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Bat-shit crazy: Lollipop Chainsaw goes zombie-mental

Tuesday, 22 May 2012 08:55 GMT By Stace Harman

As Suda51 gears up to unleash multi-coloured hell, Stace Harman speaks to Scott Warr of Warner Bros. about the not-so-niche appeal of zombies and cheerleaders.

Lollipop Chainsaw – quick bites

The game was originally going to be called Chainsaw and Shotgun, but Suda changed the name because it “didn’t really fit with what he wanted to convey” (his love of candy, presumably).

Juliet has two sisters who aid her throughout her war against the undead, but neither will playable. Meanwhile, decapitated boyfriend, Nick, will be on hand to offer support and occasional special attacks via Nick Roulette.

The soundtrack for the game’s boss battle is scored by Mindless Self Indulgence lead singer, Jimmy Urine; in all likelihood, that’s not his real name.

On the subject of names, the Suda51 nickname is apparently a pun on the game director’s given name, Goichi. In Japanese, Go means 5 and Ichi means 1, it says here.

Grasshopper Manufacture CEO and creative luminary, Goichi Suda, has some very definite ideas about videogame style and narrative. What this has so far translated to is a body of work that has generally been critically well-received, but that carries with it a curious caveat; attempts to describe the nature and content of titles such as Killer7, No More Heroes and Shadows of the Damned usually involve one or more of the following adjectives: weird, bizarre, eclectic and/or bat-crap crazy.

It is unlikely a coincidence then, that the title with which the auteur game director intends to capture a wider audience than that of his previous output features a 21st century videogame zeitgeist: zombies. Paradoxically, zombies in videogames are most definitely not weird, bizarre, eclectic or bat-crap crazy.

“That [broadening the appeal] was Suda’s goal when he approached Warner Bros,” reveals Scott Warr, Warner Bros. producer. “He already had the Lollipop Chainsaw game mechanics and the character, so he was looking for help with the story. We paired Suda with James Gunn and they worked together to flesh out the storyboards and with James creating the narrative and writing the script.”

So far, so conventional, but between Suda’s creative vision and Gunn’s peculiar brand of humour – writing credits include the films Super (2010), Slither (2006) and Dawn of the Dead (2004) – there’s room enough for eccentricity to flourish; enter rock and roll themed zombie overlords, a profane disembodied head and an undead horde that explodes in a shower of blood and rainbows when hacked apart by the titular chainsaw.

Who’s that girl?

Of course, anyone that claims it was the zombies of Lollipop Chainsaw that first caught their eye in the game’s numerous trailers and promo videos is talking utter biscuits. No, that dubious honour undoubtedly falls to protagonist Juliet; a zombie-killer and cheerleader for the San Romero Knights. And if the former weren’t enough to make her popular with a large portion of videogame players, she can fall back on the latter – which is presumably intended both to typify her role as an 18-year-old high-school sweetheart and conveniently explain her gratuitously skimpy attire. Suda may be creative and Gunn might be funny, but neither is particularly subtle.

Introduced via an intimate, soft-focus bedroom sequence, Juliet is painted as an optimistic, exuberant teenager who happens to have turned 18 on the morning that we meet her and whose world revolves around high-school life, strawberry lollipops, her boyfriend Nick and slaying zombies. From the sequences shown-off by Warr, it seems that’s pretty much all there is to her but despite her overtly sexualised appearance, she exhibits very little in the way of knowingly sexual behaviour.

Behind the scenes with Gunn and Suda.

In one respect, this makes her less gratuitous than the likes of Bayonetta or Mass Effect’s Miranda, who are designed to flaunt their sexuality; though, of course, by casting Juliet in the wide-eyed, innocent school girl routine Grasshopper is catering to another clichéd form of titillation, deliberately or otherwise. Furthermore, Grasshopper’s insistence on providing upskirt shots as Juliet vaults obstacles and having the animated head of boyfriend Nick hanging behind her thus leading to her backside being framed just-so when he speaks during cut-scenes is wholly unnecessary and more than a little tiresome.

Warr himself does little to stand by these decisions, as Gunn or Suda might, as he explains almost defensively, “That’s where we work with the ratings boards; with ESRB, USK, PEGI and the like, to ensure that we’re staying within our boundaries.”

