We’ve seen Suda 51 do some crazy stuff over the years. Whether it was hunting after demons with a weapon known as the Big Boner (last year’s Shadows of the Damned), slicing up would-be assassins with a lightsaber and recharging it in a not-so-subtle manner (No More Heroes) or taking a turn for the absurd trying to fight an elite group of killers (Killer 7), he’s got quite the unique gameography. Now he’s looking to add to it with Lollipop Chainsaw which makes its debut this summer on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
In the game, Lollipop is actually Juliet Starling, a star cheerleader who really knows her way around looking hot when it comes to routines. One day, some rock zombie gods decide to ravage the earth with their nastiness and Juliet, not seeing anyone else step up to defend it, grabs her lollipop chainsaw and goes to work carving up enemies and eventually gaining the strength to battle the bosses and reclaim her doomed world. In a hip, likable style, of course.
Aiding Juliet over the course of her journey is Nick, her ever-loyal boyfriend. Well, part of him. It turns out that Nick is actually a disembodied head but for some reason he’s still alive, able to provide advice to Juliet and emotional support just when she needs it the most.
Suda 51 is collaborating with a couple of folks this time around to make Lollipop more than just the usual project. Once again joining him with music for the game (as he did for Shadows of the Damned) is Akira Yamaoka, who also worked on the classic Silent Hill games. Also joining the talent pool is writer/director James Gunn, who previously worked on the twisted superhero adventure movie Super.
Seeing as how both Suda and Gunn are involved with the game’s development, you can pretty much tell that it’s built for some over-the-top moments. Lollipop Chainsaw packs in the ridiculously over-the-top combat that you’d expect with multiple combos that you can chain together, which all make the zombies collapse into bloody heaps. Things get even crazier when she starts farting rainbows, donning additional outfits or unlocking new super abilities, some of which even involve Nick in some pseudo twisted ways.
This doesn’t mean Juliet’s journey is just a repetitive hack and slash. Most of your battle actually takes place throughout the school Juliet attends, and she’ll need to decide which rooms to visit while making crucial choices along the way. Should she save a student that’s in peril or let them die and face an even more monumental challenge in a bigger enemy? How you decide to play may change the course of Juliet’s actions later on, so choose wisely.
In addition to the regular action stages, some inspired bonus stages are also thrown in for good measure. In one cool little bonus game, you actually have to outrun virtual Pac-Men in a cyber maze, avoiding their jaws while slicing away at them in the hopes of shattering them into piles of dots. In another, there’s an Elevator Action-like setting where you run through side-scrolling stages and cut enemies down using your chainsaw – a nice little change of pace from the 3D action.
There is also plenty of engaging boss battles against the rock gods themselves, as they’ll pull out all the stops to defeat Juliet, including loudspeakers, guitars and flames, among other interesting attacks. They’re challenging, but with her chainsaw and multitude of abilities, she can easily win the fight – provided the right player is at the controls.
Yes, Lollipop Chainsaw is delightfully goofy, but did you really expect anything else from Suda 51? One moment you can’t overlook is when you chain together combos and make enemies explode in an array of showmanship, perfectly fitting for any cheerleader. Simply strike the enemies in the right tempo, pose, and watch the blood fly. There’s really nothing else quite like it.
Lollipop Chainsaw makes its debut for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 next month. If it’s anything like Suda 51’s previous works (and it is), you’ll enjoy the pure insanity of it all even while you’re farting a rainbow and embracing a disembodied head. Relax, it’s all just part of the madness.