Spotlight on Adult Swim Games

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Note: Those of you who read my “Discovery” article on Ghostly International should know that this is the continuation of that category. However, in the interest of self-explanation (and the desire to sound less pretentious), the category is being renamed “Spotlight”. Enjoy!

In a couple of past posts, I’ve mentioned [adult swim], a comedy network that shares channel space with Cartoon Network. They’re no strangers to the indie scene. Independent and experimental music is used regularly in the network’s promotions and packaging, and they even have a annual series of free downloads dedicated to highlighting some of these musicians. For the world of indie video games, they have a different approach. The publishing business.

[adult swim] Games focuses on finding independently developed games and using their connections to publish the games on various platforms, including Steam, the iOS and Android app stores and even their own website. They then use their position as a TV network to advertise these indie games to mass audiences, producing (often animated) commercials to air on breaks. On one occasion, they even went so far as to produce a full-length, live-action trailer to accompany a game’s release.

They’ve published a number of titles over the past couple of years. Let’s take a look a of few of them.

Retro Throwbacks

Games such as Super House of Dead Ninjas and Volgarr the Viking fit this category nicely. Defined by 16-bit graphics and a brutal difficulty, they harken back to the days of trial and error and memorizing passcodes in front of your Super Nintendo.

Mobile Games

Here you’ll find arguably the publisher’s most popular titles, the Rainbow Unicorn Attack series.

Not your thing? Me neither. Maybe Major Mayhem is more your speed!

Or how about my personal favorite, Monsters Ate My Condo!?

And… Everything Else!

Super Puzzle Platformer traps you in a Tetris board and challenges you to survive.

Soundodger mixes the music genre with a “bullet hell” style.

And Jazzpunk… Well, I still don’t know how to describe Jazzpunk (although, I did try).

I have a lot to respect for [adult swim] Games. This is a company that could have easily (and rightfully) focused on publishing games based on the network’s popular shows, but they instead do something really cool for the indie game landscape. Curating unique and interesting games and helping the developers get the exposure they deserve.

You can find more games published by [adult swim] by visiting their website, Steam page, iTunes page, and Google Play page.

Something to Watch/Listen to: “All I’m Saying” Music Video

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If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may have noticed that I’m a sucker for cool and interesting animated clips. So it’s no surprise, then, that I took a liking to this music video, which just made it onto Vimeo’s Staff Picks. The video is for the song “All I’m Saying” by alternative rock band James, and it’s skillfully animated by Péter Vácz. Take a look!

The tale of a masked man searching for the spirit of his lost love is brought to life in a wonderful way. It’s honestly been a while since I’ve seen stop-motion animation quite like this. The two characters have a cool marionette puppet look, and the video uses ordinary objects in cool ways. Tin foil representing water, light cotton strands used for fog, etc.

Oh, and the song’s really cool, too.

You can find more about the director of this video at petervacz.com, and you can check out the band behind this song at wearejames.com.

Something to Watch: “Displacement Welcomed”

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Here’s something cool to check out. Filmmaker Evan Kidd and his crew over at RockSet Productions have just released a new short film, Displacement Welcomed. The film focuses on a young woman, Skylar (Avery Hobbs), and her unlikely friendship with a homeless woman named Norma (April Vickery). And you can watch it, in full, right now!

As director, Evan deserves a lot of credit for his work. The 16-minute short does a great job of providing a calm yet engaging environment, and is filled with great cinematography. The story, a tale of two troubled individuals finding solace in each other, is brought to life pretty well by the film’s cast. It’s a nice, feel-good piece that’s definitely worth a look.

You can find out more about Displacement Welcomed by going to the official site. And you can check out the rest of RockSet Productions’ work at their official site.

Something to Watch: “Birdman”

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Oscar season is officially upon us, and it’s time for some of the biggest names in the business to get in on the independent film game. Among these efforts, one of the most notable entries is an ambitious tragicomedy directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. Enter the dizzying world of Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), a darkly-humorous satire of show business in the 21st century.

(Note: The clips embedded in this post contain some vulgar language. NSFW)

We’re introduced to Riggan Thomson (played by Michael Keaton, of Batman fame), a washed-up actor once known for playing a popular superhero, the titular Birdman, in a series of Hollywood blockbusters. Having left the role quite some time ago, with a slow decline in fame ever since, Riggan hopes to get his career back on track by starring in a Broadway adaptation of Raymond Carver’s short story What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. In the days leading up to opening night, Riggan wrestles with a strained relationship with his daughter Sam (Emma Stone), the renegade actions of lead actor Mike (Edward Norton) and, above and beyond all else, his own ego.

The first thing you’ll notice about this film is the cinematography. There are only a couple of standard “cuts” in this movie, as every scene in the movie will go on for 10 to 20 minutes at a time on a single take. The camera bobs and weaves from room to room, always focusing on a close-up shot. And most of the scene transitions are handled so smoothly, you may not even notice when they happen. It all comes together to create an environment of blissful confusion and spiraling delirium.

(Note: The clips embedded in this post contain some vulgar language. NSFW)

That’s all to say nothing of the performances from the actors, which are all exemplary. The film employs an all-star cast which includes, in addition to the above listed, Zach Galifianakis, Andrea Riseborough and Amy Ryan among others. Each turning in strong comedic and dramatic performances. In particular, Keaton provides one of the most fascinating and entertaining performances of his carer, balancing his ego and arrogance with the a genuine desire to impress and leave his mark on the world.

I was entranced by this movie from beginning to end. I enjoyed the laughs (and there are plenty), while contemplating the film’s questions about dramatic ambition, the importance of social media and the ideas of where you stand in the grand scheme of things. It’s a technical achievement filled with grade-A performances and challenging ideas. I have a feeling we’ll be hearing a lot about this one, come February.

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is now playing in select theaters. For more info, you can visit the official site at BirdmanTheMovie.com.