“Obviously, the marketing people have really gone with the whole blood, sex and Rock & Roll theme but it would be a shame for there to be snap judgements formed without people playing the game; that said, I know that’s going to happen because you just can’t avoid it. However, Suda really wanted this to be a US-style high-school, kind of a super school, and there was a lot of discussion between James and Suda about how that would work.

“As the user progresses they’re going to see that Juliet doesn’t swear all that much or flip up her skirt on purpose; in fact she only swears in the game twice, it’s those around her that do all the swearing.”

Over and over and over and over

As Warr’s play-through concludes, it’s neither the crassness of the script nor the casual sexualisation of the teenage protagonist that rankles most, but instead the worrying level of repetitiveness that’s exhibited throughout the different areas of the game. Despite playing with Juliet’s entire move-set unlocked for demo purposes, there are a handful of key moves that Warr employs again and again. Tactics appear to extend only as far as a few light attacks to shepherd stray zombies into a loose group before attempting to decapitate three or more at once to trigger the Sparkle Hunting reward system, from which the game’s currency is obtained.

Meet Cordelia and Rosalind, Juliet’s sisters,

Mini-games puncture the levels and provide some variety but as Warr shows sections from three separate areas of the game it’s difficult to ascertain whether the pacing will be judged sufficiently well to hold attention. The novelty of a bubbly, chainsaw-wielding zombie-slaying cheerleader will only take the game so far and it may be asking too much of the stylised violence to compensate for the apparent, restrictive linearity in both level design and character progression.

Lollipop Chainsaw could be a stylish and entertaining arcade-brawler with a smart mouth; certainly Michael Rosenbaum as the bemused Nick does a stand-up job of delivering Gunn’s script. But it could just as easily turn out to be wearing experience that lacks the substance to match its gregarious style. It would be a shame if its legacy is nothing but bluff and bluster concerning its pin-up protagonist because Suda is better than that. Let’s hope, then, that in attempting to appeal to a wider audience Suda and Grasshopper Manufacture are not betraying that which makes them unique; after all, everything is more interesting when you introduce a bit of weird.

Lollipop Chainsaw launches on PS3 and 360 on June 12 in the US and June 15 in Europe.

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13 Comments

  1. The_Red

    “it’s neither the crassness of the script nor the casual sexualisation of the teenage protagonist that rankles most, but instead the worrying level of repetitiveness that’s exhibited throughout the different areas of the game”

    Rather worrying. I actually didn’t have with any of first 2 points (Crass stories and crazy sexualisation are among the reasons I love No More Heroes games) but getting repetitive… Both No More Heroes and Shadows of the Damned suffered from this.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Patrick Garratt

    No idea if it’ll be any good or not, but some of those images are really making me cringe.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. absolutezero

    I think everyone thinks they know exactly what this game is going to be like, only Grasshopper games are never really end up being exactly how they start out.

    I think they’ll have a few surprises hidden away inside it either in the story or in the gameplay. Kinda like Shadows of the Damned in that respect.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. OrbitMonkey

    It just looks really boring.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Da Man

    They should just put a few hours of dramatic babbling about some jap taboo (srs discussion about sexism and the role of women in modern mysterious jap society) and implement an essential sex mini game. Release some moody trailer with some pompous soundtrack.

    Cult Classic, up there with MGS and ZoE guaranteed.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. YoungZer0

    Why don’t they just try to release a good game instead? All this developer seems to be able to do is bring out boring, over-sexualized bullshit with repetitive gameplay. Doesn’t even try to challenge himself.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. absolutezero

    Wait what?

    There are more non-sexual titles in Grasshoppers back catalouge than ones like this.

    Jesus theres a Kinect Baseball game for Christ sake. The Samurai Champloo game on the PS2 was stupidly original and I have yet to see anything even remotely like it. Same for Killer7 and Flower Sun and Rain.

    I do agree though Frog Minutes on the iphone is pretty degrading.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. YoungZer0

    Never had the chance to play Flower Sun and Rain, but Samurai Champloo was a pretty shitty game, like most of their games, the gameplay is where it’s lacking.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. absolutezero

    You’d fucking hate Flower Sun and Rain, its a game held togethot with duct tape and one idea. Its just full of strange characters and off-kilter ideas, an odd experiment in game design.

