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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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    Final Fantasy, a byword in prolific franchises, was created by a man who hates sequel. Final Fantasy games are famous for being reinvented with each core release, and it was not until series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi began to withdraw from the franchise after Final Fantasy 9 that we started seeing regular sequels and spin-offs. Speaking […]

  • Guardian complaints led to the closure of Destiny’s Loot Cave

    Destiny players are to blame for the shuttering of the much loved Loot Cave. Early in Destiny‘s history, many players got hugely excited about the “Loot Cave”. Accessible shortly after starting the game for the first time, this high-volume spawn point allowed players to stand in one place, taking out waves and waves of low-level […]

  • Xbox and PC games boss Phil Harrison to leave Microsoft – rumour

    Microsoft Interactive Entertainment Business VP and EMEA head of games Phil Harrison is rumoured to have thrown in the towel. Microsoft has not issued a statement on Harrison’s alleged departure, despite repeated questioning by press at GDC 2015. Instead, word comes via multiple sources speaking to GamesIndustry at the show. According to the rumours, Harrison […]

  • Metal Gear Online commentated trailer explains stuffed dog – but not invisibility

    Metal Gear Online developer Kojima Productions has provided significantly more insight into how the multiplayer side of The Phantom Pain works. Metal Gear Online is the online multiplayer component of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. Konami hasn’t shared a great deal about it yet, but we did see a very cool Metal Gear […]

  • Elite: Dangerous Xbox One trailer shows off space MMO

    If Elite: Dangerous looks this good on Xbox One we have nothing to complain about. Microsoft revealed Elite: Dangerous is coming to Xbox One this year during its GDC presentations today. We don’t know very much about the port, but I suppose we ought to have expected it; Frontier Developments has a very close relationship […]

  • Battletoads to appear in Shovel Knight Xbox One

    A Battletoads remake must be on the horizon. Right? Right?? The Battletoads will appear in the upcoming Xbox One version of Shovel Knight, Yacht Club Games revealed today. The Battletoads drop in for a fight! Shovel Knight is headed to Xbox One and meets up with @RareLtd brawling trio! pic.twitter.com/OCQIuWbH3W — Yacht Club Games (@YachtClubGames) […]

  • The Division pre-alpha footage leaks, Ubisoft says it’s well out of date

    The Division fans finally got a look at Ubisoft’s MMO this week, but the publisher has said the footage is not in any way representative. Pre-alpha footage of the The Division was leaked this week, but has since been thoroughly smacked down by takedown notices. All that remains are a few screenshots and a GIF: […]

  • Microsoft HoloLens designer killed in hit and run accident

    Very sad news out of Redmond this week, as Mike Ey was killed in a tragic accident. Ey, 30, was one of the key project designers on Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headset. He was killed on Saturday morning in a rear-end collision. The driver of the second vehicle fled the scene but was tracked down by […]

  • AMD throws support behind VR with new low-latency anti-nausea tech

    GPU manufacturer AMD has released a new SDK compatible with “a broad set of VR devices”. Called LiquidVR, the tech is designed to “bring better content, comfort, and compatibility to VR applications” including games, simulation, entertainment, education, social media, travel, medicine, real estate and ecommerce, apparently. AMD said maintaining comfort and realism in VR environments […]

  • Danganronpa 3 in the works, but a long way off yet

    A new Danganronpa is happening. Danganronpa 3 is in the very, very early production stages, writer Kodaka Kazutaka has confirmed. Nothing about the project is “set in stone”, Kazutaka told Polygon, so there are no details to share yet; the characters and story may change several times before being finalised. The writer said he’s weighing […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare MLG Pro League 2015 schedule announced

    Major League Gaming has announced the full schedule for the 2015 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare MLG Pro League. The eSpots firm revealed two more seasons of Pro League, a live Relegation tournament for Season Three, and a season ending World Championship with $250,000 up for grabs You can watch all the action on MLG.tv […]

