Super Smash Bros. Melee

A jazz tribute to one of Super Smash Bros.’s greatest performances

Legend has it that before recording “Maggot Brain,” Funkadelic frontman George Clinton told his guitarist Eddie Hazel to “play like your momma just died.” The resulting track is a 10-minute journey through the cosmos that slowly calcifies into a sad, wonderful kind of musical ego-death. Not only is it one of the finest pieces of musical expression ever recorded—it was all done in a single take. For Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001) fans, one such moment of sublime perfection happened just last year, at the B.E.A.S.T 5 tournament in Gothenburg, Sweden. It was the grand final, as world-renowned Peach player Adam…

Soft Body

Soft Body brings colorful elegance to bullet-dodging on May 17th

According to a new post over on the PlayStation Blog, bullet-dodging puzzle game Soft Body will be releasing on May 17th for both PlayStation 4 and Windows, with PS Vita and Mac versions to follow soon after. It’s also got a new trailer to go along with the announcement, as well as a sneak preview of some of the game’s levels from creator Zeke Virant, during which he discusses how the game’s soft presentation works together with its nonetheless hard challenges. For the uninitiated, Soft Body is about controlling two “beautiful, gooey” snakes in tandem with each other, all while…


How computers find naked people

We are all just collections of limbs and appendages, naked before the Internet. Some of us—or some of our devices—just may not know this yet. Curiously, it’s our devices that lag that lag behind in this regard. The Internet, as was correctly noted in Avenue Q, may be for porn, but identifying nudity is not technology’s forte. As such, content moderation is still a tedious human labor, and as Adrian Chen documented in his excellent 2014 Wired feature, it’s a soul-crushing search for dick pics—among other things. So, here we are. It’s 2016, and as Clarifai “data scientist and NSFW enthusiast” Ryan…


New visual novel should satisfy your lo-fi cyberpunk dreams

New York City has a clichéd nickname: The City that Never Sleeps, referring to the restlessness of nightlife in the city. Similar is the metropolis in the newly released Cyber City 2157: The Visual Novel, as it also never sleeps. But that’s because the sun never sets. Night never comes to toss its dark cloak over the city. The City (capitalized, as it is a character in itself) remains bright, shining, always ready to adventure—it doesn’t sleep because it doesn’t get a chance to. And you, the player, are tasked with navigating all its parks, suburbs, cemeteries, and even dreams. Created…

berlin second life 1

You can visit an historically accurate 1920s Berlin in Second Life

In 2007, Jo Yardely visited Second Life (2003) for the first time. She looked around, took in the view, and left immediately. “[Second Life] was a place where weird people spent all their time chatting about uninteresting things,” she said on her blog, “pretending they were having virtual hanky panky or spending real money on virtual rubbish.” You risked being griefed. Most of the simulations looked “horrendous.” Everyone’s fashion sense was terrible. Nine years later, Yardley runs one of the most successful historical simulations in Second Life. Her version of 1920s Berlin has over 100 tenants and regularly hosts events that…


Koi brings the tranquility of a Chinese lotus pond to your PS4

Chinese studio Dotoyou recently released its game Koi on the PlayStation 4, making it the first game from its native country to be released on the PlayStation 4 in the West. Koi stars a koi fish facing dangers beneath the surface of its resident lotus pond, such as predator fish and spiked barriers. By causing flowers to bloom, the titular koi can “purify” the pond, turning the predators into friends and cleaning the waters. DAQ, Dotoyou’s lead designer, told me the idea for the game originally came from the team’s love of animals and their respect for their environment. “We combined…


Deal With It bot lets you put a pair of virtual shades on anyone

Is there anything cooler than sunglasses? Yes. Leather jackets. That one sword move from Shinobi. Anything but vaping. But sunglasses are still pretty high up there. Inspired by the meme of the same name, the Deal With It bot is a simple web application that takes any photo of one or more faces and animates a pair of sunglasses coming from top of frame to cover their eyes, followed by text that says “DEAL WITH IT.” It works with both solo and group shots, but is unfortunately limited to pictures of real, human people, meaning that cartoon characters like Kermit…

Hatsune Miku

Looking back at the Met Gala’s evening of technology-age fashion

Fashion, like everything else in the age of technology, is about fear—fear of what is coming next; fear of looking silly in the long run; fear of trying something new. How else to explain the often-underwhelming interpretations of “Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology” theme for last night’s Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art? Technology is complicated, and a little scary. To be fair, dodging the theme is a Met Gala tradition. Like a Top Chef contestant who can turn any prompt into a crudo, designers will always find ways to subvert the event’s…

Great Cascade

Great Cascade addresses the problems plaguing open-world games

Open-world games nearly always have choices—where to go, what to do, what side of the law to fall on. In one of Bethesda’s sprawling ones, like Fallout 4 (2015), you practically have the freedom to do whatever you want, by which you quickly learn means that you can kill whoever you want. In the highly-scripted, morality-questioning Red Dead Redemption (2010), while you can ride horseback across dusty horizons, some of its missions hurriedly devolve from this into frustrating plights of killing decent people. This is the open-world taint. Hence, game maker Brett Johnson, of the one-man Seattle-based game development studio Seamount Games, seeks to…