    Sure the gameplay is lacking in something like F, S and R but its not in Killer7, or Shadows of the Damned or Diabolical Pitch.

    Really Grasshopper take a hell of alot of flack because of Suda’s personality has a tendancy to over-shadow everything that they do. Then they do something off to the side like Black Knight Sword, Frog Minutes and Contact.

    Hell they made Fatal Frame 4.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. YoungZer0

    Well, guess we’ll have to disagree, i thought Shadows of the Damned was boring and especially Killer7.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. ManuOtaku

    I did love killer 7, shadowns of the damned and No more heroes, great games especially in the boss fight department, i know i will like this game too, cannot wait

    #11 3 years ago
  12. Clupula

    No More Heroes and Shadows of the Damned could also be pretty repetitive, but the games’ personalities were what made them worthwhile. I imagine this will be the same and I’ll love it more for its feel and humor than anything.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. manamana

    Killer7 was ace. End of story.

    #13 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    White Night is here, not long after it was revealed and with a mysterious launch trailer. White Night, the black-and-white survival horror set in 1930s Boston, has revealed its launch trailer. White Night is mix of old-school horror, exploration and puzzling solving in an eerie, noir setting. The game’s main mechanic is light. any object […]

  • Free-to-play is “a significant part” of PlayStation’s digital future

    Free-to-play games on PlayStation 4 have seen enough growth that Sony is now considering the model a major part of its future digital business. Sarah Thompson, senior account executive for PlayStation’s free-to-play business said at a GDC panel that Sony has witnessed impressive growth in the free-to-play sector. “We’re really looking at this as a […]

  • Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter documentary releasing free on YouTube

    Broken Age making of documentary Double Fine Adventure will be made available to all. When Double Fine turned to crowdfunding, changing the industry forever, it promised to give an unprecedented look behind the scenes with a professional documentary of the whole development process of Broken Age. That documentary was initially restricted to Kickstarter backers, but […]

  • Gone Home console ports cancelled following Midnight City difficulties

    Gone Home won’t be made available to the console masses after all. Indie hit Gone Home was announced for console release almost exactly one year ago, and we’ve heard absolutely nothing since then. Turns out, that’s because it’s not happening: developer the Fullbright Company confirmed to Eurogamer that the ports have been cancelled. “Our publishing […]

  • Microsoft rang Mojang the day Notch joked about selling

    Minecraft developer Mojang was sold because founder Markus “Notch” Persson made a joke on Twitter. Ever wondered how Minecraft came to be a Microsoft property? It’s actually a pretty great story. Remember when Notch tweeted this? Anyone want to buy my share of Mojang so I can move on with my life? Getting hate for […]

  • Halo: The Master Chief Collection matchmaking update rolling out

    Halo: The Master Chief Collection has been updated to help fix its tragic matchmaking. Again. Now almost four months old, Halo: The Master Chief Collection was still pretty broken as of this morning, with rubbish matchmaking and plenty of other issues to go around. 343 Industries is still trying to fix it, and has today […]

  • Nvidia unveils Shield, an Android 4K Smart TV set top box

    Nvidia has named yet another product “Shield” in an attempt to render us all hopelessly confused. The heart of Nvidia’s GDC 2015 press conference was the Shield, a $200 Android set top box launching in May. Apparently the “world’s first 4K Android TV”, the Shield supports 4K content encoded with h.265. The box runs on […]

  • Star Wars Battlefront footage shown behind closed doors

    Star Wars Battlefront is being shown to retailers. Now we want EA to show it to us. Star Wars Battlefront is expected sometime this year, so it’s about time EA gave us a look at DICE’s latest. It turns out that while press and gamers have had to twiddle their thumbs, EA is showing it […]

  • Dragon Age lead creative moves onto mysterious new BioWare project

    Dragon Age creator David Gaider is leaving his baby behind. Dragon Age is a team effort, but Gaider was one of the key creatives behind the franchise, creating the setting of Thedas (which, I was recently amused to learn, is an acronym: “THE Dragon Age Setting”). He was lead writer on all three games and […]

  • Unity 5 available for free with “no fucking around”

