I’ve been playing games for a very long time. I’ve seen many different types of games come and go, become popular and lose their popularity. I’ve seen genres die, and genres come alive. Currently, in this day and age of video games, the popular thing to do is make games as cinematic as possible; to try and mimic a movie. Game after game I play I notice that I’m watching more cut scene than I am playing and even when I’m playing, the developers make it seem like I’m still watching a movie by taking the gameplay and adding dynamic camera angles or cinematic quick time events; all of it working towards a more movie like experience. And to me, this couldn’t be farther off from what I expect from a video game.

Not to say that there is anything wrong with video games being cinematic. One of my favorite series of all time is the Metal Gear Solid series, and those games pride themselves in being incredibly cinematic, with hours after hours of movie like cut scenes. So no, there is nothing wrong with a video game trying to imitate older forms of media. But sometimes, I just want to play a game. And that’s when a game like Lollipop Chainsaw becomes my saving grace, because it’s the most video game like video game I’ve played in a long time.

First off, I’m not naive enough to say that Lollipop Chainsaw is a fantastic game. Heck, it could be argued that it shouldn’t even be called a great game. But one thing is certain: Lollipop Chainsaw is, in the purest, most raw form, a video game.

Now, you might be saying “Great point there, Cameron, about a video game being a video game. You’ve got some great insight.” I can already sense your sarcasm smacking me in the face, and you’d be right; obviously, a game released on a video game console is usually referred to as… a video game. But more and more these days, I find games are departing from the actual “game” part of being a video game, while trying to imitate other forms of media, including movies or books. As I said, there is nothing at all wrong with this, and many good movie-games have been made that are quite enjoyable, some of which are games that I’ll never forget. But some people have seemed to forget what video games are all about; what video games started out as. They are, and should be, first and foremost, a fun, user controlled experience. Lollipop Chainsaw uncovers that definition, and uses it to great effects.

The game, as a whole, is a pretty basic action based slasher. You have a cheerleader, who doubles as a zombie hunter, running around with the disembodied head of her boyfriend on her butt, swinging her chainsaw around and around wildly, slicing everything in her path in multiple little pieces. However, it’s not really the combat that sets the game apart from others like it, it’s the overall character. Suda51, the game’s creative developer, is known for his absurdly weird taste in gaming, creating such awkward masterpieces as Killer7 and No More Heroes, and his newest game is no different. For every zombie head getting sawed off and spinning into the air, we’re greeted with sparkly colors and rainbows as Juliet screams out “Oh God, I love shopping!” The game is just purely absurd in almost every way. But that, right there, is why the game captured me so well. In this age of realism and dark, gritty games, who doesn’t want to run around as a colorful cheerleader, swinging a brightly colored chainsaw around, watching sparkles fly out of the decapitated zombie’s head, all the while listening to Nick, the boyfriend, spout crude jokes about Juliet? No one, that’s who.

The game does have a story, but honestly, that’s not why the game exists. Suda didn’t sit down and write a novel, then go and turn it into a game. The game is about just that: the game. No, it doesn’t have the best controls in the world. No, it doesn’t have the best voice acting in the world (though Nick has some seriously funny one liners). Yes, it does have absurd amounts of language and bathroom humor. But none of that really matters because of one thing: the game is just so much darned fun. You can have the highest budget video game in the world, with hours of high-quality cut scenes and dozens of highly paid voice actors, but overall, if the game isn’t fun, can it even be called a video game?

The reason I can’t call this game fantastic, or maybe not even great, is because it is somewhat broken. I ran into my share of glitches, and it really doesn’t look all that fantastic. There were a lot of weird texture problems, not to mention incredibly long load times that took me out of the action more-so that I would have liked. I’m not sure if Suda is actually very good at technically making video games. But after the initial shock of playing a semi-broken game, I quickly forgot all about that and found myself just… having fun.

And that is what all video games should be about: having a damn good time.

Advertisements