Every gamer who made their way to GameStop in the spring of 2012 saw it. It was on posters, cutouts, and banners, casually placed in every spare inch of space the chain store had. Lollipop Chainsaw was here.
Of course, serious gamers weren’t interested. The game had a ridiculous plot. It featured a skimpily clad cheerleader as a main character. It was a pornographic b-movie plot on steroids thrown onto a game console.
But sometimes, something magical happens. When the game was finally released in June of 2012, it received a good number of reviews from several well known reviewers, including IGN and Game Informer. Many of the reviews were mixed, and generally somewhere around 5/10. But surprisingly, the majority of reviews were positive. Even the negative reviews had something good to say about the game.
And that is because, secretly, Lollipop Chainsaw is a good game. And here’s why:
Juliet Starling cuts into zombies with her pink chainsaw.
1. The plot is incredibly shallow and makes almost no sense.
The first step to appreciating how good Lollipop Chainsaw is is to step back and understand that the premise of this game is completely and utterly ridiculous. Relax your need for strong storylines and amazing character arcs. You are delving into the world of Juliet Starling, an overly stereotypical 18-year-old girl, who thinks of nothing but her boyfriend, lollipops, and rainbows.
Lollipop Chainsaw begins on the morning of Juliet Starling’s 18th birthday. She puts on her revealing cheerleader’s uniform and leaves home to go to her high school, where her boyfriend, Nick Carlyle, is waiting for her. When she arrives, she finds hordes of the undead attacking her fellow students. Luckily, Juliet and her family are all secretly zombie fighters, and she brings her chainsaw with her everywhere she goes. Her pink chainsaw with hearts cut into the blade. Which creates rainbows when killing zombies. Juliet hacks her way to where she was to meet her boyfriend, only for him to get bitten by a zombie. She performs a magical ritual which prevents him from becoming a zombie, but leaves him as a disembodied head. Nick is then hooked onto Juliet’s waistband and remains there for the duration of the game, providing commentary and conversation while you play.
Juliet continues fighting zombies in her school and meets up with her perverted sensei, Morikawa. They soon discover that a student by the name of Swan has released five zombie spirits from another world, and that they will wreak havoc in his name if not destroyed. Here’s where it starts to get strange…er. The five zombies are each related to a specific type of music. For example, one is a disco/funk zombie by the name of Josey who speaks in an auto-tuned voice and wears a full-length pink fur coat. Another zombie, named Mariska, is a psychedelic hippie zombie. Whenever she appears, Mariska is a stereotypical hippie who appears to be high, and plays several hippie instruments. For the sake of brevity and spoilers, I won’t go into depth concerning every zombie, but each one is more ridiculous than the last.
Despite having an incredibly vapid plot with laughable boss levels, there is no shortage of fun to be had while playing. Lollipop Chainsaw’s strange story makes it surprisingly unique, and every time something silly happens, you realize once more that this game is a work of genius.
Juliet Starling hack zombies in her default cheerleading outfit.
2. The main character is a skimpily clad cheerleader.
Make no mistakes on this front, Juliet Starling is exactly what she looks like. She is a cheerleader clad in a low cut sports bra and one of the shortest skirts a girl can wear without being exposed for the duration of gameplay.
This is no accident or happy coincidence. Going into this game, the creators understood exactly what type of characters they were developing. If the player moves the camera close enough to the ground to obtain an up-skirt, Juliet slams down her chainsaw to block your view. On top of that, once the game has been completed, several new provocative outfits are suddenly available for purchase in the in-game store. These range from a typical schoolgirl’s outfit all the way to a hot pink catsuit with a neckline which plunges down to her stomach. The clever creators of this game knew their audience, and certainly don’t skimp on the short skirts and skin tight outfits
3. There are subtle pop culture references.
I am the first to admit that Lollipop Chainsaw is a very shallow game. However, the masterminds behind this game are actually quite clever. Worked into the game between insipid conversation and revealing costumes, there are witty one liners and references which make the game even better.
Juliet has several comments which relate to cinematic triumphs of the 80s. One of which references Arnold Shwarzennager from the 1987 film Predator. Every time the player is about to complete a combat sequence Juliet quotes directly from the film and cries out, “If it bleeds, I can kill it!”
My personal favorite is a reference to George A. Romero, writer, producer, and director. Romero is the creator of several zombie films, and is considered the father of the zombie genre as we know it today. The creators of Lollipop Chainsaw tipped their hat to Romero by naming Juliet’s high school San Romero High School. Folks, that is pure poetry.
4. It only takes five hours to play.
Many would consider this a downside, but this is actually one of my favorite things about the game. I don’t consider myself to be a serious gamer, but I do often find myself playing Skyrim for hours on end, lost to the real world due to quests after quest. With Lollipop Chainsaw…not so much. A combination of loose story and easy gameplay make Lollipop Chainsaw the perfect game to play when you just want to kill some zombies for an hour.
In addition to being a great game to play in your down time, Lollipop Chainsaw is the perfect length for its content. Anything over five hours and Juliet’s commentary would be enough to drive anyone nuts. It also keeps the game from becoming boring and over repetitive.
5. The dialogue is ridiculous.
In Lollipop Chainsaw, Juliet Starling is voiced by Tara Strong. Strong has voiced a variety of characters from Bubbles from The Powerpuff Girls to Timmy Turner from Fairly Odd Parents. It is her high pitched, ditzy-girl voice which truly brings the character of Juliet Starling to life. Her favorite phrases are a bit too explicit to list here, but there are a great many which cause bouts of laughter every time they are used.
Juliet has a casual conversation with Nick, her disembodied boyfriend.
In addition to Juliet’s commentary, there is also dialogue between her and Nick during gameplay that serve as great bonuses for players. A favorite of gamers everywhere is Nick’s response to Juliet asking him what his favorite color is. Nick rapidly responds “Blue. No. Green. I ****** up. It’s yellow.”
Clearly Lollipop Chainsaw is not a piece of gaming gold. The reviews are mostly bad. The plot is shallow, and so are the characters. But if you’re someone that can take a step back and appreciate something because of how hilariously bad it is, then you’re halfway there to loving Lollipop Chainsaw. And halfway to joining people like me who think that Lollipop Chainsaw is secretly really good.