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Cyberpunk 2077 Updates: Night City Wire

Cyberpunk 2077 Updates: Night City Wire Episodes 4, 5, & the Special Episode

Although here at Cyberpunk Matrix I wrote up individual posts for Night City Wire’s episodes 1, 2, and 3, for this final post and because I’ve been so busy, I decided to create one big mega-post for Night City Wire combining episode 4 which came out October 15th, episode 5 which just came out on November 19th (when Cyberpunk 2077 was supposed to be released before it was delayed a third and –hopefully final–time to December 10th), as well as the surprise special episode that dropped on YouTube and Twitch without warning on Tuesday, November 17th. Let’s jump right in.

Cyberpunk 2077: Night City Wire Episode 4

This episode contained a look at some of the vehicles available for driving in Night City, including some behind the scenes of how they were created and a collaboration with Keanu Reeves’ co-owned company Arch Motorcycles (yes, Keanu Reeves loves motorcycles so much he helped start his own company that custom makes them, for more check out our bio for Keanu Reeves where we go into detail about that here.) Then the episode covers four different fashion styles that you can see in Night City, before finally showing the cosplay contest winners (they really went all out!) Oh and they also mention Cyberpunk 2077 is available for Stadia, but I doubt that is relevant for many people.

Cyberpunk 2077 Vehicles

  • Economy class: Affordable with no frills, this class includes tiny cars from Makigai that were shown to be able to fit driving up stairs and along sidewalks. Probably not what it was intended for…or was it?
  • Executive: Designed to impress, this class of car generally are long, fancy, and sometimes has even six wheels.
  • Heavy Duty: This class includes “trucks and tanks” for when you don’t mind taking a while to get to your location, as long as it’s bulletproof. And can probably smash through everything in its way.
  • Sport: Much like sports cars in real life, these seem to prioritize speed, are generally 2-seaters, and seem very expensive.
  • Hypercar: Combining the size and power of a sports car with the armor of a tank or truck, Hypercars seem to have the best of both worlds. These will be undoubtedly even more expensive than your basic sport car.

Johnny Silverhand’s car: A special car that you’ll find in the game as well is Johnny Silverhand’s car, which is a 911 Porsche from 1977.

Arch Motorcycles: Keanu Reeves and Gard Hollinger are the co-founders, and they partnered with Cyberpunk 2077 to do the audio recording for the motorcycles found in Night City.

Cyberpunk 2077 Fashion

This episode also clearly outlined 4 unique fashion styles prevalent in Night City. They are Kitsch, Entropism, Neomilitarism, and Neokitsch.

  • Kitsch: Neon hair, illuminated tattoos, and chrome. Style over Substance. 
  • Entropism: Necessity over style. “Get the job done no matter how it looks.”
  • Neomilitarism: Deadly elegance without ostentation. This is corporate, militaristic fashion. Substance over Style. 
  • Neokitsch: Celebrities and Braindance stars choose this fashion style. Style and Substance. A return to kitsch from Neomilitarism, but repurposed.

Cyberpunk 2077 Cosplay winners

The winners of the Cyberpunk 2077 cosplay contest are shown above. Although not shown in Episode 4 of Night City Wire, CD Projekt Red later uploaded a 20 minute video showing the contest finale. You can check it out below:

3rd Place went to Larry Hastings as Royce

2nd place went to Anna Ormeli as Lizzy Wizzy

And finally, 1st place went to Tingilya as Dum Dum

To see the entire Night City Wire Episode 4 from Cyberpunk 2077, check out the video below:

Cyberpunk 2077: Night City Wire — The Special Episode

This episode could also be called the Xbox One X and Xbox Series X Special, as the entire episode was only 10 minutes long and showcased exclusive new gameplay from Cyberpunk 2077 in order to demonstrate how it looked running on the new Xbox consoles, the Xbox One X and the Xbox Series X. Personally I didn’t see much of a difference between the two different consoles, but it could be due to a variety of factors like my slow internet or computer screen resolution.

The gameplay footage contains parts of quests that reveal a bit without revealing or spoiling the quests themselves. A lot of the gameplay features driving around at night in Night City, which simply looks gorgeous. I can’t wait to walk or drive around this neon metropolis. One cool thing was seeing Keanu Reeves as Johnny Silverhand as an NPC that appears in the game. You talk with him briefly during the mission while going up an elevator.

