Retronauts Micro 5: Yellow Magic Orchestra and the DNA of game music

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I’ve talked about pioneering Japanese electronic band Yellow Magic Orchestra on Retronauts before. But never before to the exclusion of all else. But that’s what the latest Micro episode is all about: YMO, baby.

Libsyn (9:30 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud | Subscribe on iTunes | RSS feed

A brief journey into the music of a band that had an incredible influence on the direction and style of game music in the ’80s and ’90s: Japan’s New Wave-tinged synth rockers Yellow Magic Orchestra. Featuring lots of music by, yes, Yellow Magic Orchestra.

As usual, you can read more about this week’s episode at USgamer.

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Relive the days when Nintendo’s handheld announcements made you happy, not angry

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Look, we could argue at length about the point at which something qualifies for discussion under the banner of Retronauts. Some people still hold fast to the idea that anything after the NES launch doesn’t really count as old, an idea that had some merit back when I first saw it being bandied about at the dawn of console emulation circa 1996 but makes much less sense in 2015.

But whatever your personal definition, I won’t lie: Talking about the Nintendo DS as a classic game system is really stretching that definition to the breaking point. Not only is the system barely a decade old — practically brand new in this, the year Home Pong turns 40! — but you can still buy DS games and systems at retail if you look hard enough. They’re easier to find these days than most Amiibos.

In our defense (or rather, my defense, since I was the idiot who decided to put this episode together), the DS began life pretty much being retro. It looked so clunky and primitive next to Sony’s PSP… and yet, as we discuss in this episode, it absolutely spanked the poor PSP in short order, despite the odds being stacked almost hilariously against it. The success of the DS seems almost poignant when contrasted against the seeming tone-deafness with which Nintendo continues to approach its sequel, the 3DS, as seen in the wake of last week’s New 3DS XL announcement. It was a heady time, when games that looked a decade old could be the best-sellers of the generation. The DS was a weird system that should have failed horribly… but it didn’t, and we love it both for its tenacity and its vast and entertaining software library.

What is “retro”? This week, we test the limits by talking about a 10-year-old system whose games you can still buy at retail. But in fairness, the Nintendo DS was pretty much retro from the moment of its conception. Featuring Games Radar‘s Henry Gilbert and USgamer’s Kat Bailey.

Libsyn (1:49:00 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud | Subscribe to and review Retronauts on iTunes

Music in this episode comes from the Dragon Quest IX Symphonic Suite album, because why not?

P.S., if you enjoy Retronauts, may we recommend USgamer’s podcast From US to You!? It’s a similar mix of people to Retronauts, and a similar low-key form of discussion, but it’s focused primarily on current topics rather than game history. Give it a listen.

Retronauts Micro Episode 4: Bad Purchasing Decisions

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As adults, we may do the proper research before plunking down our hard-earned cash on a new video game, but this wasn’t always the case. Years ago, our developing brains weren’t quite as skilled at impulse control, leading to some particularly painful cases of buyer’s remorse. On this episode of Retronauts Micro, join Bob Mackey, Jeremy Parish, Kat Bailey, and Mikel Reparaz as they discuss the unfortunate purchasing decisions that still haunt them to this day.

Libsyn (17:35 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud

Retronauts Micro Episode 3: Zillions and Zillions of years ago…

Hello there! The holidays have come and gone and a new semester has arrived. And this time we’re greeting the new school year with a look at a minor (and generally forgotten) video game classic: Sega’s Zillion for Master System.

You can get the full scoop on this episode over at USgamer, but I know how annoying it can be to make that extra mouseclick, so here is the show in its entirety. All seven minutes of it. Hey, it’s a Micro episode. Whaddya want?

Libsyn (7:20 | 5.3 MB | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud | Subscribe on iTunes | RSS feed

Promo image courtesy of Hardcore Gaming 101. Background music in this episode is from Zillion; the vocal track is from the anime.

Out of curiosity, how many of you fine listeners have actually played Zillion? Either back in the day or through the magic of emulation counts. I’d love to hear more about what the latter areas of the game are like, because I certainly never made it to the end….

As always, Retronauts is made possible by Patreon contributions. This week, Patreon supporters are enjoying Retronauts Micro Episode 4 a week early. And I’m currently working on poster and T-shirt designs for when we hit the three-month funding mark in February!

Retronauts Micro Episode 2: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

Didn’t play The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask? You’re not alone! With most of the world being wrapped up in PlayStation 2-mania during that memorable month of October 2000, this black sheep of the Zelda family went forgotten, only to build up a devoted following over the past 15 years. And, with a 3DS remake on the way, there’s never been a better time to talk about why Majora’s Mask is simply unforgettable. On this episode, join Bob Mackey, Jeremy Parish, and Laser Time’s Chris Antista as they live out the end of their three-day cycles discussing one of the greatest Zeldas of all time.

