Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Lollipop Chainsaw - Killing zombies with lollipop power

Lollipop Chainsaw has been out for nearly a good month and a half now, so no doubt a good few of you have picked up this already and had a good playthrough of it, much like myself. It's a pretty interesting style of game, and of course, pretty wacky, but coming from Grasshopper Manufacture, that doesn't even surprise me anymore, considering the other titles they've released(No More Heroes, for example). What got to me with this was, how underrated it's actually been. So is it actually as bad as some say?

Let's start with the basics, Lollipop Chainsaw at it's core is a hack n slash zombie game where you play as birthday girl Juliet, a cheerleader for the San Romero Knights...who just so happens to have her boyfriends head attached to her waist(there are worse ways to go, gotta say). The high school gets hit by this weird ritual in which zombies take over and you, being the badass cheerleader with a chainsaw, have to clear them out, essentially. Story wise, it's there, but nothing you need to rattle your brain over. It's basic in style, but that's all it needed to be for this game.

Combat is fairly clunky at the beginning. You start off with a series of basic combos, chainsaw attacks, pom pom attacks and your low attacks. That's about it. Don't attempt to guard either, since there is no way to do so. Fear not however, as you progress and collect zombie tokens either littered around everywhere or by killing them zombies, you can purchase new combos which improves the feel of the combat as well as makes it far more interesting as well. Health, strength, lock-on and recovery upgrades are available as well, but i'd suggest getting the combos first, as you'll be needing them more at the beginning. Getting good combo chains in as well as well aimed attacks can get you a flashy multi-kill animation where you get bonuses to your gold and platinum tokens(used for music, artwork and all the costumes) which fell pretty damn satisfying. My only gripe with them is that, after a while, they can be a little repetitive, but they don't remove from the flow of combat i found, surprisingly. You'd have thought that slowing everything down to show you 3-7 zombies heads flying off with rainbows spouting out of them would cause disruptions but there we go. Also, it's worth mentioning the Sparkle power, which is the meter at the bottom left which, when filled, makes chainsaw attacks insta-kill and you invincible, and the nick attacks. You fire Nicks head at enemies to stun them and make them vulnerable to your chainsaw attacks.

There are other upgrades you will get via story progression, the chainsaw blaster which is your gun, easy to use but i do recommend you turn off auto-aim, it makes it a lot easier, and the chainsaw dash. Chainsaw Blaster is annoying in a couple ways, one to get used to it, the second is that everytime you choose to use it, Juliet shouts "Chainsaw Blaster". granted there is enough variation in how she says it, but really? I think once every so often would've been a bit better.

The best thing i found about Lollipop Chainsaw was the aesthetic of the game. My god is it fantastic. Each level is designed with a different genre in mind, and it ensures the music follows suit to. One stage will have you listening to Dragonforce as you work your way to the punk rock boss, the next you'll be listening to viking metal whilst trying to get atop a flying viking ship. Also, i can't leave this section without mentioning how fantastic the music in stage 3 is. When you reach a certain section of the game where you need to kill hundreds of zombies to progress, you'll know what i mean. Fit so perfectly. The soundtrack was superb, well thought out and there isn't a song that is out of place within it.

Finally, the main other thing i feel needs mentioning is the voice acting. Tara Strong does a fantastic job as Juliet Starling, even if the "chainsaw blaster" line gets repeated way to often, but the praise has to be handed to Nicks voice actor the most; Micheal Rosenbaum. When i first heard he'd be voicing Nick in this, i wonder what the hell to expect. When i think of him at all, i think of Lex Luthor from Smallville, and just can't imagine him in more of a comical role, but he nails it, and in many ways, carries the game with it. Yeah, all the voice acting is pretty good, but he does stand out atop the rest.

Overall, i very much enjoyed Lollipop Chainsaw to the fullest, and go back to it often enough when i feel like killing with all that lollipop power. Sure, it starts off a little slow in terms of combat, and the story is basic, but it's not about a extremely deep and though provoking storyline. It's about a cheerleader zombie hunter equipped with a chainsaw massacring many a zombie in an attempting zombie apocalypse, with well placed humour and a fantastic soundtrack. It needed nothing else, and does exactly what it needed to, entertain.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Indie titles WHY U SO GOOD!?!?!?!?

I'll be honest here, up until early last year, i hardly played any PC games, bar the odd RTS here or there. but then i delved deeper into it all, and asides from the usual big named titles, i found my steam library turn into this mass of indie titles. There was a point where i thought, hey, hah, all i want is title x or title y on steam, big name stuff i mean, and never looked to cheap titles cause they looked meh. I can't get enough of them now.

Probably some of the major titles you'd think of when you consider the indie scene is Edmund McMillens Super Meat Boy the platformer where having over 1000 deaths before world 3 is common place. Or of course the game that took off flying and is still to really stop, Minecraft. It's become such a diverse and, i'd go as far to say very well respected scene now, that  owning them is normal now. I find myself with over 80 hours on The Binding of Isaac, 60 on Plants vs Zombies, and so many more on others. But i think i'm missing my own point, Why are they so good?

