Little guys

Also: Space Godzilla, giant pinballs, and collateral damage.

Little guys

This week, we're talking about old print ads for gamers, old theme songs for streetfighters, and old memes driving off into the sunset.

Analog horror gets cute

TikTok by Latent Places.

The shortform horror crowd is one of the few audiences that can currently stomach AI-generated video. We previously linked urban america, which has figured out a formula: a semi-animated slideshow of talking monster children from a local legend. This minimizes the weaknesses of current tech (bad at human faces, consistency, and motion), uses narration to paper over some gaps, and activates the “Cleveland mentioned” crowd. 

Now the TikTok account Latent Places has improved the formula by tilting the creepy-cute balance toward cute, keeping motion to a minimum, adding a shot-on-video 90s filter, and packaging it as a public service announcement like Basswood County and other creepypastas. Some shots in the video actually look pretty real, though others have breathing walls, etc. With “Little Guys” and “Globs,” they seem to be working toward some kind of low-stakes horror-comedy universe that they can merchandise.

It’s a slightly embarrassing time for “Hollywood is done for” posters. One year ago, they were raving about how fast new AI video tech was progressing; turns out none of the stuff they were hyping worked very well, and now they’re all sitting on their hands waiting for Sora. AI video actually seemed more popular in 2023 than 2024 — there hasn’t been a “X in the 1980s,” Balenciaga, or Wes Anderson video trend in a minute, and everyone would prefer to forget those ever happened. At least they’ve got Globs!

Beatmaker Kenny Segal pivots to videogames

If you are in the Venn intersection of “people who think Kenny Segal produced two of the best rap records of the past decade” and “people who think Slay The Spire is one of the best games of the past decade,” then we have a treat for you. The acclaimed beatmaker has released a surprisingly detailed roguelike to accompany last year’s game-focused collaborative LP with Pink Navel called Poet Gang Playing Cards. Free on Itch, it’s a scrappy fantasy card-battler that takes a lot of inspiration from best-in-class roguelike Slay The Spire, with a limited number of rubies each turn available to spend writing rhymes, dropping LPs, and crafting beats. It’s full of references to other members of the heady Ruby Yacht rap crew, and features loose, likable audio production from Segal himself. He tells No Bells he’s currently working on companion games to two other LPs, including an inventory simulator to go along with last year’s billy woods travelogue Maps. Danny Brown better be a crazy sub-boss on that one.

M.U.G.E.N. is the ultimate crucible of fighting-game knowledge

Far away from the bright lights of the main stage at events like EVO — sometimes in a parking lot — players gather to compete in side tournaments for unusual games like Catherine and Ehrgeiz. Back in January, Frosty Faustings hosted one such tournament using the fighting engine MUGEN that offered a grand prize of $500 and a Chiyo plushie. MUGEN is a no-rules crossover between modded versions of every fighting game character under the sun: Space Godzilla vs. CJ from GTA: San Andreas, Ronald McDonald vs. Touhou girls, etc. The AI-vs-AI fighting game stream SaltyBet has run the program on Twitch for years. 

In this case the contestants were human, but were forced to random-select a character from a pool of more than 700 combatants, making it a sort of general aptitude test for fighting games. The commentators seem to have made up everything they were saying about tier lists and punishable moves on the spot. We can only assume the two-month delay in uploading this VOD was spent adding more five-second jokes to it. Thank you to everyone involved.

A good Twitch emote

“Non-target killed” is an emote that can be added to Twitch chat by streamers using the Better TwitchTV extension. The phrase comes from the Hitman games, which penalize players for collateral damage in assassination missions. Chatters in Northernlion’s community, as well as dozens of others, will spam this emote when one of the streamer’s rants winds up insulting a group of people with no connection to the original argument. This happens all the time in casual conversation — “he’s no better than a Rick and Morty fan,” you might say to people who dislike Rick and Morty. But when speaking to tens of thousands of viewers, any comment judging any group of people will explode in some section of your audience. So the emote's very useful — the auto-scroll also looks good when it gets spammed in chat, magnifying the impression of the streamer’s crime. 

Crow Country’s doing nostalgia right

Crow Country was one of the standouts of the recent Steam Next Fest. It looks like a PS1-era survival horror game, with gorgeously pixelated backdrops that seem prerendered until you spin them around your character. In the demo, at least, you explore these grimy dioramas via characteristically abstruse puzzles — finding cranks, placing gems, etc. — as well as RE4-style 3D shooting segments. It looks and plays like you wish those older games did: sometimes wonky, but often smooth and playable. To promote the game’s May 9 release, the devs have unleashed some great promos, including a tonally perfect retro game ad, a PSN-style preview, a 3D render of an action figure, and a walkthrough of the demo area. If the whole game’s as thoughtful and cheeky as their prerelease materials have been, it’ll be a winner. Here's the demo

“I love to destroy and dismember”

The theme song from Supermen Against The Orient (1973) could be played before any martial arts movie ever made. The full film, an Italy/Hong Kong action-comedy featuring usual Shaw Bros villain Lo Lieh and a brief appearance by pre-fame Jackie Chan, should be avoided at all costs. (via Doug Tilley)

One last drive


The Gosling split-screen meme from last month has already driven off into the sunset, but we needed one more for the road. This appears to depict some terrible bug in Project Zomboid. (via the Cruelty Squad Discord.)

YouTube Thumbnail of the Week

Thumbnail for "Weird Art, Mixed Media & Unrestricted Access to the Internet" by Mara.

Chum Box

  • Elsewhere in retro game ads: the trailer for 2000s-style street racer Night-Runners is an Unregistered HyperCam2 classic.
  • In one streamer’s RimWorld game, a routine vasectomy went terribly wrong.
  • Fighting game Granblue Fantasy Versus released a fantastic animated trailer promoting the game's simplified controls; this transcends April Fool's Day. (Turn English captions on.)
  • We mentioned the trove of GameFAQs maps created by StarFighters76 last week; now there’s a full book of old game maps out from Brian Riggsbee and 13 other artists.
  • Rain World is getting new DLC 7 years after the game’s release. What this means for developer Videocult’s recently announced racing game is unclear, but it makes sense to lean into the original’s growing status as a cult classic.
  • In 2006, the creator of Seaman released Odama, an insane strategy game where you yelled into a microphone while blasting a giant pinball around a feudal Japanese battlefield. (via PC Gamer)
  • Yellow Taxi Goes Vroom is a throwback 3D platformer where you play as a cab zooming around N64-style levels collecting coins. It's out on Tuesday.
  • Head to for a “24/7 live stream shrimp experience” accompanied by sedate tunes from old Nintendo and Sega games.
  • Artifact was a news reader that was supposed to learn from your preferences and subscriptions to recommend stuff you’d like. It didn’t pan out, but Yahoo! just bought the tech, so maybe there’s still hope for a unified news reader.  
  • An Australian coal-mining billionaire is achieving his dream of building a scale replica of the Titanic in some sort of attempt to fight woke politics.
  • First zoomers discovered The Sopranos on Tiktok, now they’re discovering Sex And The City on Netflix. Zoomers: proceed to Deadwood
  • OpenAI’s first “artist in residence” foresees hotel rooms full of robot paintings, but adds, “We will still be painting in the far future, even when robots are (also) making paintings.” 
  • There's chicken-tossing in Dragon’s Dogma 2.
  • Turn sound on for this post about ants.

That's it for this week. Next week, we're finally going to register HyperCam.