Category Archives: Video

The leader of the Kong bunch: A Donkey Kong retrospective

In the course of my chronological console library video projects, there are certain Big Ones: Games that carry considerable weight, whether that’s historic or merely psychological. This week’s Good Nintentions tackles a game that possesses both kinds of weight: The original Donkey Kong.

This video is ostensibly about the NES version of the game, but in practice I barely even touch on that adaptation. There’s a great deal to be said about Donkey Kong, and I tried to say as much as I could here. The NES version analysis will have to wait until next week’s episode, I’m afraid.

I’ve written quite a lot about Donkey Kong over the years, and I’m perfectly happy to make this video retrospective a sort of final statement on the subject. It probably won’t be, but it could be, is what I’m saying. Anyway, please enjoy.

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Filed under Video, Video Chronicles

This video was not quite a Labor of love. A Patrol Labor, that is.

Game Boy World makes its 2017 debut today. I would like to say the subject at hand is inspirational and sets a great precedent for the year, but that would make me a heckin’ liar. On the contrary, this latest Game Boy release is all kinds of mundane. Not wretched, not enjoyable, just kinda there, a legacy of a publisher’s willingness to peddle a fairly popular license without giving much thought to the quality of the problem attached to it. It’s a shame, because I really like the Patlabor franchise and think it could make a heck of a game in the right hands.

To add to the sorrow: This YouTube video has unfortunately been blocked by Bandai in Japan due to my inclusion of some footage from the anime franchise being covered here. If you happen to be one of the rare few who watch Game Boy World from Japan, I apologize. You can watch via Libsyn instead:

Either way, you’re in for an 11-minute video of which about 7 concern how cool Patlabor (the anime) is, while the rest kind of offers a perfunctory critique of how tedious Patlabor (the Game Boy game) turned out to be. I scraped as much game discussion as I could out of this, but there’s a weird element to the game in which you’re given a password after completing a stage which does not function as the password for continuing the game. I had intended to take the time to translate the dialogue in an attempt to figure out what I needed to do in order to advance, but time constraints kicked in and this is as far as I made it. Patron Max Smith shared a Nico Nico link that shows footage from later in the game and… it’s all the same thing. Just dull turn-based robot fights from start to finish. So, no great loss.

Next episode concerns a game that maybe isn’t great but is definitely weird and comes from an interesting developer, so I’ll try to make up for this episode’s shortcomings there.

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Filed under Retronauts, Video, Video Chronicles

Live stream [archived]: Donkey Kong ’94 (the Game Boy one)

Update: The stream has ended and you can watch the archived version below! Thanks to all who joined in.

Last week’s Gintendo trial stream seems to have gone over quite well, so I’m going to try another test flight this evening. Several people didn’t like the fact that I had my streaming software set to mute the game audio whenever I spoke, so this time around I’ll see how it goes when I adjust the broadcast to keep the game action audible beneath my mutterings.

The game featured this time around will fall into my Game Boy specialty wheel house: Nothing less than Donkey Kong ’94. I’ve been capturing footage for the Donkey Kong NES retrospective episode of Good Nintentions, and this process has reminded me how danged great the Game Boy remake/sequel/reinvention was. Seriously, it’s exceptional. So! I’ll spend an hour farting around with it tonight, maybe make some progress, who knows.

The stream will go live at 5:30 p.m. ET (that’s 2:30 p.m. PT and Super Gol-danged Late GMT) on my YouTube channel. Or, you know, you could just watch it here.

This is, of course, a Gintendo stream. Tonight’s drink will be a gin and tonic made with Cardinal American Dry gin, which is distilled here in North Carolina — like the saying goes, “Think globally, drink locally.” Or something like that. And if you enjoy this follow-up test stream and would like to help make it a regular, weekly affair, it’s the next funding goal for the Retronauts Video Chronicles campaign. (There’s less than $200 to go before I commit myself to streaming once or twice a week.)

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Filed under Gintendo, Video

Go go go! It’s… Mach Rider

Today’s a Tuesday, which means it’s (1) the day Bison visits Chun-Li’s village and (2) the day a new episode of Good Nintentions Retronauts Video Chronicles goes live. This time around, it’s a look at Mach Rider for NES:

Like Donkey Kong Jr. Math, Mach Rider exists in a state of quantum actual-release-date flux. Nintendo says it launched one date (Oct. 1985); every other source from the time says it launched considerably later (anywhere from March to August 1986). So, I’ve grouped it with Math as a provisional 1986 release and called it a day.

For the most part, this video focuses on the game’s design and how its racing tech (and uncredited development staff) appears to tie it to an older Famicom game that never shipped in the U.S.: F1 Race, which like Mach Rider was co-developed by HAL. Everything I’ve come up with is, unfortunately, speculative, but it’s not difficult to connect the dots and see how one game might have served as the foundation for the other, given the common staff, similar tech, and seemingly U.S.-oriented aesthetics and design of this game.

As for Mach Rider itself, it’s decent enough. I’ve never been able to find much to love about it myself, but I came into it later. I imagine it was probably a heck of a showcase for the console’s capabilities back in 1986. The game moves fast when you’re in 4th gear… maybe too fast. The lack of any actual scaling technology in the NES hardware means that obstacles on the road become extremely hazardous due to positional ambiguity. It becomes difficult to judge how far away objects are from you and where on the road they actually lie, laterally speaking. It feels kind of shabby to criticize the game, though — this was an early NES game running on bare hardware with no cartridge enhancements, and while it’s certainly no Out Run, it’s an impressive example of what the most accomplished NES programmers could achieve without add-on aids. That it’s ultimately only so-so as a game puts it in good company with far less spectacular-looking releases of the era; at least this one has visual pizzazz going for it.

And a brazen Rush reference. That counts for a lot, in my book.

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Filed under Video, Video Chronicles

Stream complete: G.I. Joe features in the Gintendo test run [Archived]

The next funding goal for the Retronauts Video Chronicles will be weekly live streams — and not just live streams, but the “Gintendo” streams I’ve been threatening to produce for the past few months. You guys thought it was a Twitter joke, but I meant it! The idea should, hopefully, be somewhat self-explanatory: I play a classic game and sip a libation of some sort. (Not necessarily gin, though that’s definitely my preferred substance to abuse.)

We haven’t quite hit that mark yet, but it’s only about $150/mo. away and I feel pretty confident that the rad people of the internet will make it happen. So tonight will be a test run in a number of respects. I’ve never used YouTube for streaming before, nor have I streamed anything since rearranging my office setup last month. I figure the Friday evening of a holiday weekend is probably the best possible time to attempt to try a dry run for something so fraught with technical concerns and learning curves.

The stream is now archived here:

But please be patient, as this will definitely be a “working out the kinks” kind of stream.

  • Tonight’s game of choice will be G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, developed by Kid and published by Taxan for NES.
  • Tonight’s beverage of choice will be a negroni made with Barr Hill honey gin. (Equal parts gin, Carpano Antica vermouth, and Campari, shaken with ice and enjoyed up.)

I will share whatever knowledge I have for both as I enjoy them together. Assuming setup complications don’t get the best of me, that is. Please watch and play along… or drink along… or both… or neither. Really, the choice is yours.

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Filed under Gintendo, Video