We Answer Your Burning Questions on Retronauts Episode 20

retronauts 20 cover

Hey everyone — it’s your buddy Bob here with a minor disclaimer. Our audio equipment goofed up during the recording of this episode, and without the common decency to show any symptoms of its goofery. This isn’t a major problem, but Kat and Ray come off sounding little quieter than Jeremy and myself, and I had to perform the audio editing equivalent of open-heart surgery to make episode 20 as listenable as possible. And because I spent so much time fixing this one, I don’t have much left to write my standard overlong blog post, so I hope you can forgive me.

That said, this one is our listener mail episode, and our old friend Kat Bailey sat in to help us field some of your questions (and there were a lot of them). Oh yeah, and be sure to enter our new contest! Just write a review of Retronauts in the iTunes music store (an honest one!) by May 14 at 11:59pm PST—remembering to use the word “fandango” at some point within your text—and you’ll be entered whether you like it or not. All three winners will receive a free t-shirt, but our grand prize winner will have their topic idea made into an episode! Exciting!

Libsyn (1:44:21 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud

This episode’s description:

“Mail call! Or something like that. Retronauts might be too cool for the United States Postal Service, but that doesn’t mean we can’t answer your burning questions! On this listener-focused episode, join Bob Mackey, Jeremy Parish, Ray Barnholt and Kat Bailey as they respond to fans who submitted their online-digital-e-messages to Retronauts.com. NOTE: due to a technical fudge-up, Ray and Kat are a little quieter than they should be. Lots of time was spent getting this episode to the state it’s in now, so please be kind!”

And if you’re interested in getting all of Ray’s issues of SCROLL for one low price (including a lot of other great writing), visit storybundle.com.

This week in Retronauts, we go (Captain) Commando

We’ve had a string of NES-themed episodes based on backer requests lately, but this will be the last of them (at least for a while): A look into the NES years of Capcom.

retronauts pocket 19 cover

I have more to say about this topic (courtesy of a separate backer request), so I won’t belabor the details now. But basically, Capcom started out as an arcade developer with an internal division dedicated to creating Famicom/NES ports of their coin-op titles. In time, though, the home console division took on a life of its own, creating some of the finest original (and semi-original) titles of the 8-bit era.

Or at the official episode description says:

By our powers combined! (With the backing of Larry Froncek.) We delve into Capcom’s NES years, also known as the point at which a fledgling arcade developer became a world-class console powerhouse.

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The music this episode all comes from various Mega Man games, because, hey.

Howard says: “Listen to Retronauts Episode 19 today!”

Nester says: “I’ll listen tomorrow.”

Honestly, though, it doesn’t matter which of Nintendo’s Goofus ‘n Gallant duo you heed, or when you listen to Retronauts 19. The important thing is that you do. Uplift yourself.

Kickstarter backer Tyler Castro joins us this episode to discuss Nintendo Power, which is why we barely touched on such an influential magazine in our sprawling games publications episode a couple of weeks ago. We had to pace ourselves, you know? There’s an interesting mix of hands-on perspectives in this one. Being the haggard old person of this venture, I was a Nintendo Power subscriber from day one, whereas the other guys came in somewhat later. But we all agree on the tragedy that was Nintendo Power‘s N64/GameCube years, and the quality of Future’s revamp of the book.

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Episode description: Backer Tyler Castro joins us to discuss the flip side of our game magazines episode: Nintendo Power. Why does this propaganda rag command such affection among Gen-X types? We, the brainwashed, explore the Barnum principles behind its succcess.

Music incorporated into this episode:

  • Ninja Gaiden: The Ninja Dragon
  • Rygar: Gran Mountains
  • Power Blade: Stage 2
  • Battle of Olympus: Phthia
  • Bionic Commando: Area 08
  • Metroid: Kraid’s Lair
  • Mega Man 2: Quick Man
  • Wizards & Warriors: Title Screen

Thanks again to Tyler for supporting Retronauts! And also all the other people who support it. You folks are peaches.

