Suda51’s controversial hack-n-slash has been in my Gamefly GameQ since its release. A chainsaw-wielding cheerleader who fights off hordes of zombies with her boyfriend’s severed head at her side? That’s definitely not BioShock Infinite, but it seemed like something that would make for a satisfying rental.
When I received the disc in the mail this weekend, I gleefully put aside a few hours to give it a whirl. I wasn’t expecting much; reviews of the game had been a bit mixed, and I’ll readily admit that mindless brawlers usually aren’t my cup of tea. Still, I wanted to see for myself whether or not Lollipop Chainsaw was worth my time.
I should preface my reaction to the game with an explanation. I’m not averse to trashy, terrible entertainment. I’ve been a big professional wrestling fan for as long as I can remember. I’ve seen every episode of both Flavor of Love and Rock of Love. I’m not at all averse to toilet humor and I typically become more interested in something the stranger it becomes. Excess taken to excess holds my attention like few other things can.
Three hours later, I felt like I needed a shower. Not just any shower, mind you, but something involving bleach, wire brushes, and maybe a few shots of Jack Daniels. Holy shit.
Before Lollipop Chainsaw, I didn’t know that I even had a line that such a debauched game could cross. I thought I’d done it all in my gaming career: I’ve nuked whole towns, eviscerated countless monsters, rescued Japanese pop stars from strip clubs, ordered a wookiee to kill his twi’lek best friend, unleashed a hellacious white phosphorus attack, romanced amoral pirate ladies at the risk of starting a war–the list goes on, and on, and on, which probably says something about my favorite hobby that I need to ponder a little bit more. Regardless, no in-game event has ever made me stop playing because it just felt wrong. Many of the situations in the previous list existed to make a point, to cause the player to think about some facet of human nature. Think I did, and I dealt with those thoughts, and I moved on and finished the game.
The innuendo in Lollipop Chainsaw, however, was just too much for me to deal with. In part, I think, was that it was so blatantly stupid. Suda51 seemingly invested all of his available style points into the combat and left nothing behind for the dialogue or writing. I probably shouldn’t be surprised, given that “zombie-fighting cheerleader with a chainsaw” is right up there with “half-shark, half-octupus” and “giant robots that turn into cars” on the list of “Shit I Shouldn’t Expect to Be Shakespeare,” but man, it’s like the writers weren’t even trying to be clever. The game relies on blatant, misogynistic statements for a lot of its supposed humor, and that just turned me off completely.
I’m not sure what it was that pushed Lollipop Chainsaw over my proverbial line. The opening “this is my bedroom, don’t try any funny stuff!” scene made me shift uncomfortably and hope none of my roommates were around. The constant suggestion that the player should use the camera to try to look up Juliet’s skirt drove me nuts. And the high school students I rescued, who thanked me with such lovely pickup lines like “I never thought I’d be rescued by someone with nice tits!” or “I’m totally going to masturbate to you tonight!” just made me sigh and shake my head. The pole that fell down from the ceiling in one of the classroom levels just made me sad.
Really, Lollipop Chainsaw writers? Really?
I’m not here to completely shit on Suda51’s game. The combat was reasonably fun and interesting when the clunky camera didn’t screw me up, especially as I added more moves to Juliet’s repertoire. Lollipop Chainsaw is a bright, colorful game with a great soundtrack and high-quality voice work; although I don’t like what the characters had to say, I can’t deny the skill with which the voice actors said it. There was potential in Lollipop Chainsaw, but it’s lost on me.
At least now I know what my own tolerance is when it comes to controversial subject matter in a video game. I wish it was something I could quantify, a number I could use to determine whether or not something has gone too far. The line, however, isn’t something to which you can assign value; you only really know where it is when something barrels across it, and by then it’s too late to get out of the way.
What say you, dear readers? Am I making too much out of a game that never pretended to be anything other than trashy entertainment? Am I just another stupid prudish liberal New Englander who needs to get over himself? How do you know when something’s gone too far? Leave us a comment or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out episode 138 of the D Pad D Bags podcast, featuring Tomb Raider, Bioshock Infinite, Borderlands, and Pizza Hutt.