Thursday, 15 June 2017

Video game appearances in recent artpacks, first half 2017

As the datestamp on the embedded Tweet suggests, I've been meaning to get this post up since March (original title: "first quarter 2017") but keep getting caught up in the little routines of preparing, producing and promoting released artpacks on a monthly basis. Then as more packs come out, their contents need also to be integrated into this draft-in-progress.. three steps forward, two steps back. But I'm ready to publish it and move on with other long-delayed posts here at Pixel Pompeii.

As the post title suggests, people are releasing artpacks: mostly it's me and Mistigris, but most impactfully Blocktronics also gets a few out annually to much wider audiences. There are other groups active out there -- Galza, Titan and now Fuel -- but for purposes of this blog post, they fall outside our scope... since I'm not doing an artpack highlights reel generally, but rather a comprehensive look at art included in those releases made concerning video game themes. (And they released no art this year that I could find engaging those themes.)

But Mistigris sure released a lot of it! The year kicked off with MIST0117 in January, and we got underway with a humdinger: Awesome Angela's textile piece (I'm not yet comfortable eyeballing the difference between needlepoint and cross-stitch, something I maybe should have gotten sorted out before I decided I'd start releasing it in my artpacks) "Mario Inception", depicting Mario and Luigi playing on an NES... a game about them playing a game on an NES... a game about them playing a game... and, OK, 4 layers deep, we can't really tell what they're playing. Maybe Q*Bert.

Did someone say "Q*Bert"? Ed "Starstew" Statsny was sure thinking of it when he began drawing this piece, "Astracenauts", but he quickly went off on a highly divergent tangent. All the same, step pyramids made of Qubes... sorry, cubes, will always bring me back to memories of that Escherian arena.
That's not quite it for MIST0117, but you already saw the remainder in our most recent post here, April's teletext round-up. That post actually sucked a lot of air out of this one, but no worries -- as it turns out, a half-year of wool-gathering still left us with quite a bit of other on-theme material to share... as you shall see. On to MIST0217! Awesome Angela rises to the top here (alphabetically especially), demonstrating her main visual art practice of fusion bead pixelart. Something a little racy for Valentine's Day that I think I saddled with the clunky title "Bedroom Kingdom".
Discovered in response to the previous month's Mario Inception, we were privileged to share a parallel textile work of fractal Mario recursion by the Japanese Ranbahol, ingeniously depicting a pixelart Mario composed entirely of variantly-coloured tiny Marios used as picture elements. This kind of work is slow going: we look forward to also sharing their next creation, but this piece concluded in February and its follow-up probably won't yet be done in time for our next July collection. Actually making your own Mario games might be faster.
Now, for a change of pace, on March 1st ANSI art masters Blocktronics released their first collection of the year, "There Will Be Blocks", greatly to the benefit of this blog post... it was full of video game-themed ANSI art. That's right, you can stop peeping with horror from behind the hands clapped over your eyes, no more fusion beads or needlepoint for a while! We open with this piece featuring the protagonist of the 1985 Atari Games arcade game Paperboy -- delivering the news in the Blocktronics infofile, as it turns out.
Filth dazzled us with these new pieces of ANSI art for two classic BBS door games known for their native ANSI art, Legend of the Red Dragon and Tradewars 2002. (One of my most popular YouTube videos is simply a walk through the ANSImated art assets of that latter game, but the sublimely minimalist pieces of the original lack a certain sophisticated flair Filth brings to the table here.)
... here's a little Minecraft action, the modern game perhaps best suited to ANSI art aesthetics!
Enzo was really the video game hero of this pack, not only delivering a scene inspired by Lucasarts' The Secret of Monkey Island...
plus a touch of Ghosts 'n Goblins also...
But also this tremendous colly (related screens stacked on top of each other) walking viewers through the early, Atari-centric (but fear not, we also get representation from Taito, Namco, Nintendo, Activision, Konami, Data East and Capcom) history of video gaming in the arcade / 2600 era, entitled "The Dream Shall Never Die". Really in leaner times this individual artwork would merit a colossal post all to itself, depicting the chronological progression of video games through (takes a deep breath) Pong, Tank, Breakout, Air-Sea Battle, Street Racer, Space Invaders, Asteroids, Galaxian, Lunar Lander, Superman, Pac-Man, Centipede, Battlezone, Missile Command, Boxing, Phoenix, Berzerk, Rogue, Rally-X, Frogger, River Raid, Donkey Kong, Galaga, Defender, Tennis, Ms. Pac-Man, Pitfall, Donkey Kong Jr., Moon Patrol, Q*Bert, Spiderman, Mario Bros., Enduro, Elevator Action, Karate Champ and Ghosts 'n Goblins (again).

