a special message for us telling us how sad he wasn't there and warning that we might turn into zombies if we play too many video games. Which of course, we do.
You star at Juliet Starling, a cheerleader at San Romero (nice nod to George Romero) High, which has suddenly been overrun by zombies. Juliet is a an 18-year old student who carries a dark secret with her. She also wields a powerful chainsaw, and has a disembodied head of someone named Nick chained to her waist. When we asked if that was her boyfriend or what, we were told "All we can tell you is that his name is Nick." So, is that part of her dark secret? We'll find out at some point, but apparently she has the genetic makeup of a zombie hunter, which puts her squarely in Buffy's camp.
Juliet is trying to get to the bottom of a huge zombie outbreak, only to discover that the horde of undead "is only the opening act to a festival of zombie rock lords determined to kill the chainsaw-wielding cheerleader." Which brings us to the gameplay which yes, involves a lot of killing zombies with a chainsaw. And when we say "a lot," we mean a lot. This is a bloody and horrific game, to be sure. But it's filled with plenty of light moments as well, like the fact that Juliet's health powerups are lollipops, her favorite food. Does that even count as a food group?
It does to Candy, who appears to live in her own world. There's death, destruction, and the undead raining down all around her, and she's quipping lines, spouting rainbows, and generally being a girly girl, all while dishing out dead ends to zombiekind. All while opening up fountains of gore, literally. There is a ton of blood and guts in this game, and it's not for the squeamish. I have no idea how many shopping moms are going to accidentally pick this up for their daughters thinking that it's a cheeky game about a female lumberjack, only to walk in on their kid squealing gleefully while chopping zombies in half.
In the game, the menus are presented comic book style, which is also prevalent throughout the game. Think Vertigo horror comic with comedy, and you'll get the picture. Juliet, the titular (and we mean that) character has light attacks, which don't do much damage but allows her to set up the zombies into different formations, which will allow her to trigger combo moves for bigger points. She's extremely acrobatic, flipping around all over the place, and she uses cheer-based acrobatic modes to stun zombies. The more combos you pull off, the more rewards you get.
Juliet can also use her cheer attacks to set up execution moves, which are extremely over the top, and those also net her stars which unlock her special abilities. Throughout the game she'll encounter turned students, and in many cases teachers who often serve as mini-bosses, and she'll also find human students who haven't been turned yet, and if she's able to save those students, she'll net a big bonus. But, if she fails, those turned student zombies are more powerful and harder to take down that the standard undead.
She also has a dodge attack where she playfully leapfrogs over the head of an approaching zombie, and she can use that move to set up execution moves as well. The first maxi-boss we encountered during our demo was a punk-rock zombie named Zed, who Juliet calls a "Hot Topic Sales Reject." One rule of thumb for the game is that if a zombie has a name, it means he or she is more powerful. After shoving his menu card aside (nice touch), Zed attacks Juliet with a microphone, and he'll later summon amplifiers that drop down on the stage, threatening to kill Juliet.
But, Zed also proves that words can literally kill you in this game, as he'll scream things at her like C*CKSUCKER, and the enormous word will appear onscreen and rush towards Juliet, who can either dodge or smash through the letters. They'd overpowered Juliet for the purpose of our demo, and Juliet makes fast work of him, destroying his speakers and then killing him with her chainsaw, while he jibber and jabbers as the blade decimates him. There's a ton of not-safe-parentals language in these scenes, so buyer beware. But, it is hilarious dialogue, so you're also not going to want to miss out on it.
Lollipop Chainsaw is due out sometime in 2012, and so far it looks like one of Suda51's more enjoyable titles for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.