Monthly Archives: September 2013

Rock Out to Retronauts Episode 7

Retronauts 7 cover

People still talk about how much they liked the game music history episode of Retronauts we did many many years ago under the 1UP aegis and have asked many times for us to do another… and, as it happens, James Eldred of Lost Turntable put some Kickstarter backer money on the table to co-host an episode of the show. Since James specializes in music preservation with a strong interest in video games (check out some of the cool rarities on his site), it seemed natural for us to revisit the game music topic. This episode is much lengthier than the old one, exploring the evolution of music in games… and I made a conspicuous effort to avoid covering too much of the same ground as in the old show.

Retronauts backer James Eldred of joins Jeremy, Bob, and Ray to talk about the highs and lows of the history of video game music in this nearly two-hour ramblefest.

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This episode’s musical inclusions:

  • 0:05 – Retronauts Vol. III Main Theme
  • 15:01 – Snafu (MIDI arrangement)
  • 17:34 – Rally-X
  • 21:04 – Gentle Giant “Time to Kill”
  • 20:18 – Silver Surfer “Level 1”
  • 31:52 – Bionic Commando “Tune 5” (C64 version)
  • 37:54 – Psycho Solder “Main Theme” (cassette version)
  • 45:12 – Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance “Successor of Fate”
  • 50:27 – Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin “Invitation of a Crazed Moon”
  • 54:27 – Techno Cop “Title Theme”
  • 1:14:48 – Symphony of the Night “Unused Track”
  • 1:16:28 – Vib-ribbon “Universal Dance”
  • 1:20:45 – Spyro the Dragon “Alpine Ridge”
  • 1:34:26 – Tempest 2000 “Constructive Demolition”
  • 1:38:23 – Streets of Rage 2 “Back to the Industry”
  • 1:40:27 – Chrono Trigger: The Brink of Time “Chrono Trigger”
  • 1:42:24 – Sexy Parodius “Pastoral March”
  • 1:44:53 – Evergrace “Castle of Regression”
  • 1:47:45 – Chase H.Q. “Main Theme Flexidisc Remix”
  • 1:51:20 – Castlevania: Dracula Perfect Battle Selection “Beginning”

You’ll have to excuse the sound quality of the Snafu sound embed — I wasn’t able to get original game audio, so I had to convert a MIDI recreation, which doesn’t sound authentic. The Athena song isn’t the one ripped from the game but rather the version that appeared on a cassette tape pack-in with the Japanese Famicom release of the game. And as for Gentle Giant… well, that prog rock episode happened for a reason, you know?


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Retronauts Pocket Episode 6: Genesis Accessories

Retronauts Pocket 6

So, last time I (Ray) hosted Pocket, we talked about NES accessories. And rather than just go down the line and talk about the SNES next, I thought there was a much more funky story to tell with the Sega Genesis. The line of Genesis accessories started out fairly normally — an arcade stick, the Power Base Converter — but by the mid-’90s, Sega was throwing everything at it, and usually as a clear response to whatever Nintendo was doing: the Menacer light gun was the answer to the Super Scope and looked like some kind of space uzi; the Mega Mouse lived a brief life as it countered the also-shortly-lived Super NES mouse; and the Activator was… certainly something, wasn’t it? But among that were important and interesting additions like the official six-button pad, the Sega Channel cable-modem distribution service, and a few others.

On this episode, Bob, Jeremy and Retronauts episode 6 guest Matt Leone join me as I describe these interesting add-ons, and this time, I brought a couple more clips from commercials to spice things up. Hope you like it, and we’ll see you next week.

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Retronauts Volume III Episode 6: Arcade Racing Games

Retronauts 6 cover

Ray here. Lots of different games tickle my fancy, but one of my bigger loves is the arcade racer. It’s a genre that’s seen many big hits — namely Daytona USA and Ridge Racer — but there’s plenty of exciting games that came before and after those rivals. And fortunately for us, these kinds of racing games are ubiquitous enough that all of us on the show had some experience with them. Joining us this week is fellow 1UP alum and current Polygon editor Matt Leone, who lends his arcade knowledge and trivia to this talk of the racing genre.

We go back and forth between Japanese and Western racing games, exploring the strides being made on either side for more than 40 years. Not only do we talk about individual games, but we also take a moment or two or talk about where they might be going. The old-school arcade game design sense of making things hard and quarter-sucking as possible has slowly morphed into games that encourage players to enjoy the spectacle and not get too down about failing. American developers like Raw Thrills embrace that with their Fast & The Furious series, though in Japan, the genre seems to be fading away quickly — or at least becoming nothing but Initial D games.

As I mention near the top of the show, the racing genre has a dense, dense history, and we couldn’t mention every single game that was interesting. Because of that, we briefly talk about some and just plum forgot about others (for example, why did I not think of Sonic & All-Stars Racing?). This includes a lot of notable ports of those games, too — but my excuse is that we stick to the arcades where possible. So expect it, listen to it, and love it.

