Haxed by Megahurtz
Making interactive Web art is a dangerous business, as Jason Nelson (Alarmingly These Are Not Lovesick Zombies), Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl (Coil) can tell you. When you dabble in the language of games, you risk the wrath of gamers, who despite their lip service to "innovation", are often terrified by anything really experimental. There is a contract to uphold when you make the jump from videos to games. When the experience requires our input, we want there to be clearly defined goals and characters, so we're not just clicking around haphazardly like gullible sheep, hoping to be blessed with random visual trinkets. We hate feeling stupid, and that's what art sometimes does when it forces you to participate. It makes you the dumbest person in the room, blindly fumbling for meaning like a Nickelodeon game show contestant fishing for prizes in a bath of green slime.
So one possible MO for developers trying to smooth out this prickly transition is to make something like Haxed by Megahurtz, a game so cracked, so exuberant, so imbecilic it could not possibly be trying to outsmart you. Hating it would be like slapping a candy raver—part of you might want to, but it's easier to just go with the flow and accept her offer of Sweet Tarts and a back massage.
Haxed by Megahurtz is the deformed brain-child of Alien Melon, whose members have been responsible in the past for Blue Suburbia and the hyper-polarizing Alexis, but it is more of a playable game than either of those titles. The hero is a manic green blob named Minibyte, whom during his nap-time in cyberspace has been haxed—quite literally—with an axe wielded by malicious blue fairy-things called Megahurtz. Enraged and bleeding important data, Minibyte goes on a murderous Megahurtz rampage, devouring as many of them as he can sink his pac-man choppers into.
I may have gotten one or two details wrong there, but it doesn't really matter. All you need to do is catch the flying Megahurtz (again, they're the blue fly-like creatures) with your mouse, drag them over Minibyte (he's the crazy screaming green thing), and release. And then watch the carnage. You win by increasing your MHZ count to the goal set for each level, and you lose by letting it drop to zero, which it will do over time if you don't feed Minibyte fast enough. There are three levels proper, plus a rather substantial postscript that somehow involves armageddon and a dancing budgie.
But the interactive part of the game is almost completely insubstantial. What is impressive here is the onslaught of stimulus being thrown at you. The roots of Haxed are that of a hyperactive pixelated music video drenched in gaming and internet culture references. The beats are mixed cleverly on the fly according to Minibyte's mood, be it hungry or homicidal. Despite Alien Melon's aggressively lo-fi ideals and punk stylings, this is a technologically solid piece of work.
Whether you'll actually like it or not is something I can't possibly tell you. This is going to be a subjective experience through and through, depending on your sense of humor, your tolerance for color contrasts, your taste in music, and a thousand other factors. For my part, they had me hooked at the loading screen, where a black-and-white tabby with outstretched arms stands on the moon and proclaims the file you are loading to be "Diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis big!" But your mileage may vary. Haxed is not for everybody, just as Trix is not for rabbits. If you're not feeling the vibe, try pounding a Red Bull and come back to it.
At the very least, I can recommend Haxed by Megahurtz as an operation in expressiveness. Without worrying too much about the social implications: this game was only possible at this exact moment in history, when people's attention spans are being digitally scrambled daily, and Flash has helped wrest game creation from the control of large companies into the hands of regular people. This is what we've become, where we can take something as nonsensical as Haxed by Megahurtz and understand it as a story, however shallow and/or obnoxious.
I found it thoroughly entertaining, but any Alien Melon members who have found this review are probably laughing at me, rightly, for devoting so many words to it. I mean, I'm calling it Web art, and it's making cow noises. Maybe the point was to make me feel stupid after all.