Category Archives: Video

I’ll be streaming Zelda for tonight’s Gintendo!

Yes, Zelda is this week’s big topic. That and Switch, but at the moment most people only care about Switch because of Zelda. Sadly, though, Nintendo won’t let us stream the new one, so in lieu of Breath of the Wild I will instead be streaming the Zelda that will serve as a subject for this week’s Retronauts recording marathon: Link’s Awakening.

(I was going to stream Power Blade today, but we’ll save that for some other time. There are many more streams to come!)

The magic will happen this afternoon at 5 p.m. ET, which is (rumor has it) 2 p.m. PT. You can enjoy the madness on my YouTube channel, per usual.

Will I reach the Wind Fish? (Spoilers: Not even close.)

This will, of course, be the final Gintendo for February! I’ll be out of town for the following week for Game Developers Conference and the aforementioned Retronauts recording weekend, but I’ll hit the ground running once I return. Thanks as always for your support of Retronauts video endeavors… and don’t forget that there’s a Final Fantasy IV episode of the show online and ready for your enjoyment if you support the podcast, too.

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Enjoy Bomberman’s most obscure outing with an afternoon live stream

I will once again be taking to the virtual airwaves this afternoon for another Gintendo livestream, this time at 5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. PT). I’ll be playing another pick-up from my trip to Japan, generously donated to the cause by Eric Klein of Kyde and Eric. It’s a little thing called “SameGame.”

That’s sah-meh gah-meh, not same game.

I discovered SameGame the same way I did Puzzle Bobble: By way of a shareware Mac-based ripoff on my university newspaper’s production computers. The real game is much more interesting than that simple clone, though.

Hudson’s SameGame only ever shipped in Japan, for Super Famicom. It came in an unusually oversized cartridge… yet it looks curiously reminiscent of something else. Specifically, if you’re familiar with the Japanese version of the Super Game Boy, it looks almost exactly identical to that cartridge.

And for good reason: Like Super Game Boy, SameGame is a cart within a cart. You can plug expansion packs into the top slot to switch up game elements. By default, it shipped with a Hudson mascot pack, and apparently this standard combo is not particularly in demand — overpriced Akihabara game shop Super Potato was selling this entire setup for a mere ¥180. That’s about a buck-fifty. They did have a couple of expansion packs as well, but those were selling for around $20 apiece… so I decided to go with just the basic pack, thank you very much. Apparently all the expansions really do is allow you to switch graphic to different tile sets, which is not really worth the premium. Besides, the default pak contains Bomberman and Bonk, so they kinda gave away the premium set…

I haven’t been able to find much concrete documentation for SameGame in English, so I have no idea how many jumper paks Hudson created, or what characters and properties they contained. I do know that SameGame was somehow able to connect to Nintendo’s Japan-only Super Famicom online service via the Satellaview, which I think allowed you to upload rankings to a leaderboard.

So, it’s a pretty neat 16-bit curio. It’s also not really that much of a game, so my guess is that I’ll play this for a while and then switch to something more exciting midway through the stream. I have no idea what that’ll be, but I’ll fish something fun out of my fairly respectable Super NES/Super Famicom collection to make it worth your while.

As always, you can witness the stream live and in person on my YouTube channel, or you can watch it later via the stream archive. See you there!

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Mario Bros. reconsidered

For this week’s Video Chronicles feature, I found myself taking a long, hard look at a familiar game — a too-familiar game, I should say — and reevaluating it. I’m old enough to remember playing Mario Bros. in arcades when it was brand new… and I also remember when Super Mario Bros. came along and suddenly made a perfectly entertaining arcade platformer feel like a terrible dinosaur. I’ve noticed a general sense of dismissal among Nintendo fans when it comes to the original Mario Bros., and the way it’s showed up as a bonus add-on in something like a dozen different Mario titles in the past 30 years hasn’t really done much to warm players to it. It can be difficult to care about a game when it’s treated as a sort of half-baked bonus, you know?

But taken on its own terms, Mario Bros. is still pretty fun. It’s a lot more primitive than Super Mario Bros., sure, but its stiff controls and jump physics somehow feel a lot more refined than those in games that Nintendo produced afterwards, e.g. Ice Climber, a similar co-op platformer whose physics were scientifically based on subatomic particles of pure anti-fun. On Famicom, Mario Bros. arrived a good two years before its sequel, but on NES we actually received after. Or at the same time, if you weren’t one of the cool kids who picked up an NES at its test launch in 1985. Still, that’s pretty rough treatment for a game that deserved a chance to shine on its own merits!

