You're a space beetle careening toward a confrontation with a futuristic giant head. That's the premise of Thumper, an upcoming music game from Brian Gibson, bassist of tooth-rattling classic Lightning Bolt, and Seoul-based programmer Mark Flury.
Gibson has worked with music game titans Harmonix (of Rock Band fame) in the past, and now collaborates with Flury as Drool. In a lot of ways, Thumper looks to be shaping up to be antithetical to the pop-pleasurable standards of more familiar "rhythm action" video games -- early looks suggest a surreal grind through an exhilarating assault on the senses.
Count me in. I once saw Lightning Bolt play -- I think it was underneath a bridge somewhere among stones and tines in Brooklyn, but if it's the show I'm thinking of, I was straight up dropped on my head, which might at least partially explain the partial memory.
My colleague Mike Diver at VICE (who sometimes pays me to write about games for VICE too) has a great interview with Gibson about the game, which the artist admits is difficult to describe, but accessible to learn:
Most people – the vast majority of people – who played it, they figured it all out. There were a couple of things that were being misinterpreted, in the way we were cueing them. The game starts off being pretty clear as to what you do when certain cues come towards you. There was the occasional person who had a problem, but it is simple to play – it just uses one button, and the stick. It's not like other games where you have to learn all these different combinations of button presses.
I'm personally into simplifying things like that, and I think that's evident with Lightning Bolt, too – just the way we have the drums, bass and vocals set-up, and that's it. Music doesn't need to be about these elaborate patterns, and likewise I like stripping a game down to its rhythmic elements, this backbone, and just having the player do the right thing at the right time in a really satisfying way.
Drool says Thumper "will be released when it's finished on whatever platforms make sense."