satellite cult 53.53
nintendocore, the deep surface web, slime games
welcome to this week’s satellite cult dispatch. i’m so glad you’re here. i hope the artifacts i present you with will spray you with the nectar of the gods, rendering you sticky and uncomfortable.
please be aware that the void dive section below contains flashing gifs. forgive the way Substack formats some embedded media from Bandcamp.
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starting off with a seasonal pick, this album by 4:44 will conjure memories, whether yours or not, of plugging in a brand new Nintendo 64 for the first time on Christmas morning 1996 and sliding that Super Mario 64 cartridge into the slot for the first time—no blowing necessary.
Life Patterns delivers a pensive and empathetic exploration of how mental health affects creativity through a hybrid of icy drum and bass and vaporwave.
it’s been a minute since i saw anyone use the image of Fiji Water in reference to vaporwave—many of the oldheads saw the adoption symbolic of the genre’s shift from its roots to pure ideology-compromising aesthetic. but this haunting, ambient mallsoft and signalwave-inspired EP by 起きないで seems to speak to that very rift, utilizing the imagery to produce a sense of nostalgia for vaporwave’s Tumblr-era peak.
ɛ̃finivapejuice builds on one part Blade Runner, one part Hackers, and another part Ghost in the Shell, crafting a cyberpunk breakcore escape rooted in the mechanics of computing.
ambient harsh noise is an oxymoron, but here we are. drawing from breakcore and noise rock, with a laincore aesthetic, this album by Nostep, out on net label March of 2005, is wrought with anxiety and twisting catharsis.
i’m a few weeks late to the party, but i’m glad i finally showed up. this PS1 meets solarpunk take on sextrance by one of the genre’s staple producers, c678924, out on Chile-based net label Medio Oriente, feels just as hard as it does ethereal.
ready for some fun? this future funk album by Malaysian producer C3REAL NG, also known as RR-X, is rooted squarely in city pop, R&B, and the future funk that came before it, bringing a fresh perspective to the most classic iteration of the genre. but perhaps i’m biased because the album plunders from and deconstructs one of my favorite city pop tracks.
niche web communities
this is an unusual disclaimer for something i feature here, but i do not recommend visiting the site i am about to discuss due to the 40 content warnings it warrants and its lack of moderation (there is a chatbox filled with very blunt hate speech, which might be genuine or might just be bad edgelord jokes—either way you might want to steer clear).
i came across yishu131.neocities.org while refreshing and exploring the random option on the Neocities browse page. what intrigued me was not the purpose of the site, which is just edgelord content, if we’re being real—it’s nothing different than what you might find on /b/. but after digging a little, i found a links page featuring a list of image board and text board URLs, some familiar like /x/ and /b/, but others apparently niche though active. if you’re online in any degree, you probably know there are a million chan sites, those that mimic the format of 4chan, which in turn was inspired by 2channel and Futaba Channel, but the proliferation of them can be astounding, even when only partially laid out.
i’m covering it here because it serves to remind us just how far down the surface net actually goes. people always love to harp on the mystery of the deep web, but there is a myriad of active communities right out in the open, kept underground by the power of culture.
these days, people love to blow up IRL spaces, with TikTok users decrying the evils of gatekeeping while they guarantee that your favorite restaurant, bar, or hangout spot rockets from comfortably active to the most exclusive establishment in all of New York, or even worse, a community space gets infiltrated by hostile outsiders who don’t care about the culture of world they’ve shoved themselves into—maybe i am sensitive to this point because i have watched so many queer spaces get diluted by straight and cisgender people, but sometimes a little gatekeeping is a good thing, in my opinion. influencers love to turn cool physical locations into trash, but the web is proof that corners you can only access by being in the right place at the right time still exist.
similarly, but on a completely opposite end of the internet spectrum, i discovered Leobucks (more often written as bucks or ‘Bucks, due to its proliferation) because a DeviantArt page dedicated to the project got pooled into an otherwise unrelated list of search engine results. it’s a closed species universe (a concept within the furry fandom1) with extensive lore, and where bucks, the collectible creatures, can be bred, adopted, and sold. bucks have subspecies and character classes, and community members can either buy bucks that have been bred in-universe, or they can buy make your own (myo) packages. there is an index here of every buck in existence that is updated regularly.
the concept of a closed species is new to me since i don’t spend time in the furry fandom, but learning about it was fascinating. bucks can be bought, sold, and traded, with some going for as low as $20 and others hitting the $200 mark, and other deals including combinations of cash and trades exist—there is that classic Tumblr post about how furry artists make more than doctors, after all.
these are essentially digital collectibles, and when I think of digital collectibles, my brain immediately goes to NFTs. but bucks are not blockchain-based, and perhaps blockchain would never be suited for this type of collectible, as the number of potential bucks within the closed species is theoretically infinite. using websites like Toyhouse or even just the Bucks Bunker website, community members can store and transfer their characters. the system of creating bucks is complex and involved, and requires approval to be official in the community.
the Discord server is home to maybe around 200 users, making bucks pretty small and insular, but like the niche chans, it’s designed that way.
available to play in browser on itch.io, Engorged is a delightfully grotesque game by Far Away Times, aka John Thyer. an entry for this year’s Slime Wave Game Jam by Vextro, you play as a slime whose only objective is to grow by devouring everything around you.
basically, it just relates to an artist’s intellectual property over creating an original fantasy species and the way that property can be used