It appears that Sonny “Skrillex” Moore is trying to expand his appeal to video game fans. The poster boy for the aggressive, abrasive American variety of dubstep music certainly has his fair share of haters … like people over the age of 25 who can’t get into his style. Regardless of your opinion on the guy’s music, however, give him credit for his efforts to broaden his brand with a handful of recent video game-related projects. Here are three examples, all from this past November.
1) Wreck-it Ralph
If you have yet to see Disney’s latest animated film about an 8-bit bad guy who wants to be a hero, do yourself a favor and check it out. While you’re watching, keep an ear out during the scene when Ralph runs away from hordes of giant killer insects while dressed as a space commando. The song playing is Skrillex’s “Bug Hunt.”
The track’s mechanical buzzes are an excellent fit for the atmosphere of the scene. The noises remind me of the ones Electronic Arts used for its Battlefield 3 trailers. The more melodic part of “Bug Hunt” echoes the little victory riff from the old-school Final Fantasy titles. What better way to characterize one of the central themes of the film, the juxtaposition of retro and modern gaming?
So, kudos to Skrillex for contributing such a solid song to Wreck-it Ralph, one of the best video game-themed movies to date (though the competition isn’t terribly stiff).
2) “Breakin’ a Sweat” on the Nintendo 3DS
Did you know that Skrillex is on the 3DS? No, he isn’t in an actual game for the handheld (yet). The Nintendo Video Channel app on the device, however, featured an exclusive 3D music video for the song “Breakin’ a Sweat.” That would be the track where Skrillex uses a vocal sample from Jim Morrison, the late front man from iconic rock band The Doors. The surviving members of the group even came on to record additional vocals.
Though this promotion isn’t directly related to video games, the people who end up watching “Breakin’ a Sweat” are all presumably players. Considering that Nintendo has shipped more than 7 million 3DS units in the U.S., this seems like a pretty safe way for the guy to get his dubstep vision out to the gaming masses.
3) Skrillex Quest
Last week, we saw the release of an actual Skrillex video game. This browser-based title, from one-man development team Jason Oda, is an homage to the 8- and 16-bit eras. A piece of dust ends up corrupting the program on a special gold cartridge, and the player has to travel through the glitched-out world to (what else?) save the princess and fix everything.
Normally, I’d roll my eyes at shameless advertising gimmicks like this (those awful Burger King games for Xbox 360 come to mind), but I make an exception for Skrillex Quest because of a few reasons.
The way that Oda chopped up the songs “Summit” and “Scary Sprites and Nice Monsters” to use the samples as sound effects was pretty damn clever. The result comes off as way cool, more high-fidelity versions of retro-game sounds.
The gameplay is simple, fun, and varied. The hero P1 is fighting enemy glitches from an isometric perspective one minute and then avoiding them in a freefall the next. When he lands, he has to explore a desert while avoiding walls of glitched-out graphics flying right toward him. The experience has a timer to keep the pace moving from one area to the next. Skrillex Quest also has a ton of secret rooms, items, and more that make beating the game with a 100% completion rate within the time limit a good challenge. As a result, the title is fun, doesn’t become tedious, respects the player’s time (you can run through in less than 10 minutes), and yet it also has decent replay value.
Finally, Oda clearly had an artistic vision for Skrillex Quest. The mashup of retro game aesthetics, famous-character cameos, and esoteric corrupted speech paint a picture of a dismal, post-apocalyptic world inside of a cartridge. Plus, for those of you who still don’t like Skrillex or dubstep, you could perhaps play through the quest just to kill off an abstract version of the artist, since he’s essentially the final boss.
GamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase one of the first 50 tickets and save $400!