We Want Your Comments for our Listener Mail Episode!

normal_quillEver since the revival of Retronauts, people have been requesting — nay, demanding — we bring back our listener mail segment. And while we’ve yet to christen an official P.O. Box for its government-sanctioned purpose, there are other, easier ways to have us answer your smoldering questions: Like this very blog post! I’m planning a special viewer mail episode for our next recording, so if you desire to have a question answered by three guys who promise not to make fun of your name, regardless of consonant abundance, please leave them in the comments section below. But be sure to drop us a line before Friday, because that’s when I plan on gathering your missives for discussion in The Retronauts Vault. Thanks in advance, and, please, let’s try to keep things PG-13. Or at least a soft R.

Small delay

Just a quick note this morning: Episode 19 will be a day or two late, as I’m dealing with a pretty awful cold (and possible ear infection) that knocked me flat over the weekend. Expect the episode tomorrow or Wednesday. It’ll be worth the wait!

I hope.

Retronauts Pocket Episode 18: Nintendo Merchandise

Coming off the heels of last week’s talk about game media, which was a particularly rich trip down memory lane, we have this week’s episode of Retronauts Pocket, which explores another part of retro gaming minus the actual gaming: the merch! If you’re of our generation, where your childhood was defined by 20-to-30- year-old games, then there’s a good chance you came across a sticker sheet, a pack of trading cards, a bedding set, or whatever else branded with your favorite game characters.

With that in mind, we take a different trip down memory lane and touch on some highlights of Nintendo’s early journeys into Mario, Zelda, etc. merchandise. The cereal, the shampoo, the cake pans, and some special attention paid to Nintendo Power’s Super Power Club catalog. Join us, won’t you? And feel free to talk about any of the trinkets we didn’t!

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Retronauts Volume III Episode 18: Video Game Media

This week on Retronauts, the podcast about old video games… we don’t even talk about games! Or hardware! Or anything interactive! Instead, we talk about something just as retro: these floppy bundles of paper that would have information about games! (Yes, yes, har-har). From backer Daniel Turner we have nearly two hours of talk featuring a (very American) rundown of notable game magazines from the usual scope of Retronauts (very ‘90s). That means plenty of chatting about about GamePro, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Video Games & Computer Entertainment, and of course, DieHard GameFan, among many others.
We all enjoyed game magazines for different reasons, but one of the common themes brought up was that of personality — sure, for a while, it was great when magazines would shotgun previews and import news onto page spreads, but once magazines like Game Players transformed themselves into more jovial, freewheeling publications and made the editors seem like the regular people they were (are!), it’s like the clarity of our memories shot up tenfold. Go figure.
But we just don’t talk about magazines — tangents include tip-focused paperbacks and game company newsletters, as well. In the second part of the show, we talk about some of the earliest and most notable game websites (or AOL portals, depending), including a little site called 1UP. Returning guest Matt Leone is with us to help explain and share in the nostalgia-go-round that is this episode. And if you’re wanting to join us, you can find many of the magazines we talked about on sites like Retromags.

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Go Out of this World with Retronauts Pocket Episode 17

Retronauts 17 Pocket cover

Bob here — Growing up with games, Eric Chahi’s Out of this World (or Another World for our non-American listeners) existed as this idiosyncratic, enigmatic experience that came off as more than a little intimidating for how it didn’t play by “the rules.” And more than 20 years after its release, Chahi’s extremely influential work remains just as strange and captivating as it was in 1992 — so I guess you can’t blame the guy for his perpetual efforts to make Another World available to modern audiences. That said, this unassuming, 30-minute adventure about a red-haired dork with a ray gun had an immeasurable impact on the world of gaming, and in this episode, we go over the typical running time of Retronauts Pocket to gush about Another World and the many ways it influenced design and narrative since its release. Joining us for this one is Duckfeed.tv’s Gary Butterfield, who runs the amazing retro games podcast Watch Out for Fireballs, which you’ll probably love if you’re a fan of Retronauts. And if you’re not a fan of us, I can only question why you’ve read this far.

Libsyn (42:02 | MP3 | 38.5 MB) | SoundCloud

This episode’s description:

“Matsuba! Regardless of how you interpret this alien expression, Eric Chahi’s Out of this World (or Another World to our European friends) wowed its early-’90s audience with its enigmatic atmosphere and lack of respect for convention — which is probably why it remains so playable today. Join Bob Mackey, Ray Barnholt, Jeremy Parish, and Watch Out for Fireballs’ Gary Butterfield as the Retronauts travel to hostile, new worlds and befriend hulking (but pleasant) humanoids.”

