[Preview] Playing Lollipop Chainsaw in a School Bus

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Lollipop Chainsaw is the newest title from Grasshopper Manufacture and super hot developer Suda 51.  It is a collaboration with filmmaker James Gunn of Slither fame.  It is a game that’s, well Buffy the Vampire Slayer from two people that make decent concepts crazy and spectacular pieces of work.

Lollipop Chainsaw stars Juliet Starling, a girl that’s a bit on the ditzy side, but has plenty of smart one liners to even her out.  She’s pretty, blonde and oh so violent with her chainsaw.  This seems to be No More Heroes with an even crazier premise.

I sat down with the game at SXSW and got to see first hand what Suda was bringing to the table.

The build I saw was split in two convenient parts.  A standard level full of enemies and then a separate boss battle.  This split allows the player to understand the dichotomy of a Suda 51 game.  Similar to No More Heroes, the only point to the level sections is to get to the boss battle.

See, the school is essentially devoid of personality.  The arena is bland, the enemies even more so.  In stark contrast, we have this beautifully rendered Juliet Starling tearing down combatant zombie after combatant zombie simply to progress forward.  There were a few living distressed people being swarmed by the undead, but still they were as devoid of personality as the brainless husks surrounding them. Upon saving them, they would shower Juliet with candy and coins.  This was a moment eerily reminiscent of beat-em-ups from the 1990s.

Eventually I found myself coming across a hulking teacher that took timing and jumping around him to defeat him, but there was really nothing to him.  He was quirky in the way he jumped in and out of windows forcing you to follow, but that’s the extent of it.

Meanwhile, the moves Juliet does is so outlandish that it’s borderline ridiculous. She spins, dances and dismembers with her over the top chainsaw movements.  In typical button mashing form, an A,A,X (or any variation) will dispose of most assailants in front of you.  The Y button allows the user to attack low to the ground, but it’s all really the standard formula that Devil May Cry and Bayonetta have perfected.

Unlike Bayonetta, Juliet isn’t as tight in hit detection.  Hopefully this can be fixed in the final build, but hits that should have landed sometimes didn’t. It wasn’t flawless.  Likewise, the camera was a little loose for my flavor randomly locking in the oddest angles.  Instead of focusing on where the combatant was, many times it simply stuck with Juliet’s acrobatics and it made it that much harder to really love the game.

This might all sound negative, but there is a reason for this.  It highlights the spectacle that is the boss battle.

The boss battle before me was with the profane Zed.  Zed’s a crazed punk rocker with a loud voice and a penchant for pulling himself together after having a chainsaw split him nearly in twain. He’s an incredible boss.  He attacks with his voice and hops around the screen accordingly.  He’s fun to look at, fun to fight and does interesting things that I haven’t seen in my years of gaming.

To see a wall of electrified letters spelling out “C-O-C-K-S-U-C-K-E-R” come rushing at Juliet, forcing her to dodge her way through them to chip away at Zed is pretty bold, funny and brilliant.  This is what Suda does best.  He gives you the basics of gameplay, then gives you something you actually want to see with an over the top boss that coincides with his crazy protagonist.

Zed was fun.  He conjured a mass of speakers around him as he jumped from box to box taunting me.  In the end I was forced to cut him literally in half 3 times with a quick time event just to end it all.  Doing this was done quite well as the concentrated camera highlighted the action expertly on my opponent.  I had no troubles navigating the arena and this is all due to the focus put on this event.

That’s what Lollipop Chainsaw has to offer.  Crazy characters in a crazy setting.  It won’t always be brilliant, but when it comes down to it, the game will be something that stays with you.  That is the madness that Suda 51 is able to bring to the table.

Lollipop Chainsaw will be releasing June 12.  If you are planning on picking this title up, I’d suggest pre-ordering as the costume DLC being offered is pretty wild.

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About Author

(Senior Writer)

I have been gaming for 20 years and have seen this industry go from one geared towards children, to one that has grown to accept all demographics. I've grown up side by side with video games and I've seen it turn into this phenomenon. Of course I also enjoy entertainment in all mediums whether it be film, book or sports. I'm just a huge nerd that loves writing about his hobbies.

  • fuzunga

    Sounds like the same demo from PAX last year. Considering it’s been seven months since then, it’s kind of disappointing they had such an old build. That probably has a lot to do with the issues you had.

  • http://Website fishy1

    Nice review, well uh I thought it was a preview. And since your gripes are obviously only there because the game is still a few months off and unfinished. This was supposed to be a preview, but you complain like it was the final product. The hit detection will be fine tuned far before release. :P

  • Christopher Hadlock

    I’d like to think its a review of a demo. It’s understandable if the game will be fixed, but as of the build they are presenting for public offering only a scant few months before release, the gameplay was uneven to say the least and it’s not like Suda doesn’t have a history of uneven gameplay.

    Hopefully the camera gets tuned right and the hack and slash has more punch to it. As of the current build showcased, it is unfortunate that I experienced these issues, but they were still noteworthy.

    The difference still remains that the boss battle has an entirely different feel to the school and I’m not sure how far they can tweak that while still developing other ends of the game. I wouldn’t be surprised with the way marketing has been pushing the bosses, that the game will mostly shine when Juliet is one on one with big baddies.

  • http://plasticvideogamecomic.blogspot.com/ Man With No Name

    Well, I hope they polish the game a great deal before release and listen to the people who already played the game about their grips. It can be a very good game if they do it right.