Teenage Zombies: Invasion of the Alien Brain Thingys! Review


November 28, 2008 by

Teenage Zombies: Invasion of the Alien Brain Thingys! Image

This may be my shortest review ever.

Lollipop Chainsaw. It’s a game about an 18 year old, top-heavy cheerleader in a short skirt that carries a chainsaw and slays zombies.

10! No, 11!

If I didn’t have a small amount of integrity, I could leave it at that because Lollipop was quite possibly the most entertaining game I’ve played all year. And I’m thankful I didn’t listen to any of the other critics, otherwise I never would have picked this one up. Lollipop is a rarity. It’s not one of those games that wins or loses according to its structure, design or mechanics. Rather, it will be enjoyed or despised based on what the gamer seeks when they play it.

I won’t lie. Mechanically it’s not a marvel, nor is it groundbreaking. A lot of the combat is based on the hack-and-slash formula made popular by No More Heroes and it rarely deviates from that style. Juliet jumps, dizzies enemies with her pom-poms (the cheerleading type, you pervs) and cuts their heads or legs off with chainsaw swings. None of the combos require intense memorization or even timing to pull off—even the later ones you can upgrade to. Each attack is focused, relieving you of the task, and given the amount of zombies there are in the game—swing, and you’re bound to hit something. It’s simple, mindless destruction. No more, no less.

But I didn’t go into it thinking I was set to play next sweeping, moving epic that was as mechanically stellar as it was powerful and poignant. That was dismissed the moment Juliet cut off her boyfriend Nick’s head (voiced by the phenomenal Michael Rosenbaum) and through magic manages to keep it alive. She then hangs it on her hip and brings him along as her side-kick, from which he constantly mouths off to her because let’s face it…he can’t do much else. It was—without question—the weirdest thing I’ve seen in a video game in a long time.

Yet, in that, I wasn’t let down in the least. It prepared me for what I was set to encounter. Rainbows shoot out of neck holes when a zombie is decapitated. One of your sisters has an obsession with guns, the other commercial machinery. Your father could be Elvis in his later years and your sensei is the school’s janitor and a dirty old man. You battle—and I use the term loosely—demons, but in truth their more like defunct band members. One a punk rocker whose screams do physical damage, a Viking drummer with lightning powers and an affinity for Amon Amarth, a hippie with a lute and destructive…bubbles.

If you’re thinking how utterly bizarre this all sounds, no lament. I had the exact same thought, but that’s why I loved it. Not once does Lollipop take itself too seriously. Or seriously at all. It’s fun. I knew that before even playing it, when I was looking through the list of trophies. A game grants you a reward for looking up a cheerleader’s skirt, that’s a winner in my book.

And yet it only got better from there.

The writing is extraordinary and incredibly witty. Grasshopper was spot-on in both their casting of Rosenbaum and giving him a lead role. More often than not, even in those rare times the combat seemed redundant he would chime in with a retort or a critique on the obvious and it would crack me up.

The other characters are even more over-the-top but just as entertaining. Your younger sister Cordelia’s obsession with busses and cranes, though she doesn’t know how to drive either. And the crazy sensei who insist Juliet wear the underwear with the little teddy bears on them because it makes her a better zombie fighter. Though they all have strong ties to obvious pop-culture icons, their creativity and quirkiness is incredible.

The boss battles and levels, while odd, are incredibly original and enthralling. Each has their own strength and weakness, so you’re not simply hacking away at them the entire time, providing a fresh experience. Sometimes you’re chopping massive speakers in half, other times dodging a mastodon-shaped motorcycle. One even has you thrown into other various, retro games like pac-man (though not pac-man due to international copy rights) and tower climb.

As Lollipop progresses new powers and items are unlocked. Sometimes it’s combos purchased through the virtual store, others it’s a more powerful technique granted by a birthday present from one of Juliet’s loving family members—eventually turning her regular, colorful chainsaw into a revved up super slayer that allows her to dash-and-hack, fire projectiles or even Nick’s head.

I could have played it for days straight. I was that entertained. Sadly, though, that leads me to my one complaint about Lollipop and it’s a blaring one. It’s short. And I mean like way short. If you’re good at those types of games or have a hint book I have no doubt Lollipop could be blown through it in about five hours. There are several things to unlock, and most can’t be done in one play through—mainly the costumes—but those really are only aesthetically pleasing for five minutes. Okay, with Juliet it’s more like fifteen but unless you’re trophy hunting or apt to purchase every upgrade, artwork and music available there’s no incentive for a second play through.

Although, side note: Final battle, Dragonforce – Heroes Of Our Time blasting in the background…Legandary.

And that was just a brilliant end to a game I won’t forget for a long time. With games getting bigger and bolder, trying their best to outdo the other franchise—while ultimately losing site of the end goal—it’s nice to play a title that is simply fun. One that doesn’t try to be revolutionary, or break the mold. Instead, it is just content that it provides entertainment to the gamers. That, to me, is better than almost anything else on the shelf.

Rating: 5/10

Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.