Tag Archives: Music

What the Crap Is Skrillex Quest?

Think back to the NES days. Or even think about now. Do you still have an original NES? No, not the top loader, you fancy rich jerk. That old gray box shaped like how people thought the future would look like back in the 80s. How many times would you have to blow into the cartridge to get it to boot up? Remember when it just kinda turned on, but it was all glitched out? Did you try to play it anyway? Add bass drops to that and throw it into a browser and you’ve got yourself Skrillex Quest. What the crap?

Skrillex is known as “the Prince of Dubstep,” a genre of music that, for all intents and purposes, is already dead, less than two years after it burst onto the scene all across the world, burning far too brightly to even outlast a single elephant’s gestation period. But now he has a game. It’s kind of like The Legend of Zelda, or maybe 3D Dot Game Heroes. There are hidden collectibles and secrets to discover all over this world that happens to be constantly on the verge of glitching out, taking you and everything you’re trying to save with it. And it’s all because a little hair got in the cart.

The art style is very reminiscent of Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, but on acid. The gameplay is simple: just move and slash. It’s a little graphic-intensive for my 5-year-old Dell laptop on wi-fi (there is always SO MUCH going on!), but all the slowdown kind of added to the intensity of the glitch battles. There’s a lot of glitching.

I dunno, I guess I don’t really have a lot of exciting things to actually say about this game; I just reeeeeally wanted to make you aware of its existence. Mostly because it’s so weird. It’s important to play some weird games in your life. It’s short, and the gameplay is simple, but there’s a replay value here that’ll keep you coming back again and again. My first playthrough, I got a whopping 15% final score. And I’m pretty sure that’s only because I know the Konami code. There’s so much I haven’t seen in the world yet.

On second thought: you might not like Skrillex Quest if you hate dubstep. Every sound effect in this game is dubstep, every backing track in this game is dubstep, and every glitched out world feels like you’re in a dubstep. The beats match up with the action in meaningful ways, putting those old movies you watch while playing your favorite Yes album to shame. There might even be a Skrillx in the game, doin’ Skrillex stuff like smoking and cooking. But you knew what this was.

It’s Skrillex Quest – the best game to ever feature Skrillex. Also probably the last game. Good job staying relevant, dubstep.

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Seriously, How Unimportant Is Sound in Handheld Games?

I’ve been playing my shiny new 3DS (well, it’s new to me) long enough to determine that, at its heart, it’s really just a better DS. It’s not trying to reinvent the wheel; Nintendo just stuck with what worked, and gave it better graphics, a simply terrific analog stick, and some 3D-ness. One thing in particular I had hoped they would improve, however, is the audio. The speakers are much better, for sure (have a listen on Nintendo Video or Netflix and compare it to any DS game if you don’t believe me), but I still have exactly zero qualms about playing nearly any game with the sound off. When I think back to some of the incredibly catchy melodies from the original NES – over 25 years ago – this lack of advancement in the sound department is simply unacceptable.

This is one area in which Sony has always excelled – the PSP and the Vita have some pretty great speakers, and the games on those systems recognized that fact, so much so that investing in a decent pair of headphones to play games is actually recommended. (I’d expect nothing less from the creators of the Walkman.) The higher-capacity UMD format helped too, I think, as did the ability to play PSOne Classics on the systems. The CD format and the original PlayStation is when game technology finally made it possible to do sound design, spoken dialogue, and full orchestral soundtracks by real full orchestras justice, and the disc format has helped every console since do more with their games’ sound and music. But the 3DS and DS aren’t disc-based. Continue reading

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Sound Shapes: On Death Mode

I’ll admit: I had mentally purchased Sound Shapes the second I discovered that the game featured three brand new Beck songs. I will also admit (reluctantly) that I didn’t know this fact until I was looking up Beck on Wikipedia to see what he’s been up to lately. Why was I doing this? Well, my at-work internet is heavily firewalled, meaning that Wikipedia, Yahoo! Finance, and single-player Hearts are the only reprieve I have from long, quiet nights in the press release factory, where I spend 9 p.m. to 5:30 a.m., five nights a week.

By the time release day finally came, I was pumped! Of course, PSN was down… but the next day, I finally got to dive in. Sound Shapes is very much like if you had Super Meat Boy’s difficulty layered over Loco Roco‘s mechanics, and then played trippy chiptunes (triptunes?) in the background, escalating in musical complexity as you progressed through the levels. You stick to walls, and there is only a jump button and a roll-faster-but-you-can’t-stick-to-anything button. Simple. Pure. Delightful. Continue reading

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