Vintage Elements in Video Games: The Carousel

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Pretty much like the banker's lamps, the carousels are among those elements that appear regularly in video games, either as part of the environment or as something functional that may also have some kind of "role" in the scene where it is seen. The carousel, both as an object and a concept, has something about it that is heart-warming and nostalgic, but also mysterious and spooky. Its continuous circular movement, in combination with the joyful colors and the complex design, especially when its decoration features vintage pictures that depict landscapes or portraits, give out a magical fairytale-like feel. But it is exactly these elements that can turn it into an eerie spectacle, most of the times in direct connection with the environment where it is set, the game's scenario and the sequence in which it takes part.

In The Evil Within, there are two unforgettable sequences that involve carousels. The first one is in Chapter 10, The Craftsman's Tools, where a giant carousel in the middle of a dark room full of traps, becomes a lethal construction since it has a huge blade attached to its center, which blade moves unstoppably along with it, as soon as it is set in motion. This carousel features a faded and partly damaged vintage roof, and instead of horses, it has cages with mannequins locked inside them.

A bit later, in Chapter 11, Reunion, Sebastian exits out to the city which is all completely ruined, with rubble and random objects lying here and there along the cut streets, and the only thing that seems to be "alive" is a colorful carousel that is doing its circular movement with all its lamps lit, although its base is flooded.

Both carousel sequences are accompanied by a beautiful, melancholic tune that sounds like it's coming out of an old music box, and they are both connected to Ruvik's ruined childhood and his twisted mind.

In Resident Evil: Code Veronica, a still carousel decorates the middle of a well-hidden room in the Ashford mansion. Alfred's secret "palace" is full of toys and dolls - others in a good state and others broken and dirty - and it is as if the carousel that leads to the attic shelters the disturbed childhood of Alfred's past self, since the room where it is set and the one where it leads hide important items associated to his memories.

Later on, playing with Chris, we arrive at a secluded area of the Antarctica base where there is also a replica of the Spencer Mansion. Just outside, there is a smaller carousel which looks more like a huge toy.

In Game of Oblivion from Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, the Ashford palace carousel becomes the ground of a brief battle where Claire and Steve have to face Alfred disguised as Alexia. The carousel is in motion in this sequence, along with its faint tune, and Alfred uses it as a cover as it moves while attempting to defeat his potential victims.

Another memorable carousel can be seen in the stage Soldiers Field in BioShock Infinite. It does not play a part in the action or the story, but its imposing presence at the far side of the area catches the eye from the start, and its movement is also accompanied by a vintage tune.

Two particularly creepy carousels appear in the Looney Park stage from Painkiller: Battle Out Of Hell. Not only is the appearance of the carousels absolutely ominous with their bright colours illuminating the darkness, but the insane battles that take place there transform them into hellish grounds in an instant.

Similarly, the red and golden carousel in the mission Found from DmC: Devil May Cry is anything but soothing and pleasant to look at, not to mention the numerous demons that show up when you get close to it.

In the classic game Sanitarium, an old-school carousel appears in Chapter 4, The Circus of Fools. Just like the name of the stage implies, the carousel looks and feels like it comes out of a horror movie.

A bright-colored carousel appears in the garden of an abandoned mansion in Frankenstein: Master of Death.

In Riddles of the Past, we can see a carousel in a deserted amusement park, with its colors faded and everything around it destroyed.

When the story concludes and everything is settled, the amusement park is alive again, and the carousel appears restored, with bright colors and people having a good time around it.

A most famous carousel is that which appears in the Silent Hill games. It is the Happy Carousel in Lakeside Amusement Park.

A carousel in full motion appears in Chapter 4 of The Last of Us: Left Behind. Ellie and Riley can ride it for a bit as a bonus.

While carousels can be seen in all genres of video games, their most interesting appearances are in those games that are focused in action and survival, as it is in such cases that the contrast that is created between their bright, usually playful, view and the tension of gameplay, becomes more prominent. But they are always notable elements wherever they appear, as well as points of interest and reference.

All screenshot by me, except:
Sanitarium, Frankenstein: Master of Death, Riddles of the Past: afterdarkmysweet
Silent Hill: AlexSheperd (Silent Hill Wiki)
The Last of Us:



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