Libsyn (23:48 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud

Hark, the herald angels bellow, “Telenet and Valis is go!”

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You can tell it truly is a season of miracles, because we somehow managed — about five years after the fact! — to pull Shane Bettenhausen (and Christian Nutt) into the studio so they could gush about the Valis series for more than an hour. Bob and I are almost ghostlike presences this week, but somehow I don’t think anyone’s going to complain. This will probably be the first episode I’ve hosted in years that no one will complain about, because it’s a work of sincere enthusiasm by two passionate fans, tackles a niche series in exhaustive detail, and above all has the authenticity of a first-person account.

We are committed to making full Retronauts episodes a biweekly (that is, fortnightly) endeavor, but we’ve made an exception this week as a seasonal gift to everyone who’s supported us over these past couple of years while we fly solo, free of the succour (and funding) of corporate interests. This episode could never have come to pass without your help. You are cool.

You can read more about this episode at USgamer, but you can listen or download here. If you like.

Yes. It actually happened.

The next few episodes will be Micros while we take it relatively easy over the holiday break (and wrangle our schedule back into proper order), but we’ll be working on finishing up the last of our Kickstarter obligations while we’re away. And when we get back, we can all sort out what everyone wants for their first round of Patreon awards. Materialism!

Download links:

Libsyn (1:24:48 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud | RSS | Patreon

And of course, the usual begging for iTunes reviews goes here. We’re never going to be the most popular show on iTunes, but they can’t get rid of us that easily.

Retronauts Vol. IV Episode 29: Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li

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The Retronauts holiday tradition continues with a fourth trip to our cabin in Parts Unknown, and, due to popular demand, this year’s special marks a return to the Movie Month style of episodes we did a few years ago! Join Bob Mackey, Jeremy Parish, Ray Barnholt, and Laser Time’s Chris Antista for a long, painful look at 2009’s Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, a box office bomb that’s mostly been forgotten (and with good reason).

Libsyn (1:32:19 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud

It’s the first episode of Retronauts Micro — god help us all

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Hello yourself.

This week is an off-week, which means there’s no Retronauts episode. Alas! But since we have cool supporters, there’s a non-Retronauts episode of Retronauts — a new off-week program called Retronauts Micro. Here, I’ll let the episode description explain it:

It’s our first off-week of the season, and we’re going small with Retronauts Micro: Bite-sized chunklets of podcast. In this Micro episode, Jeremy flies solo and looks back at a largely forgotten computer platform: The TI-99/4A.

Libsyn (1:33:12 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud

Sweet and to the point, right? You can certainly learn more about this madness by checking out the full-length news post at USgamer.net, though! Another fun thing about the USgamer version of this post: It includes a video version of this self-same episode. Madness, right? Yeah, you’d probably better go check it out.

P.S., this week, our Patreon backers are listening to the traditional “holiday death shack” episode a week early. We’re about $45 away from a second live show during 2015, so… why not sign up and help make your dreams and ours come true all at once?

Retronauts Vol. IV Episode 28: Gaming’s Greatest Flops

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Our season premiere is finally here—hooray! But before I dispense with the download links, please absorb this minor note about Retronauts’ next year. This blog will still offer links to the newest episode, but for detailed show notes, you’re going to want to head over to USgamer, and maybe click on a few other things while you’re there. (We promise it won’t hurt.) Now, on with the show!

Libsyn (1:33:12 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud

This episode’s description:

“Retronauts is back for a brand-new season! And what better way to celebrate our crowdfunding success than an entire episode devoted to failure? In this season premiere, join Jeremy Parish, Ray Barnholt, Bob Mackey, and special guest Brett Elston (of Capcom Unity) as the crew discusses some of the most spectacular flops in video game history.”

Patreon Backers: Our Season Premiere is Now Live!

Hey folks,

Bob here with a super-quick message, which shouldn’t be a mystery if you read the headline preceding this blog post—and who wouldn’t? That said, if you’re one of our friendly, handsome/beautiful Patreon backers, go log in to your account NOW NOW NOW because our season premiere is live! And if you’re still on the fence about being a patron, just one dollar a month—that’s 25 cents a week, in case you forgot how money works—will get you each episode seven days in advance, which will make you the envy of your bridge group or knitting circle. Thanks again for all of your support, and we’ll see you next week with the typical notes and rigamarole we usually post with every episode.

(Here’s that link again…)