    Unity 5 looks amazing, and you can download and faff about with it for free right now. “We’re not nickel-and-diming people. When we say it’s free, it’s free. We’re not charging a royalty, which I think is akin to looking for whales.” Unity Technologies announced the release of the fifth version of its popular, simple, […]

  • Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 may be the end of the series

    Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 released yesterday, and many fans theorise that it marks the end of the series. Five Nights at Freddy’s developer Scott Cawthon has released a new teaser image on his website, but rather than pointing to a new game, many fans believe the teaser signals the end of the series. The […]

  • Source 2 announced, will also be free

    Valve has formally unveiled Source Engine 2, the third major engine to go free to developers at GDC 2015. Source 2 is the successor to the engine Valve has been using since Counter-Strike: Source and Half-Life 2. Valve didn’t have much to say about the technicalities of this long-awaited release. It is apparently focused on […]

  • SteamVR: Valve’s Lighthouse tech allows you to walk around while playing

    SteamVR’s key differentiator is a piece of tech allowing headsets to connect with other devices for extra accurate, room-scale tracking. Valve has announced a new bit of technology called Lighthouse, which it is making freely available to any hardware manufacturer. Like the extra tracking LEDs on Sony’s updated Project Morpheus, Lighthouse improves the headset’s accuracy, […]

  • Steam Machines, Controller, streaming box to launch in November

    Steam Machines will finally become a reality before the end of the year. Valve’s living room PC systems will release in November, the company announced today. Well, I say Valve’s – the idea behind Steam Machines is that a number of manufacturers will offer variously priced systems. Alienware and Falcon Northwest are among the dozen […]

  • Telltale veterans form new team, announce teen thriller Oxenfree

    Oxenfree is a supernatural teen thriller from some of the team behind Telltale Games’ award-winning adventures. New indie Night School Studios unveiled Oxenfree at GDC 2015. It tells the story of a group of friends who accidentally open a “ghostly rift” at an overnight party on the coast. Night School, which is made up of […]

  • PS4 global sales now stand at over 20.2 million

    The PS4 has sold 20.2 million units worldwide. Sony announced the new PS4 sales milestone at GDC 2015 today. It’s a hell of an achievement and salt in the wounds for Microsoft, which hasn’t updated us on Xbox One sales since it shipped “almost” 10 million back in November last year, and has fallen back […]

  • PS4 VR headset Morpheus out in 2016, capable of 120 FPS – video

    Sony’s VR headset Project Morpheus has some impressive grunt. Virtual reality and Morpheus were the heart of Sony’s GDC 2015 presentation today, ahead of its newly announced first-half 2016 comemrcial launch. SCE Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida detailed the headset’s impressive capabilities, notably the fact that it can handle 120 FPS VR games. The PS4 […]

  • Papo & Yo developer making a VR game about dinosaurs

    Some days you write a headline and it makes you so happy that that you have to do a little chair dance, you know what I mean? Papo & Yo developer Minority Media, whom I would personally go to the wall for after they cut out my heart and stomped on it via the medium […]

  • Wasteland 2, Shovel Knight and more in big ole bunch of indies coming to Xbox One

    Xbox One owners are about to receive a pile of great new indie games. At GDC 2015, Microsoft revealed a list of new indie games headed to Xbox One. Some of these titles have already released on other platforms, so it looks like Microsoft has really relaxed the parity clause of ID@Xbox – or perhaps […]

  • Here’s an indie VR game made with Unreal Engine 4

    GDC 2015 is blowing up with indie games, VR and Unreal Engine 4, so here’s a video combining all three. Loading Human is a virtual reality adventure from indie developer Untold Games. It’s in the works for Mac and PC, and Sony has given an early green light for Project Morpheus, too, so expect it […]

  • GTA Online: Daily Objectives and Adversary Mode coming next week

    Heists aren’t the only thing coming to GTA Online next week: players can also expect Adversary Modes, new Daily Objectives and other Freemode activities. GTA Online’s Adversary Modes are new PvP modes which feature a range of competitive challenges and will unlock as players progress through Heists. Here’s a rundown straight from Rockstar: Come Out […]

  • Syndicate is the latest free game download on Origin

    The latest free title to be added to EA’s Origin service is 1993′s Syndicate. For a limited time, you can download the game for free and keep it, much like previous titles such as Theme Hospital. The isometric, real-time, tactical-action game was developed by Bullfrog Productions and released in June 1993. It is a favorite […]

  • Ancient Labyrinth DLC for Lords of the Fallen now available

    The Ancient Labyrinth DLC for Lords of the Fallen is now available for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It will run you $7.99 and builds upon the existing lore, characters, and storyline. Have a look at some new screenshots in the gallery below.

