By the time you read this, everyone should be home and happy, well rested, without the MAGFlu and otherwise readjusted to real life. While I’m WRITING it, however, I’m drowning in posts from people in transit back to the dark corners of the world they crawled from so that they can go heal themselves. While this year’s MAGFest might have been the biggest one so far, it also seems to have taken the most from us in terms of bodily health, but only because everyone was incapable of having any degree of chill. Everyone basically just kept going until they were physically unable to go anymore, and even then they just kinda propped their bodies up in chairs so they could at least look like they were still going like some kind of knock-off ‘Weekend at Bernie’s.’ It was amazing. But enough talk – let’s have at this highlight reel!
If you’re unfamiliar with how this works, I’m going to break this article into two sections: #MUSIC and #GAMES. I’ll give you two guesses as to what you’ll find me talking about in each of those sections – although since this is the Chiptunes = WIN blog, I’ll just be highlighting the chiptune artists. If you’re interested in ALL of the concerts though, or any of the panels that went on, be sure to check on the MAGFest YouTube page.
As you can see by that tasty graphic designed by pixie druid, the mythical creature that prepares our merch, there was no dearth of chipped tunes at this year’s Magnet Festival. Although there were a few technical difficulties with recording (one of the mics doesn’t appear to have been recorded for the (T-T)b set, and on the whole the audio seems a little quiet for most of the concerts), Mediatron did their absolute best about getting all of the shows up almost immediately after they happened. Spoilers, that basically never happens – Mediatron worked their collective tuchuses off to get this stuff out ASAP which is amazing. While the lineup DOES seem pretty heavily weighted towards East Coast chiptuners (because I mean, c’mon, MAGFest takes place on the East Coast), there were still a goodly number of folks flying in from all sorts of mysterious faraway places, like Australia, England, Greenland and Seattle. We had some repeat customers this year – Sam Mulligan rocked the #teamdonut æsthetic while being delightful and silly as always, Auxcide made us feel tingly in all the right places both by shaming us with his exquisite gear collection as well as his face melting compositional skills, and Danimal Cannon never ceased to amaze whether he be onstage or in a panel room dropping some knowledge – but having some newcomers this time around was both a welcome and amazing surprise. And that’s not even talking about all the absolutely fantastic open mic stuff – it was a little slow some days, but there were folks who came out and absolutely rocked the house! (Or if you’re Glenn Dubois, you took advantage of a captive audience to perpetrate the most heinous auditory shitposts known to mankind, as he is wont to do.)
This all really came together at the Chiprave though. Let me tell you, I did not think it would be possible to top last year, and I was categorically proven wrong. Monodeer is an act you absolutely must see live – his music is great if you’re jamming on your own, sure, but the man knows how to get a crowd wild. goto80 was superb – as someone who has only been in the scene for a few years, I was worried I’d never get a chance to see him, but he is as sharp as ever, and the high point of the set was an amazing chiptune polka he just whipped out of nowhere. I thought I was prepared for what cTrix had to offer after seeing him at LWLVL last year, but he delved into the archives and pulled out some absolute gems – and since many of his jams are much slower but technically intricate pieces, it gave those of us who had been going hard the last two acts some time to breathe. Awesome Force made us witness the power of a fully armed and operational drum ‘n bass station, and dragging Auxcide up on stage to help melt faces didn’t hurt a bit. Makeup and Vanity Set was absolutely flawless and brought a slick custom light show to take the whole audio visual experience to a whole new level. I am truly sorry for those of you who did not experience this live, because it could not entirely be captured on film. M&VS also featured a cameo by Panther of The Protomen – a great nod to a longtime partnership between the two acts.
If you want to go watch the mainstage chiptune acts, check out the MAGFest YouTube playlist here, and if you’d like to check out the stream for the Chipspace, it’s all up on Clipstream’s archive (although unfortunately not parsed out yet into individual acts – sorry!). Many thanks to Commander In Chip Brandon Hood and 8static Coordinatrix Emily Feder (as well as all of their countless minions), all of our super special MCs and the MAGFest stage team for making this a reality. I have no idea how they’re gonna top this next year, but my body remains ready. If you’d like to check out music from the artists and the artists for the music, check the links below.
nml styl | D&D Sluggers | EMAR | (T_T)b | Fearofdark | Corset Lore | Danimal Cannon | MONODEER | goto80 | cTrix | Awesome Force | Makeup and Vanity Set | Sam Mulligan | Dachampster | Guérin | Nanode | Chrono Wolf | Iron Curtain | Solarbear | Auxcide | Tom Miller | My Parents Favorite Music | ap0c | Nelward | Dino Lionetti | Thresher | Batsly Adams | No Carrier | Radionarcotix | PIXELSEED
The MAGFest Indie Videogame Showcase was amazing, as per usual. In addition to having the Death By Audio Arcade exhibit, which I got a chance to play at LWLVL last year and has been featured in places no less prestigious than the Smithsonian, there were many artists out there showing their games in various levels of development. Some were games made in game jams, some have already been released, and some are still in the nebulous ‘we’ve been crowdfunded, now let’s get to work!’ stages. All looked wonderful, and there were a few repeat presenters I was happy to see around, but since there are never enough hours in the day I went and stopped by some booths I hadn’t had a chance to see before.
