Lollipop Chainsaw is a pop-inspired, third-person action game developed by Grasshopper Manufacture, with Suda 51 as its director, in conjunction with Hollywood writer/director James Gunn. Lollipop Chainsaw is being coined as the spiritual successor to Grasshopper's previous over-the-top hack-and-slash franchise, No More Heroes. The game is being published by Kadokawa Games in Japan and WB Games throughout the U.S. and Europe. Released on June 12th, 2012 in the U.S., and June 15th, 2012 in Europe.
The game follows a zombie outbreak in and around San Romero High School, the largest high school on the western coast of the United States. Luckily, protagonist and student Juliet Starling hails from a family of renowned zombie killers, where she’s known for her chainsaw and high school cheerleading expertise. This particular zombie outbreak isn't any ordinary one, however, because it's being magically orchestrated by Juliet's former classmate, Swan, an evil goth wizard with an ax to grind. Working in conjunction with Swan is a rogue group of "zombie rock and roll lords" all with the joint goal of eliminating Juliet by any means necessary. Thus with an overwhelming majority of the student body now zombified, it leaves Juliet with no option but to use her trusty chainsaw to eliminate her "zombified" classmates in an attempt to foil Swan's evil plans for world domination by whatever means necessary.
Juliet doesn't have to fight alone, as she is joined by the disembodied head of her boyfriend, Nick. After being bitten by a zombie, Juliet prevents his complete zombification by cutting off his head; she carries it with her on a device she attaches to her hip. As a gameplay element, Nick is used as a projectile weapon in special attacks and Juliet can place Nick's head onto the body of headless zombies. This allows him to possess the zombie's body and assist Juliet.
Juliet is also joined by members of her zombie-slaying family.
Juliet Starling is the protagonist of Lollipop Chainsaw. She is an apprentice zombie hunter and stereotypical high school cheerleader who--on her eighteenth birthday--must use her trusty chainsaw to fight off legions of undead classmates. Strapped to her waist is the severed head of her mostly dead boyfriend, Nick. Her fighting style uses a mix of bedazzled chainsaw slashes and amazing feats of cheerleader acrobatics and melds the two into a very potent and lethal combination.
- Voiced by Tara Strong.
Cordelia is Juliet's older sister and the veteran zombie hunter within the sisters. Cordelia's weapon of choice is the Long Range Rifle. Her turn-ons include but aren't limited to guns, quesadillas, and the occasionally large gaping bullet wound. Cordelia's dislikes on the other hand include, people who talk while watching a movie in the theater, the color blue, and your run-of-the-mill sea monsters.
- Voiced by Linda Cardellini.
Rosalind is Juliet's youngest sister and is newest to the family business. She's a rookie zombie hunter in more ways than one, but with a passion for destruction and mayhem she's sure to be a quick learner. Her hobbies include scrap-booking, terrorizing pedestrians (especially with her reckless driving), and collecting rare yeti skulls. Rosalind also aspires to one day meet Justin Bieber so she can add his skull to her extensive collection.
- Voiced by Kimberly Brooks.
Gideon is the patriarch of the Starling family and father to his three daughters (the Starling sisters). He rather enjoys punching things with his own two fists quite adamantly. Gideon has a specific set of skills that that include but aren't limited to bone breaking, life taking and the occasional baby making. He also appreciates fine cuisine; for example his favorite sandwich is one with peanut butter and pickles on it. It's also a little known fact that Gideon is known to cry anytime a dog dies on television--real sensitive subject matter for him.
- Voiced by Gregg Henry.
The sardonic and often sarcastic Nick hasn't exactly been dealt the best hand in life; in fact because of recent events concerning a zombie apocalypse, he doesn't even have any. Thanks to the power of '''magic'', Nick is but a severed head courtesy of his girlfriend Juliet so she could stop the zombification virus from spreading. Nick thus attempts to make the best of it while commentating on all of the weird and wonderful nonsense he is subjected to across their mission.
- Voiced by Michael Rosenbaum.
The Number One zombie hunter of all time, Morikawa has placed it as his duty to train Juliet in the arts of zombie hunting utilising a variety of 'techniques', such as lap dances and pole-dancing. All for the benefit of her training of course.
- Voiced by Bruce Locke.
One of the zombie big-bads summoned by Swan for the believed purpose of spreading the zombie infection further throughout the school, Zed is the Punk Zombie of the lot. Outrageously crude and sexist, Zed quite literally attacks his foes using solidified letters that he can magically summon into existence with his own voice. Completely sadistic, characteristically so even, Zed often likes to torture small animals when he's not instigating a zombie apocalypse.
- Voiced by James Euringer.
The second helping of musically-inspired Zombies, Vikke is the Viking Metal Zombie. Found on his magically floating ship, Vikki commands the power of the forever present storm that surrounds his vessel.