You can check out the special episode and see if you notice any big differences here:

Cyberpunk 2077: Night City Wire Episode 5

Night City Wire Episode 5 featured an in-depth look into Johnny Silverhand, the process of making the original soundtrack for the game, and finished with the last and final gameplay trailer for Cyberpunk 2077. It also briefly mentioned a digital goodies reward system for players, as well as a new cutting-edge technology that maps facial movements to audio in order to better sync characters to the 10 different original languages available for Cyberpunk 2077. It was a pretty good episode.

Cyberpunk 2077: Johnny Silverhand

The main attraction for Night City Wire Episode 5 was going into the making of Rocker Boy Johnny Silverhand, played in the game by Keanu Reeves. Irreverent, crass, rude, but also kinda funny, Johnny Silverhand died a long time ago but was known as a famous rocker who wanted to stick it to the system. In the game he now only exists as a digital consciousness on a data chip that somehow found its way into V’s head–the main playable character, AKA you.

Cyberpunk 2077: Behind the Scenes with Keanu Reeves

They share not only how they chose Keanu Reeves to play Silverhand, but also the process of motion capture that Reeves went through to bring this character to life, along with a huge range of emotions and actions Reeves had to act out. Apparently they had considered all kinds of people to play Johnny, including actual rock stars, and even creating him digitally, before they settled on Reeves for his Hollywood fame, talent, and charm that he brings to the character and the game. And I think we can all agree with that.

Cyberpunk 2077: Original Soundtrack Score

Paul Leonard-Morgan teamed up with Marcin Przybykowicz and P.T. Adamczyk to create what looks like will be an incredible score. We learn that the composers wanted to take Cyberpunk music out of the 80s and give it a 90s flare by taking elements of rave, IDM, and Industrial to fit the story. They wanted to stick to electronic as much as possible, which is why you’ll be able to hear so much analog synths in the score. They also shared that pretty much all of their quests have their own custom score–which would be A LOT, if you think about it. It adds up to 7.5 hours of music apparently.

And that’s not including all the different bands and genre-bending tracks you can find, as well as the radio channels available in the game too.

Cyberpunk 2077 & JALI: A Revolutionary new videogame lip-sync tech

For a language enthusiast such as myself, the short but sweet section about JALI was super interesting. JALI is “a suite of tools and services that result in a high quality facial performance on characters that is automatically generated on a face based on an audio dialogue from a voice actor.” So what this means basically is that for all 10 VO languages that can be chosen to play Cyberpunk 2077 (English, Brazilian Portuguese, French, Russian, Polish, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese) every single character will have their lips and facial features match what is actually being said and expressed. Which is absolutely incredible in my view. This makes me seriously want to play the game in a target language–imagine learning Italian or Russian while playing Cyberpunk 2077! Because along with the VO you can also have your subtitles of choice.

Cyberpunk 2077 Final Gameplay Trailer

Last, but not least, the final episode of Night City Wire included the final latest gameplay trailer which revealed a few new fun details. It provided the clearest, most succinct bit of exposition to prepare players for the game who might not know anything about the lore or setting that came beforehand. Here it is:

The year is 2077. An economic crisis culminating in nuclear conflict has left America in pieces. With most of the continent degenerating into lawless warzones, people from all over have converged on the already overcrowded Night City, one of the world’s last great megalopolises. A hub amassing the best in resources and know-how, and home to manufacturers of cutting-edge technologies, Night City continues to offer the promise of a civilized future. But in the city streets, a merciless struggle for power rages. Gangs, corporate agents, hustlers, religious cultists, politicians and all manner of criminals strive to outplay one another. Ordinary people get caught in the crossfire. In this world, consumed by never-ending conflict, sometimes only an outsider will get the job done. And that’s you, an urban mercenary, a cyber-enhanced gun for hire. As a mercenary, you swear no allegiance. You’ve chosen the outlaw life, and trust that your abilities will carry you up Night City’s ruthless underground social ladder. To thrive as a merc, you need the right combination of gear, skills, and reputation. With the money you earn, you can turn yourself into a living weapon, buying guns and enhancements in the hundreds. As you roam the city streets, you gain the experience you need to upgrade abilities and acquire perks. Combine the right skills and gear to create a gunslinger with inhuman reflexes, a stealthy netrunner with command of all surrounding tech, or practically anyone in between.

