Time for another one of those rare Retronauts Pocket episodes that directly follow from the last full episode! We’re still talking about Game Center CX this week!
…Ssssort of. Rather than talk about the show itself, I had each of us (me, Bob, Jeremy, and returning guest Justin Haywald) pick one of the games featured on the show and talk about them. Of course, if you listened last week, you know that the host Arino is not always put in the best situations, and struggles through some pretty torturous games. And as it turned out, we all picked some of the more torturous Famicom games he’s played: The Mystery of Atlantis, The Wing of Madoola, Layla, and the one that started it all, Takeshi’s Challenge. Some of those names may be familiar to you, some not, but either way, they’re very interesting examples of Japanese gaming from a very certain period, and they’re all great episodes of GCCX, to boot.
Also, we reveal our plans for the next phase of Retronauts after this run — yes, you’ll be hearing from us again! But nothing is set in stone yet, so as always, keep an eye on this site, our Twitter, and Facebook for the official word.
On behalf of Bob and Jeremy, thanks again for helping us do this again.
For this final full Retronauts of the season, we take a sideways step away from retro game talk and into a TV show about retro games: Game Center CX, from Japan. We wouldn’t bother unless it was a special case — Game Center CX is a fun show, long-running, and worth your time if you’re even halfway interested in old video games. If you’ve followed us since 1UP (especially me), you’ve heard me say this before — I’ve been a fan of the show since I was at 1UP, and spent a few years spreading awareness (off and on, here and there).
But… this episode wasn’t my idea! This was a backer-requested topic from Joey Chiu, who, I guess, didn’t think I had talked about Game Center CX enough. I can’t really agree, to be honest, but I couldn’t let this go, either. So please enjoy a whole episode where I, along with Bob, Jeremy, and special guest/old friend Justin Haywald from GameSpot talk about Game Center CX, a show about a middle-aged comedian struggling like hell to finish a game.
Most of our chat involves explaining the show and then why you should watch it, so consider this your primer if you’ve never heard of it. Still, there’s a lot of ground to cover, so we didn’t drill too deeply, but we also found time to talk about the Retro Game Challenge series, which was based on Game Center CX to begin with, and are something else you should try!
Thanks for listening, but we’ll be back with Retronauts Pocket next week for one last go-around.
(Music selections from the Clockwork Fighters: Hiwou’s War soundtrack, which GCCX has also borrowed from. )
This is usually the part of every Retronauts blog post where I go into greater detail about the episode you’re seconds away from hearing, but since this is the last one I’ll be doing this season, I feel the need to write something different. So here goes.
The past year-and-some-change has been an extraordinary challenge, and even when feelings of worthlessness, depression, and anxiety threatened to consume me in those awful, listless days of unemployment, Retronauts stood as the one constant in my life. I poured all of my being into the shows I put together this year—it was the only way to show my thanks to our audience for giving me a sense of purpose. Thankfully, I’m in a much better place now—in terms of employment and mental health. Plus, we have some exciting plans for the future of Retronauts. But since that information is hush-hush for now, please enjoy this episode!
Oh, and thanks to the always-great Gary Butterfield for appearing on the show. All of the podcasts on Duckfeed.tv come highly recommended by yours truly, so give them a listen!
Libsyn (46:16 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud
This episode’s description:
“BioWare’s Infinity Engine powered some of the greatest PC experiences the ’90s had to offer, and one of its last games was unlike any other RPG we’d seen before — or since, for that matter. On this episode of Retronauts Pocket, join Bob Mackey, Ray Barnholt, Jeremy Parish, and Duckfeed.tv’s Gary Butterfield for a morbid conversation about Planescape: Torment, an insanely creative RPG with a morality system that went beyond good and evil. And, uh, there’s also a floating skull — if you’re into that sort of thing.”
Please consider leaving us a nice review in the iTunes Music Store. It really helps the show! We also have some wonderful t-shirts for sale via our friends at Fangamer.
Hey folks, it’s Bob again with my second-to-last episode of the season—but don’t worry, there’s still a few to follow after mine. That said, this is a good one, with a topic brought to us by guest backer Cary Hamby, who unfortunately couldn’t make it in to be a guest on the show (but we still love him). Now, the subject of RPG battle systems might at first seem a little too specific for a 90-minute show, but as you’ll soon hear, we (all being RPG nerds) get a ton of mileage out of the topic, and still have plenty to say by the time the episode wraps up. This subject matter also gives me the chance to fill the episode with great RPG tracks, so you may notice I went a little overboard with the musical breaks. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.