Anyway, find a friend and play some cooperative(-ish)  Mario Bros. You might be surprised by how good it is. Unless you’re one of the few faithful who never lost sight of its appeal, in which case: Well done, you.

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Chrontendo 51 is a real thing that has happened

I suspect anyone reading this blog probably already follows Chrontendo, but just in case: Occasional Retronauts guest Dr. Sparkle has uploaded the long-awaited new episode of the great-grandaddy of all chronological platform surveys. Even though the series’ pace has slowed to a few episodes per year, it remains far and away the most extensive and comprehensive of these little video projects (now having covered more than 750 games in total; Game Boy World should get there in the year 2035, approximately). I feel Retronauts should help promote spiritually aligned ventures, don’t you? So, you can give it a watch here, or click through to Dr. Sparkle’s YouTube channel and spend three days binge-watching the entire series:

Some pretty excellent stuff in this episode, along with some absolute trash. That’s probably inevitable at this point in the NES’s life: The Japanese side of things was hitting its sunset maturity, which meant veteran developers were squeezing the most out of the hardware while less respectable companies were churning out low-grade garbage in order to make the most of a saturated market before everyone abandoned ship for 16-bit systems. And on the Western side of things… well, they were trying, bless their hearts.

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Join me and Simon Belmont this afternoon for a Gintendo stream

Hi everyone, once you’ve savored this week’s super cool episode of the podcast, be sure to tune in for a brand new Gintendo stream. I don’t know if I’ll be able to stream daily this week, but I’ll do my best! Today I’d like to continue with my promise to celebrate Castlevania’s 30th anniversary by taking on the second Castlevania game: Simon’s Quest for NES. Or, possibly, I may try and slug my way through the Japanese version of the game, which appeared on the Famicom Disk System. As I demonstrated in last week’s Retronauts Radio episode, the Japanese “Dracula II” was essentially the same game as Simon’s Quest, all the way down to the infamous lying villagers, but it used the Disk System’s hardware for its soundtrack. It also included really annoying load times. So, if my increasingly cranky Disk System will behave long enough to keep the stream up and running, I will attempt to show off this slightly weird rendition of an old familiar favorite this afternoon… and if not, well, I’ll just play plain ol’ Simon’s Quest. In English.

Either way, the stream begins at 4:30 E.T. this afternoon (that’s 1:30 P.T.), so set some time aside and join me as I try to remember where the heck I’m supposed to go in this open-ended non-linear adventure. I may need your help for advice on where to go next, actually. And I’ll try not to slow down the adventure by grinding out levels in the mansions….

You can view the stream on my YouTube channel, or catch it here on the site once it’s archived.

“I will drink your blood like cherry pop gin and tonic!”

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Gintendo returns with Japanese gin and Japanese mystery games

I had hoped to stream some Gintendo videos from abroad as I traveled through Japan last week collecting interviews for Retronauts, but that didn’t happen; between jet lag, a packed schedule, and the last lingering bits of a cold, I simply wasn’t able to. Don’t worry, though, because I’m going to make up for the disruption with style. Beginning tomorrow, I will be hosting frequent Gintendo streams featuring the games I picked up while in Tokyo (mostly per Patron request).

I’ll kick things off tomorrow at 5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. PT) with a mystery stream:

I will be playing whatever this strange Game Boy cartridge contains. This is a Nintendo Power cartridge, which has nothing to do with the American magazine — rather, it’s a blank rewritable cart that you could take to a convenience store kiosk and load up with inexpensive games. The service has long since become defunct, so carts like this one exist as relics of sort, containing whatever games the last owner happened to have downloaded. There are a couple of pretty cool games on this one, according to the label, so hopefully it still works when I plug it in tomorrow. Join me tomorrow to enjoy the surprise.

Also new for this stream: I picked up the legendary Super Game Boy Commander controller for use with Game Boy World (and related streams). The controller I’ve been using has been a standard Super Famicom controller, which I picked up last time I was in Japan. It was naturally in much better condition than any vintage Super NES controller you’re likely to find here in the U.S… but the controller cable is so short that it’s difficult to use with my office setup. The Commander has a nice lengthy cable, and it’s specifically laid out for use with Game Boy software, so that should be a nice upgrade.

