This year I have played critically acclaimed games, games that flew under the critics radar, games I loved, and games that I never want to experience ever again. Out of all the games I was personally introduced to this year, Lollipop Chainsaw tops the list as my favorite. Is it the best game ever made? No. The gameplay shift between levels might prove to be too difficult for people who don’t think they should have to adapt halfway through the game, and no one is going to argue that there are certain elements to this game clearly intended for a twelve year old boy audience. None of that, however, means that it is a bad game, and if you try to tell me that as a female gamer I should not be supporting games that allow you to play dressup with your already scantily clad cheerleader protagonist, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree.
Lollipop Chainsaw follows High School senior Juliet Starling as she is late for school on her eighteenth birthday. When she gets there, she discovers that the entire school has been overrun by zombies, and she starts racing around the school in an attempt to find her boyfriend, Nick. Luckily, she just happened to have brought her chainsaw to school that day. By the time she finds him, he gets bitten by a zombie in an attempt to save her, so in return she chops off his head to keep him alive and in the process turns him into the world’s greatest fashion accessory. (Just ask Rosalind, who actually decorates him later in the game.) Oops, Juliet forgot to tell Nick that she comes from a family of zombie hunters, and after the two of them manage to escape the school, her sensei tells her that she needs to stop the zombie Apocalypse or the whole world will go to hell. Literally. Along the way, Juliet and Nick stumble across the rest of her family, including her zombie hunting sisters, and her dad, who is none too happy to be meeting Nick. Oh, and her family gives her birthday presents, all of which are upgrades to her chainsaw, some of which involve shooting Nick out of the newly modified Chainsaw Blaster.
So with a zombie tale as old as time, what exactly is it about this game that makes it so great? For starters, the gaming industry has a long history of objectifying women. Even in this game, you have the opportunity to dress up Juliet in various costumes, most of which are cosplays of popular anime characters, but you also have swimsuits, a date night outfit, a MILF costume stolen from her mom’s closet, and a stuffed bunny that hasn’t been cleaned since Juliet puked on it when she was two.
Nobody wants to talk about the bunny costume. Probably because it is frightening, and not sexy like male gamers believe their reward costumes should be. I personally love the bunny costume. Nothing says “Let’s kick some zombie butt” like dressing as a giant bunny.
But, seriously, in a genre filled with traditions of objectifying female characters, Lollipop Chainsaw turns around and makes it’s male lead character into an actual object. Not only is he completely at the whims of Juliet, who refuses to leave him in a mailbox somewhere despite his protests of being useless, she totes him around like he’s an extra fashion accessory. Then she even uses him as part of her special attacks. Nick Popper, Nick Toss, and various other attacks involve lobbing Nick at your enemies.
There’s something extremely invigorating about playing this game as a woman, however. For one thing, it’s one of the few games out there that allows you to play as a woman without also having a male option. Juliet is amazing, and she’s my role model for when I’m training for the Run For Your Life obstacle course. She’s sexy, strong, yet still vulnerable, and she’s not taking any of your sexist bullshit. The best part of the game is the first boss, in which you can get extreme satisfaction by chopping in half multiple times a dirtball whose main form of attack is to hurl unimaginative misogynistic slurs at you. This is the most satisfaction I’ve ever gotten from a game that is clearly designed for twelve year old boys.
If you don’t mind spoilers or have finished the game, I highly recommend the above video, which higlights all the the things I love about Nick and Juliet’s relationship.
If you like zombie games and you haven’t checked out Lollipop Chainsaw yet, you should, as any preconceived notions you have about how terrible this game is because of the content and the producing studio are only going to prevent you from playing an incredibly fun game.
- 7 Things I Love About Lollipop Chainsaw (hollypie18.wordpress.com)
- Objectification and Lollipop Chainsaw: How Satire Reveals the Fate of Female Video Game Characters (aliciabear77.wordpress.com)