Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Daniel Johnston vidgame: A ‘psycho-religious Frogger’

Wonderful piece by Randy Kennedy today about a new iPhone game inspired by Daniel Johnston, “who has never owned any kind of cellphone, let alone an iPhone, and has no telephone at all in his house in a small town northwest of Houston.”

The game — called “Hi, How Are You,” one of Mr. Johnson’s catchphrases — was created by two designers in Austin, Tex., who said they had always been enamored of Mr. Johnston’s music and wanted to find an entertaining way to use it while bringing to life the characters that people his artwork. They have names like Jeremiah the Innocent (who takes the form of, among others, a frog with eyes on stalks) and Joe Boxer (a pugilist missing the top of his head).

The result is a kind of psycho-religious version of Frogger, the classic arcade game. In Frogger the objective is to make it, unsquashed and undrowned, across a busy highway and a rushing river. In “Hi, How Are You” it is to navigate Jeremiah and other embodiments of the protagonist through a morally fraught three-dimensional world of glowing red demon babies and other malign forces seeking to keep him from the girl of his dreams, a recurring motif for Mr. Johnston, who suffers from severe bipolar disorder.

UPDATE: Here’s a video of the game.

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