Never Stop Blowing Up is actual play’s medium-blending summer blockbuster

In a new series, Rowan recaps the first episode of Dimension 20's new season in all it’s meta-campy glory

Never Stop Blowing Up is actual play’s medium-blending summer blockbuster
Credit: Dropout

Summer blockbusters are as American as Ronald Regan. At the heart of Dimension 20's latest season Never Stop Blowing Up sits a deep nostalgia for the genre and a critical lens on its place in American culture. The first episode introduces us to the staff of a failing video rental store who are transported into the world of Never Stop Blowing Up, a mystical VHS that contains a shared universe of blockbuster action films. A la Jumanji, they’re each slotted into the bodies of larger-than-life action stars, which contrast with their eccentric and often timid real-life identities.

This will be the first part of an episodic recap/review series. Spoilers below for Episode 1 of Never Stop Blowing Up below.

Though we haven’t explored much of this world yet, what we have seen reveals a high-camp, medium-blending actual play. NSBU places a funhouse mirror against the explosive, hyper-masculine, punch-first-ask-questions-later action genre, with not-so-subtle digs at the larger state of physical media. During this period when Dimension 20 and Dropout are both attempting to break through into mainstream culture, Never Stop Blowing Up is a television-quality actual play access point in a familiar genre with an easily learned game.

This episode contained nearly two hours of densely packed information, which I’ve tried as best as I can to synthesize here for you. As Beardsley says in this episode's accompanying Adventuring Party talkback show, we technically meet 18 characters. That’s not entirely correct, however, as we’re actually introduced to 24 characters—we meet the players, their characters, their corresponding film archetypes, and their hybrid filmsonas—and need to lay the groundwork for everything that is to come to feel earned and cohesively constructed.