  • Happy Birthday PlayStation 2, you are almost old enough to drive

    Amidst all the GDC 2015 hoopla today, we forgot to wish PlayStation 2 a Happy Birthday. The system turned 15 years old today, going by its March 4, 2000 launch date in Japan. It was released in the west that autumn, and had shipped 100 million units in less than six years post launch. PS2 […]

  • Here’s what the final version of Valve’s Steam Controller looks like

    A look at the updated Steam Controller has surfaced via a hands-on post from Polygon. Valve said what you see in the images below is the final version of the controller. The controller has gone through numerous revisions since it was first revealed, but it seems Valve has decided on two touch pads which work […]

  • The Sims, SimCity developer closed down

    The Sims 4 developer Maxis has been shuttered, EA has confirmed. The Sims, SimCity and the rest of the Sim franchise has traditionally been helmed by Maxis, which had its flagship studio in Emeryville, California. Now EA has confirmed with Kotaku that this studio is being closed. “Today we are consolidating Maxis IP development to […]

  • Gigantic MOBA coming to Windows 10 and Xbox One with cross-play

    Today during GDC 2015, Microsoft announced that the new IP from Motiga called Gigantic will be cross-play enabled. Slated for Windows 10 and Xbox One, the five-on-five third-person battle arena game allows the player to select from an array of heroes with distinctive powers and play styles. Players will then make their way through areas […]

  • Here’s a look at Unreal Tournament DirectX 12 gameplay

    Epic Games is creating Unreal Tournament using Unreal Engine 4 running on DirectX 12, which Microsoft says “sets a new bar for visual fidelity.” DirectX 12 is a single API developers can access across Windows devices, which can result in a 20% improvement in performance over DX11 running on the same machine. The Unreal Tournament […]

  • Wireless adapter for Xbox One controllers out later this year

    Microsoft announced at GDC 2015 today it will that all wireless Xbox gaming accessories will be designed for and supported on both Xbox One consoles and Windows 10 PCs moving forward. Later this year, a wireless adapter will be released, allowing current Xbox controllers and future devices to be used wirelessly on PCs. This will […]

  • Microsoft offers up more details on Spencer’s GDC 2015 talk

    Microsoft has provided more details on Cross-Buy functionality between Windows 10 and Xbox One as well as the Xbox Live SKU and other announcements made during Phil Spencer’s talk today. During the session, the head of Xbox shared “the next step” in the company’s plans for a unified platform across all Windows 10 devices which […]

  • Wasteland 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 this summer

    Wasteland 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 as a Game of the Year Edition. inXile Entertainment announced the news on the PS Blog, noting the edition contains enhancements and improvements. The game has been ported to Unity 5, which was announced over the weekend, providing upgraded visual effects, “improved character models, upgraded environments, and Unity […]

  • Cross-Buy detailed for Windows 10 and Xbox One; Elite: Dangerous coming to Xbox One

    During Xbox boss Phil Spencer’s session at GDC 2015 today, it was announced Elite: Dangerous would release on Xbox One. Spencer also outlined cross-buy functionality across Windows 10 and Xbox One. Spencer’s talk started off with Frontier Developments announcing Elite: Dangerous for release this summer as a console debut on Xbox One, suggesting the Elite: […]

  • Longbeards Culture Pack available now for Total War: Attila

    The Longbeards Culture Pack is now available for Total War: Attila and it comes with three new playable factions. The Langobards, the Burgundians and the Alamans can be played in both single and multiplayer campaign modes as well as custom and multiplayer battles. A new feature called The Lay of Ybor is also included. It […]

  • Nvidia unveils Titan X as world’s “most advanced GPU” – video

    Nvidia revealed Titan X as “the world’s most advanced GPU” during Epic founder Tim Sweeney’s State of Unreal session a t GDC 2015 today. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang took the stage during the panel stating it contains “8 billion transistors,” and has 12GB of RAM. Pricing wasn’t announced, but it was rumored back in January […]

  • Steam sale discounts titles announced for SteamOS

    With many of the year’s most popular games heading to SteamOS, Valve has decided to host sale in celebration. Here’s a short list of titles on sale. The full list of PC, Linux, Mac and SteamOS discounts can be found through the link. The Banner Saga Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Batman: Arkham […]

