Lollipop Chainsaw preview: Suck on this

Buffy the No More Heroes Zombie Slayer. That's the best way to sum up Lollipop Chainsaw at first glance. Featuring a Lichtenstein-inspired pop art HUD and over-the-top humor drawn from the Suda 51 vein, the game revels in the expected brutality of a zombie outbreak, but adds a dash of the unexpected with rainbows and sparkles following finishing moves and combos.

Developed by Suda 51's Grasshopper Manufacture, the cult name-dropping doesn't stop there. Writer and director James Gunn (Dawn of the Dead, Tromeo and Juliet, Slither) created the script, while Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill, Shadows of the Damned) is handling music -- but none of his work is featured in the current demo.

Yamaoka said during our Gamescom presentation, "This game will be crazier than it is now." A terrifying thought, since the game already has the crazy dialed to 11.
Lollipop Chainsaw is the story of teenage cheerleader Juliet Starling, a girl raised by zombie hunters, whose favorite food (not treat) is lollipops. She must spring into action to protect San Romero High once the undead start wandering without a hall pass. Tagging along for the ride is "Nick," a severed head that feeds Juliet (and the player) helpful tips along the way -- acting in a capacity awfully familiar to Johnson in Shadows of the Damned. A Warner representative said they weren't ready to discuss what Nick's relationship is to Juliet.

The combat is fast-paced, combo-chaining madness. The weirdness really kicks in as Juliet brings out her chainsaw and splits zombies in half to make rainbows and pummels others with pom-poms to create a sparkly display. It certainly brought a smile to my face.

Small decisions will have to be made in the story, like going through different doors of the high school to engage in different battles. There will also be moments where Juliet can save a fellow student from being eaten alive, but if she fails to do so the fresh death walker will be more powerful than the average dead.

The boss fight I saw was a three step battle against Zed The Punk Zombie. Each boss will have a different defense that the player will have to figure out how to get around. Using music and words as weapons, the uber-zombie would scream out "Vanilla Slut," "Cocksucker" and other colorful phrases that would manifest as huge blocks of letters rushing toward Juliet. She eventually kills the "Hot Topic sales reject" in a gleefully bloody display of gore.

Lollipop Chainsaw wears its influences on its sleeves, but from what we saw so far, it's an action game that takes itself even less seriously than Bayonetta, a feat that's pretty hard to imagine. Lollipop Chainsaw will deliver a cheerier side of the zombie apocalypse sometime in 2012.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.