Game That Tune

Lollipop Chainsaw

Slayin’ Alive

The funk theme from Lollipop Chainsaw subverts expectations in an already subversive game.

By Derrick Sanskrit • April 25, 2013

Game music has the power to earworm its way into your heart long after you put the controller down. Each week in Game That Tune, we highlight a great tune from a great game (or a great tune from a just-okay game).

If there’s anything Lollipop Chainsaw is “all about,” it’s subverting expectations. Players assume the heroic role of a popular cheerleader as she battles hordes of the undead—hordes who identify as the very same high school cliques every American kid has to deal with. And then there’s the funk level. I don’t remember very many kids in my high school wearing silver parachute pants and star-shaped sunglasses, but then, I wasn’t really taking notes at the time. Just as soon as players pick up on the music-based outcast tropes in Chainsaw—the anti-establishment punks, the dark metal kids, and the hippy-dippy psychedelic-pop stoners—the game introduces a space-age funk-inspired arcade. It comes complete with voodoo vocorder Bootsie Collins for a boss, and the game’s largely nondescript industrial rock soundtrack gives way for something with a bit more…soul?

“Mirrorball Madhouse” plays when Juliet gets transported inside virtual reality retro arcade games. Chainsaw glosses over the logic here. (Arcades existed in the time of disco or funk or whatever, right? Right!) Looking past the self-satisfied absurdity of it all—which you’ve already done if you’ve made it this far in the game—“Mirrorball Madhouse” is a refreshingly peppy tune. Deep round bass and a variety of percussion from maracas to congas give the air of a full band having a blast—even if the instruments have that sharp electronic edge that gives it all away as a synth arrangement. “Mirrorball Madhouse,” like the game, is a brief and high-spirited reprieve from the monotonous glut of conventional horror cliché, unconcerned with how well-regarded it might be.

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18 Responses to “Slayin’ Alive”

  1. rvb1023 says:

    Thanks for reminding me I should probably go play this again. In the craziness that usually accompanies Grasshopper Manufacture and more specifically Suda, I often forget that they often score their games incredibly well, or a least find the appropriate music to accompany scenes and set pieces.

    • Simon Jones says:

       Japanese games in general have incredible music.

      Not that it’s music I always particularly like, but it’s obvious they’ve generally put a lot of effort into it.

    • TaumpyTearrs says:

      I was confused by the article saying all the other music is generic industrial music, because I thought the music was great and varied, but then I realise I don’t remember the score, just all the licensed songs. But there were a bunch of the licensed songs, so even if the score itself was generic, much of the game was accompanied by fun songs.

  2. Steve McCoy says:

    There’s something about today’s silhouette; it’s creating an illusion of it constantly shaking and blurring. My eyes are freaking out, because they’re reflexively trying to focus on the edges, but it’s impossible.

  3. Chalkdust says:

    Silent Hill fans (is there an affectionate appellation for them? I think “pyramid heads” would be an obvious choice) may grouse and groan about Yamaoka’s departure, but I think his transition to Grasshopper has been exciting, considering he’s so satisfyingly spread his musical wings on this, Shadows of the Damned and Sine Mora.

  4. duwease says:

    I had written off this game, but it sure keeps popping up in discussion.  As someone who enjoyed Killer 7 well enough for its weirdness, but hasn’t played another Grasshopper game since (since No More Heroes is Wii-only).. is this worthwhile?

    • rvb1023 says:

       It’s not a bad game, but what you see is what you get. There really isn’t any hidden depth to the game or anything, just fairly basic arcade action with an entertaining B story. Some of the writing is pretty good and you’ll get a chuckle or two out of it, but it isn’t some need to play experience.

      Certainly is no Killer7.

    • Simon Jones says:

      There’s a version of No More Heroes for the PS3 now.

      Also, yeah. I mean, it’s a cute game but it is a fairly generic slash ’em up.  If you see it cheap it’s worth checking out.

  5. Enkidum says:

    Wait, do you seriously get to fight Bootsie Collins? Like, for real?

    Must play if so.

  6. ferrarimanf355 says:

    I got to the second level in this game before I quit out of embarrassment. I’m a little ashamed that I have the achievement where you look up the main character’s skirt- and this is coming from someone who got the achievement in Duke Nukem Forever for picking up a Lincoln log in the toilet.

    • Chalkdust says:

       I got that achievement accidentally, I swear!

      • I’ve played through the game at least two or three times and somehow still not gotten that one. It’s almost a source of pride now, even if it keeps me from getting the Platinum.

      • ferrarimanf355 says:

        I’m going to go back and finish this game, but I have 1000 Club achievements in Forza Horizon and trophies in The Pinball Arcade to get.

      • Simon Jones says:

         I’m seriously not sure you can actually get it on purpose unless you’re some sort of weird gaming prodigy.

  7. Andy Tuttle says:

    I love Suda and James Gunn, but I heard this game was terrible. What’s a decent price to pay for a used copy of this game?

    • MonsieurEek says:

       What’s your income?

    • TaumpyTearrs says:

      What’s your scale for financial worth? It probably takes around 6 hours to beat it if you don’t enjoy it enough to replay it. I found the general gameplay pretty fun, although the combat isn’t as fun til you have unlocked a few moves which takes a little too long. Some of the minigames are delightfully cracked, but they mostly vary from briefly amusing to unnecessary.

      I too am a fan of Suda and Gunn, and I paid $30 for it. Around $20 seems like the perfect price, though. Its funny and silly, the aesthetics are awesome, the soundtrack is filled with great songs, etc. So even if the gameplay itself doesn’t excite you, the humor and style will probably compel you to complete the game.