Code, nerd culture and humor from Greg Knauss.

In 1983; in Torrance, California; in the arcade at the Old Towne Mall, a devastatingly handsome fifteen-year-old boy — taking a break from his usual hobby of seducing attractive older women — stands before a video game and nearly wets himself.

The video game has just screamed at him, and — Holy crap! — he did not see that coming. A giant evil-robot devil-head has just come tearing across the screen, eyes aglow, all malevolence and sharp teeth, bellowing loud enough to rattle the cabinet. “AAAARGHH!” goes the giant evil-robot devil-head, and our hero lets out a little yelp of confusion and horror and is consumed.

A lot of our hero’s games went like that.

The game was “Sinistar,” and if you’ve ever played it, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The twitchiest of the twitch games — Robotron and Defender are two more famous examples — Sinistar was among the first coin-ops to use digitized voice, and, man, did it work. The sit-down version had stereo speakers, and the giant evil-robot devil-head would announce his presence like the coming of the end of the world: “BEWARE, I LIVE!” “RUN, COWARD!” “I HUNGER!”


A while back, I found those recordings — there’s a bit of a cult surrounding them, and they’ve been repeatedly remixed into nerd music. I have the original samples on my iPod now, so that when I’m shuffling through sensitive singer-songwriters, a skull-rattling scream of rage will drop in every once in a while. Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple, “AAAARGHH!”, Beth Orton…

And I love this so much that I’m making the audio available, as properly metadata’d MP3s. I’m technically breaking intellectual property law doing this — Williams Electronics holds the copyright until (seriously) 2102 — but because these files aren’t easily available through commercial channels, I think that there’s an ethical and cultural case to be made. (Even if that ethical and cultural case mostly consists of the word “Awesome!” repeated over and over.) If the copyright holder or someone with a legitimate interest in the audio asks, I’ll happily take the files down.

But in the meantime, twenty-six years on, our hero can once again have the piss scared out of him. Sinistar lives!

Beware, Coward!
Beware, I Live!
I Hunger!
I am Sinistar!
Run, Coward!
Run, Run, Run!

Also, all the samples are available as a ZIP file.

Hi there! My name's GREG KNAUSS and I like to make things.

Some of those things are software (like Romantimatic and Buzz Clock), Web sites (like the Webby-nominated Metababy and The American People) and stories (for Web sites like Suck and Fray, print magazines like Worth and Macworld, and books like "Things I Learned About My Dad" and "Rainy Day Fun and Games for Toddler and Total Bastard").

My e-mail address is I'd love to hear from you!

This site is powered by Movable Type. Spot graphics provided by Thomas, Michael and Peter Knauss.