These days, if you come across a glitch in your game, there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it aside from restarting your console. Back in the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), you couldn’t do much about it either, but you could feel like you were doing something about it. I am speaking, of course, of the practice of blowing into your game cartridge and rubbing it on the rug. Nine times out of ten, it would do nothing, but there was that one magical time where you felt like you had actually gone into the game and personally removed the glitch-causing dust particles ruining your game.
It’s in this spirit that Jason Oda created Skrillex Quest, a 3D 8-bit game in which you traverse the insides of a golden cartridge (reminiscent of the old Zelda game), trying to eliminate glitches that will keep plaguing your screen until you remove their source.
Having created similar old school experiences for Breaking Benjamin, Fall Out Boy, and even the old TV show Perfect Strangers, Oda was the perfect guy to gamify Skrillex’s music. But how many Skrillex fans are old enough to remember Nintendo? We spoke to Oda to find out, along with some other burning questions.
Are you personally a fan of Skrillex’s music? Is he a fan of your games prior to this one?
I’m pretty neutral about Skrillex. I mostly listen to bad emo, so I’m not into anything electronic or dancy. I like definitely think “Summit” is a cool song and a lot of his music seems way more interesting than most of the mind-numbingly repetitive electronic stuff out there. I definitely don’t understand why people hate it as much as they do. Being someone who likes emo, which was also super hated in its day, I tend to side with something if a lot of people hate it as long as it’s not dumb basic pop music.
You’ve mentioned that there are seven treasures in the game that are things Skrillex likes. Can you divulge at least a couple of these hidden gems?
All the treasures are things associated with Skrillex in some way. There are Sabre Vision dlasses, broken KRK monitors, and his favorite book Watership Down.
Is it harder to make glitches intentionally than it is to wait for them to occur “naturally”?
Yes, definitely. Flash doesn’t naturally glitch, and all flash errors tend to be fatal ones. In order to make the glitches, I just made one huge glitch image filled with screwed up stolen Nintendo sprites. At any given time, a script I wrote snags a segment of this glitch sheet and applies it where necessary. There are a lot of random factors you can plug into the script to get it to have that 8-bit Nintendo feel. One of these is the tendency for the glitch pattern to repeat over and over then suddenly change and repeat again.
The bulk of Skrillex’s fanbase is probably too young to remember Zelda for NES and the golden cartridge. And most people old enough to remember the game can’t stand Skrillex. Do you hope to bridge a generation gap with Skrillex Quest?
In the initial ideas being thrown around with the game, we flirted with modernizing things by making it a CD with dust on it, but in the end the style and look of the game just forced us to go with the old school way of doing it. Somehow the kids seem to get it, though. They somehow know or can imagine how things used to be and generally understand that dust and technology do not mix. I have no great aspirations of bridging any type of generation gap though.
You’ve also mentioned that you’d like to do something with M83. Any preliminary ideas for what you’d like to do with them?
Doing an M83 game would be a dream project of sorts because it would allow for a lot of sophisticated, artsy, abstract stuff which is still rare in games. I went to art school and would still love to feel like I was making “art” of some kind. I haven’t sat down and really thought about it much, but I would imagine there would be a lot of highly abstract worlds with children and monsters and such. People perhaps would take it a bit more seriously because of the rather revered reputation of that artist.
I’m sure people are asking you what the next music-themed game will be, but I’m more eager to see a follow up to your Perfect Strangers game Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now. Will you be blessing any other TV show themes with a game version?
I probably will not be making any new TV-themed games. I can’t imagine a retro TV game any better than that one and sometimes sequels can cast a negative shadow on the original. I’m much more into just doing original ideas that are super weird and hopefully creative.