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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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    Here’s a friendly reminder for Bloodborne players with PS4 headsets: be sure to download the Headset Companion App from the PlayStation store if you haven’t already. As previously reported, the game supports a custom Bloodborne audio mode which can be uploaded. It contains custom audio created by developers specifically tuned to enhance the audio. This […]

  • EA explains why FIFA Ultimate Team transfer prices are now platform specific

    EA has posted a blog entry explaining its FIFA Ultimate Team transfer market price ranges which now include platform-specific pricing in order to best the coin sellers. EA said it has implemented the changes to FUT over the last several weeks because it should be “fair and fun for every player,” ultimately coming to the […]

  • Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness now available

    In case you forgot, Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness was released today. It is available on Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The third episode releases on iOS devices and Android tomorrow, March 26. The Sword in the Darkness finds Asher Forrester heading to Mereen […]

  • Bloodborne players are already documenting their crazy antics

    Bloodborne has been available for almost two days now in North America, and already players are posting interesting clips and character customization choices for the game. Below are interesting takes on creating a character and videos of a frustrating death and another full of blood coming from a very painful place – monster or not. […]

  • FIFA Ultimate Team celebrates sixth year in existence with giveaways

    FIFA Ultimate Team is celebrating its sixth year in existence with special events running from today until March 29. According to EA, every FUT fan will be handed one free pack every day, and those who play at least one match in the FUT Birthday Cup will have a chance to win rare “tradable In-Forms” […]

  • Halo Online is a F2P PC game in development exclusively for Russia – video

    Halo Online is a free-to-play game which will launch this spring in Russia, and is in development with Saber Interactive. According the reveal event attended by IGN Russia, the game was designed to run well on lower-end PCs and runs on a modified Halo 3 engine. The game is set on a secret UNSC space […]

  • SteamWorld Dig Xbox One release expected in late May

    SteamWorld Dig is coming to Xbox One, developer Image & Form has announced. A firm release date hasn’t been announced, but the studio expects the title to arrive on the system in late May. “We’re preparing quite an elaborate Easter egg for the Xbox One version – a gaming thing that we really wanted to […]

  • SMITE celebrating first anniversary with a sale on skins, Ultimate God Pack

    Hi-Rez Studios is celebrating the first anniversary of SMITE with a sale. From today through Friday, March 27, the Ultimate God Pack, which includes all current and future Gods, will run you $19.99. Alll individual pre-launch skins are 50% off, and all Gem Packs will award bonus gems. In addition, from March 27-29, all SMITE […]

  • Borderlands 2 has sold around 12 million copies, says Gearbox

    Speaking with Microsoft’s Major Nelson in his podcast, Gearbox Software boss Randy Pitchford stated Borderlands 2 has sold somewhere around the 12 million mark. As of August 2014, it was announced by Take-Two in its financial report the 2012 game had sold-in 10 million units. Pitchford noted in the podcast he learned of the figures […]

  • Broken Age releasing on PS4 and Vita same day as Act 2 on PC

    Double Fine Productions has announced it will release Broken Age on the PlayStation Store next month. Act 2 will also be released on PC. The full Broken Age adventure will release on PlayStation 4 and Vita on April 28 in North America and April 29 in Europe. It features cross-buy and cross-save. Broken Age Act […]

  • Star Citizen earned another $1 million within two weeks – total hits $76 million

    Star Citizen continues its funding streak with backers pumping another $1 million into the game’s development in the last two weeks. The total earned for the space sim has now reached $76 million ($76,015,532 to be exact) with 851,395 backers contributing to the staggering figure. Star Citizen’s latest update was version 1.1 which included two […]

  • Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline top Media Create charts

    Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline were the big ticket debuts during the March 16-2 period in Japan, with each game claiming the top three slots on the Media Create charts, respectively. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD moved 92,094 on PlayStation 4, while Resident Evil Revelations 2 moved 73,373 units on […]

  • You can now learn English or Spanish on Xbox One with the Rosetta App

    Want to learn English or Spanish? Rosetta Stone has an App for that on Xbox One. According to the language teaching firm, Rosetta Stone’s Discover Languages, the new application teaches English and Spanish by way of immersive simulation. Users will virtually travel to learn vocabulary and grammar “necessary for real-world interactions.” Here’s how it works: […]

  • PayDay 2 and PayDay: The Heist have sold over 9 million units combined

    The PayDay franchise is a lucrative IP for Starbreeze and Overkill, as both games combined have sold over 9 million copies as of November 2014. The company has also sold over 8 million paid DLC packages since PayDay 2 was released in 2013 (via NeoGAF). In its Q2 half year report issued in February, net […]

  • Nintendo wants to “surprise” customers with NX, not expand upon existing hardware

    Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has firm wants to “surprise” players with its new NX system. Speaking in an interview with Nikkei, translated by Kotaku, Iwata wouldn’t go into details on the new system, but stated expanding on a current gaming system would be “dull.” “In the past few years, the idea of what [encompasses] a […]

  • Kojima Station show suspended

    In another episode in the the ongoing kerfuffle between Hideo Kojima and Konami, the publisher has suspended the Kojima Station web show. Recent tweets from the newly created Japanese Metal Gear Solid account confirm that Kojima Station will not be broadcast tomorrow, but would not provide a date for the next episode. The Tweets were […]

  • Watch Battle Royale for free this weekend on Xbox Live

    Square Enix is celebrating the launch of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD by offering Xbox Live members in the UK a free rental of Battle Royale. Starting Saturday, March 28 and through Sunday, March 29, Xbox Live members in the UK will be able to rent Battle Royale through the Xbox Video Store, for free. The […]

