Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Art of Punk: Pixel Punk

If you grew up in the 1980s then you probably spent much of your youth playing some form of 8-bit or 16-bit video game. You probably look back at it now with a great sense of nostalgia and so enjoy anything that is a nod towards that classic gaming era. I appreciate there was, and still is, something special about the limited colours, clunky movement and infectious music of 8-bit gaming. It seems so simple now but it was certainly innovative at the time.

Sadly, I didn't grow up in the 80s – I wasn't even born in the 80s – but I did adore my Game Boy (Colour) and playing games such as Pokémon, Super Mario Bros and, err, Tetris. I also grew up playing PC point-and-click games such as Monkey Island (best video game of all time!), which is as old as me. So, like many others, I love the huge nostalgia of it all. Which is something that others in the world of punk rock seem to appreciate too.

Jeff Hong is an animation storyboard artist, and punk fan, who has worked for the likes of Disney, Fox and Nickelodeon, as well as producing a number of notable and well-received personal projects. His ‘Disney Unhappily After’ series has been featured on major pop culture websites like Buzzfeed and Vice. Plus – as a cat person – I love his Grumpy Punk Cat series (…And Out Comes Grumpy Cat in particular). But, of course, what you really want to read about is his excellent array of punk rock 8-bit Nintento games – Punktendo.

Punktendo is an on-going project for Jeff Hong that has been steadily growing since 2014. The website now features 15 fully playable (in your browser) 8-bit punk rock games. All you need is a keyboard and Flash installed on your web browser!


Note: I wanted to take more screenshots but it’s quite difficult to play the game and take a screenshot at the same time – plus, I need more practice…

The latest games to be added to Punktendo are a Pup racing game – Pup Tour: The Dream is Over (note the ‘Puptendo’, rather than Punktendo) – and Metroid featuring Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!.


Speaking of Pup, the band released a similarly nerdy video game style music video for their song DVP earlier this year. It features more of the 90s style games that I can relate to playing, rather than the original 8-bit games, but it’s also excellent.

Finally, although not really punk rock, I just have to share Will Varley’s video for his song Weddings and Wars – or ‘An 8-bit History of the World’. Even if you’re not a fan of his music, you can’t help but be in awe of this video.

There must be more 8-bit or video game style punk-themed videos and such out there… Let’s face it, us punks are mostly a bunch of nerds anyway.