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So Bad It's Brilliant

John Robertson | 16 Aug 2013 18:06
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Then there's Lollipop Chainsaw's gameplay. Yes, it's repetitive. Yes, it lacks originality. That's exactly the point. While not as complex or challenging as other third-person brawlers (think Bayonetta, Devil May Cry, et al), Lollipop Chainsaw's blend of cheerleader-inspired kicks, punches and chainsaw attacks is precisely as engaging and mindless as it needs to be. It's not clever, but it works, and it looks wonderfully weird.

Precisely as engaging and mindless as it needs to be

In the same way as watching a bad movie, the gameplay is just mindless enough to prevent you from having to think too much, but not so bad that it's unplayable. This allows you to very quickly settle into a comfort zone. You're safe in the knowledge that you're not going to be asked to master too many new skills, allowing you to apply more attention to the bat-shit happenings going on with the characters, the plot, and the imagery.

That's not to say the gameplay is bad, because it's not. It's just about good enough to stop things getting frustrating, but not unique enough to intimidate.

It's a shame that games like Lollipop Chainsaw, those dedicated simply to shamelessly indulgent fun, are ridiculed and rejected by such a large proportion of the videogame community. Perhaps as a result of the inferiority complex prevalent within the videogame industry - its continual battle to be considered the narrative equal of other mediums - it seems that it is unable, or unwilling, to fully embrace the idea that it is okay to make fun of itself.

That's not to say that everyone out there who has ever touched a control pad should adore and praise the likes of Lollipop Chainsaw, but they should at least begin judging such games in ways that do justice and show respect to the initial intentions of the project.

When a game is being dumb, crude and inane in a self-aware and satirical manner, is it really dumb, crude and inane at all?

Throwaway, Sunday afternoon pulp is an accepted part of cinema, music and literature. It exists in droves in those mediums. It is starting to exist in videogames, too, and it's time we started embracing it and respecting it for what it is and what it's trying to achieve. The industry needs to make fun of itself to stay sane, and we need to welcome that.

Games can be satire, and are. Games can be so 'bad' that they're brilliant, let's not convince ourselves otherwise.

John Robertson is a freelance writer and the real-world embodiment of Garcia Hotspur. He is currently travelling through Asia, writing as a means to fund the adventure. You can follow him on Twitter @Robertson_John.

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