Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernie Cline’s science fiction novel Ready Player One is due to hit theaters on March 29th, but synthwave band GUNSHIP beat him to the punch with the video to their latest single, “Art3mis & Parzival”.
Opening with a short explanation for the world, the song is about the relationship between the book’s two characters, Wade Watts (Parzival) and Samantha Cook (Art3mis), and their lives in the OASIS. The band released a video for the song, which turns out to be a pretty close adaptation of the book, following the pair as they play in the virtual world, search for clues in a massive easter egg hunt, and fend off the minions of an evil corporation bent on controlling the virtual world.
Like the novel, the animated music video is peppered with references to a wide range of pop culture trappings. There’s neat references in the background, like President [Wil] Wheaton, posters for various films of the 1980s, such as Akira and Jaws, and toy figures of He-Man and Transformers. But the video also changes style as it progresses, cycling through the simple graphics of early video game consoles, 16-bit animation, side-scrolling, and fighting arcade styles. The song’s ‘80s synth sound complements the story and animation styles nicely. Even Cline was impressed.
I’ve read Ready Player One a couple of times, but it’s a book that hasn’t really worn well with me: Cline’s depiction of Art3mis always felt more like a prize for Parzival to win, rather than a fleshed-out character who stood on her own. This song and video feel as though they sidesteps that aspect of the book, putting the characters on a bit more even footing. It’s a fine little adaptation.
GUNSHIP is the perfect band to put together this type of song and video. The band released their first, self-titled album in 2015, along with a video for their first single, “Tech Noir.” Like “Art3mis & Parzival”, the claymation video is a nostalgic mashup of 1980s action films and culture.
The band went a bit beyond just the video when it came to geeky references: they set up an online contest to win an arcade cabinet, which questions you about some of the references in the video and Monty Python. The band also indicates that they have a second album on the way.