In Cyberpunk 2077, you steal a prototype biochip that can set you up for life. When its sealed container is ruptured, the only way to prevent the biochip from failing is to slot it in to your  head. It turns out it contains the digitized soul of Johnny Silverhand, a dead rockerboy with violence on his mind. He’s out for revenge, aims to bring down the megacorp that made the chip. What is in your head can shift the balance of power in Night City. The high and mighty will do anything they can to get their hands on it. The choices you make will shape your story and determine how events unfold. But not everything in Night City is a matter of life and death. Sometimes it’s about style, choosing your look, your ride, your past time, who’s at your side. Choosing how to spend your dirty money.

Cyberpunk 2077 Final Thoughts

From the music, to the voice and motion capture actors, to the gameplay, environment, and immersive yet complex storyline, Cyberpunk 2077 looks like it’s going to be one fun hell of a ride, and a giant step forward for the Cyberpunk genre as a whole. The amount of care and detail CD Projekt Red have put into this project is staggering, and provided there aren’t any additional delays, I can’t wait to get my hands on this game when it comes out December 10th. But what do you think? Are you as excited to play this game as I am, or are you less excited? Let me know in the comments below.

You can check out episode 5, as well as all past episodes on the Cyberpunk 2077 YouTube channel, and my thoughts of the episodes here on Cyberpunk Matrix.

Is Tomorrowland the Opposite of Cyberpunk? Exploring the Duality of Dystopia and Utopia

What does Tomorrowland have to do with Cyberpunk? A lot, in fact.

What is Cyberpunk, anyways?

High Tech. Low Life. Such is the TL:DR definition of what Cyberpunk is. While many may argue and debate on what exactly Cyberpunk is (for more of such fun, contentious discussions, check out my “Is This Cyberpunk?” series), most would agree that a major theme in a proper Cyberpunk film is an element of a dystopian society that the medium is set in.

Ghost in the Shell. Blade Runner. Alita: Battle Angel. The Matrix. All of these classics have dystopian societies or worlds in one way or another, some more than others.

So if Cyberpunk is dystopian, what would the opposite be, and would having a clear example of the opposite of Cyberpunk help us in our journey of figuring out what Cyberpunk means once and for all?

While dystopia describes the low life aspect, futuristic technology describes the high tech aspect.

So what does Cyberpunk have to do with Tomorrowland?

And this is what brings me to a little film produced by Disney called Tomorrowland.

Tomorrowland was a 2015 film directed and co-written by Brad Bird,  inspired by the futuristic-themed Tomorrowland found in Disneyland, as well as the progressive cultural movements of the Space Age. EPCOT in Disneyworld, along with Walt Disney’s conceptual visions of a planned future community, were also a major inspiration for the film.

The result was a high production value, visually beautiful film that is a lot deeper after a closer look, but also a film that was woefully underappreciated in the box office and garnered what I found to be very critical reviews.

Coming Back to Why Cyberpunk is Important

Here at Cyberpunk Matrix I am of the belief that Cyberpunk is a genre that we need in the present, to make sense of new exciting but dangerous technology being developed now and how it could be misused without the proper moral considerations in the future, especially on a societal level.

While Cyberpunk is always reminding how technology could be misused, there is a lot of good that technology could bring if it is actually used correctly.

Tomorrowland is one of the clearest examples of what technology could build for us as a society, if applied correctly. Tomorrowland is an aspiration that paints a beautiful picture of what could be. That’s important to keep in mind when it’s easy to be constantly in fear, especially nowadays, of what bad could be as well. And this duality, of utopia and dystopia, of warning and vision, is important to take notice of.

Tomorrowland: Optimism vs. Pessimism

Also if you look at Tomorrowland, it isn’t all a fancy happy utopia where everything is good. You might think it would be that, and certainly the video presents it as such with the main character Casey touching the Tomorrowland Pin and getting a vision of another utopian future society. But once she meets Frank Walker, the disillusioned, sarcastic ex-inventor, she gets a cold dose of reality that the audience (at least, the adults in the audience) is all too familiar with. His cynicism even goes so far as to affect her, as well, despite her original optimism (something she points out in the beginning of the film).

What is interesting is the story itself, and the message it delivers underneath.

Warning: spoilers.

Unfortunately, to properly unpack the importance of Tomorrowland as viewed through the lens of Cyberpunk, I’m going to have to reveal some major spoilers. As spoiling as you can get, really. So if you haven’t watched this film, and want to, please do before you read the rest of this. This is your last chance to turn back. You’ve been warned!

Tomorrowland and Armageddon: Self-Fulfilling Prophesies Depending on Perspective

Casey is crushed when she learns that their current predicted future is not the utopian world she saw through the pin, but rather that the world will end soon through nuclear holocaust.

