The only opinion of The Witness I care about is Soulja Boy’s

I love Soulja Boy almost as much as Soulja Boy loves videogames. He was supposed to disappear after 2007’s “Crank That”—a misogynist dance anthem that was embraced, largely, sarcastically—but instead he hit the gas, beefing like crazy, flirting with major-label pop, and then dissolving in a haze of weird, fractured mixtapes. Early on, he co-opted the image of Sonic the Hedgehog, and in some ways that remains the defining image of the emcee, spinning wheels and flying off to god-knows-where. He could release something like the lacerating, subversive “Turn My Swag On,” on which he defied all reason by electing…

Kill V. Maim

Grimes’ new music video is the epic finale to a sublime YA trilogy

The wait is finally over, Grimes fans—Kill V. Maim, the epic final chapter in the Art Angels trilogy, is finally here. And, boy, does Claire Boucher deliver. (A fair warning—the following contains spoilers, enthusiastic though they may be.) What more emotionally resonant opening could Kill V. Maim begin with than a race across the ruined city of Neonopolis? Atop her Doomsday Cruiser, our protagonist Grimes looks out at her childhood home; everything she’s fought so hard to prevent has come to pass.  This is, of course, after she’s become a vampire. Oh, she may smile and jape with her brave…

David Bowie - Lazarus

Blackstar won’t tell you how to die

I spent a lot of time this week listening to “Subterraneans,” the last song on 1977’s Low, by David Bowie. I didn’t know what else to do. Like a lot of other people, I had a feeling—this response to death we all have, with varying degrees of terror and/or sadness attached to it—combined with the uselessness of just being on the internet, looking for something to do. And so we (I) look for more David Bowie, or we (I) listen to more David Bowie, because all of it’s still right there, right where we (I) left it. We sort of…

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.”…

battletoads vinyl 1

Finding new respect for Battletoads’ classic soundtrack

Battletoads was released in 1991 as an effort to rival the success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The game features three humanoid toads named Rash, Zitz, and Pimple and—while they do share some aesthetic similarities with their amphibian contemporaries—the series couldn’t be more different. Battletoads is an exceedingly punishing game and is often praised (and sometimes criticized) for its extreme difficulty. Where most beat ‘em ups throw wave after wave of low-powered adversaries at the player, Battletoads features obstacles and enemies that only increase in strength, frequency, and ruthlessness. But, as a game remembered for its cruelty, Battletoads is…

Secret of Mana

Here, have a free mixtape of JRPG music on us

You know what we like? Yes, videogames, but apart from those. No? Music, silly. Yes, we like music, and we especially like game music. You probably do too. Why does this matter right now? Well, we have a little gift for you. If you didn’t back our Kickstarter to reinvent our print magazine then you wouldn’t have received the special mixtape that we gave out on December 4th. It’s called “Run 2 The End of the World, Vol 1” and it was put together by freelance film and TV composer Julian Wass for us. The whole mixtape is a love letter…


Pianos can emulate human voices, apparently

I never thought a piano could emulate a human voice, but based on these songs, converted from MP3 to MIDI and then back to MP3 again, it’s possible. It sounds like someone singing while being held underwater, but it’s clear enough to decipher: the lyrics to familiar songs, rendered in hundreds of notes, played all at once in a cacophonous, but undeniably impressive imitation. A blog post from Waxy.org outlines other examples of this phenomenon, including a frantic MIDI-fied MP3 of Hotline Bling that sounds like a horror film, and a “speaking piano” that delivers its own garbled, but startlingly clear interpretation of the…


A videogame dares to ask “What is the meaning of life?”

You might head into Dissonance assuming it to have something to say about so-called “ludonarrative dissonance.” Because that’s all people can think about when the word dissonance comes up in the videogame space, apparently. And, actually, upon playing through the first couple of minutes, you might find that suspicion of yours steadily coming true. You’ll be reading along with this virtual novelette and, all of a sudden, a maze game will appear at the end of the first chapter. It’ll seem completely dissociated with what you’ve just read as well as the entire format of reading a book; it’s like it’s been…