Posted by: smirkdirk | April 21, 2013

Lollipop Chainsaw – Madonna Feminism in Videogame Form

4 out of 5 Cookies

Lollipop Chainsaw from Suda 51 comes close to the greatness that was his previous offering Shadows of the Damned, but doesn’t quite match it. And for the record, Suda 51 is the dude’s name. Like he’s a rapper or something, I’ll allow him to call himself whatever the hell he wants, because he’s damn good at what he does.

Lollipop Chainsaw is 6 levels of comical zombie decapitating fun. You play a cheerleader, Juliet, from a family of zombie hunters that has to rid her town of its zombie infestation with the help of her boyfriend’s head – tragically separated from its body early in the game. The characters and story written by James Gunn, a Troma studios veteran who actually moved into mainstream filmmaking as the the screenwriter of the excellent Dawn of the Dead remake, as well as Slither, and the less than excellent Scooby Doo movie, are a perfect complement to Suda 51’s gaming sensibilities. There’s some fairly hilarious dialogue here. For instance, one of my favorite throw-away bits is when Juliet explains to Nick that she not only kills zombies, but in the past has also killed Sasquatches (evidently they’re dicks), as wells as Frankenberries.

“I killed a whole tribe of Frankenberries once.”

“Frankenberry? Like the cereal!?”

“That’s just propaganda they use to make you trust them!”

A “tribe” of delicious Frankenberries.

Gameplay-wise Lollipop Chainsaw is essentially a bunch of button-mashing. As you power up, your button mashing becomes more effective, but yeah – there’s not a whole lot to learn though there are combos and such if you actually want to count your button presses.

As a huge whiner on this very blog about bosses, I will say this game knows how to do bosses right. Every single level concludes with a pretty epic boss fight. The bosses themselves as well as their fights and subsequent deaths are pretty spectacular, bloody, and, yeah, funny. None of the fights ever bring the game to a halt – and the difficulty settings allow the player to decide just how hard they are. On easy – a baby could kill these bosses which keeps things moving right along for those who are into the game for presentation and story rather than pure challenge. Gamers such as – ahem – myself.

The game isn’t by any means the most graphically impressive game ever, but the creativity and design that went into the characters, levels, and other bits – like “Sparkle Hunting” wherein if you chop of the heads of 3 or more zombies in one swipe the entire action is shown replete with rainbows and hearts rather than blood spurting from their necks as their heads fly northward – give this game a wholly original visual feel that is comparable only to other Suda 51 games.

The last thing I’ll mention is that Juliet lives up to every sexist videogame trope that exists. So much so, that she is actually a satire of the big-titted females that have occupied games since graphics allowed for such objectifying. A bit of ingenious writing actually calls the player out on this objectification. I must admit that as a 40 year old man there were times I felt quite aware of the inherent sexism the game threw back in my face and it was a bit uncomfortable. I’d like to think that this smart game is playing with these tropes in a critical way rather than merely partaking in them, but I think it’s a little of both. If Madonna of the early 90’s produced a videogame, this may well have been it.

I may be being a little generous by ½ of a cookie with my 4 out of 5 cookie rating, however I did find myself returning to play chapters of the game in search of achievements and found the replays a great way to pass the time. Considering that I rarely return to a game once I finish it, this definitely is worth that extra ½ cookie. Lollipop Chainsaw came out in June 2012 and now is about $16 at Amazon. Used copies can be found at Gamestop for around the same price.


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