But what is the cause of this doomsday end? A self-fulfilling prophecy.

The film explains that they not only discovered a new particle called tachyons, but that once they were able to harness this particle to observe near past and future, they were able to glimpse their doomed future. But the simple act of observing their future created a negativity loop that in effect created a self-fulfilling prophecy. By having a collective world believe that the world would end soon, it changed their actions due to their negative mindsets, and what they feared thus was becoming reality.

We can see some effect that observing particles has on what the particle does itself with experiments already conducted in physics in science, such as with Schrodinger or Wheeler. So while obviously tachyons as represented in the film is fiction, Is the general idea of affecting our future by observing it really so far fetched?

With this reasoning in mind, their solution to the problem then does not seem so far-fetched either. By creating a compelling enough vision of the future, and sharing it with enough people, they were effectively able to create a new future for themselves by injecting positivity of thought, which in turn affects their actual actions.

The Importance of Positivity, Negativity, Warnings and Dreams

Walt Disney had a dream: What the world could be like. It’s why he created EPCOT: The Experimental People Community of Tomorrow. He goes into length explaining his vision of what it would be like before he passed away in this video below. It’s also great to see the source material this film is derived from.

Despite what many may say about Disney and its monopolistic, conglomerate interests, I think Walt had something here. What’s to keep the dystopian dark futures at bay, when we have so many of them warning us how our world could one day become if we’re not ruined? That’s why Cyberpunk is so important, to give us those clear examples of how we don’t want our future to turn up as (although obviously some aspects, like neon lights, flying cars and cyber-enhancements, would be pretty cool).

Balancing Act: How Yin Yang Promotes Harmony and Balance ‹ Pepperdine Graphic

Cyberpunk and Tomorrowland: A Yin and Yang of Light and Dark

But what’s the counterpoint to Cyberpunk, to those dystopian dark futures? I believe that we need a light to complement the dark, a yin and yang, if we are to truly navigate our future effectively, And Walt Disney tried to create that optimistic, positive vision of the future. That’s also why I think Tomorrowland is so brilliant. If you go beyond the glossy special effects and feel-good kid-focused story that Disney loves to sell us, we see the values that are implicitly important to us–or at least should be.

Values of being positive, and not letting our cynicism get the best of us, like it did with Frank when he had a device that showed him the apocalypse at 100% probability. How could he not lose hope in a situation like that? Until someone came along and changed that probability, changed that dark vision of the future by showing him, and as many people as possible eventually, what the future could look like.

Keeping our Compass True to Navigate a Dark Future

It’s also why that last scene in the end is so great. The pins represent hope. They represent a bright future, positivity, and inspiration for good. That idea can come from anywhere in the world–investors for good technology, technology that helps mankind instead of hurting it, could come from any source in any country.

So in conclusion, what I’m saying here is that we need Disney’s positivity. We need light, and hope, to balance out the dark and depressing warning signs that Cyberpunk provides us. Because only by having a balance of both signs can we keep our compass true for the best possible future for all of humanity.

 

 

Review: Dredd (2012)–Gritty Cyberpunk Action

Dredd

Dredd (2012): Gritty Cyberpunk Action

Judge Dredd is a Cyberpunk action film from 2012 that was written and produced by Alex Garland, and directed by Pete Travis. Based on the comic strip Judge Dredd, Karl Urban stars as a judge in the law enforcement system where police are judge, jury, and executioners all in one.

Set in a vast, dystopian metropolis called Mega-City One, Dredd and his apprentice partner Judge Anderson are called to a 200-story megabuilding to deal with its local drug ring and their leader, Ma-Ma. 

Setting the Cyberpunk scene for Dredd (2012)

The movie begins with a classic line from the wonderfully gruff voice by Urban:

“America is an irradiated wasteland. Within it lies a city. Outside the boundary walls, a desert. A cursed earth. Inside the walls, a cursed city, stretching from Boston to Washington D.C. An unbroken concrete landscape. 800 million people living in the ruin of the old world and the mega structures of the new one. Mega blocks. Mega highways. Mega City One. Convulsing. Choking. Breaking under its own weight. Citizens in fear of the street. The gun. The gang. Only one thing fighting for order in the chaos: the men and women of the Hall of Justice. Juries. Executioners. Judges.”