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This episode’s breakdown:

  • 0:46 | Introductions & the earliest years of arcade racing games
  • 11:31 | Music: Pole Position cartoon theme
  • 12:01 | The later ’80s and into the ’90s (Virtua Racing)
  • 30:05 | Music: Virtua Racing selection theme
  • 30:34 | Some ’80s stragglers
  • 34:46 | Music: RoadBlasters theme
  • 35:11 | The mid ’90s (Daytona USA, Ridge Racer)
  • 48:07 | Music: Daytona USA “Let’s Go Away” on piano
  • 48:39 | The rise of the West in the late ’90s (Cruis’n USA)
  • 57:04 | Music: Cruis’n World title theme
  • 57:35 | Into the 21st century
  • 1:17:07 | Closing

NEXT WEEK: Pocket explores another system’s range of accessories.


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Retronauts Pocket Episode 5: The Media vs. NintendoMania

Retronauts Pocket 5 cover

Libsyn (36:38 | MP3 | 25.3 MB | SoundCloud)

Hey, it’s another episode of Retronauts Pocket! And this time around, we decided to take a look at the always-misinformed media’s reaction to late ’80s NintendoMania. What is this mysterious grey box from Japan, and how can we free our children from its pixellated tentacles?  Modern media giants Bill O’ Reilly and John Stossel asked these questions 25 years ago, and we recommend you check out their respective segments before digging into our own discussion:

Inside Edition (1988)

20/20 – “Nuts for Nintendo”

“Video Mania” (1991)

This episode’s description:

“In what could be the most John Stossel-heavy Retronauts episode of all time (we hope), your favorite classic gaming buddies and special guest Henry Gilbert (of GamesRadar) take a look at how the media reacted to Nintendo conquering a generation of children in the late ’80s. Sit back, relax, and get ready to hear middle-aged adults growing progressively crankier about how kids can’t stop playing those damned vidya games.”

This episode’s outro music:

“Super Mario Bros.” arranged by Motoi Sakuraba for Famicom 20th Anniversary Arrange Sound Tracks

Thanks again to Henry Gilbert, and be sure to check out his work on GamesRadar and the Laser Time Network!


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Retronauts Volume III Episode 5: The History of Video Game Violence

Retronauts 5 cover

Violence: it’s what’s for dinner. Well, maybe not, but smashing faces and killing dudes has been the primary mode of expression for video games since they gained the ability to depict the human form. And though Retronauts features the scariest demographic, at least in terms of sensationalist media scapegoating — we are three white guys who grew up frolicking in digital geysers of blood and gore, after all — this episode should prove we’re at least well-adjusted enough to have a 90-minute conversation without even a hint of neck-throttling. (We saved that for the after party.)

With this installment on video game violence, I decided to take a look at how each successive scandal thus far displays a society coming to terms with a new form of media, as they did with novels, radio, television, movies, and possibly holo-porn in the not-too-distant future. Of course, this isn’t to say that complaints about video game violence don’t have any merit, but unfortunately, the most vocal outcries tend to stem from a healthy combination of fear and ignorance. That said, we tried to be fair and balanced in the non-ironic sense of the term, even though a lot of this episode is dedicated to laughing at clueless opportunists who sought to blame video games as an easy answer for society’s ills. And yes, we do talk about a certain repugnant figure with the initials “J.T.”

Special thanks go out to GamesRadar’s Henry Gilbert, who did a great job at guesting on both of the episodes he recorded with us. Be sure to check out his comic book podcast Cape Crisis on the always awesome Laser Time network!

Libsyn (1:36:17 | MP3 | 88.1 MB) | SoundCloud

This episode’s description:

“Video games have been no stranger to scandal; even before the first splash of digital blood could be rendered on our TV screens, gaming threatened to warp minds, steal souls, and possibly, lead to rampant slackerism. Join the Retronauts crew as they explore the many smear campaigns levied towards gaming throughout the decades, mostly by clueless opportunists who couldn’t see the clean, wholesome fun at work in every Murder Simulator.”

This episode’s (musical) breakdown:

  • 1:25 | Kirby’s Dream Land 2 “Rick the Hamster″ (Hirokazo Ando, Tadashi Ikegami)
  • 15:20 | Phoenix Wright Orchestra Album “Objection!” (Noriyuki Iwadare)
  • 41:35 | Phoenix Wright Orchestra Album “Courtroom Suite (PW1)” (Noriyuki Iwadare)
  • 1:02:59 | Phoenix Wright Orchestra Album “Investigation ~ Mystery Suite” (Naoto Tanaka)
  • 1:20:59 | Phoenix Wright Orchestra Album ” Miles Edgeworth ~ Great Revival” (Noriyuki Iwadare)
  • 1:33:58 | Night Trap “Night Trap Theme” (Alan Smithee)

Relevant Links:

CNBC’s 1977 Death Race expose


The Expurgation of Maniac Mansion

Things I Learned from the 1993 Game Violence Senate Hearing

Next week: We take a look at how the media handled late-’80s NintendoMania. (Hint: poorly.)


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