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Welcome to the Big Leagues, ‘Ib’

Soooo, Garry ... still single?

Gameplay still of the Ib remake.

Nearly ten years ago, my friends started passing around a game called Ib on our computers. It was a free RPGMaker game, during the height of this genre’s popularity, and I’d seen various let’s-players play it (as was the norm back then). While some of these games were too frightening for me (like Mad Father), and others were too sappy (like To The Moon—and chill out before you comment, I was a teenager), I was captivated by Ib in particular.

It was aesthetically creepy, without being gratuitously horrifying. The style, the themes, the music, and the story were all just perfect, even if it was technically lacking compared to some of its contemporaries. Everything about it felt like it meshed, even down to it being a free piece of software that you had to be lucky enough to find a download for.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw such an innocuous piece of software being featured on September 13’s Nintendo Direct.

It almost felt wrong to see it in this context, with an affected voiceover ruining the suspense and buildup of the narrative, and all the bright colors of Nintendo’s advertising making it seem like a more childish game than it is. But even though it was personally strange for me to see, I couldn’t help but feel so wildly impressed to see it at all.

Ib was locked away in my adolescent subconscious of random media I’d consumed and forgot about, from the webcomic Todd Allison and the Petunia Violet to various artists and animators I used to watch on Vine. While things have reminded me of it ever since, I never thought it’d manage to crawl its way to modernity.

And the fact that it did is nothing short of remarkable. I never saw Ib as being any more or less popular than its contemporaries, and if anything, I figured it’d just always remain as one of those games you either heard about through the grapevine, or got a highlight on YouTube once and was forgotten about. As it turns out, Ib managed to break 2 million downloads as of 2014, attracting the attention of indie publisher PLAYISM, who went on to remaster the game for digital distribution.

Completely under the radar (unless you were tuned into this niche set of news, which, by the way, makes you Very Cool imo), Ib was rereleased on Steam earlier this year (April in Japanese, May in English), and now it’s getting the coveted spot for all indies: a Nintendo Switch port. Just like when I was a teenager, this all seems perfect for our dear little Ib.

The Switch port will release in Spring 2023, and I highly recommend everyone with an interest in pixel RPGs to check it out if they haven’t already. It has new added mechanics, such as more opportunities to speak to your companions and, of course, updated graphics and music. If anything comes of this at all, I’d love to see a revival of love for the character Garry, who was a legitimate icon for the queer gamer teens of my day.

This song still slaps. Uploaded by user nekorinadesu.

(featured image: Kouri/PLAYISM)

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Madeline (she/her) is a staff writer with a focus on AANHPI and mixed-race representation. She enjoys covering a wide variety of topics, but her primary beats are music and gaming. Her journey into digital media began in college, primarily regarding audio: in 2018, she started producing her own music, which helped her secure a radio show and co-produce a local history podcast through 2019 and 2020. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz summa cum laude, her focus shifted to digital writing, where she's happy to say her History degree has certainly come in handy! When she's not working, she enjoys taking long walks, playing the guitar, and writing her own little stories (which may or may not ever see the light of day).