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Groucho Marx: Media Self Reference in Games


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#1 SeanNOLA

SeanNOLA

    Ohwur? Mybur.

  • CAGiversary!

Posted 03 March 2008 - 07:21 PM

So, I've been thinking about this a lot lately:

Smash Bros. Brawl is coming out soon, and there has been a LOT of talk about fan service and returns of old characters. Pit from Kid Icarus seems to be brought up the most as a nostalgic character that had fans clamoring to their Wiis. My cousin, who is only 12, already has the game pre-ordered, and is a huge fan of Smash, never having played an original Nintendo. He likes the Ice Climbers because he likes them in Smash.

And that got me thinking about Groucho Marx.

When I was younger, I remember seeing Buster Bunny do an impression of Groucho Marx as another one of the Tiny Toons played his brother, Zeppo. Now, I was in no way new to cartoons at this point, so I knew who Groucho Marx was, but only because I had seen that same impression countless times on other cartoons. It had been 20 years since Marx died, and almost 30 since he had made his last film, yet every little kid in America could do a Groucho Marx impression, second hand, thanks to Bugs Bunny. I would wager that 90% of the people in my generation have never actually seen a Marx Brothers movie (although they really are hysterical, you should really watch if you ever get the opportunity.) In fact, it hasn't been until fairly recently that cartoons have stopped using the Groucho Marx cliche, because the pop-culture reference has become almost entirely self referential.

So my question is this:

How do you feel about these nostalgia-invoking characters gaining a fan base based entirely on their depiction in games like Smash Bros or Marvel vs Capcom? And at what point does referencing classic games become cliche?

You could look at Zelda in a similar light; much of the Legend of Zelda fan base is too young to have played the original, yet they still cling to original sound clips as gospel. Is that the right thing to do, so appease the older fans? Or should newer games be willing to shed their predecessors in order to welcome new gamers and preserve old memories at the same time?