Returning for this installment is GamesRadar’s Henry Gilbert, who also hosts the comic book podcast Cape Crisis, which just reached its 100th episode. I’m a big fan of everything going down at the Laser Time podcast network, so it’s always a treat to have Henry come in.
Libsyn (1:38:12 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud
This episode’s description:
“RPG battle systems: What started as a way to simulate the rolling of dice on a Cheetos-stained card table has mutated over the past 30-plus years into something far different from its Dungeons and Dragons roots. And even though Gary Gygax had no idea what a “limit break” was back in the early ’70s, this and other additions have made menu-based enemy encounters far more appealing than they used to be. Join Bob Mackey, Ray Barnholt, Jeremy Parish, and GamesRadar’s Henry Gilbert as they wait patiently for their little meters to fill up before saying anything important.”
This episode’s musical selections:
As you could probably guess, they’re RPG battle themes. Here are the ones I picked:
- 11:42 – Dragon Quest 1
- 21:52 – Final Fantasy 1
- 34:04 – Final Fantasy IV
- 40:34 – Tales of Phantasia
- 57:15 – Super Mario RPG (Boss Battle Theme)
- 1:14:21 – SaGa Frontier
- 1:26:48 – Grandia
- 1:35:35 – Happy Parade, Delightful Parade (Super Mario RPG Credits Theme)
Packs of roving slimes will not take you by surprise if you give Retronauts a nice review in the iTunes music store. And why not wrap your attractive body in one of our equally attractive t-shirts?
Our current run of Retronauts is winding down, and this marks my last stint in the hosting chair for this season. After venturing out into the terrifying world of unfamiliar UK games from the ’80s last week, I felt compelled to scurry back to the comforting embrace of the familiar this time around. Yes, it’s a return to that most abused and tired of classic Retronauts topics, Castlevania.
Since all those old episodes have long since vanished into the ether, we figured, “Why not?” We’ll almost certainly be revisiting topics from the older, now-missing seasons of Retronauts in the next phase of the show. Consider this a sort of warning shot, I suppose.
Not really much to say here except that the music is from the Akumajou Dracula MIDI Collection album, and also thanks! It’s been an interesting and sometimes challenging run fielding your various topic requests, and I hope you’ve enjoyed what we’ve put together over the past year. Thank you for your support, and I’m sure you’ll hear me stambling my way through hosting duties again in the not-too-distant future.
A buffet of download options awaits you!
You can also listen right here on this very blog post if you prefer:
In the many years we’ve been doing Retronauts (the show is almost eligible to be its own topic at this point), our one big weakness has been our coverage of ’80s UK gaming. This has made many people angry and is widely considered… well, kind of inevitable, really. The British 8-bit microcomputer scene of the ’80s was very specific to Britain; outside of the Commodore 64, all the systems that defined the decade for England never really had much availability or impact beyond the English Channel. Though it would prove to be a fertile ground for major players who remain active today (Jeff Minter! Codemasters! DMA Designs aka Rockstar North! Psygnosis aka Sony Liverpool! Peter Molyneux! Rare!), the actual games that those legendary designers and studios created rarely left the UK.
The importance of the scene has made it a crucial gap for the show, but the insularity of the scene has made it difficult to speak to it with any authority, what with us being outsiders and all. So, for my final episode of this backer-supported season of Retronauts — for which you can thank one Mike Wasson, by the way — I could think of no more appropriate scheme than to rectify Retronauts’ greatest failing at long last by tracking down someone who actually lived in the UK and followed the gaming scene.
Handily, this required almost zero effort on my part, given that Bob and I happen to work with an icon of the ’80s UK gaming press: USgamer editor-at-large Jaz Rignall, who covered the 8-bit micro scene as a feisty teenager back in Thatcher’s England. We did the research for this one, but he fills in the generalities and hearsay with experience and perspective. The result is, I think, one of our best episodes ever (despite so, so many technical issues), a whirlwind tour of a fascinating but (to us) alien facet of game history. I hope you also enjoy it!
Thanks to Jaz for joining in (despite our scheduling the recording session during the World Cup final, sorry!) and to Mike for prompting us to shore up this particular weakness.
Fill your earholes through the delivery system of your choosing:
You can listen right here if for some reason you are so inclined:
Links, curated with love for your edification:
Mega Man without the guns? Or is it Hook without the… hook? One thing is for sure: it’s Skyblazer, a fun action game for the Super NES from Sony Imagesoft, the developers’ follow-up to their game based on the movie Hook. Skyblazer was not flashy nor an anticipated sequel, which didn’t help its chances in 1994, going up against some of the biggest soon-to-be-classics of the generation. And that’s a shame, because it is a challenging, well put-together action game with with a focus on close-range fighting, occasional acrobatics, and getting past enemies that take too much of your health.
