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Live Free Play Hard: GARLO'S BACK

Yume Nikki 3D. Genderqueer hell. RADIOACTIVE ZOMBIE MARIE CURIE.

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Garlo’s Gambit by thecatamites

There may exist an author for whom making a game that simply tells a straightforward story is a joke in of itself.

I really like thecatamites' art. He is a great videogames cartoonist. I love the music. The music is funny! Why is the music funny? Because the tempo is a joke. The notes are spaced juuuuust slightly too far apart. Far enough to be vaguely confrontational. The notes themselves were rejected from most games and are grateful for the work.


Yume Nikki 3D by Zykov Eddy

Not a remake of classic cult game Yume Nikki, but "rather a spin-off to the original, with lots of extra content."

A little girl wanders dream worlds looking for effects, which are special powers that do things like change her into monstrous forms or give her a bicycle. The worlds are bleak and alienating, and most of them seem to take place inside lonely structures. An ice world was one of the cheeriest places by comparison because at least it was outside. A more typical zone looked like what you’d get if giant, emotionless aliens reproduced a stereotypical 1950’s home then abandoned it in the void between dimensions.

The lifeforms that inhabit these zones only increase the sense of alienation, because they rarely respond to you. It’s almost like you’re a ghost.

I am reminded of Soup, which I like very much, and which feels kind of like a condensed version of this experience.




Radioactive Zombie Marie Curie by Michael Alexander

Normally I don’t like the “historical figure comes back as a mutant zombie” genre, but in this case it makes sense for the protagonist to be radioactive and it’s told with a genuine love for her contributions and struggles.

Women are the ideal subject for immortality because their first life is almost guaranteed to be fucked up. By which I mean, the cultural suppression of their achievements creates a karmic deficit. Every woman deserves a little vengeance from beyond the grave.

Which Way by thecatamites

This reminds me of an earlier game by thecatamites, Crime Zone.

Which Way is far cartoonier than Crime Zone’s fluorescent nightmare. Instead of amorphous cop universe, it’s like a goofy detective show in some generic videogame world. If you think about it, most games would be incredibly improved if you just mixed up the roles. It’s boring being the hero, with their inevitable power curve. Let me be a pet shop owner in Hyrule and catch Octorok for my aquariums. Let me sell fine glassware in whatever world Bomberman lives in (Planet Bomber in the Bomber Nebula duh (I still say a universe made out of bombs is one of the most fascinating and unexplored realities of videogame canon)).

Anyhow, the ways in which Thecatamites plays with the infinite pursuit of crime makes so much sense if we think about how real crime is actually infinite, due to a system that has evolved to need the quotas, fines, and prison labor surrounding crime.

Crime is a cartoon but not in the way most people think it is when consumed on a pop culture basis. It is cartoonish in the most garish, manufactured, episodic sense of the word. In the Grant Morrison Wile E. Coyote treatment sense of the word. We are trapped in a hell of infinite chases, infinite violences, infinite incarcerations. And in the game.


Bogey’s Report by thecatamites

well, sometimes things just don’t come out as you’d like. i’m sorry ma. i’m sorry da. i’m sorry sam. i’m sorry bogey. sorry. sorry. sorry.

Thecatamites is one of the only people who can get away with references to classic videogame tropes. I think it's the serious insight combined with a simultaneous trivialization of them as disposable tokens of lizard brained evil--a blend of disgust and fascination that never fails to make me smile. I recognize the dangers of lingering too long in that place.

I also like the end point of thecatamite's games: wherever he feels like it.


Negative Space by Maddox Pratt

The steady heartbeat and the centered, minimal text makes this a very pure and effective Twine.

The monotone "no" that comes back when you choose an incorrect response reminds me so much of being so obliterated by depression that I can only communicate with the bare minimum of language.

Maybe I'd like to dress my words up in cheerfulness or anger or some kind of color, but I just can't inflect. Without inflection, social navigation becomes difficult, like a boat drifting through the fog with no way to signal.

And notice how the cadence of those minimal responses matches up with the heartbeat? Beautiful.

Maddox says: “There's a way that people are moving away from just the words of the text and thinking about and playing with the form of the text as art, where the text isn't merely standing in and describing something visual but is also becoming it.”

With each click, text disappears for a moment, flashing back into existence, steady as the throb of our own heart. But in Negative Space, I don't get the feeling that a heartbeat signifies vitality.

Instead, it sounds like stagnance. Fatigue. Weakness. Trapped in a situation that does not end. The thing about life is that quality is everything. Our heartbeat can sound like freedom or a trap.

The subject matter is important. Genderqueerness and non-binary experiences can be frequently overshadowed by binaries, even within queer spaces. People are often read as male or female without considering that their identity could be otherwise.

When we apply those labels to people, it is easier to follow cultural programming: this is how we behave toward Women, this is how we behave toward Men. Without those labels, we are forced to deal with the complicated task of evaluating the other person as they are, unfolding in real time, based on their actual self, learning how they wish to be perceived (not that we shouldn't do that for all people).

Genderqueer does not mean confused, androgynous, or empty. Male and female aren't opposite points on a line. Instead, gender expression is a field of stars, and there is no objective center.

As if we needed to know how to label ourselves before we became worthy of love.

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