Relevant Links:

The Making of Another World

The OTHER Another World

The OTHER Out of this World

The OTHER OTHER Out of this World (ALF’s)

Let’s Play Heart of the Alien

Let’s Play Heart of Darkness

You will remain safe from the dangers of otherworldly death-slugs if you review our show in the iTunes Music Store.

Parappa the Rapper and Um Jammer Lammy Bring on the Jams in Retronauts Episode 17

Retronauts 17 cover

Hey folks — Bob here, with an episode I’ve wanted to make since I started working on Retronauts back in 2011. It might be hard to believe, but the original Parappa the Rapper turns — dear god — 18 years old in 2014, so more than enough time has passed to make it just as rusty and crusty as our usual subject matter. But there’s much more to Parappa than just a single game, as you’ll see from this slightly oversized installment. Mostly, I’m using episode 17 as an opportunity to preach the virtues of Um Jammer Lammy, the unloved Parappa sequel which actually suffered from its lack of a cynical marketing campaign. Joining us for this one is Gamasutra’s Christian Nutt, a Retronauts veteran who’s just as fanatical about Parappa and Lammy as I am — so apologies if we tend to dominate the conversation. That said, please enjoy! And yes, we probably should have mentioned Gitaroo-Man at some point.

Libsyn (1:43:57 | MP3 | 95.2 MB) | SoundCloud

This episode’s description:

“In those oh-so optimistic ’90s, Parappa the Rapper taught an entire generation  there’s no shame in playing a game about a paper-thin puppy who raps about pooping. But when the end of the decade saw a sequel about a guitar-playing lamb, our love affair with musically adept cartoon animals was over. Join Bob Mackey, Ray Barnholt, Jeremy Parish, and Gamasutra’s Christian Nutt as the Retronauts discuss the Parappa the Rapper series and get cocky, even in the face of potential rockiness.”

This episode’s musical breakdown:

  • 9:29 – “Cubic Lovers” (PSY*S)
  • 20:27 – Parappa the Rapper “Instructor Mooselini’s RAP”
  • 50:34 – Um Jammer Lammy “Baby Baby!!”
  • 1:02:01 – Um Jammer Lammy “Fright Flight!!” (Lammy/Parappa version)
  • 1:07:20 – Parappa the Rapper 2 “Toasty Buns”
  • 1:22:48 – Um Jammer Lammy “Casino in my Hair”
  • 1:26:25 – Vib Ribbon “Universal Dance” (Laugh and Beats)
  • 1:40:50 – Um Jammer Lammy “Keep Your Head Up!”

Relevant Links:

VGMpire Episode 61 – UmRapper Palammy

Metamor Jupiter

Peter Gabriel’s Xplora1 (1993)


Dazzleoids: CD-ROM Superheroes on a Binge Against Boredom

Rodney’s Funscreen

Can – Turtles Have Short Legs (the inspiration for Instructor Mooselini’s RAP)

Parappa the Rapper anime intro

Jung Rhythm

Gamasutra’s 2009 Masaya Matsuura interview

Parappa the Rapper Jukebox

Um Jammer Lammy Jukebox

Your digestive system will be protected from the hazards of seafood cake if you review our show in the iTunes Music Store.

I guess Retronauts Pocket Episode 16 is a success! This is the way!

Sorry this episode is a little late. The Rood Inverse is a real pain in the butt to recreate in Illustrator, as it turns out.

Retronauts Pocket cover

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Yes, this week we have the counterpart to last week’s Yasumi Matsuno episode, a less game-oriented and more story/mythology-focused discussion of Matusno’s Ivalice games (Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, Final Fantasy XII) and the Ivalice games that came after (Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, Final Fantasy Tactics A2, and some others not worth mentioning here). We even talk about Fortress, the Final Fantasy XII sequel that never was. This week’s topic comes to us courtesy of Jeff Tibayan.

Exciting times, friends. Hopefully you’re not sick of this topic yet… but if you are, well, take comfort in knowing that next week’s conversation will be on a very different subject.

Anyway, now all I want to do is just replay these games over and over again. The simple act of splicing in the Giza Plains theme from Final Fantasy XII made me twitch. I don’t know what it is about Matsuno’s creations, but they have a way of getting under my skin like few other games. I don’t know if that enthusiasm actually translates into the show thanks to my apparent inability to emote, though. Oh well!