Rom Check Fail, ultimate videogame remix

Rom Check Fail

You don’t need to be a videogame fan or being a teenager in the seventies / eighties to know videogame classics like Space Invaders, Pacman or Tetris. Their iconic power is still intact in the public imagination, also thanks to many reinterpretations and updates. Their patterns are often used by game artists as metaphors to create new connected sense: Mario Bros. can be restyled with a new graphic, so you can take your cue from it to discuss immigrant labor conditions, Space Invaders can be used to represent the never ending battle among Linux and the proprietary operating systems and so on. Sometimes the action’s target is the algorithm itself. In “Basho’s frogger“, “Mario Battle no.1” and “Tetris 1d” the hack is s pure conceptual practice that intentionally kills the ludic component: In the best software art tradition, the program functionality (entertainment in this case) is attacked with Luddite fervour. The Retrosabotage project is less “artistic”, but in a way more sophisticated: every week it publishes a famous arcade variance. The algorithms are treated as if they were jazz standard, falling short of player’s expectations, still maintaining well-known mechanisms. Mokumentary speculates about a never released Pacman version, where you control the ghosts, Incompatible Visions is an impossible mash-up between Tetris and Duck Hunt, while variances on Space Invaders theme variations push to the absurd the tragic spaceship destiny. Sometimes the “sabotage” generates new game patterns: “Compomise” is a Tetris short circuited for two players, “Build On” and “Balance” turn over the tedious Break Out with new original features. Retrosabotage is a little more than a collection of jokes but nevertheless it gives pleasing disappointments to the Skinner’s mouse hosted in our brain. But probably the most radical experiment in this tradition is probably Rom Check Fail, a sort of psychedelic remix of a dozen classic arcades. Graphic, enemies, scenes and their respective dynamics are randomly remixed by a software gone crazy. Every game is a frantic zapping among unpredictable situations but oddly playable. Remix culture, contaminated the video and now invades videogames. With astonishing achievements.

Paolo Pedercini