Lollipop Chainsaw cuts through normal video game stereotypes

Suda 51 and filmmaker James Gunn have teamed up to bring us a bizarre title featuring a zombie-hunting cheerleader. Tell me you've heard this one before...

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Last summer's Shadows of the Damned was an overlooked triumph that excelled on multiple levels. Its style, humor, campy storyline, and overall originality easily made it one of the best games of 2011 .

Developer Grasshopper Manufacture and Creative Director Suda 51 are back, once again challenging mainstream gaming archetypes by approaching things from a quirky and unique against-the-grain mentality. Lollipop Chainsaw also introduces a collaboration with filmmaker James Gunn ("Slither," "Dawn of the Dead" remake), that results in arguably the offbeat developer's most approachable game yet.

Lollipop Chainsaw might not have the best graphics and it's definitely a bit rough around the edges, but it's a welcome change of pace that instills some confidence in the gamer who is bored with cookie-cutter gaming stereotypes.

Grasshopper Manufacture/WBIE

Gamers play as Juliet, a scantily clad chainsaw-wielding zombie-hunting cheerleader whose school and neighborhood has been overtaken by a undead race from "The Rotten World." Chainsaw mixes beat-'em-up with slash-'em-up gameplay and peppers in various mini-games and unique twists throughout. There's enough diversity here to entertain gamers of all types, but what's equally enjoyable is the overall presentation.

It's a title that really wants to represent the campy shock-horror genre that cultivated in the '80s with films like "Evil Dead." That said, you should expect gratuitous gore and violence juxtaposed against the girly ramblings of the game's hero. Luckily, Lollipop Chainsaw doesn't take itself too seriously, so you'll need to understand that in order to really enjoy it.

Juliet slices and dices her way through zombies with their limbs giving way to rainbows and sparkles. Her pom-pom combos are ultrasatisfying to perform and are accented by giant neon hearts and stars. To call the entire experience a trip is putting it lightly. Chainsaw also does an impressive job with a varied amount of bosses and battles that are cleverly layered and a blast to play.

Grasshopper Manufacture/WBIE

It's also worth pointing out the game's killer soundtrack, filled with memorable hits like "Oh Mickey" as well as impressive contributions from Mindless Self Indulgence's Jimmy Urine.

I've read reviews that criticize Chainsaw's vulgarness towards a female heroine. She's half-naked, bouncing, bending over nearly the entire game, and gets called some pretty nasty stuff. While no one in their right mind would defend that sort of behavior, its presence seems deliberate for the sole purpose of adding another layer of shock to this campy and morbid tale.

If you can allow yourself to get beyond what some might consider offensive material, Lollipop Chainsaw is a highly enjoyable over-the-top action game that also provides a few moments of legitimate hilarity. The James Gunn-Suda 51 mashup renders some interesting results that you're guaranteed not to experience anywhere else.

Grasshopper Manufacture/WBIE

Be sure to check out this episode of The 404 for an in-depth one-on-one interview with filmmaker James Gunn about Lollipop Chainsaw.

 

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