A casual observer might have thought this was an isometric tactics game of some sort – they would be quite wrong. MidBoss is a game centered around taking your character and smashing it against enemies until you can possess them and assume their form and powers. Currently in its 0.9.2 release, this game is just about fit to print – and while it may take you a few rounds to get the hang of it, a few minutes of playing the game will tell you how it snaps together. Effectively, it’s Dungeons of Dredmor with a different core conceit – instead of picking a class and leveling up, you’re hunting around for enemies to possess and grow your skill options. With a fairly robust system of allocating points to make your monster grow and a few interesting item mechanics a la the Diablo franchise (randomized shops, occasional cursed items), this should be a game that it’s pretty easy to lose many hours to. If you pick up the game on its itch.io page now, you’ll get a Steam key when it releases there at a reduced price!
Battlehigh 2: A+ Edition is a fairly straightforward fighting game – you’ve got 15 elementally themed highschoolers (well, 14 and their principal) who have to duke it out for great justice. As someone who is casual enough at fighting games to get crushed by competitive players but competitive enough to crush the rest of my casual friends, I’d say that while maybe some of the hitboxes and controls aren’t up to industry standards in certain aspects, this game is pretty fun to throw down in and for such a small team is an absolute marvel. And I mean, for the price point you can’t beat it. But don’t take my word for it – download a demo at its itch.io page, and if you’re a fan, you can pick it up for Windows, Mac, Linux, X360, XBONE or if you’re one of the poor hopeful saps like me, on OUYA.
RPG Arcade is, in the immortal words of Ian James-Quartey, ‘a tappy tap game’ – that is to say, it’s a touchscreen game for tablets and other touchscreen devices. Currently in beta, the game should seem familiar to anyone who played RPGs made before the year 200X, although as the game is played in real time and the menu/selection mechanics have been updated to a touchscreen, it’ll be a little different than just plugging Final Fantasy ‘III’ into your SNES. It’s a pretty frantic game that has more depth than it may at first appear – while brute forcing your way through some enemies is definitely an option, learning what weaknesses certain things have is definitely to your benefit, especially during boss fights. You have four characters – a fighter, a rogue, a blaster mage and a healer mage. All of them do exactly what you think they do, and they each have several abilities to cycle through. There are combos to be had, and much like learning your attack cycle in World of Warcraft, you’ll fall into a pattern of movement soon enough that will let you take on even the toughest bosses. Be sure to follow the Facebook page and website for more information.
This Little Piggy is a 100% free browser game developed by Ruthie Edwards for the game jam Ludum Dare 34. In it, you take control of a pig trapped in a kitchen with food, which she loves, and chefs, which would love to serve her up. Your goal is to get the pig around the kitchen, eating as much food as possible while making sure not to get hit by the chefs. In a Katamari-like vein, every so often your little piggy will become decidedly less little, which ups the challenge. In addition to regular food, which just gets your score higher and makes you bigger, there is also coffee which lets you move faster for a brief period of time, and dinner bells, which cause the screen to be filled with extra food. Good luck getting high scores – I got to 3000 only after playing very, very defensively, but apparently one of the other indie devs got over 11,000! Play this game here, and be sure to check out Ruthie’s other work.
I don’t like to promo games I don’t personally have a chance to play, but I did get a brief chance to talk to the developers of these two games as the MIVS was wrapping up, and I would feel remiss not making you aware of them.
Liege is an isometric tactics RPG in the vein of the old 16 bit era RPGs, but updated for the modern age. It seems to have been going through the development hell that often plagues indie Kickstarter projects, and the devs have provided sporadic updates over the life of the project, but having seen a bit of the game firsthand and having taken a gander at their WIP videos, I’m pretty confident this game will be a hit whenever it lands – the devs are saying that should be this year. Keep posted by checking out their Facebook!
Blind Blades combines the franticness of Samurai Gunn with the two color hidden movement mechanics of Chambara into a 2D stealth-driven samurai deathmatch. Released last June with relatively little fanfare, this game does seem to fit a very small but present niche of couch co-op one-hit-kill arcade versus games. I have heard that there has been difficulty getting controllers to map properly, but the devs seem to have fixed that as of this past October.
It was an amazing year this year, and it’s only getting better. I know next year we’re going to have all sorts of acts that we didn’t see this year, and I have complete faith in Hoodie and EmFed that whoever they pick will be as brain-destroying as who we had this year, if not moreso. The absolutely beautiful thing here, though, is that there are so many OTHER events that we can scout out to see who might end up at MAGFest next year – while there is of course 8static, pride of the Philly scene, and New York with its I/O’s and its Puslewaves and its LWLVLs and so many other festivals throughout America and abroad, there are other things throughout the year that MAGFest itself shows up at – things like hosting Jamspace at PAX, Bit Gen, MAGLabs and now MAGWest! We’ve got a big year ahead of us – MAGFest was amazing, but it’s only the beginning. Keep your eyes peeled for more madness in the coming months.
And go drink some orange juice or something, won’t you? That cough isn’t gonna make itself go away.