Archive for the ‘video games’ Category

Exploring Glitchy Atmospheric Landscapes

These are a couple of free independent computer games that I came across some time ago and found interesting. Both feature a glitchy aesthetic and neither offers much explanation.


Icefishing V

Icefishing is a series of projects by Nate Gallardo. Icefishing I-IV are sound-only, and can be found on this Bandcamp page. The fifth is the game, and can be found here:

In each area of the game, you’re to find and enter an object that resembles a telephone booth. How to do this in each area is up to the player to figure out. At one point, I thought I had exposed an unintentional glitch and become stuck, but after a sort of detour I was able to continue.



Memory of a Broken Dimension

For this one, even reaching the main part of the game can be a challenge, unless you are familiar with command line interfaces.

Here’s a hint (highlight to reveal): dir

And here’s the solution, if you need that:

1. remote
2. voidscan
3. dive

These are direct download links for the game:

Alternatively, you can play it in your Web browser here:



Here’s one more that I happened to discover the day after I originally made this post. Unlike the other two, this one doesn’t appear to have any goals other than exploring the nightmarish landscape. (I could be mistaken about that, however.)

These are direct download links for the game:


Winsor McCay

Winsor McCay was an influential artist who worked in comics and animation in the early 1900s.

I first came across Little Nemo in Slumberland in “The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics,” a book that my grandmother gave me when I was young. It was some years later that I discovered Dream of the Rarebit Fiend. Both are creative comics involving dreams.

Here is a quote from McCay:

The principal factor in my success has been an absolute desire to draw constantly. I never decided to be an artist. Simply, I couldn’t stop myself from drawing. I drew for my own pleasure. I never wanted to know whether or not someone liked my drawings. I have never kept one of my drawings. I drew on walls, the school blackboard, odd bits of paper, the walls of barns. Today I’m still as fond of drawings as when I was a kid – and that was a long time ago – but, surprising as it may seem, I never thought about the money I would receive for my drawings. I simply drew them.

I would embed a few of my favorite Little Nemo comics here, but as they were intended for full newspaper pages, you really need to see them as large images. Fortunately, you can find nice collections on sites such as this one:

  • Little Nemo in Slumberland
  • Dream of the Rarebit Fiend
    Little Nemo: The Dream Master, which was based on McCay’s comic (or, more accurately, based on a Japanese animated film that was based on his comic) was one of my favorite games on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I couldn’t beat the final boss, though.

    Here is an example of Dream of the Rarebit Fiend:

    Unfortunately, collections of Little Nemo in Slumberland comics in book form tend to be expensive and to go out of print quickly. I own “Little Nemo: 1905-1914,” which was published in 2000 at a reasonable price–but it doesn’t seem to be so reasonable anymore. Dream of the Rarebit Fiend books are much cheaper and easier to find.

    McCay’s comics entered the public domain a few years ago, so they should remain easy enough to find in some form.

    There is also a nice book about his life and his art.



    The Music of Tomáš Dvořák (Floex)

    When I played Machinarium, I was impressed by many aspects of the game. One of those aspects was the soundtrack. The song “Clockwise Operetta” especially stood out to me the first time I heard it.

    You can listen to the game’s soundtrack here, and you can download some additional music from the game for free here. (My favorite song from the bonus EP is “By the Wall.”)

    When I went looking for more music by Tomáš Dvořák, the Czech composer of the Machinarium soundtrack, I found his 2001 album Pocustone. I was happy to discover that it is just as good as the music in Machinarium (and in fact, it was the reason Amanita Design asked him to work on Machinarium).

    Dvořák released another Floex album called Zorya ten years later in 2011. It is also excellent. You can download the song “Casanova” from it for free here.

    From an interview with Gamikia:

    My studio it is really laboratory with different components what I am trying to mix up together. I am originally clarinetist so this is my main acoustic instrument. However you can also find piano, metalophones, pianet, kalimba, melodica, acordeon, shakuhachi and several other instruments in my studio. And then there is computer, synths, effects – sound design and mix is maybe 70% of the time I spent over the song when I work on it.