Generally I hate exposition like this at the beginning of a movie, but this one gets a pass from me just because Urban’s voice is that good. We are immediately afterwards treated to some classic cyberpunk scenes of the new normal of the future, megastructures with megablocks and giant mazes of superhighways. Unfortunately, this is all that we will see in the movie of the rest of the city.

Megacity one Dredd

A Cyberpunk Highway Chase in Dredd (2012)

Any great action Cyberpunk film has a high-speed motorway chase and Judge Dredd delivers right out of the gate. This was one of my favorite scenes, to see Dredd on his motorbike pursuing three felons in a van speeding along one of the highways. 

Dredd lawmaster bike

In a subsequent scene we see a criminal run away through a mall, with fresh bodies lying dead on the floor scattered throughout. This struck me as subtly communicating to the viewer how life here is very cheap indeed. This is reinforced when we later see in the same setting a few cleaning robots come out to clear the blood and mess  while a PDA cheerfully announces that “the mall will be reopened again in 30 minutes.” Commerce!

Dredd cleanup

Dredd (2012)’s main dystopian setting: Peach Trees

This introduction eventually leads the story to the mega-structure of “Peach Trees”, where the rest of the movie takes place. The main antagonist, Ma-Ma, is introduced early on when she has a couple rival gang members skinned alive and thrown over the railing. She controls the entire complex, and the inequality and desperation is visible.

homeless dredd

“Homeless junkie, will debase self for credits” shows the desperation of peach trees. The rookie reading the stats of the crime and unemployment levels in the building add to it.

Dredd (2012)’s Special Effects: Slow Motion

One aspect of this film that sets it apart from other Cyberpunk films in its genre is the incredible slow-motion scenes when people inhale a drug called Slo-Mo. It gives us a true impression of what it must be like to be on the drug, while at the same time giving it a distinctly artistic feel to the film. I personally loved it.

Slo-mo Dredd

It can be used either to enjoy the simple things, like a bubble bath…

Slow mo action Dredd

Or enhance action scenes from unsuspecting guards who also happened to be using the drug. Heh.

Positive Elements of Dredd (2012)

Another thing this movie did very well is sustain the suspense. There is a good balance between guns blazing and quiet moments where the audience waits. 

The music in this film is incredible. Hard rock, heavy hitting, it’s actually done by Hans Zimmer–one of his more electronic and industrial tracks I’ve heard from him.

Finally, Karl Urban’s gruff voice and cool attitude personifies Dredd perfectly. He was a great choice to be cast in this role and does an excellent job.

Negative Elements of Dredd (2012)

There was a small element of supernatural where the rookie has a psychic ability as a result of a certain mutant strain that she possesses. I felt that adding the “mutant” aspect to the movie really wasn’t necessary, but it also didn’t detract from the film itself either.

Upon first viewing I was disappointed that the film took place almost exclusively in Peach Trees, and that it seemed like more of an action Rambo-style cat and mouse movie than anything else. They had such great scenes in the mall, overviews of the megacity, there was a lot of potential here. Nonetheless, upon a second viewing, there’s a lot more here than meets the eye, and if you go into the film knowing that it all takes place within Peach Trees, you might not be disappointed as I was.

Dredd (2012) Final Verdict: 9/10

I thoroughly enjoyed Dredd, and it’s a film you can watch over and over again, for the characters, the music, the incredible set design and costumes, and the over-the-top action sequences. The end is somewhat predictable, but still very much badass, with some surprises that are sprinkled within. I also greatly enjoyed seeing how well the rookie was able to take care of herself–this isn’t another damsel in distress movie. Despite the fact that it all takes place in the same location, if you take this movie for what it is–a Cyberpunk action flick–you definitely won’t be disappointed. I highly recommend seeing Dredd if you haven’t already. 

World Cyberpunk Day

World Cyberpunk Day

In case you missed it, October 10th, 2020 (or 10.10.2020) was the world’s first official Cyberpunk Day!

Created by a coalition of Cyberpunk creators and fans, Cyberpunk Day was conceived to  help others discover new cyberpunk content like books, comics, shows, movies, and art. The team includes such creators as award-nominated author Anna Mocikat, cyberpunk writer Matthew Goodwin, and many more.

With a full schedule of events, Cyberpunk day was a day unlike any other, where people around the world could follow @cyberpunkday on Twitter to get all the links for the events as they happened every hour, on the hour. Events included live readings, live gameplay, panel discussions, presentations, and even a live viewing of Total Recall! I wonder what they will have planned for next year.

