Chip & Dale don’t surf

Also: a jester's boot, a third strike, and a hard right at Saratoga.

Chip & Dale don’t surf

This week, we're lacing up our biggest pair of shoes, turning up The Strokes, and steeling ourselves for 500 hours of mind-pumping action. First time reading? Sign up here.

Love EX? Hate EX? Want to work with us? We’re listening:

Whatever happened to PilotRedSun?

PilotRedSun casts a long shadow over YouTube animators. His work, accompanied by his own haunting electronic scores, was marked by a dreamlike unpredictability. Beyond the surreal escalation of a traffic stop or a casino night, the joke was often in the parts of the frame he chose to animate and how much detail he poured into them. The dopey/“off” voiceovers, which were a hallmark since his early “Garfielf” video, became a much-imitated part of the style.

But what happened to PRS himself? After a couple of Adult Swim shorts, he seems to have switched over to his music channel, PilotRedSky, which still posts. The cover art for each single tells a new story about a struggling artist named Percy, who can be seen enjoying Garfielf in the most recent upload.

J-pop meets hyperpop

Hikaru Utada, one of Japan’s greatest pop stars, released a new version of “Simple and Clean” produced by hyperpop impresario A.G. Cook. The song is, of course, inseparable from the video game franchise Kingdom Hearts, with which it’s as closely associated as “loaves of bread for shoes” or “the door to darkness.” The song has mutated many times for different audiences:

  • The original songs, released as both the English-language “Simple and Clean” and the Japanese “Hikari,” each had a more club-friendly “-PLANITb Remix-” version. These remixes served as the first game’s opening theme in their respective regions
  • Orchestral versions of the song used within the game also featured in the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra World Tour
  • Over the years, nightcore remixes for ravers and EDM remixes (for skaters?) have inspired new waves of interest
  • It became a fishing anthem

The unlikely afterlife of an imaginary game

Cruelty Squad was a 2021 tactical sludge shooter that felt like Tom Clancy’s New Nightmare. It was probably the game of the year and has had a massive influence on the psychic landscape of the internet. Within the crazy-quilted game world of Cruelty Squad, you often heard NPCs raving about another game called Gorbino’s Quest, which promised “500 hours of mind pumping action.” The legend of this game-within-a-game has lived on, to the point that now you might click on a new RPG and see that the top review reads “finally gorbino’s quest.”

But what kind of game could live up to the ideal of Gorbino? A really absurd and mean one, it turns out. Dungeons of Blood and Dream feels like the first dungeon crawler where every item is cursed. It features:

  • Drinking piss potions with awful effects like “enemies drop less gold”
  • Stiffly kicking enemies with your jester’s boot
  • Sticking goblins with a little knife while magic-shielding yourself for one second, dancing backward, then doing it again
  • Cool music in level 2

Dungeons of Blood and Dream is maybe not the best use of your roguelike dollar compared to a monolith like Hades 2, but it’s still early in development, and it has a stickiness that others in its league (like Golden Light) lack.

Team Fortress 2’s endless crisis continues

All is not well in Team Fortress 2, Valve’s long-serving 2007 shooter. Creator “Zesty Jesus” recently argued that TF2’s improbable appearance near the top of Steam’s most-played charts has a depressing explanation — ⅔ of its players seem to be bots.

  • The worst bots auto-aim and kill everyone on public servers while evading Valve’s decrepit anti-cheat software
  • Many more eke out a tiny profit by idling in servers and earning items to resell
  • More trollish operators have advertised “bot immunity” lists and harassed players for protection money; some bots even try to frame real players, accuse them of being bots, and start vote kicks against them
  • The game has been in a bad state for years

A #fixTF2 or #saveTF2 campaign, hosted at, has been organizing players to make noise about this on June 3. (A troll’s #killtf2 campaign, targeting June 1, has not engendered similar support.) If this sounds familiar, it’s because it all happened before back in 2022, and seems like it will continue to happen until the game gets some kind of dedicated support.


Dread Delusion

Can you synthesize the flavor of a big old RPG? Like Lunacid before it, Dread Delusion is a modern mood piece that pays homage to a massive classic (Lunacid did King’s Field, DD does Morrowind) without the means to reproduce it 1:1. Both games come from Dread X contributors who like to make groaning, gnarled lifeforms and stories that turn inwards. And the argument for both is that, while they can’t match the richness of their inspirations, they can hit some of the same high notes at a faster clip. If Lunacid sometimes made you feel like you were ascending to a higher plane while hitting snails with a bat, Dread Delusion gives you the bliss of abusing a hyperspeed spell to bunny-hop past everything until you hit the next lose-lose decision point where you sell out a city to a worm god. It does the best job of writing tiny 6-10 page collectible books since Oblivion, and has an animated cast of doomed minor characters. [Chris]

