Static Dress & Alex Constante on their Game Boy game, and closing the book on Rouge Carpet Disaster

Static Dress & Alex Constante on their Game Boy game, and closing the book on Rouge Carpet Disaster
Image via Roadrunner Records | Twitter - Olli Appleyard | TikTok - livesleft

Written by 

Joseph Kime

Published 

7th Mar 2024 16:00

Ask anyone to make sense of Static Dress, and they probably won’t be able to manage it. It seems to be the case by design - the band launches some exciting singles, before revealing that it all feeds into the story of a comic book. They release an album only to extend it, and when everyone thinks they’ve seen the end, it gets two redux EPs that tack on eight blistering remixes that twist and contort existing tracks into goth-rock belters and crunchy DnB floor-fillers.

Static Dress rejects the norm at every turn, and as they come away from supporting alternative heroes Bring Me the Horizon on a huge arena tour, it’s clear that even at the height of their powers, they’re not willing to turn away from closing their latest chapter in style.

Their latest announcement was one that truly leapt out of nowhere, and yet, made all the sense in the world. Rouge Carpet Disaster: The Video Game, a visual and interactive culmination of the aesthetics of Static Dress’ most successful record cycle yet, is coming straight to the Game Boy Colour. No emulations, no tricks - it is exclusive to the 1998 handheld, and won’t be offered in any other format, packaged in the holographic packaging that you remember from yesteryear. So how exactly has this happened? And why, against all odds, does a move so off-the-wall feel so right for Static Dress?

...Just Relax

A boxed edition of Rouge Carpet Disaster: The Video Game sits on a linen bed.
Click to enlarge
Image via Twitter | Static Dress

As GGRecon sits down with Static Dress frontman Olli Appleyard and Rouge Carpet Disaster: The Video Game’s developer Alex Constante, it’s just as disaster strikes. A day before the official launch of the game, and as fans are welcomed in to buy the cartridges, someone has managed to figure out the website’s password and buy it ahead of time. Static Dress fans are, if nothing else, thorough.

That’s why something like this can really come into play, and the stuff which Alex kind of implemented into the game,” Appleyard says. “There’s so much stuff that’s been hidden in this project that, going back through it, I completely forgot that even happened. There’s so much to dive into.

It’s stressful for Appleyard, but it’s telling just how excited fans are for the project, with many snatching Game Boy Colours from eBay in their droves even before the curtains have lifted on the Static Dress site and they can guarantee they’ll bag a copy. For some, it seems out of left-field - but following the post-hardcore revisionists’ career so far comes with a certain amount of expecting the unexpected, and accepting that, no matter how bizarre their next step is, it exists for a reason inside the band’s aesthetic pocket universe. And as it turns out, even though the game has been in the works for at least a year at this point, it’s closing out the band’s latest bold chapter - the album cycle for album Rouge Carpet Disaster's redux.

It’s an encapsulating form of media to consume, and in my head, it’s kind of a blessing in disguise that it worked out this way,” Appleyard says of the constantly shifting deadlines for the game, that missed both the launch of the album and the band’s headline UK tour with co-conspirators World of Pleasure. “[It’s] the final thing from the record. There is nothing more to give you from this record. You’ve had the record in full, you’ve had a full Remix-Redux of the record with new versions, and the entire thing has been expanded - [now] you get this final thing to fill in all the cracks between the bricks. It’s possibly, in my opinion, one of the heaviest ways to finish an era, to drop an actual interactive immersive experience.

Welcome In

The first advertisement for Rouge Carpet Disaster: The Video Game, featuring a bizarre mask.
Click to enlarge
Image via Twitter | Static Dress

The game itself doesn’t feel particularly supplemental, though it has every right to be. Developed by Alex Constante, retro dev extraordinaire and creator of Subculture Party’s own music-inspired platformer Subculture: Journey of Soul, Rouge Carpet Disaster: The Video Game welcomes players into the visual world of Static Dress, without ever encroaching on the band’s desire to keep its lyrical narratives as separate beasts - talk about a tall order.

