Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Lollipop Chainsaw (2012)

Genre: Action | Players: 1 | Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture

A cheerleader and a disembodied head ridding the world of zombies whilst surrounded by pop-culture references a plenty. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty of things, but not enough to ruin the experience entirely. As someone not familiar with much of Suda 51’s previous work, I’d have to say the overall vibe of the game is defined by sexual humor which is more often clever and self-aware than it is crude or juvenile. On the whole, I do like Juliet Starling, as she manages to balance a practiced obliviousness and absurdist sense of humor with her own strange wisdom and obscene physical prowess. Nick (the head) effortlessly plays straight man and doles out gameplay advice. He even gets in on the action in both required and optional ways.

Despite this, Juliet’s moveset is severely lacking until you can manage to purchase a few of her more flashy and powerful chainsaw strikes. These will be very familiar to anyone who has played X-Men Origins: Wolverine. For those who haven’t, just imagine a lot of spinning and death. Until I had the more critical techniques, combat felt too deliberate and slow, with much focus placed on stunning zombies before being able to destroy them.

This slowed pace was exacerbated by two key problems: the checkpoint system, and the mini-games. While the game as a whole feels a bit short, the levels themselves feel paradoxically long. Checkpoints exist in each level, but if you exit at any time, you are forced to start over again. This is especially painful given that mini-games are scattered through each level, which--early on--bring the game to a grinding halt. They would be wonderful, if only they were selectable in an extras menu and not peppered into the story itself.

To combat the overall length of the story, one can play levels in a ranked mode (wherein Juliet must beat her dad’s scores) as well as work to unlock a bevy of extras such as costumes and songs. These songs can even be arranged into a custom playlist.

If you can set aside the time to play each level in a single shot, and you’re a fan of Suda 51, I can recommend getting this game on the cheap. There’s enough interesting gameplay ideas and strange humor to warrant a spin if you’re aware of its pitfalls.

Buyer's Guide:
Available on PS3 and Xbox 360. Snoop around for a deal online, now, or wait a few months and grab it on the cheap, locally.

3 Auto-tuned Prophets of Funk out of 5

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