Upgrade Your Gray Matter: Kanye Quest 3030

If you’re like me, you’re a fan of the album Deltron 3030. Because it’s awesome. A hip-hop concept album about the year 3030, with production by Dan the Automator, turntables by Kid Koala, and rapping by Del tha Funkee Homosapien — what’s not to like? If you are even more like me, then you’ve been wondering when the follow-up album, Deltron Event II, is going to come out. Production began on the album way back in 2004, and the album’s been plagued by a series of delays ever since. The latest word is that it will release on October 1 of this year, but the album has missed release dates before. So I guess we’ll see.

In the meantime, why not play Kanye Quest 3030?

Kanye Quest 3030 is strange in that it is simultaneously a tribute to Deltron 3030 and a game about Kanye West, who is pretty far removed from Deltron 3030. But Kanye Quest 3030 is also a game that doesn’t have to make sense, because it’s about Kanye West falling through a wormhole while taking out the garbage, ending up in San Francisco in the year 3030, and getting into lots of rap battles with clones of famous hip-hop stars. Built in RPGMaker, it plays like a classic Japanese-style role-playing game, with Kanye moving around top-down maps and getting into random turn-based battles that take place on a separate screen. But since these are rap battles, Kanye and his allies must use their rapping and production skills to defeat their enemies, in a very entertaining manner. The party members equip microphones, turntables and laptops before heading to battle. The attack and defend commands are replaced with diss and boast. But the funniest moments come from the special skills, which are usually jibes at the rapper in question. Kanye’s are mostly based around his latest album, which I admit I’ve not listened to, so initially I did not understand why his throwing croissants were so funny. I did, however, appreciate the humor of his “Interrupt” ability, which lets him butt in before his enemies are finished to perform a counterattack (if you are unaware, this is a reference to Kanye grabbing the microphone in the middle of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 Video Music Awards to declare that Beyonce had “one of the best music videos of all time”). Other rappers have similarly humorous skills. Clones of Deltron Zero tend to use a Rhyming Shield which, as advertized, deflects your puny rhymes. LL Cool J clones like to Knock You Out, just like mama said.

Initially, I was hoping the battles would be more interesting, because I saw a lot of promise in the division between rapping skills and production skills. Unfortunately, production skills cost “DJ points” to use, whereas rapping skills can be used for free, and the production skills simply aren’t powerful enough to justify their cost. So I ended up spamming rapping skills and only throwing production in the mix for the toughest battles. I also was hoping the game would take more inspiration from Deltron 3030, because that album is rich with imagery and crazy ideas that could make for a great game — hijacking mechs, getting into rap battles with alien creatures on other planets, designing computer viruses to bring down the government, and hiding out in dystopian cyberpunk cities, to name a few. I’d love to see a game follow in the path of Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden (an absolutely brilliant free Japanese-style RPG that you must play immediately if you have not already) and use these futuristic hip-hop ideas to do something awesome. Sadly, Kanye Quest 3030 is not that game. Aside from an opening quote, usage of the music, and the appearance of all three members of Deltron 3030 as enemies (clones, of course), the game doesn’t borrow much from Deltron 3030, instead focusing on a whole bunch of general hip-hop references and light satire. But that’s not to say it’s bad. It’s actually pretty funny. I enjoyed meeting, and battling, the huge cast of hip-hop celebrities, and I got a big kick out of the “world map” section, which is basically a road the leads from San Francisco to New York. Because in hip-hop, there’s the East Coast and the West Coast, and nothing in between.

There’s not much beyond these quick jokes — the different cities use almost identical maps (although a recent update may bring some more variety) and the battles quickly get repetitive — but Kanye Quest 3030 doesn’t overstay its welcome, taking only a few hours to finish. If you are even a passing fan of hip-hop, it’s worth taking a look. It’s free, so why not? If you do try it be sure to follow the instructions on the download page, as the game requires the RPGMaker VX runtime package in order to work properly.

Now, let’s see if Deltron Event II actually gets released…

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