We talk about this and more on the show — including developer Ukiyotei’s other work, more of Skyblazer’s similarities to Mega Man, and of course, a strong suggestion that you seek it out and play it.
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As promised, we went on our east coast journey for this volume of Retronauts, and we’ve come back with this recording of our panel at TooManyGames 2014, titled The Life and Times of the 3DO.
Retronauts never covered 3DO (the company nor the platform) in earnest, and for us and many other game nerds, it’s been the butt of a joke. However, the system was not exactly DOA, despite some obvious stumbles out of the gate. And after doing a bunch of work writing about Warp, who started on 3DO, I thought it would make a good, fun episode that could, in fact, fit in a 60-minute convention panel.
I took a less casual approach with the panel than we have in the past, with an A-to-Z presentation that hits some key historical facts about the 3DO, from Trip Hawkins’ attempt to shake up the industry, and onward to a selection of 3DO games worth talking about. (There’s nearly nothing mentioned in the talk that requires you see it — and if so, there’s the video links below — but for the sake of completion, I’ve uploaded a hastily-exported PDF of the slides).
Though TooManyGames’ panel rooms were small compared to other venues we’ve been, the place was nearly full and everyone seemed to have a good time. Thanks to everyone who came, and suggested TMG to us in the first place. As for the rest of you, enjoy the show!
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Videos used and referenced in the show:
We just recently talked about the ColecoVision on Retronauts Pocket, but this time we talk about its competitor, the Intellivision, and it gets a full episode treatment! Mwahah! (Actually, no conspiracy here — it just worked out that way.)
Admittedly, we’re not big Intellivision intelligentsia — I was the only one of the hosts who owned it, and 18 years after it was relevant. But we’re here to appreciate, and that’s what we do. As one of the first, biggest challengers to the Atari 2600’s throne, the Intellivision came out in 1980 and was backed by Mattel’s marketing strength, which led to games licensed on sports leagues or Dungeons & Dragons, and nabbing author George Plimpton as their original pitchman. And while Atari got the rights to a lot of arcade hits, some of them came to Intellivision thanks to the Atarisoft imprint — a peculiar part of history we discuss on its own. Altogether, the Intellivision was a formidable opponent, with a library well worth exploring (including homebrew!).
Crowdfunding backer (and therefore official Retronauts FunFriend™) Adam Heberling lent us this topic as part of his reward, so send an internet Thank You, and feel free to discuss your best Intellivision memories and impressions in the comments.
Hey, everyone—Bob here, with an episode that’s been struggling to reach you for months. We originally recorded this one waaay back in December, but lost the original audio. That’s nearly the worst thing that can happen in podcasting, second only to having your equipment catch fire and slow-roast you to death in a tiny studio. But I’m happy we could make it work, because Policenauts is one of those games everyone seems to know about, but few have actually played. I used to be one of these unfortunate souls until I found the time late last year to sit down and plow through one of the few Hideo Kojima games I never experienced. It’s by no means as important or well-crafted as Metal Gear Solid, but Policenauts still carries all the charms of a Kojima work — and that just might be enough to inspire you to give it a try.
Joining us for this episode is Michael Sawyer — AKA Slowbeef — who worked on the complete fan translation released in 2009. I’m also a big fan of his Retsupurae channel, which means you should be, too! How are we ever going to turn this thing into a cult without ideological purity?
Libsyn (44:26 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud
This episode’s description:
“Esteemed game designer Hideo Kojima has had his hands full with Metal Gear (exclusively) for the past 15 years, but once upon a time his games featured far fewer nanomachines. On this installment of Retronauts Pocket, we take a long, hard look at Policenauts, Kojima’s 1994 adventure game that signaled the end of his brief flirtation with this genre. Join Bob Mackey, Ray Barnholt, and Michael Sawyer (AKA Slowbeef) for the next 45 minutes, and learn all about the wonders of Lethal Weapon in space.”
The music tracks used in this episode are The End of Beyond and Opening Title – Old L.A. 2040 from the Policenauts soundtrack (by Tappi Iwase, Masahiro Ikariko, and Motoaki Furukawa).
The Policenauts Translation Project
Slowbeef’s Let’s Play Policenauts
Retroware.tv’s Policenauts Retrospective
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