  • Shadowrun Online gets a name change and release date

    Shadowrun Online developer Cliffhanger Productions has announced the game’s name has been changed to Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown and a release date for April has been set. The new title was formed via the developer and its Kickstarter backers, with the goal being to let those unfamiliar with the game know by the title alone […]

  • Amazon hosting Rockstar and 2K Games sale

    Amazon is hosting a Rockstar Games and 2K Games sale with discounts Max Payne titles, Bully and more. Here’s just some of the offerings listed: Manhunt 2 PC Download $3.00 Max Payne 3 PC Download $4.00 Bully: Scholarship Edition PC Download $3.00 LA Noire Xbox 360 $2.95 L.A. Noire: The Complete Edition PC Download $6.00 […]

  • Destiny weekly reset video shows off Inferno Crucible gameplay

    We have a gameplay video featuring Inferno Crucible gameplay featured in the Destiny weekly reset for you. In it, Arekkz Gaming gives you a look at Inferno Crucible and goes over the various intricacies. You can read up on the weekly reset through the links.

  • Resident Evil: Revelations 2 Episode 2 available from today

    Episode 2 for Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is now available. If you’ve purchased the Complete Season, you’ll be able to download Episode 2 on PS3, PS4 and Xbox One. Steam players should see the episode go live around 9-10pm PST, and Xbox 360 owners should be able to download very early tomorrow morning, per Capcom […]

  • Here’s a sneak peek video for Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide

    Fatshark Games has released a sneak peek video for its upcoming Games Workshop title, Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide. Vermintide is a FPS, co-op action title coming to PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and its set during the End Times of the Warhammer universe in the city of Ubersreik. Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare video shows Ascendance DLC early access weapon

    As you know, Xbox Season Pass holders now have early access to the Ascendance DLC Pack bonus weapons for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Now you can watch a trailer for the weapon. The OHM directed energy hybrid weapon can switch between an LMG and Shotgun “on the fly,” and it also includes the OHM-Werewolf […]

  • March PS Plus games include OlliOlli 2, Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty, more

    March PlayStation Plus titles have popped up on the PS Plus page. Noticed by NeoGAF user skynidas, the titles include: OlliOlli2 (PS4/VITA) Valiant Hearts: The Great War (PS4) Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty (PS4) Counterspy (PS4/PS3) Papo & Yo (PS3) Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment (PS3) A notice has also been posted on the EU PS […]

  • Sci-fi horror game Caffeine will release on Xbox One, PS4 alongside PC – new trailer

    Caffeine creator Dylan Browne has announced the Unreal Engine 4 game will be released on Xbox One. The game will be published through Microsoft’s Indie Program. As previously announced, it is also coming to PC and and now PlayStation 4. Caffeine is a sci-fi horror game which stars a young boy who has been abandoned […]

  • Xbox 360 Preview program invites going out this month

    Much like the Xbox One Preview program, starting early this month, invites for the Xbox 360 Preview program will start rolling out. Select invitees will be able to join program directly from their Xbox 360. A special Xbox Live message will be sent, directing users to head over to their Settings page. Further instructions are […]

  • Tron: Legacy director in negotiations for Gran Turismo film

    Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski is said to be in early negotiations to direct the Gran Turismo film. This is according to the Hollywood Reporter, which states Michael De Luca is still slated as one of the producers alongside Matt Milam, Dana Brunetti, Josh Bratman, DeVon Franklin and Elizabeth Cantillon. Plot details are still unknown […]

  • Fifth add-on pack for Alien: Isolation is available for download

    The Trigger, which is is the fifth add-on pack for Alien: Isolation, is available to download from today. In it, players will “compete against the clock” across three new maps in Survivor Mode. Set before the events of the main game, players step into the shoes of Sevastopol Station’s Ricardo who will do what he […]