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Article

Cats finally take over the world with mobile game Neko Atsume

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. Neko Atsume is a smartphone game where players can watch cats. They can’t pet them, or call to them, or scratch behind their ears. The most a player can do is buy a treat or toy and place it in a backyard. If the player is lucky, the toy will attract Snowball, a furry white kitty who enjoys playing with rubber balls. Or, if the player is really lucky, the toy might even attract Pumpkin—who eats all the tuna he can get his paws on. Yutaka Takazaki, the creator of…

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Feature

Pop, politics, and everything in between: the virtual families of netlabels

It’s approximately 7 p.m. on a Monday night in California, and across from me sits the bleach-haired Zeon Gomez of Ulzzang Pistol, an artist of Los Angeles-based netlabel Zoom Lens. Yet for Gomez, it’s 11 a.m. on a Tuesday. He resides across the world from my foggy little city in the United States, approximately 16 hours ahead in the Philippines (Manila, specifically). Dividing us is an extremely common window: a computer screen. The household item not only used for the sake of hosting our lengthy conversation over Google Hangouts, but a tool for maintaining friendships across countries and oceans, discovering…

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Bringing otome games to the other side of the world

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. Otome games—visual romance novels targeted at women—don’t often find a wide audience outside of Japan. Not only do they struggle to market towards women in countries where dating simulators are less of a cultural staple, but the games’ protagonists and stories are often coated in a Japanese context, causing some of the magic to get lost in translation. Even breakthrough titles in the otome genre usually meet small niche popularity when compared to their male-oriented counterparts. That being said, some otome games have broken the barrier, finding their foothold in…

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Feature

Splatoon makes a splash in Japanese esports

Japanese players embraced Nintendo’s colorful, team-based squid shooter Splatoon with open arms (or tentacles) in 2015. Featuring half-squid, half-human creatures who can swim through the ink that blasts from their guns, Splatoon is a fast paced and accessible game making a mark on Japanese esports. Following its release in May, the game moved over 800,000 copies across the country and boosted Wii U sales. Japanese players are spending more and more time with these squids, too. In fact, many U.S. Splatoon players now express dread at facing off against competitors from across the Pacific because they are just too good…

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Article

Asami Shigemitsu and the importance of earnest creativity

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. Asami Shigemitsu is nothing if not enthusiastic about her art. A freelance video director and illustrator, Shigemitsu is a graduate of the Kyoto Seika University School of Design. She’s had success with creating commissioned illustrations for various organizations and directing a number of music videos for independent Japanese artists. She’s also a big fan of gaming and film, and finds them to be particularly influential on her work. Her directorial style relies heavily on strong color palettes, using bold monochromatic tones to give the visuals a striking look. Using a variety…

Sususmu Hirasawa
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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.”…

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Artificial intelligence takes national exam, does better than human average

A futuristic thought experiment, Roko’s basilisk, posits that at some point in the future there may be an artificial intelligence (AI) that will retroactively punish those who knew it could one day exist and still did not help to bring about its existence. While in practice this serves more as a logic exercise than as lore that’s assumed to be true, in either case the assumption is that one day technology will be advanced enough that this could be true. high enough to have an 80% chance of admission to over 450 higher institutions While we’re still a long ways…

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Article

The story behind Downwell, one of this year’s most delightful surprises

Downwell might be a perfect game title. Not only is it short and pithy, but it serves as a perfect summation for what developer Ojiro Fumoto has created. It’s a game in which a young boy is continuously falling down a well, avoiding enemies and purchasing upgrades along the way. But it’s not a hopeless endeavor. Armed with Gunboots firing from his feet, the boy is able to defend himself during his descent. The result is the type of sweat-inducing adventure that threatens to do water damage to your smartphone or controller, a game whose red and white character models…

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A Japanese artist’s venture into the uncanny through cityscapes

In videogames, cityscapes are often the most interesting types of environments. From Jet Set Radio’s neon-colored, ever-grindable Tokyo-to, to Mirror’s Edge’s parkour-ready, futuristic city, cityscapes in videogames emit the uncanny, but not quite in a Freudian way. Fictional cityscapes are instead uncanny in that they always feel familiar, but still mystify and surprise us. In a similar sense, there’s a weird ping of fantastical familiarity that emanates from the recent award-winning artwork of 22-year-old Japanese artist Daisuke Tajima. Is it the breathtaking detail solely drawn by a black ink pen? The immense precision of the windows on buildings? The scale…