Awesomenauts - check out the theme song, it's so good

I think part of that could be that, as an indie developer, you have a lot more free rein over what you do. You can experiment a lot more with what you're doing than you would if you where stuck working on a AAA title like, say, Resident Evil, which has nosedived into the worst gameplay choices imaginable(going for CoD fans? really?) Take Awesomenauts, which is set to hit PC/Steam in the not to distant future. It's a MOBA(think League of Legends) style game at heart, but so different outside of that. Sure, it has you defending towers, taking out mobs, buying upgrades, it's a platformer on top of that. Aiming  and firing isn't auto either, it's all something you need to control yourself. It can easily change up the way the genre moves on depending on how well it's received(i think it did hella well on PS360, but i forget) and essentially push even more weird and exciting ideas to the genre. Yes of course we will have bad games come out of them, heck that always happens, but there are times like this particular title that things work out. Bastion brings in new ideas for story telling, through a narrator who tells everything as you progress. It means you spend more time enjoying the game, whilst listening to his fantastic voice, tell the story of Caelondia and the Kid trying to find a way to sort out the "Calamity".

Sure, you could say "oh, capcom can do this" or  "Ea did that", and maybe they can or have, but the titles have either gone under the radar, or they are too afraid to do something major to their main titles with the chance that they'll lose sales. It's horrible to say that, but it's not too far off the truth. Resident Evil 6, to bring it up again, is being made with the intention of "trying to bring in fans of CoD". They want that because it means more sales, which in turn means more money. The feeling i get from that is, they don't really want to keep the fans of certain series they have now, they just want to bring in more to keep up cash income. I honestly believe that'll do them more damage with that title than anything else.

I think i've kind of only scratched the surface with it all. Indie titles are becoming more and more noticed and more of them are turning out to be good. Some more so. If i can get more titles like Bastion, Trine, Braid, Limbo, Super Meat Boy, and at such a good price, i think i'll gladly support them all when i can. i feel my money is more well spend with them too, as not only am i getting my moneys worth, i feel like i want to return to the titles time and time again. I think AAA developers/companies could learn from them, if they could only let go of their damn pride and silly notions of being the only ones that can do x, y or z. Some of their titles may just turn out to be good, real good.

Also, Indie games have the best soundtracks. Just Sayin'

Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Steam Summer Sale. - Wallets stand no chance

Steam finally got their Summer Sale underway on the 12th of July, after what several believe was a delay. Last year the Summer sale was the last week of June, so there was a fair bit of belief that it would be the same again this year. Regardless, it's finally kicked in, and the deals which will take all our monies has finally hit home, so what kind of deals should we be looking out for on Steam? Here's a few recommendations from myself as to what you should look out for over the next 9 days(ok, 8 and a half when this goes out, you picky people you);


Many people who follow me on twitter probably know my obsession with this title, it's such a wonderful game i think everyone should go out and buy it. The story telling is brilliantly done via the narrator, who tells you pieces of what's going on and the lore around the world as you progress through the game. He'll comment on your use of weapons, you're clumsiness(falling off the stage), but never excessively. It's all well paced and feels like it fits perfectly into the game. The combat is a little basic, but it honestly doesn't matter. I sat through the game in one sitting, and never once got bored. That soundtrack is probably my favourite game OST of last year, no competition. My only other mention is, play through the game twice. You'll thank me later. Supergiant games deserve every bit of respect for this.

Sonic Generations

Sonic titles as of late have been a little....on the iffy side. And to be fair the skepticism over how they could return the series to it's former glory was always going to loom over it when including classic sonic, but i can safely say, they nailed it. The classic sonic portions of the game are just right, they feel like classic sonic. The physics aren't off, the momentum is right, the stages are well design, just what we needed. Even the stages from games like unleashed & colours have been redesigned to fit him. And yes, even modern sonic feels good too. The focus for him being more on speed is well balanced with classic. You never get too much or too little from it. Also, What a joy it is to hear Chemical Plant zones music again.

The Binding of Isaac + Expansion

Edmund McMillen has a lot of wacky ideas for games, and this is no different. You play isaac in a zelda-esque style dungeon crawler, with your treasure rooms, item shops + boss rooms and head down deeper into the basement. Sounds easy enough? God it's not. Every playthrough is different, and you'll never get the same combo of items twice(items hit about 220+ i believe with the expansion on top). Consider this. One playthrough, you could be firing homing tears whilst having a cube of meat orbit you, or perhaps you are firing a laser from one eye then using your equipped Shoop da Whoop Beam to get out of a pickle. It's never the same twice. And with so many references hidden in there, it's great. You really need to play it yourself to understand just how wacky an idea it is. Tears as your weapon, and the aim of the game? Kill Mom. Yup. For those interested in where the idea seems to have come from, look on wikipedia for the Binding of Isaac page, it's basically a HUGE reference to the story from the bible of the same name.
(Also, at the time of writing this, It's 99p for the game, £1.73 for the game + expansion + OST. That's it, no excuses)

Amnesia: The Dark Descent

I don't think i need to explain this one. It's a horror game known all over the internet for being one of the scariest games out in years. If you like/love horror titles, you need this.