  • Bloodborne journal, part 1: managing anxiety on the path to the Cleric Beast

    Bloodborne is both like and unlike the Souls games. Brenna descends into Yharnam with reluctance and trepidation. Need help succeeding in Bloodborne? You need our Bloodborne walkthrough and boss guide. Bloodborne isn’t Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls. Let’s get that out of the way right off. I enjoyed both Dark Souls games, but it was […]

  • PS Store Easter sale discounts MGS: Ground Zeroes, Far Cry 4, more

    The Easter Sale is live on the EU PS Store, with Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes for less than £10, FIFA 15 Deluxe Edition for £30 and other savings. Some of the PlayStation 3, PS4 and Vita discounts are valid through April 8, other through April 15. PlayStation Plus members can also take an […]

  • Bloodborne video: how to unlock the first shortcut in Old Yharnam

    Here’s a video for Bloodborne players showing a quick way to unlock the first shortcut in Old Yharnam. It also provides a look at things you may have missed in Central Yharnam and The Sewers, courtesy of VaatiVidya. Don’t forget, we have guides posted for the game with more updates coming soon. Bloodborne released in […]

  • Bloodborne issue prevents summons at Vicar Amelia fight

    A Bloodborne bug has prevented players calling on help to take on one of the nasty early bosses. Bloodborne bosses are significantly easier to take down in co-op. Unfortunately, at least one of them is proving difficult to find help for – and not just because not many players have obtained the Small Resonant Bell […]

  • Mass Effect 3 on sale on EU PSN, but not free

    Mass Effect 3 is discounted on the European PSN, but it’s not free. Update 2: The option to add to cart now lets you choose between the free trial or full version. The full version is on sale for £6.49 or £5.84 for PlayStation Plus members. The free trial is of course is still available, […]

  • Elite: Dangerous Race to Elite winners announced, one player makes £10,000

    The winners of Elite: Dangerous’ Race To Elite competition have been announced, with one player receiving the grand prize of £10,000. Back when Elite: Dangerous launched, developer Frontier announced a competition that would award players to first reach Elite rank in trading, exploration, or combat, a prize of £1,000 each. The grand prize – £10,000 […]

  • GTA 5 Online Heists guide: How to make the most money with Special Bonuses and Elite Challenges

    You’re not hitting heists for the good of your health. Here’s how to max cash rewards. Money. GTA Online players love it. Greenbacks are the core of the entire experience, allowing you to buy the best weapons, vehicles and stupid haircuts. Heists, as promised, gives more opportunities than ever to earn serious cash, but once […]

  • PlayStation 4 firmware update 2.50 coming tomorrow

    PlayStation 4 firmware 2.50, codenamed Yukimura, is due for release tomorrow, March 26. Firmware update 2.50 for PlayStation 4 will be launching tomorrow, March 26, Sony has announced. Codenamed Yukimura, the system update is promised to bring suspend/resume feature, trophy sync improvements, accessibility options, and much more. 2.50 has been in beta testing a while […]

  • GTA 5 Online Heists guide: adversary modes, daily objectives, free roam challenges and more

    Heists aren’t the only addition in GTA Online’s latest DLC – there’s a lot of content that can earn you big RP and cash payouts. GTA 5 Online Heists guide: adversary modes, daily objectives, free roam challenges While heists are the talking point and big payoff after more than a year of waiting, there’s a […]

  • Battlefield Hardline: what’s the best Police sniper rifle?

    What’s the best bolt-action, Police sniper rifle for the Professional class in Battlefield Hardline? Let us help you answer that question. As you’re probably aware, Battlefield Hardline weapons are class specific and faction specific. This makes deciding on a good weapon and loadout much harder than it was in Battlefield 4. Which is where Westie […]

  • Evolve 1.3 patch nerfs Wraith, adjusts Kraken

    Evolve is receiving a new patch that aims to put an end to the Wraith’s dominance. Evolve developer Turtle Rock outlined a few of the changes coming in patch 1.3. The patch brings balance changes to the monsters – mainly the Wraith – as well as other various changes to Hunters’ tools based on player […]

  • Bloodborne: watch the opening 40 minutes

    The opening minutes of Bloodborne really do set the stage for what’s to come. They’ll also help you decide if this game is for you. Arekkz Gaming has captured the first 40 minutes of Bloodborne. Complete with the opening cutscene, and the first few obstacles you’ll face. The video is commentary free, so wear headphones […]

  • YouTube will relaunch livestreaming service with focus on eSports and gaming – report

    According to industry sources, Google is preparing to relaunch YouTube’s livestreaming service with a focus on eSports and gaming. According to anonymous sources speaking to TheDailyDot, Google is planning to bring back YouTube’s livestreaming service. The company is said to have started recruiting around 50 engineers with experience in the field, “a pretty big statement […]

  • I think I’m too old for Final Fantasy 15

    Final Fantasy 15 was nine years in the making – and counting. Are we the same people we were in 2006? Final Fantasy 15: Episode Duscae A demo available for PS4 and Xbox One. Offers a couple of hours of gameplay. More if you jump over the borders. Bundled with Final Fantasy 15 Type-0 and […]

  • New multiplayer mode for Splatoon announced

    Nintendo has sent over three screenshots for Splatoon along with information on the Wii U another of the title’s multiplayer modes. Called Ranked Battle, it keeps track of each player’s online ranking. Splat Zones is one of the additional ways to play online in this mode. It differs from Turf War, which is the main […]

  • 2015 WoW Arena World Championship has a $250,000 prize pool

    Blizzard has announced the WoW Arena World Championship will culminate at BlizzCon 2015. World of Warcraft 3v3 Arena teams from around the globe will compete for spot at the 2015 WoW Arena World Championship and for a share in the $250,000 prize pool. Online qualifiers will be held for North America, Southeast Asia, Australia, New […]