My review on Lollipop Chainsaw
For those who don't know, Lollipop Chainsaw is the title of 2012 hack n' slash thriller game, made by Suda51 and directed by famous filmmaker James Gunn. Since its release, the game has received many varying opinions that heavily reflect its popularity amongst the generation of players. My personal opinion of the game, is more leaning towards a positive.
Lollipop Chainsaw was a very unique for its time, being over-the-top in its story and utterly bizarre to most viewers. Personally, the game can be very fun to play, for only a few months, but could lose its value of interest within players very quickly.
Features within the game that deems it unique, is its unusual way of presenting itself towards its audience. In the trailers, it advertises itself as a hardcore game, made to appeal to gamers who are interested in the extreme (though this may be simply satire, trying to mock games that use over-the-top methods to sell their games). Lollipop Chainsaw to me is practically a satirical comedy, heavily relying on a lot of irony, sex puns, humorous violence, stupidity within most characters and a little gross-out humor as a major theme apparent within most of the game.
A running gag that is prevalent to most viewers of the game, is that Lollipop Chainsaw has many plot holes in story, as many situations that occur in the game leave many of the players to wonder and beg for a sensical explanation. I think its attempts at being a satirical comedy are very interesting, as it is one of the reasons that the game grew an appeal to me. What I admire most about the story, is how despite its raunchy humor, the game appears to be constructed from a symbolic structure, revealing a much bigger message to players that most would never recognize.
Lollipop Chainsaw appears to symbolize the grief of losing a loved one, particularly the grief of Swan (loss of Juliet's trust), Juliet (loss of her boyfriend), and Nick (loss of his humanity). If one inspects the game closely enough in each stage, they will find hints of symbolism in the story, that reflects the Kubler-Ross model, which is: Denial, Rage, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.
In my opinion, this is probably one of the best things about Lollipop Chainsaw, considering that most people who have heard of the game, have a strong dislike for its "bad story-telling" (referring to the humorous plot holes it contains).
The game has a good idea on how the pattern of gameplay should never repetitive, and should feature different ways of playing the game. My favorite parts of the game's combat are the features of combo moves and methods of earning currency to earn such combos. Whether it is to attack zombies through melee combat, gun fighting, or simply trying to stun an enemy, each type of attack in the game has its own to reason to exist, (some more efficient in their goal than others).
Another that was very unique about the game, was the heavy presence of subcultures. This includes the preppies (Juliet and Nick), a goths (Swan), punk (Zed), metal rockers (Vikke), a hippy (Mariska), a funkadelic (Josey), greasers (Lewis Legend and Gideon), and the geeks. It is very rare for a game (or a story for this matter) to put so much emphasis on other real-world cliques. This motif alone, helped give a little diversity in the characters and inspiration for varying enemies.
I also admire the appearance of the game, attempting to imitate that of a comic book, giving it a lot of color and uniqueness to its style.
These are one of the reasons that the game has picked up a cult popularity. In summary, the best thing about this game, is its:
Use of Off-Color comedy and radical representation.
Hidden symbolism in a seemingly "bad story".
Entertaining methods of combat.
Use of color.
Though I admired much of Lollipop Chainsaw's gameplay, I felt as if it had left much to be desired, as a few shortcomings of the game had a major impact on the combat.
When playing as a beginner of Lollipop Chainsaw, combating zombies never appears to be a complete ideal.My personal experiences playing as a beginner of the game, were mildly annoying, as I sawed through enemies, with basic but unfulfilling and limited attacks. This helped to make the gameplay very lengthy, yet it was also frustrating and boring to struggle on defeating my enemies.
One of things that I think most people despise about the game, is its ambiguous strategies, as it is never completely clear how one is to tackle certain tasks. For example, combat can be either boring (easy mode) or frustrating (hard mode or above) depending whether or not the player purchases special combos. Simple pom-pom bashes can only push the enemies the away from the player, while it takes several hits to defeat an enemy with the chainsaw.
Sometimes I hear that Nick Roulette has limited uses, and that it is not a popular mechanism when used in combat. I've heard that Nick Toss is the most popular out of the other options, as it is the most powerful out of the four available options in combat, and prevents the player from receiving any damage. In my opinion, Nick Roulette is a useful weapon for stunning enemies and each attack has a different reason to exist, depending on the horde the player is dealing with. For example, Nick Toss is made more for situations where a large horde is present, and the player is being surrounded by a large crowd. Nick Popper is made more to push enemies away or for the purpose of aligning them, for the sake of sparkle hunting. Nick Shoot is made more for dealing with a minor crowd, but can be useful for larger crowds on more rare occasions. While Nick Shake is made more for improving your score and regenerating the player's health.
Despite the unique purposes of a majority of these attacks, I think the game should really put more depth in explaining the uses for each of the game's combat attacks, and as to why it exists. What I personally think is, that they should have infused the elements of the combat, with the methods of defeating an enemy, so that there are more varieties to their defeat, than the variety in their attacks. The reason being that the enemies of the game are slightly flawed, is that the zombies of Lollipop Chainsaw have a poor balance of difficulty.
Simple enemies have attacks that are too similar to one another, making combat boring and repetitive (I.e. Student zombie hordes). Stronger enemies tend to have attacks that make it difficult to decipher a strategy, forcing the player to experiment in an unfamiliar manner (I.e. Fighting Mark). If each enemy had their own unique strategy to be defeated, with no attacks shared with different enemy-types, and the variety of enemies in a single horde gradually rose as the player entered a new stage of the game, then gameplay would become less repetitive.
Another thing that I dislike about combat are how the two chainsaw upgrades Chainsaw Dash and Chainsaw Blaster mechanic's are rarely used or explored. On Stage 2, I think the Chainsaw Dash was being used way too much and should have had a little bit of a balance. On Stage 3 I don't think the player was being taught the complete potential of the Chainsaw Blaster, as the level seemed to be completely focused on how to shoot enemies, as opposed how to aim.
Ironically enough, it took me a while to realize that these upgrades were also equipped with combos, which especially made it difficult for me to use them on Stage 3. These combos include:
Chainsaw Dash + Left/Bottom button = A low spinning attack to transition to combat smoothly.
Chainsaw Dash + Top button = An acrobatic spin, to end Chainsaw Dash smoothly.
Chainsaw Blaster + Left Button = Reloading of the weapon.
Chainsaw Blaster + Bottom Button = Turning around in a 180 degree angle.
I honestly wished I was educated on these things, during combat, and in summary:
Nearly useless basic attacks.
Combos are a heavy necessity for gameplay.
Lack of a proper balance in enemy variety abilities.
Does not completely educate the player on combat strategies.
7 out of 10.