Celebrating Favorite Cyberpunk Media for World Cyberpunk Day

To celebrate everything Cyberpunk for World Cyberpunk Day, I thought I’d share my own favorite Cyberpunk media pieces, in addition to shining a light on some of my favorite, lesser known Cyberpunk content creators,  writers, and websites. So come celebrate Cyberpunk with your operator, here in the Cyberpunk Matrix.

World Cyberpunk Day: Favorite Cyberpunk Media

  1. The Matrix (the trilogy and the animatrix) by The Wachowskis
  2. Ghost in the Shell (the original anime and live action remake, as well as the animated series) by Masamune Shirow (writer), Mamoru Oshii (anime film director) and Rupert Sanders (live action director).
  3. Battle Angel Alita (the manga known as GUNNM, as well as the anime movie and the live action film) by Yukito Kishiro (writer), Hiroshi Fukutomi (anime film director), and Robert Rodriguez (live action director).
  4. Altered Carbon (the novel, the Takeshi Kovacs trilogy, and both seasons on Netflix) by Richard K Morgan (writer) and Laeta Kalogridis (Netflix series director).
  5. Blade Runner 2049 by Denis Villeneuve
  6. Ready Player One (both the book and the live action film) by Ernest Cline (writer) and Steven Spielberg (director).
  7. Upgrade by Leigh Whannell

World Cyberpunk Day: Favorite Community Content Creators

  1. Madqueen–Madqueen has her own Madqueen show on YouTube, where she provides the latest news on the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 video game, as well as lore and information about the Cyberpunk Red Tabletop RPG. She provides an insane amount of work editing and creating very original content, and also assists in weekly podcasts with other community content creators. You can learn more about MadQueen in my exclusive interview with her here on Cyberpunk Matrix.
  2. Neoskies–now more on Instagram than anywhere else, Neoskies is the mind behind The Cyberpunk Hive, a place for reviews, polls, and fun discussions about anything cyberpunk. For more on where Neoskies finds her inspiration, check out my interview with her here.
  3. NeoMatrixology–For a yellow-pilled approach to understanding everything to do with the Matrix, I always consult NeoMatrixology and his Matrix University series. While I tend to report Matrix news in batches when major things happen, NeoMatrixology is always first to report the latest news relating to the Matrix, no matter how big or small. He also has lots of high-quality, in-depth analysis on the philosophy and themes present within the Matrix Universe. We also had a really interesting hour-long discussion about his inspiration, beginnings, and our first Matrix viewing experiences which you can check out in our podcast here.

World Cyberpunk Day: Favorite Cyberpunk websites

  1. Neon Dystopia–if ever you wanted in-depth, scholarly articles about all kinds of Cyberpunk content, look no further than Neon Dystopia. This is also where I first went the day I discovered the Cyberpunk genre. Covering philosophy, fashion, movies, music, video games, and news, Neon Dystopia doesn’t post as often as some other blogs, but when they do it’s always very in-depth and interesting. Neon Dystopia was also one of the first Cyberpunk websites I shared about, back in March 2018.
  2. Cyberpunks.com–Cyberpunks has the highest amount of content of all cyberpunk websites I’ve seen to date on the ‘net. Going less in depth as Neon Dystopia but providing far more content, including also the occasional video, Cyberpunks provides articles and essays about all Cyberpunk genres–movies, tv shows, music, news, technology, video games, etc. It also has reviews, lists, recommendations–you name it, Cyberpunks has it! For more about the ambitious creator behind this incredible website, check out my interview with its founder Bradley B. here.

World Cyberpunk Day: Favorite Up-and-Coming Cyberpunk Book

Into Neon by Matthew Goodwin–Book 1 of the ThutoCo trilogy, Into Neon describes how the main character Moss discovers his corporate work and life is not as it seems, and how he escapes to join a rebel punk alliance intent on bringing down the megacorporations that prey on the helpless. For more about my thoughts on this book, check out my review here.

World Cyberpunk Day: Favorite Cyberpunk Video Game

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon by Ubisoft

If you ask most Cyberpunk fans what their favorite Cyberpunk game is, they will probably answer System Shock, Shadowrun, or Deus Ex. While I haven’t played System Shock (it’s a little dated to play now unless you have that nostalgia factor) or Shadowrun (a mix of sci-fi and fantasy, think blade runner meets LOTR from what I’ve heard), I have actually played Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Unfortunately, I felt both Deus Ex games were a lot more stealth and RPG-focused for my tastes, with the gameplay considerably less fun than the usual fast-paced First Person Shooters I usually go for. Considering I’m a FPS player at heart, it should come with no surprise that Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is actually my favorite Cyberpunk video game of all time (at least, until Cyberpunk 2077 comes out). Sold as a stand-alone expansion to Far Cry 3 (another favorite FPS game of mine), FC3: Blood Dragon is a hilarious, over-the-top parody of 1980s action films featuring corny lines, fast paced action, dragons shooting laser beams, and cyborg ninjas.