For what it is and what it’s trying to represent, a platformer seemed like the best avenue for it,” Constante tells us. “It’s funny because one of the biggest creative blocks I had going into the game was ‘how do I create a bunch of platforms using references from the music videos?’ When a lot of the music videos take place in spaces that look like hotel rooms or hallways. The first thing I did was I went and looked at all the spritesheets for all the Castlevania games and tried to make a list of chandeliers, pillars, stuff like that.

It’s clearly taken a lot of work to compress the beast of a game enough to fit on a Game Boy Colour cartridge, especially in the musical department, crunching complex riffs and frenetic vocal patterns into only four different channels. It’s as Constante gets to talking about his frustrations with the compression, though, that Appleyard tells us the extent of the developer’s talents that he perhaps wouldn’t have told us himself.

I don’t really ever think I told you that much,” Appleyard says turning to his co-conspirator, “but seeing how much care you put into every single little thing, I just knew that this was immediately the right move to make and to go with the right person, because it’s a very big and weird ask to want to make something like this possible. But seeing how much time and care Alex put into everything was honestly, in my brain, revolutionary.

His work is, it’s safe to say, has met a peak of some kind here, standing as the longest game that he’s created to date, and it feels as though he’s proud to make Rouge Carpet Disaster: The Video Game to take the milestone. “I’ve released a few Game Boy Games, but they only have a play time of like, five to ten minutes. This is the first game where it’s what I consider a full-length game,” Constante adds. “Most games I’ll spend anywhere from a month to three months on a game. This one, I spent over a year just on the technical side of it.” It’s a big project, to say the least, and it’s indicative of Static Dress’ ethics, too - no half-measures will be tolerated.

Sober Exit(s)

Advertising for Rouge Carpet Disaster: The Video Game, featuring a suited man holding a human head, with a Game Boy Advance SP as his own.
Click to enlarge
Image via Twitter | Static Dress

Our meeting the day before the game’s launch was filled with uncertainty and a fizzing excitement, but it’s clear that pre-launch nerves weren’t warranted - the game went live today and sold out in two minutes. A giveaway is planned in a live stream this evening, and Olli tells us that afterwards, the plan is to launch a 48-hour pre-order for players to bag what he calls “the Walmart edition” of the title - a refreshed variant of the game with a fresh PCB board. Regardless of where it stands as a collectable, though, it’s clear that it’s done wonders not only for Static Dress, but for throwback indie development too.

Another thing I really hope is the fact that all these people [who] are buying Game Boys now who haven’t had one might, like… there’s a whole niche community of homebrew Game Boy creators,” says Constante.

I think that the more projects like this happen, the more people get interested in Game Boys, the more potential audience there is for future homebrew games. Anybody can do this. Literally a 13-year-old with a f**king laptop could figure out how to do something like this.

Appleyard beams at this point. “It’s sick, the whole premise of this is the accessibility factor and the ability to inspire people to be more creative rather than sitting there and waiting to be spoonfed information for the rest of their lives. It’s like, no. Go and do it. Go and make the thing you want to do. Go get interested in something other than being on your phone and living a ones-and-zeroes lifestyle.

It’s a compelling call to action from Appleyard, and it’s clear to see just how successful a push like this can be, even from the most unsuspecting corner of the UK’s alternative underground. As some take to the internet to say, as Appleyard puts it, “aesthetically terrible, music awful, good luck with it,” and as Static Dress fans flock to buy a handheld console from the late ‘90s to see how the world of Rouge Carpet Disaster coalesces, a clear intersection has been built. A crossroads is here that binds homebrew development, nostalgic games, alternative nerds and Static Dress superfans together into one brilliant, beautiful amalgam with one thing to do together - to see how this Rouge-carpeted world, many years in the making, meets its close. Call it unorthodox, but truly, we never could have expected anything less from Static Dress.

Joseph Kime is the Senior Trending News Journalist for GGRecon from Devon, UK. Before graduating from MarJon University with a degree in Journalism, he started writing music reviews for his own website before writing for the likes of FANDOM, Zavvi and The Digital Fix. He is host of the Big Screen Book Club podcast, and author of Building A Universe, a book that chronicles the history of superhero movies. His favourite games include DOOM (2016), Celeste and Pokemon Emerald.

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