Japanese Breakfast Shares Role Playing Video Game Japanese BreakQuest (Premiere)

Japanese Breakfast, 2017
Ebru Yildiz

Japanese Breakfast

Michelle Zauner’s indie-pop project Japanese Breakfast released their gorgeous sophomore LP Soft Sounds From Another Planet earlier this summer. She had originally set out to write a sci-fi concept album based on the Mars One project, but mostly abandoned the idea, except for “Machinist,” a futuristic, energetic, Auto-Tuned song about a doomed romance between a woman and a robot. 

Today (Sept. 14), Zauner releases an online role playing video game titled Japanese BreakQuest, based on the aforementioned song, featuring 8-bit versions of the album as its soundtrack. In the role playing game, you play as J. Brekkie, a young woman in a spaceship who is infatuated with Machinist, a robot who asks her to pull apart the spaceship in order to help it come to life. She enlists the help of friends along the way to help her battle aliens to get all the necessary parts, along with appearances by former tourmate Jay Som and references to other bands that have been part of Zauner's life. 

“My husband Peter Bradley made midi versions of the songs on Psychopomp as a fun project, which I ended up releasing as a bonus cassette,”  Zauner tells Billboard. “That was the sort of impetus for the label to suggest I develop a browser game to go along with Soft Sounds From Another Planet, so we could showcase that sort of 8-bit sound in a fun way. You can hear all of the midi versions of the songs from Soft Sounds From Another Planet as you move from room to room.” 

Her music video for “Machinist” served as the main inspiration for the game, expanding the story of this forbidden love in space and being driven to madness from it. 

“The browser game is sort of an extension of the 'Machinist' music video I directed, that Adam Kolodny [cinematographer and frequent collaborator] and I sort of developed together,”  she says. “Making a browser game felt like another way to sort of extend the story. I worked closely with Elaine Fath, the developer, to have it make sense as a game. She was the one responsible for all of the gameplay, what steps you have to take to get through the end, as well as a large majority of the design." 

"The general idea was that a woman falls in love with a robot that's trapped within her space ship," Zauner continues, "and is convinced that she has to start taking apart the ship to build it and help it come to life. J. Brekkie is sort of an unreliable character, because she's gotten kind of kooky with all those hours floating in space and drinking rocket fuel to help improve her concentration.”  

The game is short -- it takes less than an hour to play through -- but the most challenging part is making sure that you and your bandmates don't die in battles, or else it's game over. Zauner suggests exploring all the machines to find hidden items, which'll help up your attack and defense, and to collect merch whenever you beat the bad guys. Handy tip: search the kitchen for items that'll help you along the way. Also, brush up on the lyrics to "Machinist," it'll help in the first phase of the game. 

You can play Japanese BreakQuest here