Vince Staples, Dark Times

I remember feeling a little surprised when I listed Vince Staples’ Ramona Park Broke My Heart as my favorite album of 2022. It was a slow-dawning thing: that this shit-hot rapper had quietly gotten better, album after album, his bars tighter, his musical sense broadened and refined and drawn in an increasingly rich, soulful palette, his humanist impulses less buried in sardonic humor and ice-cold sneers and now spoken plainly, confidently, his songcraft flourishing to match with strange interludes, vibrant hooks, knowing references to the greats. Eventually came the realization that there wasn’t a corner of the album I didn’t love — not a single moment not buzzing with purpose and life. All of the double-negatives fell away and I could see a classic in plain sight. Then I thought: Was the same true of the self-titled LP from 2021? Anyway, the new Dark Times feels similar: better on every listen, perhaps indefinitely. [Clayton]

Black Dresses, Laughingfish

As crystalline synth arpeggios descend upon the first verse of “The World,” they show no sign of deviousness. Even as an oceanic fuzz begins to creep along the edges of the song, the atmosphere is buoyant, the melodies dulcet and gentle. Then, in true Black Dresses fashion, we’re yanked by the collar into the song’s mirror world: a drum fill interruption heralds a shift in arrangement, then it’s Ada Rook talk-singing over crunchy guitars that thump the earth like sledgehammers. The arpeggios that opened the song’s first verse have been dragged down an octave, but in this context they sound sinister instead of sweet, a dizzying melody that only amplifies the sudden sensation of vertigo. This is a perfect example of what I love about Black Dresses’ approach to making music. They entertain every branching possibility for a sonic idea, including the brash and reckless ones, but it’s never out of irony or nihilism; it’s in service of finding beauty in harsh places. They’re as daring as they’ve ever been throughout Laughingfish, and if this really is their last record, then I’m grateful they left behind such a lovely parting gift. [Pao]

EX is completely free. If you’re enjoying what we do, consider forwarding it on to a friend or colleague. And if you are that friend or colleague, consider subscribing.

Chum Box


  • Vinny from Vinesauce played an NES ROM hack called Chip & Dale 3 that sent Disney’s chipmunks to the battlefields of Vietnam. (“Chip & Dale don’t surf,” one viewer said.) This is from a regular cursed ROM pack/weird games segment of his Sunday stream. [link]
  • Due to their tunnel vision/supreme competitive focus while “holding the angle,” two Counter-Strike pros on opposing teams stood next to each other for almost a minute without noticing. [link]
  • The official Nier: Automata wine was made to listen to the game’s OST while it aged. [viral link + older Feb. reports]
  • Jousting Manager is Football Manager for jousting. It’s out in July. [link]


  • There was one good outcome from Apple Music’s 100 Best Albums list: streamer/FaZe member plaqueboymax listening to The Strokes. Soon afterward, he was banned from Twitch for the third time. [link]
  • Jay Smooth, who’s “been doing hip-hop radio since 1991,” returned to YouTube after a five-year absence to talk about old heads and the Drake-Kendrick beef. [link]
  • Here’s Herbie Hancock on Sesame Street. [link]


  • BREAKING: The original Backrooms photo location seems to have been found in an Oshkosh, WI store called "HobbyTown USA." [link + previous note on the search]
  • An American woman won the British cheese rolling championship. [link]
  • Tiger seen in dream. [link]
  • “Geeked up playing Xbox all day” [link + original by Juicy J]
  • Deus Ex - JC smokes to death in front of Paul” [link]


  • Rage compilation all-star Tyler1 lent his voice and energy to some kind of profane BonziBuddy that coaches you in League of Legends. And before you ask — it does speak Mandarin! [link]
  • Metro Boomin’s ‘“BBL Drizzy” diss track used an AI sample created in Udio, and a lot of people didn’t notice. [link + surprised tweet]
  • This week’s Facebook AI fever dream looks like an infinite series of attempts to crossbreed the “Silent Protector” meme with different political cartoons. [link]  


  • “If there is a true antagonist in the entire game, it is memory. Humans remember grudges and lost things far better than they are willing to forgive.” – kastelpls on 1000xRESIST. [link]
  • “Trigger warnings do not reduce distress, study shows.” But don’t they serve a social function as an alternative way to say “sorry to show you this”? [link]
  • “A neonazi version of LotR that's ALSO somehow merged with Paradise Lost.” This lethally concentrated dose of internet provides a dense summary of a deranged webcomic; it also feels like a good case where the content warnings do nothing. [link]  
  • The acclaimed study Horror in Architecture has been revised and reissued. [link]  


Glen is the new Chris

Connect with EX 

  • Feedback? Hit reply or email
  • Follow us on Twitter [link]
  • Support us with a donation by clicking Account