December 19, 2013

Backseat Gamer: Lollipop Chainsaw

warning: may contain spoilers

So this wasn't so much a proper backseat gaming session as it was a collaborative drunken experiment. The first time I saw Lollipop Chainsaw it was clear to me that this was going to be what I consider a mindless hack and slash game with an extra dose of cheese, but everyone seems to insist that the game is a lot of fun, so my pal Brian and I decided to make an experiment of it, since we were overdue for a night of good fun anyway. The experiment was this: take turns playing Lollipop Chainsaw while consuming immense amounts of alcohol.
The result: the game got progressively better as we got more and more inebriated. Surprise. So I'm going to do my best to give you my thoughts on Lollipop Chainsaw, even though it's all a blurry memory*...

First of all, the game is quite pretty! I rather enjoy the comic book motif and the style of graphics during gameplay as well. It's very well done, which is a little surprising considering the genre. The developers obviously put quite a bit of work into the details and it helps boost this game's reputation a bit.
I'm not even sure there was music in this game, but this was likely due to the overdose of laughter in the room at any given time, so I will withhold judgement until further notice.
The plot is pretty... ridiculous. Juliet is a vapid cheerleader with a chainsaw. Yeah, really. She's also a zombie hunter, something she casually forgot to mention to her boyfriend. Whoops! Been there. Basically, while on her way to meet said boyfriend - on her birthday! - Juliet discovers that there's been a zombie breakout, which, with the aid of her sensei, she learns is the result of an angry goth teenager opening a door between her world and the world of the dead, and that he intends to use the zombie bosses - all of whom represent a musical genre - to resurrect the zombie lord with whom he will exact his revenge on all the suckers that ever made fun of him, or broke his heart.
Nick, the boyfriend, has sadly been bitten by a zombie, but no worries! Being learned in the zombie killing arts, Juliet is able to perform a ritual that saves Nick's soul from changing. The catch is that he loses his body, becoming a fully aware, pocket-sized boyfriend head who accompanies Juliet on her journey to destroy the zombies and take down the annoying goth-dork.
In spite of it cheesy premise, the writing in Lollipop Chainsaw is actually hilarious. I have no idea how many IQ points I lost playing this game, but it did manage a lot of laughs out of my cynical, sarcastic side (with or without booze).
Jules is not only aided by her beheaded boyfriend (who moonlights as a weapon), but also her family, all of whom specialize in zombie hunting as well. She has two sisters, the sharp-shooting Cordelia and the airhead slash mode-of-transportation-who-needs-to-lay-off-the-prozak, Rosalind. Both provide bits of useless advice and the occasional item. You also receive regular phone calls from Juliet's mom, who is also completely useless (runs in the family?), and later you get to work with her dad, Gideon, who is basically a parody of Elvis Presley... whose testicles may or may not have survived this whole ordeal.
Nick is by far my favorite character. He provides so much of the true comedy in LC and he's so handy? heady? at times! I'd totally date his head.

The baddies in LC are some of the foulest zombies ever. Fucking teenagers man… They are made up of the various townspeople and Juliet's schoolmates, some of whom have not yet been bitten so it's your duty to rescue these folks in the various stages. It turns out, this is the key component to the ending of the game, if you rescue all the friends you get the "good" ending, if you fail, the kids not only become some of the tougher enemies but you are eventually rewarded with the "bad" ending. Somehow, Brian and I managed to rescue all these pain-in-the-asses and later had to google the "bad" ending to see what the difference was. Don't sweat the details here, there is little payoff.

Combat in LC is basically you being attacked by an army of zombies (thankfully, you have a radar to help you navigate) as you press forward into the fairly linear levels, trying to master the various attacks you learn, and maintain your health, which is, of course, indicated by lollipops. You usually have to clear all the zombies in the area before you can continue and sometimes there is a puzzle or two to be solved as well. In spite of being repetitive, I give the game points for non-stop action intertwined with the plot which actually unfolds at a good pace. The levels seem to vary both in length and difficulty, but  the game was manageable on normal mode, even with our added impairment. Brian would handle the combat-heavy areas where I would normally rage or get bored, and I would handle the searching, puzzles and online shopping which meant I got to pick most of the upgrades and "awesome skillz" with a 'z'. I focused heavily on upgrades, Brian insisted we buy her new outfits. Figures.
There are a couple modes of currency in LC: gold medals, which you collect an abundance of, are used to buy basic stuff like upgrades, and platinum medals which are a little harder to come by, and you spend those on outfits and other unlockables.

Other than that the game is just one ridiculous thing after another, from pole dancing and zombie sports to a glitter attack that reminds me of the invincibility mode in Sonic the Hedgehog. It took us one session to complete LC, which was about 9 or 10 hours, all in, and I figure must be a little longer than most as we were heavily distracted, had a handful of repeat boss battles (all of which seem to have multiple incarnations that carry on forever) and some of the levels drag on quite a bit too, which is not good for drunken, A.D.D-like antics.

In the end, we actually had a lot of fun. It's a silly game, but with a little help from Jack, we made a good night of it. If you are easily amused (or a featherweight drunk), go ahead and give Lollipop Chainsaw a bit of your time. Be prepared for incredibly repetitive gameplay, but a cute story and a fun take on an otherwise overpopulated concept.


*It's totally not. I'm exceptional at remembering things from the nights of my drunken escapades. It's a curse.

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