Your Favorites

So what are your favorites? Let me know in the comments below!

Batman Beyond — Is This Cyberpunk?

Is Batman Beyond Cyberpunk?

Batman Beyond was an animated television series developed by Warner Brothers depicting a futuristic Gotham with an aged Bruce Wayne mentoring a new batman, Terry McGuiness. Spanning three seasons, the pilot was released in January 1999 and the final episode aired in December 2001. The series would later garner great acclaim, including two daytime Emmy Awards, and was named the 40th best animated television series of all time by IGN.com. It was an incredible series that was one of my personal favorite tv series of all time. I loved the futuristic element, the action, the characters, and the dark and gritty visuals. The futuristic Batman in his batsuit was also really well done, voiced by none other than Will Friedle (Boy Meets World, Kim Possible).

Back in the day, I simply watched it because it was good with a bowl of my Saturday morning cereal. But looking back, upon an evening of nostalgia, I started wondering…

Batman Beyond: Is this Cyberpunk?

In order to answer this question, I scoured through the episodes spanning all three seasons to try to find the most Cyberpunk episodes. While by no means a comprehensive list, below are the most Cyberpunk episodes I could find. I’ll give a quick overview of what happens in each episode, and then describe what Cyberpunk elements I found in each one. Then, at the bottom of this post, I’ll provide my personal conclusion as to whether Batman Beyond qualifies as Cyberpunk, and explain why.

So without further ado, let’s see how exactly

Batman Beyond

fits the Cyberpunk label.

Batman Beyond Season 1 Episode 4: Golem

In this episode, nerd Willie Watt is constantly picked on by the jocks of the school. After one too many times being bullied, Watt decides to steal his father’s construction robot which uses a headset to receive its instructions from its user. When the headset malfunctions, the robot becomes permanently bonded to Watt, making him a force to be reckoned with.

“Just another example of technology gone bad” is a quote that can be heard from the news commentator in this episode. Using giant robots to help us with construction is a fun and futuristic idea, for sure, so adding the cyberpunk twist that the streets may find its own use for one such golem makes perfect sense to me. Although I found the idea that a robot would pair with a human because of a headset malfunctioning a bit of a stretch, I enjoyed this episode nonetheless, especially with the power dynamics of the bullies and Watt before and after his connection is established.

Batman Beyond Season 2, Episode 4: Lost Soul

Robert Vance is a CEO who decides to digitize his consciousness before he dies. However, after his death, he is soon forgotten until 2 generations later he is turned back online. When his grandson asks for his guidance, the ghost in the shell has other plans. The digital copy of Vance instead tries to take over and get a human body, including using Terry’s batsuit without a body.

This was a really interesting and fun episode, perhaps one of my favorites. Not only were there clear connections to other cyberpunk media like Ghost in the Shell and maybe a Philip K Dick novel like Ubik, for instance, but watching batman fight his own batsuit and seeing the fighting style of an AI with no corporeal weaknesses was simply really cool.

Batman Beyond Season 2, Episode 8: Hooked up

An unknown entity named Spellbinder is getting teenagers addicted to virtual reality in order to use them as cheap labor for his own purposes. Once they spend too long in this VR, however, they end up in a coma. Terry will have to use his friend Max to help crack the case.

Although not as fun as other episodes, Hooked Up deals with themes of drug addiction, virtual reality worlds, and the interesting idea that one could get addicted to living in a fantasy world virtually.

Batman Beyond Season 2, Episode 13: Terry’s Friend Dates a Robot

An unpopular kid named Howard Groote has no one to come to his party, when all he wants is for people to notice him. While Terry points out he’s looking for the wrong things, namely shallow things, Groote’s interest is piqued when he finds a guy who can create a illegal synth girlfriend for him for the right price. Groote soon gets his robot girlfriend, but soon realizes he got more than he paid for. The synth malfunctions and becomes too possessive, trying to kill any woman who becomes interested in Howard.

