Serve up coffee to the dead in an upcoming anime-inspired visual novel

A long, long, long, long, long time ago (summer of last year), I was a barista. I was a barista for nearly three years, workin’ away at the same ol’ shop. Brewing tea, chatting with customers, and befriending regulars. When I played VA-11 Hall-A last year, a game that marketed itself as a “cyberpunk bartending action,” I felt the familiarity of working in the beverage-serving industry wash over me. In the upcoming Necrobarista, I imagine it might evoke a similar feeling. Announced this month at Visual;Conference, the Route 59 Games-developed Necrobarista is a visual novel about a cafe in Melbourne, Australia and…

hue 3

Hue is here to make you appreciate colors again

The sky is blue. That much we can agree on. Or can we? I mean, where I reside in San Francisco, it’s typically an ominous shade of grey (because, fog). In the clever new platformer Hue, from Fiddlesticks Games, the sky doesn’t have to be blue. Not always at least. The sky can be crimson red, fuchsia, purple, orange, lime green, and a couple of other tones. And it’s necessary to change—that’s at the heart of this game’s challenge. As you trek through its base-grey world, you must manipulate the sky to different colors to make various objects both appear…

Astro Boy

Some of Japan’s best artists are reimagining Astro Boy for a card game

Of all the collaborations that the disco and electronic composer Giorgio Moroder has participated in (collaborations that include the likes of Janet Jackson and David Bowie), a joint project with Osaka-based game studio Project Atom to make an Astro Boy digital collectible card game might be the most surprising. But, here we are, and he’s hardly the only big name tied to the project. In Astro Boy: Edge of Time, currently expected to release early next year, dark forces have destroyed much of the known universe, with who little survived living in eight districts in a floating city called “The…

ghost in the shell

An exhibit for admiring the labyrinthian cityscapes of anime architecture

When I visited Tokyo, Japan earlier this year for the first time, I was struck by its block-by-block awe-inspiring architecture. From the woven-like walls of the Daikanyama T-Site bookstore, or the mirrored, cave-like entrance to the Tokyu Plaza Building on the cusp of Omotesando and Harajuku, Japan takes its architecture to highly modernized, nearly impossible heights. And it makes sense, for a country whose animation has been setting the standard for fictional architecture since the early 1980s. Animated architecture that looks to both the present and the old, and twists it into something new for the future. Luckily, there’s a…


Two game artists share the Japanese yōkai that inspire them

After living in Japan’s seaside city of Niigata for a year, French artists Cécile Brun and Olivier Pichard learned, among many other things, an appreciation for the island nation’s mythology and art. They’ve told us about their visits to Buddhist spiritual sites on Japanese mountains, and as we’ve written before, the pair have a particular fondness for Japanese photographer Kotori Kawashima and his photobook Mirai-chan, which depicts a young girl living in Niigata’s Sato Island. “What interests us here is this juxtaposition of a very young girl from today and an ancient mysterious world,” they said. Since returning home to France, it has…

va-11 hall-a

VA-11 Hall-A is how you do modern cyberpunk

“Time to mix drinks and save lives.” Jill lackadaisically jazzes herself up with this line at the start of every shift, unknowing of just who will waltz through the door. But what I soon find out is that Jill is kinda lost. The 27-year-old bartender resides in a run-down apartment, barely scraping by when it comes to bills, rent, and impulsive buys, like cute posters or a plant. Jill is lost in the same way that her regulars—patrons of the dive bar VA-11 Hall-A (colloquially called “Valhalla”)—are lost. She’s caught within an average life, with the only fulfillment she gets…


Footage of the cancelled 16-bit Akira game arrives from 1994

If a cancelled game adaptation of the cult classic Akira (1988) is displayed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in an era before live-tweeting, does it even make an impact? Apparently so, as rare footage of the Sega Genesis and SNES title recently emerged in the form of a shaky camera on the showfloor of that 1994 CES of long ago. Now, the long-lost holy grail of a potentially good Akira game is bound to the dismal land of YouTube, for all to gawk at and wish the cyberpunk anime were a playable reality. Akira is the rare classic that transcends…


Internet Murder Revenge Fantasy is a first-hand look at growing up online

As a transgender girl growing up in the American Midwest, childhood was a lonely experience for me. I was still questioning so much of who I was, and at the time, there weren’t many resources out there to help me work through it. Transfeminist literature like Julia Serano’s Whipping Girl (2007) had yet to be published, and I had to resort to older and more unhelpful narratives instead, like a 1998 book a mother wrote about her daughter’s transition titled Mom, I Need to Be a Girl. Finding myself in a real-world culture that was unwilling to talk about LGBT issues for…

Sususmu Hirasawa

Behold the Berserk composer’s lost cyberpunk anthem

With last week’s announcement that the renowned, metal-as-fuck series Berserk would return later this year, it brought to mind some of the genre’s most austere compositions. “Theme of Guts”, named after Berserk’s main character, is a sedate, moving electro-vapor hymn from composer Susumu Hirasawa. Not only is it the show’s emotional cornerstone, but it holds up astoundingly well, even all these years later. The same goes for most of Hirasawa’s stuff (the guy was a rock pioneer long before he became an anime composer), but few tracks of his are as bonkers—or frankly, as genius—as his monstrous jam “TOWN-0 PHASE-5.”…