GDC: Lollipop Chainsaw Hands-On
Suda 51 is definitely an acquired game taste, but it’s a fulfilling one, as we’ve seen from the likes of Shadows of the Damned, No More Heroes, and Killer 7. His latest is a bit more mainstream, but still rather insane. In Lollipop Chainsaw, you control a chainsaw-wielding cheerleader named Juliet Sterling as she declares war on zombie freaks, being led by demonic rock gods who will stop at nothing to take over. WB Games recently held an event at the Game Developers Conference in Los Angeles to give us a test drive with the upcoming release.
Juliet herself is pretty manageable with a chainsaw. The game combines some great old-school style combos to unleash all sorts of zombie carnage, including popping heads off like a pro and hacking and slashing. Considering that the chainsaw is almost as big as she is, that’s no easy feat. But the game isn’t merely action, as this is a Suda 51 effort, after all. It also mixes in a few other gameplay elements that truly make it stand out from other action games.
Let’s talk about the boss battle first. The demo featured an interesting run-in with Josey, a freakish warlord who has overrun the local arcade with undead souls to begin with. This freak roams around in a UFO in the middle of an arena, and since Juliet can’t really hit them from the ground, she has to rely on a weapon known as the chainsaw blaster — and yes, it’s as insane as it sounds. It’s an interesting battle, to say the least, and it will remind veteran players of the same kind of boss design they experienced in Shadows of the Damned.
But that’s not all. There are other types of segments thrown into Lollipop Chainsaw to keep the gameplay diverse. At one point, Juliet engages in some rather destructive (and enlightening) cheers, guided by quick time event sequences, where the player has to hit the buttons at the right time to successfully complete it. Juliet’s boyfriend, Nick, also plays a pretty big part in the demo. Though he’s got no corpse to speak of (he’s literally a talking head), Juliet attaches his noggin to a corpse, giving him a chance to get in on the action.
Suda 51 also pays tribute to old-school games in the demo. At one point, Juliet finds herself in a 3D maze, trying to beat down some rather large Pac-Man-like creatures before they turn her into lunch. Another great segment reminded us of the classic Elevator Action, where Juliet works her way through a side-scrolling building segment, occasionally gathering intel and killing bad guys as quickly as possible. Both Namco and Taito would certainly be humbled by Suda’s tribute.
Overall, Lollipop Chainsaw carries a creative vibe that will suit it really well. It’s great fun to play, and the design shows plenty of spark — between Juliet’s sexy attacking ways and the lunacy that follows between Nick’s involvement and the button-tapping segments. There’s also plenty of blood, and the script, collaborated with writer/director James Gunn (“Super”) has no shortage of humorous dialogue — at least from what we played.
Lollipop Chainsaw hits stores on June 12, just in time for the dog days of summer. Judging by what we’ve played thus far, gamers will have a good time hacking through zombies. Look for a full review following the game’s release.