This episode definitely had Blade Runner vibes during my first viewing, but if Blade Runner were happening in a high school. Groote’s robot girlfriend looks so close to a real human that her only tell ends up being her superhuman strength. However, other than her being a convincing synth, there were woefully few Cyberpunk themes truly explored in this episode, other than perhaps the Synth’s unrequited, preprogrammed love.

Batman Beyond Season 2, Episode 16: The Last Resort

Sold as a juvenile center to provide disciplinary therapy to unruly teenagers, this “Ranch” is anything but. Soon almost all of the teenagers at Terry’s school are sent there for “re-education”, and Terry must go undercover to discover what really happens in the ranch. Turns out torture and brainwashing propaganda wasn’t in the brochure.

The prison-like and totalitarian atmosphere on the inside felt very similar to something out of 1984, especially with its giant screens. What was particularly interesting was the torture device used on the students–long stints in complete sensory-deprivation chambers. Despite the brainwashing imagery, however, this episode was also a little light on the CP motifs.

Batman Beyond Season 2, Episode 20: Zeta

When an Android that can appear as a human is being hunted down by the NSA, Terry has to discover the intentions of the robot, and if it is really a killing machine gone rogue, as the NSA agents say, or if it somehow grew a conscience.

Note: This episode spawned a standalone series called The Zeta Project.

This episode was really interesting in that it explored the conscience of what a robot could have. When the robot Zeta is assigned to infiltrate a family, pretending to be a member of the said family, this is what causes its existential crisis. It was also fun to guess which characters Zeta was mimicking, and which were real. While similar to Terry’s Friend Dates a Robot but with the added bonus of the robot being not only completely sentient, but also on the run from the NSA, this episode is yet another one with clear Blade Runner references.

Batman Beyond Season 2, Episode 22: April Moon

April Moon is one of the only episodes I saw in Batman Beyond with serious body augmentations front and center. In this episode, a team of 4 bandits acquire body augmentations by blackmailing a local doctor. The gang use their powers to steal until Batman learns about the operation and decides to try to put a stop to the operation.

This episode reminded me a lot of Doctor Ido from GUNMM (Alita: Battle Angel). Unlike Ido, however, the doc is relatively helpless himself. What I found particularly interesting in this episode was the 4 different body augmentations the gang uses, how they use them to fight batman, and the technology the doctor has available to him.

Unlike any other cyberpunk film or episode I’ve seen, the doc has a failsafe phrase to destroy his mods. The themes in this episode were also darker than usual–particularly the ending when the doctor decides to take his revenge on the team and its leader who was blackmailing him. Super cyberpunk!

Batman Beyond Season 2, Episode 23: Sentries of the Last Cosmos 

This episode felt like…an ode to nerdy gamers everywhere. A virtual reality game developer uses his videogame to enlist the highest scoring players to create his own personal army, sending them on “missions”. But not everything is as it seems when one mission is to take out a fellow video game creator. There was also a fun reference to Philip K Dick: “The greatest writer that ever lived”!

This episode felt a bit weird to me. Batman faces off against…kids who are tricked into thinking the video game is real life. Admittedly, there are very few cyberpunk themes in this episode at all. It was probably my least favorite episode of this list.

Batman Beyond Season 3, Episode 12: Countdown

Countdown is the second and final episode featuring Zeta. He’s back in town, this time with his friend from the Zeta spinoff series, and once again features him and his friend running away from the NSA except that this time, there’s an additional antagonist by the name of Mad Stan, an anti-technology terrorist who likes to blow things up.

This episode definitely feels like a continuation from the Zeta episode. Mad Stan in hilariously, particularly because in the climax moment it’s revealed that he sedates himself to make sure he’s not hurt and stays out of the action while his master plan is in motion. That, and he has a hilarious little chihuahua protecting him.

Final Verdict: Batman Begins is Definitely Cyberpunk

But not in all its own episodes. Some are more Cyberpunk than others, but for the select few, they definitely hit all the marks. Of all the episodes, I would have to say that April Moon was the most Cyberpunk of all of them. The entire episode even plays out as a mystery that Batman has to solve, the mystery of who the augmented gang are and then, later, why the doctor would ever help them. But not just those episodes–the future setting of the series with its high tech elements, the depictions of future society with its problems with technology, the gang of “jokers” that roam the city, many on futuristic motorbikes, the dark color palette, the music, the themes of addiction and power–there’s a whole lot here that matches Cyberpunk very well. I highly recommend the series if you haven’t watched it.