Video Game Crushes: Delores Edmund

I just finished Thimbleweed Park, so while this blog will mostly be dedicated to the woman named in its title, I would like to open with some general thoughts on the game. Since its release in 2017 I’ve continually heard/read that if I liked Maniac Mansion, I’d like Thimbleweed. They were, after all, created by the same core developers and share much of the same design in terms of gameplay, art style, and writing. And I was indeed a fan of the 1990 NES version of Maniac Mansion. It didn’t make my top 25 list because, well, I was eight years old when I first played it and I wouldn’t beat it until years later, as an adult. While it was difficult, I loved the colorful art style, the ability to choose from a roster of characters, the weird and mature(ish, for a 1990 NES game) humor, and maybe most of all, the music.

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So it’s probably no surprise that I also loved Thimbleweed Park. It is, as far as I can tell, as close to a sequel to Maniac Mansion as they could get without getting into legal trouble. I was especially impressed with how it maintained so much of the charm of those late 80s/early 90s point-and-click adventure games while using clever plotting, sequencing, and checkpointing to pave over what made the older games frustrating at times, like dead ends and the ability to miss required items. I still prefer direct input movement in games, because sometimes navigating a point-and-click game world can be annoying and slow, especially when you have to backtrack or you get lost, but I suppose there is an attractiveness to the faithfulness of the old school control scheme. For some, anyway.

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Okay, having said all of that, let’s get to the point of this entry: the wonderful Delores Edmund. Delores is, arguably, the main character of the game. Her contentious relationship with her wealthy uncle, Chuck, is the focal point of the narrative, and her absolute readiness to buck her uncle’s expectations of her in order to follow her dream and forge her own path is one of the reasons I love her. Her father is unwilling to stand up for her, and her uncle is aggressive in his demands that she take over his factory and business for him when he dies, but through her own mastery of programming she gets a job offer from the video game company Lucasfilm – er, I mean MMucasFlem – and leaves behind a life of luxury and privilege in order to make video games.

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That determined, independent, strong-willed attitude was immediately endearing, but Delores is not a brash, aggressive character. She is strong-willed, yes, but she is also caring, friendly, and diplomatic. You know what else she is? A huge, gigantic geek. Aside from the previously mentioned programming skills, she is a math champion, Tolkien lover, Alien fan, and Trekkie (“I want to live on the Enterprise!”). She also loves Star Wars, though, and thinks, as I do, that “Revenge of the Jedi was a much better name.” She has beaten every game at the local arcade, still holds many of the high scores there, and eagerly awaits her copy of a video game magazine every month. She also has an affinity for action figures, is actively trying to cut down on new figurine purchases, and she “loves [her] books,” including science fiction titles and Nancy Drew mysteries.

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Plus, just look at her. With her pink shoelaces, red hair, nerdy glasses, side ponytail, and messenger bag, not to mention the goofy dance she does when she finds out that she got the job of her dreams, she is peak geek chic. She is voiced by Elise Kates, who plays her with a steady and nerdy, cute style, making her sound at once self-assured and somehow also a touch naïve. Maybe naïve is not the right word. Maybe she sounds, idealistic? Hopeful? Regardless, she is absolutely a person I would 100% get along with and love to be friends with, and if I lived in the fictional town of Thimbleweed Park and was lucky enough to catch her eye, I would totally love to take her on a date to the arcade, where she would probably demolish me at Meteor Menace. Then we could take a stroll to the S&D Diner, where we’d get anything but the hot dogs. Or hamburgers. Or, well, maybe we’d just skip dinner altogether. Either way, Delores is a radical lady and I have no hesitation in calling her my latest video game crush.

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