Semi-Serious Nostalgia

By Alexandra Geraets in Serious Infotainment
Monday, March 26, 2012 at 1:00 pm

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Nostalgia is something that seems to strike gamers often. If filmmakers are dead set on remaking classic films with new technology and appealing to newer audiences with bigger, sexier, and louder spectacles, then gamers are certain not above embracing older games either remade, remastered, or simply rescued from the bin of obscurity. Fondly recalled experiences with video games drive the industry in some aspects, and, sometimes, I think nostalgia for other forms of entertainment drive the interest in newer products.

Roaming the aisles of video game stores has the potential to bring out one's inner child at all times. Consider the number of Mario, Zelda, and Sonic games on the market; any adult who played those games as kids can't help but want to play a little bit of the new product, if only to feel like a little kid again. Granted, as gamers, we usually feel like little kids getting to play make-believe in a pixilated world, regardless of the types of games we play.

 As good as my memories of old television series, books, and even some previous generation video games are, looking at those products now I see flaws, issues with writings, presentation problems, and more than a few cringe-inducing moments. Sometimes an advertisement can really make you question your inner child, and what the wisdom of following such a thing is. 

Enter Lollipop Chainsaw.

 

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When I first saw this, my reaction was a baffled expression and a protest of "What? Why? Why zombies? Why more zombies? And cheerleaders? What is this?" I was completely put off by the very concept. I am an educated person, I wanted to declare; I am a sophisticated gamer. I play RPGs; puzzle games, and the odd shooter. I do not indulge in such silliness as this with my video games.

Several weeks later, I found myself absently watching old episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and thought to myself, You know this show was made into two pretty fantastic video games. Why don't we have anything like this now?

Re-enter Lollipop Chainsaw.

The more I think about it, the more my nostalgic, albeit reluctant, admiration for television series like Buffy and what they represented to my generation when we were children and teenagers seems to drive my interest in certain video games. Lollipop Chainsaw presents a completely off the wall scenario - yet one that is perfectly reasonable in this age of fandom - where a zombie outbreak hits a high school, and the only person left to save the day is the least likely candidate: a cheerleader.

Naturally, my interest slowly started to shift.

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A game that features zombies is not necessarily a winning proposal, as Dead Island unfortunately taught us. However, as the two Dead Rising offerings have shown, hordes of zombies can be a delightfully cathartic experience to wade through, hacking and slashing, inventing weapons as we go.

Let's consider Lollipop Chainsaw: we have a female protagonist, presented as lovably ditzy, with a chirpy, perky personality, wielding an enormous chainsaw, battling zombies in her high school. When I describe it out loud, the very concept is absolutely ridiculous. Then I think about it, and realize that I don't care how silly the concept is, because it can't help putting a smile on my face.

The more I am looking at this game, the more I am seeing exactly what I want. I don't always want my entertainment serious; I don't always want to think about real world issues as I'm playing. Sometimes, controlling a character that reminds me of an old television series is exactly what I want. Lollipop Chainsaw appears as though it will strike a happy medium for me, at least, in the mix of older video games that I enjoyed (the Buffy the Vampire Slayer games) with the speed, silliness, and extreme personality of contemporary games I have enjoyed (think Bayonetta).

The more I think about it, Lollipop Chainsaw is the exact kind of game that I want to play. I think about the games that take most of my attention, and I realize that, at the end of the day, running down a corridor shooting things, or roaming an open world and hunting for obscure treasures, or even scrambling up and down beautiful old buildings just so I can find that one spectacular view, all of those things just are not doing it for me.

I need something cathartic, something that is not weighted down with this overwhelming sense of self-importance. I need a video game that wants me to laugh and indulge in a little bit of over the top zombie slaughter, while out of place primary colors and glitter rain down. I think that this is the kind of game that those of us who do take games a bit too seriously need because it might just encourage us to stop being so serious.

Video games are, when it comes right down to it, made so we can enjoy them. They are made to give us a good time, to let us experience something that makes us feel good. At the end of the day, games are made for our enjoyment, and our entertainment. If that entertainment takes the form of a bizarre amalgamation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dead Rising, with a liberal dose of Bring It On, who am I to argue with it?

 

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Embrace your nostalgia, gamers. Let's try to remember why we all got into this in the first place. I'm as guilty as the next person of taking games a bit too seriously lately, of engaging in my own share of angry writing, criticism, and complaints. So I'm going to step back, take my own deep breath, and look forward to slicing and dicing my way through zombie hordes. Maybe it'll even help me think about that impending high school reunion with a bit less hesitation.

Ah, nostalgia.

 

Serious Infotainment runs on Mondays. You can follow Alexandra on Twitter @Al3xandra_G.


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