  • PayDay 2 announced for SteamOS, celebrating with franchise sale

    PayDay 2 is coming to SteamOS, Overkill has announced. Still under development, a release date will be announced at a later date. “Making sure PAYDAY 2 is available on SteamOS felt like a no-brainer,” said Bo Andersson Klint, CEO of Starbreeze in the press release. “With PAYDAY 2: Crimewave Edition coming to the next generation […]

  • Magicka 2 has a release date and a crazy new trailer

    Magicka 2 has a release date for PC and the PlayStation 4, and Paradox Interactive has released a trailer featuring “Vlad’s latest lyrical triumph,” which is his rendition of the Game of Thrones theme. Magicka arrived on PC and PS4 May 26 and the game can be pre-ordered on PC beginning today, with PS4 pre-orders […]

  • Nintendo eShop schedule: Don’t Starve: Giant Edition, Never Alone, others

    Nintendo has sent over a list of titles heading to the eShop in 2015. The schedule contains titles such as Affordable Space Adventures, Runbow, Swords & Soldiers 2, Don’t Starve: Giant Edition, Never Alone and Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars. Below a preliminary list of games scheduled to launch in the Nintendo eShop on […]

  • Week 8: Can you win the weekly VG247 GTA Online playlist? Play tonight at 8pm UK time!

    We’re hotdogging tonight. I don’t even know what that means. Eight weeks of ridiculous death. Such a brave, true milestone. We’re going to celebrate two entire months of playing weekly GTA Online playlists with VG247 readers with Hotdogging, a set of six jobs I named completely at random. This one ends with a straight-up border […]

  • Puzzle platformer Four Sided Fantasy coming to PC, consoles in early 2016

    Curve Digital and developer Logan Fieth’s studio Ludo Land are bringing puzzle platformer, Four Sided Fantasy, to PC all major consoles in early 2016. Ludo Land are developing the PC version, with Curve Digital handling the console and Vita versions. Four Sided Fantasy tasks players with venturing across “dreamlike levels” by controlling and manipulating the […]

  • Tropico 5 arrives on PS4 in April – video

    A release date for Tropico 5 on PlayStation 4 has been announced. This is the franchise’s first foray onto PlayStation consoles. It arrived in Europe on April 24 and in North America on April 28. A Limited Edition has also been announced, and it includes The Big Cheese DLC and the Bayo Del Olfato sandbox […]

  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain Limited Edition PS4 releasing in Asia

    A limited edition Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain PlayStation 4 system will be released in Asia. The system and its DualShock controller were designed in collaboration with Konami Digital Entertainment and targeted for the Asia region, per Gematsu. It will be released as part of PS4 Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain […]

  • This video shows Sid Meier’s Starships being played on iPad

    Sid Meier’s Starships will be released on iPad alongside Mac and PC, and to give you an idea on how it plays on the tablet, a new video has been released. Watch below as Pete Murray and lead producer Stuart Zissu show off the iPad version. The 4X space-strategy releases on March 12.

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood announced as standalone prequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a standalone prequel to The New Order, will release May 5 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. The game takes pace in 1946, and and players take on the role of B.J. Blazkowicz as he embarks on a two-part mission in Bavaria. Part one, Rudi Jäger and the Den of Wolves, […]

  • Observer Mode coming soon to Evolve as a free update

    Observer Mode will be released for Evolve as a free update for all platforms, 2K and Turtle Rock have announced. The community feature was designed to give Evolve players the ability to observe and add commentary as well as livestream, allowing a sixth user to “passively enter a custom game” with the ability to switch […]

  • Dragon Quest Heroes and PS4 top Media Create charts in Japan

    The PlayStation 3 and PS4 skus for Dragon Quest Heroes were the top sellers on the Media Create charts in Japan, moving a combined 594,749 units. Elsewhere on the chart, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D was in third place with 39,751 units moved, and last week’s top seller, God Eater 2: Rage Burst, […]