Sawbuck Gamer

Skrillex Quest

Life’s A Glitch

Skrillex Quest is what happens when you don’t blow on the cartridge.

By Steve Heisler • December 5, 2012

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.

It’s hard to imagine playing The Legend Of Zelda without the now-iconic music—a hero’s ballad trumpeting the arrival of perpetual underdog Link to slay another nefarious foe. Yet here we are, with a Zelda homage scored entirely with the electronic house music of Skrillex. Once upon a time, Link was motivated by honor; now he’s motivated by a thumping beat.

Skrillex Quest plays up this dichotomy and adds even more dissonance. As the brief story goes, the hero—known merely in the game as “P1”—is summoned to save his kingdom from a sickness that’s plaguing its citizens. We see this take the form of a dusk speck on an old Nintendo cartridge, which unleashes menacing glitches in the game. You must swing your sword at the hulking, dark glitch-bombs and rescue the princess, aided only by the vague sense that your actions are leading somewhere. There’s a timer, after all, so they must.

The game is a well-groomed mess. The tempo never changes, but the scenery folds and explodes with ease, transporting P1 from a dungeon to a desert before you realize what’s going on. There are old men who offer unhelpful clues, some who provide bits of map, and some who allow you to spend the night, earning nonsensical bonuses like more damage against worms (there are zero worms). There’s more than just a different soundtrack: The world is entirely unpredictable, with only Skrillex to ground you. Skrillex Quest starts with an odd soundtrack choice, but the music becomes your only conduit toward sanity—a fitting substitute for heroism.

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174 Responses to “Life’s A Glitch”

  1. PaganPoet says:

    I dunno how many “wub-wub-wub-wub” basslines I can handle in one game.

    Still, it looks pretty interesting, and I love a good Zelda-alike. I’ll have to play when I get home from work this evening.

    By the way, you know what really pisses a dubstep fan off? Telling them Britney Spears invented the genre:

    • Bad Horse says:

      Skrillex Quest II: The Wubventure of Link

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

      On one hand, that link is so wrong and unfair to the history of dubstep’s development.  On the other hand, there are too many dubstep fans who don’t know the history of dubstep before Skrillex and Datsik so probably deserve to be trolled like that.

      • PaganPoet says:

        I liked your comment, but I’m actually pretty easy to troll too. I nearly popped a capillary when I saw some youtube commenter on a Bjork music video calling her a Lady Gaga copycat. That’s karma for you.

      • Girard says:

         I don’t really have a problem with Skrillex (or much love for actual dubstep), but yeah, the pervasive “dubstep==Skrillex” mentality is also pretty “wrong and unfair to the history of dubstep.”

        • Aurora Boreanaz says:

          Skrillex dubstep = Broken machinery and people screaming shit at me.

          Nero dubstep = Great melodies and techno beats mixed together.

        • Girard says:

           Yeah, it’s weird. I wasn’t super familiar with dub, but was vaguely aware that the various dub/dubby/duppy movements were taxonomically related to Reggae. This wubwub stuff kind of came out of nowhere, it seems. I’m sure there’s a relationship there, but I don’t think Skrillex is probably the exemplar of the form. No marks against him for that; I don’t think he chose to become the poster boy for contemporary ‘dubstep.’

        • Skrillex is not making the best dubstep out there today. He is, however, making the dubstep most likely to piss off your parents. That’s not nothing. 

        • Professor_Cuntburglar says:

           This is the best thing ever associated with Skrillex:

  2. As long as we are on the topic of Adver-games, had anybody played any of the Adam Atomic (Canabalt) & Old Spice (a deodorant)  games about that crazy basket ball player saving the world?

    In theory I both love and hate them. Hate them because they are designed to make me appreciate a heartless corporation’s brand, but love because Adam Atomic can do no wrong.  Sawbuck it for me Heisler!

    • The_Misanthrope says:

       Yeah, I just recently read an article that covered the recent trend of indie developers getting into advergames.  One point it made was that advergames tend to work better if the game is out front with their product, rather than trying to slyly trick the player into playing the game and then surprising them with the product.  Plus you’ve got the extra cachet of having a rising indie developer behind it.

      I haven’t played it, but from everything I’ve heard about, it seems unbelievably cool.  From what I understand, it will be some kind of continual game jam, with things being added to the game up to the New Year, as the game’s conceit is built around the idea the well-regarded NBA baller Dikembe Motumbo has to save the world before the impending Mayan Apocalypse.

      That said, nothing in Old Spice’s well-done ad blitz is going to convince me to use their products ever again ( Chemically burn my armpit once, shame on you; twice, shame on me).  Though I suppose their spray deodorants could be used as a substitute for mace in a pinch.

  3. ItsTheShadsy says:

    I remember maybe a year back playing a copy of Shatterhand I got from a used game store, and the game was almost unrecognizably glitched out. There was a main character, sure, but the entire game world was just sort of this staticy mess. After a couple minutes experimenting, I was able to figure what floors and walls looked like, and I eventually managed to get past the first stage. Of course, then I blew the dust out of the cartridge, and I figured out that the game was actually pretty dull when you could see what was going on.

    This game does a fairly good job capturing that fun glitchiness. And as was the case with Shatterhand, I think the buggy aesthetics are more fun than the rest of the game, which is fairly cut-and-dry.

  4. Girard says:

    It might be worth noting that  this was made by the same guy who did that insane Perfect Strangers game.

    This new thing is certainly more technically ambitious, though it’s also more aesthetically derivative. It has a few nice little moments of humor in there, and the way the game is designed so that you’ll always make it to the end, just with different degrees of success, so there’s no true fail-state (I think), is an interesting iteration of a similar design decision in he Perfect Strangers game, which was also scored to a specific song (and contrasts with Cactus’s Keyboard Drumset Fucking Werewolf game, which was also strictly-timed along with a specific song, but which was also brutally hard and typically only ended up letting you hear the first minute or so of the song before you game-overed…).

  5. His_Space_Holiness says:

    So it’s something familiar, with a bunch of bizarre crap thrown on top of it? Yeah, I believe that this is a game based around a DJ.

  6.  Cool game love the classic retro feel.

    I just developed a free, exciting math game for all ages
    Math&Speed (Iphone & Ipad Apple Store)

    • Jackbert322 says:

      Math & Speed. A classic combination. Without amphetamines, would math be nearly as advanced as it is today? No, it would not. Everybody, remember to give thanks for greenies.

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

      Great comment, love the authenticity.

      Speaking of authenticity, check out the great taste of Charleston Chew!

  7. Brainstrain says:

    I love this game. I also didn’t know we could do italics till just now. This kind of meta, exploration of the setting thing is exactly what I like. I don’t know if another game this year has stuck me quite as poignantly as the glitch-as-far-as-the-eye-can-see vista you get toward the end. This is definitely my favorite sawbuck of the year. Possibly game. We’ll see how The Last Story is…



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