Thumper is here for a beatdown

I’ve only been to one Lightning Bolt concert in my life, but it left a serious impression on me. The band—comprised of duo Brian Gibson on bass and Brian Chippendale on drums and vocals—set up their gear on the floor in front of the stage with a stacked wall of amps behind them. The music is loud and fast, a flurry of noise-metal bass churn, blistering drum rhythms, and distorted, indecipherable shouts. The crowd was a compact mass of bodies, not so much a mosh pit as a sweaty blob fighting against the shape of its container. There was no…


Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 is a remix too far

Things have been looking up for Pac-Man lately. Pac-Man 256 made a huge splash on phones last year, and the gluttonous pie chart recently showed up in several collaborations with Google, including map mods and playable Doodles. There was that dreadful Adam Sandler movie too, which, quality aside, did effectively remind the general public that Pac-Man still exists and still really enjoys eating things. motivated more by the need to reinvent than improve This modern-day Pac-Man resurgence was spurred on by its original creator, Toru Iwatani, back in 2007 with the release of Pac-Man Championship Edition (Iwatani’s final game before…


Play Kentucky Route Zero now, before it’s too late

“More mysteries. They do pile up, over time, as people forget the details.”         -Shannon Marquez, Kentucky Route Zero Act IV Kentucky Route Zero is defined by its voids. From its haunting, shadowy landscapes to its characters’ featureless faces, the meditative, five-part digital stage play offers players plenty of empty spaces to fill in or leave blank at their discretion. The increasingly large gaps between the releases of each new chapter of the still-in-development story are another kind of void. We only just got Act IV after an 18-month wait, which means that at the current exponential rate, the final…

Foster Beach, Chicago

The vaporwave games and glitch art at this year’s Bit Bash festival

This year’s Bit Bash festival in Chicago, which took place on August 13, saw the independent videogame showcase expressing its clearest curatorial vision to date, evolving its DIY ethos into a more polished version of the plucky little party that debuted two years ago. The venue change this year may have stripped some of the makeshift charm from of the festival, but alternatively it granted Bit Bash the opportunity to cater the space to their own needs instead of stepping around someone else’s stuff. With that evolution also came a recalibration of Bit Bash’s image, landing somewhere on the gallery…

Skull for INSIDE soundtrack

The mad science behind Inside’s soundtrack

Without giving anything away, there are definitely some freaky experiments going on in Inside, the latest game from Danish studio Playdead. At times, these experiments are depicted through the game’s eye-popping stagecraft, but in other instances, players take the helm as experimenters, tinkering with switches, valves, and other, squishier, things to puzzle out solutions in a manner that would make Dr. Jekyll proud. Inside’s music composer and sound designer, Martin Stig Andersen, conducted his own unorthodox experiments to create the game’s unsettling soundscape. More interesting than the bizarre nature of Andersen’s experiments, though, is why he conducted them and what…


Furi knows how to keep a good beat

I’ve been listening to instrumental electronic music for over 20 years, and the most frequent refrain I’ve heard from skeptics is that house, techno, and any number of subgenres is just “too repetitive.” It’s a complaint that I have a difficult time responding to. It’s true that a lot of electronic music is founded on repetition, with entire tracks constructed via loops and samples on step sequencers. But the line between quantitatively defining repetition and qualitatively proclaiming something as “too repetitive” is a matter of personal taste. I always liked the way beats and samples could gradually fold into one…

Grow Up

Videogaming’s most endearing, clumsy robot is making a grand return

It was a welcome relief amid all the Just Dance-ing and Watch_Dog-ing at Ubisoft’s E3 2016 press conference to see the reveal trailer for Grow Up—a sequel to last year’s charming plant growing/climbing game, Grow Home. BUD, the red, stumbling robot from the first game reprises his starring role, and is tasked once again with clambering across all manner of enormous flora to locate parts of his spaceship, presumably to head home once more. Grow Home was an unlikely hit last year. It was developed by an eight-person team at Reflections (known primarily for their driving games) as an experiment…

Marc Ten Bosch

Marc ten Bosch and the mathematical mysteries of his 4D videogame

This article is part of Issue 8.5, a digital zine available to Kill Screen’s print subscribers. Read more about it here and get a copy yourself by subscribing to our soon-to-be-relaunched print magazine. /// The mantis shrimp is said to have the most complex eyes in all of the animal kingdom (including humans). These ancient crustaceans can move their segmented eyes independently and each is capable of depth perception all on its own. Additionally, the mantis shrimp’s eyes contain more than five times the number of color receptors as the human eye, meaning they can see colors that are imperceptible…

Glitchspace screenshot

Glitchspace is a part-time shift of fixing bugs

No videogame is perfect. Somewhere lurking in the seams of polygonal landscapes lives the glitch —a graphical hiccup that could lead to characters not loading properly, items malfunctioning, or walls losing their solid form. However, in recent years the glitch has transcended its status as a technical bug to become a populist generative art tool. For example, Assassin’s Creed Unity’s (2014) walking nightmares wouldn’t have existed without errors to prompt them. Someone found an exploit in Dark Souls (2011) that lets you skip most of the game and break speedrun records. And even older videogames have found new life through…