Swedish psychedelic pop band the Amplifetes has taken an innovative approach to releasing a single -- by making it available as a video game, and entering players in a contest to win a trip to the Arctic Circle.
A while back we talked about Bjork releasing singles as apps, which is a similar concept to what the Amplifetes are doing but was a bit more esoteric and, well, Bjorkish. By contrast, "Where is the Light" should be easily accessible to anyone who has played a rhythm-based game like Guitar Hero or Parappa the Rapper (Kids, ask your parents.)
Flying high through space and over a bizarre fractal landscape, players use the arrow keys to tag a series of floating triangles as they rush towards you. The triangles always move on a steady beat, so it's not too difficult, but the game does throw in some switcheroos, with multiple triangles needing to be tagged simultaneously.
It's a pretty game, no doubt, and it does the song itself perfect justice. The tune is an infectious thing full of bizarre twists of phrase and a solid pop sound that feels both classic and current. You'd expect nothing less from a band that was worked with everyone from Britney Spears to Grandmaster Flash.
That's not to say that the game doesn't have its flaws. At times you move into a blinding light that can sometimes obscure the triangles; it's also fairly graphic-intensive, so make sure you close anything else open on your computer to avoid slowdown. The soon-to-be released app version should fix this problem completely.
It's a very interesting era of game design we're living in right now. This is the third game I've played in two years based entirely around showcasing a song. While it's not unbearably awesome as "Robot Unicorn Attack" and its constant refrain of Erasure's "Always" or the kitschy but lovable "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now" that Jason Oda developed to express his fondness for the Perfect Strangers theme song, it's still a definite way to engage you in the music through multiple tactile stimuli.
It makes me wonder how long it will be until a band decides to release an entire album as a video game, with each song represented by a level.
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Now about that trip to the Arctic Circle they're giving away... the winner will be determined by the highest score at the end of 2012 (It won't be me; I topped out at a sad 500 points). The winner from any country in the world will get plane tickets to and accommodations at the Kiruna Space Center, the European base for Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic passenger space program located 90 miles above the Arctic Circle.
Kiruna is in the midst of marketing itself as a full-blown space city, an appropriate destination for a band that's out of this world and producing unearthly video games.