It's all downhill from here, folks! Mistigris also released a March artpack, so here are some more fusion bead creations by Awesome Angela of Sleepy Stitch!
I titled that one "Bathroom Kingdom". See any trends emerging yet?
A clever visual mash-up, this one puts Princess Toadstool riding a Chain-chomp just like Miley Cyrus in the "Wrecking Ball" video. One helluva empty signifier!
And one more by Awesome Angela, one series she does is hypothesizing different mushroom power-ups Mario might encounter out in his travels. These represent different social networks Mario might find himself navigating. (Instantly dated late-2016 due to an appearance from our old friend the Vine microvideo service!)
I first looked up Cookieheart for her video game sprite art, but when I found that she also incorporated other VG themes into other styles of work, I was charmed. This is of course a Tetris-scape, strewn with cats and feline bonus items ... which brings us to the end of the VG-themed works from the Mistigris March artpack! This was, of course, followed promptly by the Mistigris APRIL artpack, which always is a little special, as we make it a fool's pack and stuff it with half-baked gags, dad jokes and, if we're lucky, the sublimely stupid. You can hear a little bit of it as the soundtrack to this post -- Simon of Trideja remade the Lavos theme to Chrono Trigger, then gradually began substituting out the synthesized chip instruments with goofy vocal samples. You've probably noticed that it gets stupider as it goes along! So will we proceed in this post, at least to this point.
My old colleague Glowing Fish -- the number one commentator at this blog's previous incarnation, Shilling Epilepsy to Mouth-Breathers (you can probably tell why the name changed, huh?) -- tried his hand at fusing video game situations with breathless Upworthy-style clickbait headlines. They're all a little funny, even if none of them are ... a lot funny. I don't think that it's possible to yield gold from this alchemical fusion, but these are very respectable lumps of bronze.
Taffi Louis' meme game is on a whole other level. This isn't in reference to an existing game, but the Platonic ideal of one that merely might have been... a refreshing change of pace from an unending series of face-shot simulators.
And here, another Taffi Louis special: a little Pokémon Go humour for grown-ups.
Finally, the April Fool's Mistigris artpack 2017 contained a genuine video game made for the PICO-8 fantasy console; the four-year-old son proposed the theme for what would become "Poop Blaster" (a toilet eats flying turds) and the father implemented it. Just an animated .GIF here, but I believe the playable game is included in the archive.

OK, now that we've got all that tremendous levity out of our system, it's on to the May Mistigris artpack -- and with it, a return to the glories of teletext, with pieces we released too late to fit in the previous teletext-centric post here on this blog. But first, a return to form for Awesome Angela -- a perler bead rendition of Neko Atsume's delightful cats!

Also, we have this piece of rare Mistigris ANSI art by our longtime colleague, Vancouver Chipmusic Society lynchpin bryface, who represented us at the Revision 2017 demoparty in the music and ANSI art categories, where this piece -- "The Four Channels of the Apocalypse", depicting the Game Boy on which he composes chiptunes (through LSDJ) and his travelling companion's Amiga 1000 -- rated 4th place.
Now, I believe I said something about teletext? Here it comes! From the Horsenburger teletext foundry: iD Software's foundational FPS, DooM!
Horsenburger presents... iD Software's genre-capping platformer, Commander Keen! (Specifically, the splash screen to Episode 4: The Secret of the Oracle.)
Horsenburger... leaves iD alone for a bit, and takes on HAL Laboratory's famished Protean protagonist, Kirby!
Awesome Angela isn't done with those 'shrooms: here are another set of iconic Super Mario power-ups mashed-up with other franchises and objects. Just what powers would Hello Kitty Mario have, anyway?
Starstew returns with a very non-computer-art styled drawing of a very electronic gaming subject in this piece, "Catari Returns". I can't place the specific game being referenced here (or is it from the artist's imagination?) but the cat is most definitely playing it on an Atari 2600:
And finally, a piece of needlepoint many months in the works, Morgan Lee's textile cartographic execution of the Hyrule Light World overland map from the Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past!
... all of which just about nearly brings us to the present, except for one final artpack: the Mistigris June collection. Included below are more pieces on similar themes from artists we've now seen before in this post, starting with Awesome Angela, who beaded up a Princess Toadstool re-enacting Marilyn Monroe's famous subway-vent-skirt-lifting pose from The Seven Year Itch:
Starstew returns with a drawing inspired by a contemporary game you may not have heard of, Breakforcist:
Horsenburger returns to the well with a gameplay screen from Saboteur redrawn in teletext:
He's just getting started! Horsenburger proceeds to teletextify Ruff from Enix's Dragon Quest 7:
We've seen a bit of Hyrule earlier in this post, and now here's Horsenburger's teletext Link:
Somebody stop him, Horsenburger is out of control! Here he takes on teletext portraits of three characters from "Arms" for the Nintendo Switch: Helix, Ribbon Girl and Spring Man:
Phew! But Horsenburger isn't quite done with us yet... last but not least, a scene from The Secret of Monkey Island! At least... a scene I dearly recall from the back of the game's box, which didn't actually appear in my version of the game! Maybe Horsenburger played some enhanced CD-ROM version (or a leaked pre-release beta!), I don't know.
And because one good Monkey Island piece deserves another, we close on another video game needlepoint pattern painstakingly rendered by Morgan Lee:
And that's it! Hopefully it won't take another six months to get another post out in this series, because... that makes for large posts! I'll just have to keep tabs on what kind of art is turning up in the artpacks and... undoubtedly, I'll be reporting back to you. (There will be other posts on related topics sooner; indeed, history suggests that you might be seeing a lot of activity here this summer.) Cheers!