- Voiced by Michael Rooker.
The (Totally) Psychedelic Zombie, Juliet soon finds herself at the whim of Mariska and her mind-altering mushrooms. Despite her hippie exterior, Mariska is still rampant with the zombie-isms and will pose just as much of a threat as any of the other intelligent undead.
- Voiced by Shawnee Smith.
Influences including both Parliament Funkadelic and C3PO, Josey is a what he considers a ''Mutherfunkin' Zombie''. Fitted with an auto-tune voice modulator, every word out of his mouth is surely music to somebody's ears.
- Voiced by Dave Fennoy.
A huge fan of Rock n Roll, and about as dead, Lewis rides his trusty demonic chopper and is always willing to show off its unique capabilities when given the opportunity.
- Voiced by Rick Wasserman.
The Zombie of all zombies, with a notable penchant for Elvis impersonations, Killabilly is monstrous in size. A somewhat contradicting ability for a zombie, Killabilly is able to regenerate his flesh almost instantaneously.
The main antagonist of Lollipop Chainsaw is an evil goth sorcerer whose goal is to break the barrier between the human world and the Rotten World, a world inhabited by zombies and other demonic forces, by any means necessary. He'll eliminate anyone who gets in his way or tries to stop him from achieving this goal.
- Voiced by Sean Gunn
Lollipop Chainsaw is a hack and slash and score attack game with strikingly similar gameplay when compared to its spiritual forerunner in the No More Heroes series. As for the direct combat in game, Juliet has light attacks, which are acrobatic kicks and punches using her pom-poms, and heavy attacks, which are furious chainsaw slashes. The light attacks are intended to bait zombies into larger more manageable groups, so that Juliet can finish them off in fewer strikes with heavy slashes from her chainsaw.
Cutting down enemies and rescuing classmates that are being attacked by zombies will fill up Juliet's star meter, which is used for Juliet's ultra attacks. Juliet's boyfriend Nick, a disembodied head hanging from her skirt, can be used for various purposes, including being kicked at enemies by Juliet or being put on the body of a decapitated zombie to control it. When the player completes certain tasks within the game or collects enough currency, ''Zombie Coins'', Juliet will be able to upgrade various skills and things at the designated Chop2Shop when visited. There are also the rarer Platinum Coins which are rewarded for killing special named-zombies or Sparkle Hunting.
What most separates Lollipop Chainsaw from other character-action games is the aforementioned Sparkle Hunting mechanic, which is initiated if the player manage to kill three or more zombies at once, which grants the player additional coins, platinum coins, and will contribute to the player's overall stage rank in the Story and Score Attack modes. This sort of mechanic incentives the idea for players to attempt to round the zombies up first, or at least make them groggy using Juliet's pom-pom attacks, promoting the use of different tactics rather than to just kill all zombies outright.
Using a separate currency called ''Nick Tickets'', Juliet can then call on to Nick's aid--by way of a game of roulette--and temporarily use him as a weapon in a number of both varyingly comical and effective ways. These include shooting Nick's head with the blaster, to whipping him around within a small vicinity, to even reviving Juliet. Up to nine tickets can be hold at once, though they are rare to find and must often be bought for a small price instead. The majority of the different Nick Roulette abilities cannot be bought, however, and must be unlocked by progressing through the story.
There are two separate modes available to the player. First is the default Story mode, which contains the full Lollipop Chainsaw story as well as its own Leaderboards; there is a goal for each one, ''Dad's Score'', which when beat unlocks the player additional rewards such as costumes.
The other is Ranking mode, which features the same list of stages and the cutscenes still persist, but with three sub-modes to select from - each with their own exclusive leaderboard:
- Score Attack - This mode requires that the player attempt to get as high a score as possible via killing zombies and Sparkle Hunting.
- Time Attack - This mode requires the player to complete the stages as quickly as possible
- Medal Attack - This mode requires the player to collect as many medals as possible.
There are no checkpoints during any of these modes, however, instead forcing the player to restart from the beginning should they die. Chop2shop.zom points are also removed, and instead players find a highly antagonistic humanoid chicken awaiting them. Killing the chicken awards the player a small bundle of coins, though it isn't mandatory.
Both modes feature three initial difficulties (Easy, Normal, Hard) with an unlockable fourth (Very Hard) that is selected from the main menu.
- Prologue - Set in the parking lot as Juliet is making her way to school fighting past the zombie hordes.
- High school - Begins in Juliet's San Romero high school as Juliet tries to find out what brought on the zombies. It eventually leads her to the Junkyard to fight against the ''Punk Rock Zombie'' Zed.
- Stadium - Primarily set within the high school stadium before then teleporting Juliet up to Vikki the ''Viking Metal Zombie''s magically floating ship.
