The SNES JRPG aesthetic has always had a certain charm. From chiptune album covers to horror stories about haunted game cartridges, many artists seem to gravitate towards the pixel art found throughout Nintendo’s RPG releases of yesteryear. What appears as a simple solution to the console’s limited system RAM actually presents a design style capable of extremely complex and fascinating artwork. Just take a look at the gorgeous backgrounds seen in Tales of Phantasia (1995) or the character design behind Square’s Chrono Trigger (1995).
London-based electronic music duo Delta Heavy is the latest artist to adopt that classic aesthetic, with their new music video for White Flag, which remixes John Milton’s iconic blank verse poem Paradise Lost (1667). Created three months after its original Paradise Lost album release, Delta Heavy’s music video features a fallen Satan returning to Heaven in order to apologize to God. Things don’t go quite as planned, as Jesus strikes down the Devil, and plummets below to Earth.
“‘White Flag’ is about letting your guard down in love,” said director Najeeb Tarazi, who previously worked as a technical director on such movies as Toy Story 3 (2010) and Monsters University (2013). “I wanted to try turning the myth of Paradise Lost on its head and tell a story where Satan apologizes after his defeat and seeks a path of love. In reply to Satan’s apology, God brutally punishes Satan again.”
The SNES twist on Paradise Lost oddly mirrors many of the religious themes found in JRPGs during the ‘90s. Shin Megami Tensei II (1994) has the character YHVH, a metaphorical creator figure (and villain) who seemingly represents fundamentalist Christian interpretations of an authoritarian God. Whereas Nintendo’s Earthbound (1994) features a classic ending sequence where the entire world prays for the strength to defeat the evil alien invader, Giygas.
Nonetheless, Tarazi’s take on Paradise Lost is absolutely gorgeous. Characters such as Beelzebub are represented in striking palettes of bright red and grey, whereas God is portrayed as an all-powerful—yet oddly majestic—mother figure hovering in the distance. Perhaps most beautiful of all is Satan’s descent, as he falls from a light shaft in space and trickles down to Earth amidst bustling clouds parting between the stars.