'Silver Lining' is a column from freelancer Taylor Cocke dedicated to highlighting moments of real potential in less than perfect games. This week he examines Grasshopper Manufacture's Lollipop Chainsaw. The following may contain story spoilers.
On its face, Lollipop Chainsaw has all the makings of a solid parody title. First off, it's a Suda51 joint, meaning it has a certain lighthearted over-the-top attitude that lends itself well to parody. It was also penned by James Gunn, who has made his career mocking movie tropes with films like Dawn of the Dead, Super, and the vastly underrated Slither. These are guys experienced in making weird, hilarious stuff.
The game itself obviously doesn't take itself seriously. Just take a look at the cover: a scantily clad young woman carrying around a chainsaw while the head of her boyfriend hangs off her belt. It's an undeniably silly image, and one that seems to be making fun of the roles women traditionally inhabit in games. Here's a clearly over-sexualized young woman, carrying a massive chainsaw, and essentially dehumanizing her male counterpart.
But it never quite makes the turn that satire must make to work. In a gaming landscape that involves a whole lot of problematic images of women, pointing out the absurdity of these portrayals could have been something incredibly valuable. Instead, we get the same old tired jokes about sexuality that we've been hearing for years and years.