- O'Bannon Farm - The next area takes Juliet to the nearby farm as she attempts to safely escort Rosalind in her newly purchased school bus. There will periodically be large, strange mushrooms that once cut will send Juliet on a trip where she must run over a large amount of zombies driving a large crop mower. Eventually the player is then confronted by the ''Psychedelic Zombie'' Mariska.
- Fulgi Fun Centre - An arcade center made up of a number of notable video gaming classics such as Pac-Man, the ''Funk Zombie'' Josey transports Juliet into said video gaming classics as an avatar, forcing her to survive the now highly fatale perils within
- Cathedral - Finally catching up the antagonist Swan, Juliet must first deal with the final of the Zombie Elite's, the ''Rock n Roll Zombie'' Lewis Legend.
- Killabilly - Now after Swan's sacrifice, the ''Zombie of Zombies'' Killabilly must be fought. Juliet first uses Chainsaw Dash to push forward across the chaotic streets, eventually facing against the titan on a rooftop.
- Cheerleader Chain - Chain Pom-Pom Bash to make zombies groggy.
- Chainsaw Stab - Two quick cheer attacks followed by a penetrating chainsaw thrust.
- Chainsaw Swing - More powerful than Chainsaw Stab.
- Chainsaw Chain - A whirling dance of Chainsaw death.
- Armadillo Spin - This Chainsaw attack has excellent reach.
- Final Chainsaw Power Attack - Shreds groups of zombies to... um, shreds.
- Maelstrom Spin - Low spin attack that evens the odds.
- Lolli-O-Copter - Launch a flying attack from Chainsaw Dash.
- Chainsaw Paradise - Heavy Chainsaw attack combining Cheer attacks.
- Jump Stab - Jumping downward stab attack.
- Zombie Grab - Anti-zombie grappling technique.
- Butt Attack - Slam into those zombies with Juliet's butt.
- Holy Chainsaw - The most powerful Chainsaw attack.
- Body Bash - A quick body press after a leapfrog.
- Brutal Cut - A rising attack that is good for hitting all parts of a zombie.
- Chainsaw Drill - A powerful drill-like attack that deals out continuous damage.
- Chainsaw Strike - Gives massive damage to foes on ground.
Nick Roulette Abilities
- Nick Shaker - The player equips Nick's head and must then shake it using the square/cross button to have Nick's head spout out random items, such as coins, lollipops or potentially even platinum coins.
- Nick Popper - Turning her saw of her chainsaw into what resembles a large party hat, this then allows the player to temporarily shoot Nick's head repeatedly from Juliet's chainsaw. Any enemies he hits will make them groggy.
Juliet's chainsaw will be upgraded or transformed--gifts from her family & friends--after the player completes certain stage within the game:
- Chainsaw Dash - With this the player can charge forward with the chainsaw revving in front; besides its combat properties, it's also used to traverse along the many ramps that'll crop up at certain sections of the game. If in use for too long, the chainsaw will overheat. During the occasions where it's mandatory to progress through the level, canisters can be charged through to cool the chainsaw down.
- Chainsaw Blaster - Akin to a grenade launcher, with this the player can shoot enemies from afar. It utilises a sticky-targeting system and will also attempt to auto-aim to whichever enemy is closest once the player takes aim. It can store up to 36 blaster shots in total, which can often be found in the environment or bought for a small price.
James Gunn is involved with several elements of the game, including writing the characters, story, and dialogue. Gunn became involved after being shown some early test footage of the game, saying, "The game is complete madness, and I love it." Gunn's involvement is such that it won't just change the English localization of the game, but the Japanese version as well. Gunn also stated that actors which have regularly appeared in his films will also have roles in the game.
James Euringer, otherwise known as, ''Little Jimmy Urine'', front-man for electro-punk band Mindless Self Indulgence, was hired on to perform all the music for the boss battles and also to voice Zed, one of the boss characters.
In addition to original works composed by Akira Yamaoka and Jimmy Euringer, there's a full list of the licensed tunes that appear in the game as well.
- Lollipop – The Chordettes
- Pac Man Fever – Buckner & Garcia
- Rock ‘N’ Roll (Will Take You To The Mountain) – Skrillex
- The Way of the Fist – Five Finger Death Punch
- Stop Reading, Start Doing Pushups – Destroy Rebuild Until God Comes
- Riot Rhythm – Sleigh Bells
- Turtle Crazy – Toy Dolls
- 1,000 Cigarettes – MSTRKRFT
- Heroes Of Our Time – Dragonforce
- Nemesis – Arch Enemy
- Needled 24/7 – Children of Bodom
- Mickey – Toni Basil
- You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) – Dead or Alive
- Empire State Human – The Human League
- Cherry Bomb – Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
- Speed – Atari Teenage Riot