You’ve probably heard a ton of crazy things about Lollipop Chainsaw. This is no accident, as crazy is exactly what Suda 51 and the rest of Grasshopper Manufacture excel at. You can imagine my surprise when I finished my short demo thinking it was crazier than anything I could have come up with.
In the precious few minutes that I was allowed to play, I noticed that Lollipop Chainsaw still relied on some fundamental action game mechanics that are the foundation for so many other hack-and-slash games, while also giving them its own unique spin. You can dodge and jump over enemies with a cheer-jump, and you still have separate buttons for light and heavy attacks. Here, though, the light attacks are done with pompoms, and the chainsaw works as a heavy attack to decapitate and kill stunned opponents.
This is where it gets (wonderfully) weird.
If you’re able to corral three or more stunned opponents in front of you and lop their heads off with one single swipe of your chainsaw you get a “sparkle” bonus, where everything explodes into rainbows and confetti. Thinking about it now, it reminds me of completing a level in Peggle, where you’re visually and audibly rewarded for doing well. And that’s not even the weirdest part.
Sometimes Juliet, the game’s teenage cheerleading protagonist, will encounter your standard video game barrier that she just can’t quite jump over on her own. It’s times like these where she decapitates one last zombie and places Nick — her disembodied boyfriend that she wears on her skirt like a charm — on the undead’s shoulders. This engages a rhythm game in which you time button presses as Juliet goes into a cheer routine, making the zombie slowly dance towards the barrier. When it reaches the end, the zombie launches her over large rocks or fences.
Those who loved the gunplay in Shadows of the Damned can also rest easy, as there’s plenty of room in Lollipop Chainsaw for a talking weapon that cracks wise at you. In my demo I was able to pick up a gun called a Nick Popper, which allows you to shoot Nick’s head at your enemies. The Nick Popper also deals enough explosive damage that it can be used to break through certain barriers that you don’t necessarily have a dancing zombie to surmount.
Overall, Lollipop Chainsaw ends up feeling like a bubblegum pop mash-up of No More Heroes and Shadows of the Damned, pulling off each of those combat elements extremely well, this time with zombies. Combined with their trademark WTF-level of quirk and humor, it looks like we’re in for another outrageous outing by Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacture.
Lollipop Chainsaw hits store shelves on June 12th.