Saints Row: The Third

THQ are having a fair few issues at the moment with restructuring and money issues, and i find that sad to hear when they have a gem like Saints Row: The Third in their collection. It's insane, over the top fun ala Grand Theft Auto, but unlike GTA, it hasn't gotten serious over time, just more mad. There is enough to do in this sandbox title alongside the main quests and DLC quests that you'll probably be at it for hours. And with the co-op campaign there as well, it's even better. If you need convincing by the way, go check out Jesse Cox(OMGFCata) and his playthrough, even just part 1. The start of the game is enough to get a good judge of the game entirely.

And with that, there is just a few games i'd suggest buying when you can. I could also have gone into depth with Terraria, Super Meat Boy, Sanctum, Serious Sam, Section 8, etc etc, but i'd be here all day. Let's just hope that our wallets don't suffer too much this time round, at least until the christmas sale.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Return to blogging, E3 + and beyond

Hey guys, it's been a while. I realise i had made a promise to you all that i'd make a blog on E3, and i kind of didn't. Sorry, there isn't really a good excuse to what i can say for that, i got caught up with a few other bits at the same time, and never got round to making a full blog on the matter. So what i'll do now, i'll condense everything worth mentioning from each of the conferences into a paragraph or two, and then move onto july news and my plans for the future of this place.

E3 - Microsoft

Microsoft once again got E3 off to...a start. It wasn't exactly spectacular, but they had made some decent choices in titles to show off. Halo 4 got the show off to a pretty good start, with a very Metroid Prime-like feel to the game. Very much welcome if you ask me. Has huge promise, and 343 studios can certainly capitalise on that. They moved onto the new Splinter Cell title which looks very splinter cell like, but with Kinect voice commands, much like what you saw in Mass Effect 3. Gears of War Judgement got it's teaser trailer reveal showing off Baird mostly, but we know that Cole train will feature as well, and it looks to be set prior to E-Day, so will make for an interesting sequel. After this, Tomb Raider was shown to be fairly nice looking, but it went fairly downhill from there. Dance Central 3 feat. Usher,  Fable The Journey trailer, Xbox Smartglass(controls xbox + extra features on a windows 8 smartphone/tablet), more 3rd party apps for the 360, Black Ops 2, you get the idea. It was a strong show for the first half, then died down after. We got some of the South Park game from Obsidian in there though, so it wasn't to bad nearer the end. Good news was, there was far less kinect this time round. They might have finally caught on how to use it properly


Sony was interesting, they where by far better than Microsofts conference, with strong showings of games like The Last of Us, Playstation All Stars battle Royale, God of War Ascension., Assassin's Creed 3(+ Vita 3) and the guys behind Heavy Rain showcased their new title, Beyond: Two Souls. They did however, try to get more coverage for what is quite widely deemed a flop, The PS Move. new games for the "Wonderbook" including one written by J K Rowling where shown off, however it didn't impress much. If they removed this and put in PSVita coverage instead, they would have been better off. All in all better than microsoft, but still fairly weak.


Never was there a day when i though i'd say this but, Ubisoft stole the show. They showed off Rayman Legends for WiiU which looked fantastic. Keeping to the same style as Origins but incorporating the extra things that the WiiU will offer. Moving swiftly onto more Assassins Creed and then ZombiU was shown a little next to some of the other titles for WiiU. What stole it for them however, was the last title they showed off; Watch Dogs. I don't think i could do the game justice by my description, so i highly recommend you check out Youtube or a gaming site for the gameplay they showed off, it was...fantastic to say the least.


Finally Nintendo, who somehow managed to disappoint amidst high hopes. They even did two shows, one focusing on the WiiU, the other on the 3DS, yet still managed to show nothing of spectacular worth. The console itself looks fantastic, Pikmin 3 was shown off, Batman Arkham City Armored Ed was shown, ZombiU, NintendoLand and New Super Mario Bros for WiiU, but they didn't give us an extact date or price range. the 3DS show gave us Castlevania: Mirror of Fate, Kingdom Hearts 3DS, Luigis mansion 2, New Super Mario Bros 2 and Paper Mario, but it just wasn't something new or gripping.

So was there an outright winner? no. You could say Ubisoft for showing proper stuff, but honestly, noone stole it. I didn't see EAs, but all it had basically was Dead Space 3. I just hope the Tokyo Game Show can give us more from Nintendo.

Now, for this month and beyond. July has had a few decent announcements here or there. Many will know that Tales of Xillia has been announced for EU/US possibly alongside it's sequel but that is TBA, but no release date confirmed. Persona 4 Golden has helped the Vita get it's drive back, as you'd expect now it's released, Persona 4 Arena has 30-40 hours storyline content, and of course, there is the continued concern for Mass Effect 3 now that the extended cut DLC is out. That's just a taste of things, but expect a weekly update on news from here on out.

As for what i plan to do, i intend to do 3-4 posts a week, one focusing on my gaming at present, one on news, a review if i can, anime updates, and something else which i'm still considering. It may take me a week or two to get into the right state of mind for it, but please look forward to what i put up here, and if you wish to contact me at all, you can always find me on twitter @ARX7Laevatein or watching over everyone at  www.animeuknews.net.