And finally, the gin for the evening will be the very first gin ever distilled in Japan (so far as my research can determine): The Kyoto Distillery’s Ki no Bi (as in “the beauty of seasons,” not as in Obi-wan Kenobi). It debuted back in October, and obviously, I had to acquire a bottle for Gintendo purposes. Big thanks to Retronauts friend Kyle McLain for helping me to track it down!

You can watch the stream Thursday afternoon here or on the YouTube channel.

http://www.youtube.com/c/JeremyParish/live

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Celebrate Valentine’s with gaming’s original couple (almost)

This week’s Video Chronicles feature couldn’t have been timed more fittingly, although I admit the scheduling was nothing more than a coincidence: Popeye for NES, wherein a mumbling spinach junkie attempts to rescue his lady love from the burliest of competing suitors. If things had gone as originally intended, though, this game might have been something completely different; Donkey Kong would have been a Popeye game, making Popeye and Olive Oyl gaming’s original romantic couple… and also meaning Mario would never have existed. Now there’s an alternate timeline worth contemplating.

Playing Popeye for this production gave me a better appreciation of the game. I’ve always considered it a lesser work by Nintendo, but it’s better than I’d originally given it credit for. Not a timeless great, certainly, but decently ambitious.

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Donkey Kong Jr. arrives fashionably late to Good Nintentions

Tuesday is normally Video Chronicles Day, but this week I’m on Japan time. Which means… this should have been up on Monday, not Thursday. Well, I’m also on jet lag time, as well as really nasty cold time. So… just forgive me this one scheduling glitch.

My hope is that you’ll find the quality of the content justifies the delay:

We’re just about through the NES debuts of all of Famicom’s launch-day titles, and also just about through the NES Donkey Kong trilogy. While this is all pretty well-trodden territory, you’ll be pining for the delightful excellence of the Donkey Kong series once we hit Urban Champion. Mark my words.

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Oops, an unannounced Gintendo

Yesterday afternoon we recorded the first episode of Retronauts East, which I desperately hope turns out well — there’s a lot of fine-tuning that needs to happen with our recording setup, so the sound quality could turn out to be kind of awful. I guess we’ll find out! Once we wrapped the recording session, I decided to celebrate the show’s eastward expansion by launching an impromptu and unannounced Gintendo live stream of Castlevania:

Incredibly enough, it went remarkably well. Shockingly well, actually. I aced the two big sticking-point battles on my first go (skip ahead to 16:30 if you want to see the most impressive showing I’ve ever put up versus Frankenstein’s Monster and Igor). Then… the second half of the stream consists of my nerve breaking and me failing abysmally against Dracula’s stage and the final battle, over and over again. It was a pretty solid first half, though! I guess you could blame the gin (Reisetbauer Blue, if you’re curious).

Anyway, it’s here if you’d like to watch it.

I head out of town for a week on Sunday, so I won’t be able to host a normal Gintendo while I’m abroad. Although… I guess there’s technically nothing stopping me from taking along, say, the Retro USB AVS? And an Elgato device? And maybe picking up some random retro Famicom games and playing them? Hmm. If nothing else, I might try and stream a stroll through Akihabara or something, assuming it won’t devastate my international data plan. And I definitely will be posting all throughout next week on my game-shopping and developer-interviewing exploits in Tokyo, so you can at least look forward to that.

(Promo art by Rusty Shackles)

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Ping pong, like love, is a battlefield

One really great thing about Game Boy World: Finding strange obscurities that intersect with things I love. Example for today: Battle Ping Pong.

Have you ever heard of Battle Ping Pong before today? I’m going to go ahead and say, “No, you haven’t.” This one was pretty tough to track down (not quite as hard as Hong Kong, since a search on eBay for “Game Boy” “Hong Kong” nets you a lot of Asia-region releases and bootlegs, but still tough), because evidently most people haven’t heard of it — even in Japan. It was worth it, though! It’s one of the very first games created by developer Quest, one of my absolute favorite game studios of yore. Quest created Ogre Battle, Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics, and their key personnel has had a hand in the likes of Final Fantasy XII and Crimson Shroud. Quest is awesome. Well, was awesome. R.I.P., Quest.

Battle Ping Pong isn’t really all that awesome, though. This was clearly put together in the “walk before you can run” phase for the studio, and it’s pretty interesting as a curio. But it’s actually kind of crummy as a table tennis sim. It feels weird to use the words “Quest” and “crummy” together in the same mental breath, but, well, sometimes that’s how it goes.

Fortunately the next Game Boy World episode covers a game that, I hope, will bring us out of the doldrums of import obscurity. Please look forward to it in a few weeks.

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