There’s nothing wrong with Grindhouse-style games

More often than not, we see a lot of games that are taken very seriously.  If they aren’t first-person shooters that hike up the realism, they’re fables that make you feel like you’re in another time or place, driven by a singular goal.  But every once in a while, you run into a game that makes you have fun and not worry so much about the end of the world or whatever’s going to happen down the road.  It’s all about enjoying the moment and chopping some poor schlep to bits in the process.  You know, like in the “Grindhouse” style.

Lollipop Chainsaw easily fits into that category.  It is a project that features the involvement of legendary game developer Suda 51 and the director behind “Super” and “PG Rated Porn” James Gunn.  The game revolves around Juliet Starling, a sexpot cheerleader who lets her double-sized chainsaw do the talking when it comes to dealing with zombie rock gods and the undead horde that follows them.  The game goes on all sorts of levels of silliness, including a decapitated boyfriend’s head (that’s still alive, by the way) and zombie bosses that aren’t afraid to let the trash talk flow.

A few of our fellow game critics discredited Lollipop, feeling that it was a little too silly for its own good.  But, honestly, it’s that level of silliness that works in its favor.  We’ve seen a number of games out there that don’t go the extra mile when it comes to being creative or loopy, and this one easily goes against the grain, with its unpredictability, ridiculous sexual dialogue and over-the-top carnage.

This isn’t the first grindhouse game to come our way, as several others have also taken the formula of getting gory and having fun with it.  Last year, Sega released an enhanced version of its hit Wii shooter House of the Dead: Overkill for PlayStation 3, which not only supports the Move but also introduces a couple of interesting new stages, including one that takes place in a strip club.  Now, House of the Dead: Overkill has never been a game to hold back, as Isaac, one of the heroes you’ll play as, drops a “f” bomb every other sentence.  But the Extended Cut of the game goes even further with its blood-soaked carnage, ridiculous story and grindhouse-style approach.  Plus, you can play through the whole thing in 3D, adding even further to the happily cheesy effect.

Suda 51 has been down this road before with last year’s Shadows of the Damned.  A third-person shooter that goes against the tradition of most demon-killing games, it puts you in the shoes of a guy simply trying to get his girlfriend back from the depths of Hell, using all sorts of randy language and one hell of a weapon — a talking shotgun deemed "Johnson" — to get the job done.  There are sexual references aplenty, along with lots of carnage.  And you know what?  We like it.  It was easily one of last year’s sleeper hits, even if it didn’t produce the kind of serious income that EA was looking for.

Another example that’s worth mentioning from 2010 is Wet, Bethesda’s third-person action/adventure.  Playing as an assassin named Rubi who’s left for dead by questionable business partners, you fight back using a pair of pistols and a samurai blade, all of which come in handy for carving up baddies.  The game has style to spare, between interesting commercial snippets, fun little over-the-top black and red segments, and a whole lot of cheesy characters to cut down to size.  Plus, the battle on the freeway, amidst moving cars, is one that shouldn’t be missed.

So, you see, there’s plenty of room for grindhouse-like games on the market, provided they’re developed with the right frame of mind without being taken the least bit seriously.  We can only hope there’s more to come down the road…like a Lollipop Chainsaw sequel.

 
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Robert Workman
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