Monthly Archives: December 2013

Retronauts Pocket Episode 12: Quake

Retronauts 12 Pocket cover

Doom just turned 20 years old, but Retronauts decides to talk about Quake instead. In my case, sometimes you just don’t realize until the day comes.

Though Quake was id Software’s long-awaited successor to Doom, and even got more sequels, it doesn’t seem to be as fondly remembered. Sometimes it seems like it’s the butt of a joke when talking about “brown” shooters. While Quake was a very brown game, I still don’t like that’s where it ended up — it was fun, honing the speedy run-and-gun gameplay of Doom while helping bring accessible internet multiplayer gaming to the masses, and a mod community that often thought outside the box. And that’s just part of we talk about on this next half-hour of Retronauts Pocket, which is, of course, all about the very first Quake (plus a run-through of the franchise at the end).

Our chat covers the origins of Quake as an aspirational action-RPG; the involvement of Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor; the tech that helped push internet play, and why having the game sold in 7-Eleven was at all notable. Gladly sticking around for the discussion are Dave Rudden and Henry Gilbert from our Wrestlenauts episode, as well. And one or two bits of history in this episode come from David Kushner’s excellent book Masters of Doom, so give that a read if you haven’t yet.

Finally, this episode topic comes to us from Kickstarter backer Michael Nicolai. Our thanks go out to him, and to anyone else who enjoys this episode!

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It’s the Retronauts Holiday 2013 Extravaganza!

Retronauts Xmas cover

Hey folks — Bob here with a little disclaimer before we get to the good stuff. As with the past two years, I hauled all of our recording gear to my remote cabin in the woods to record another Retronauts holiday special. Unfortunately, a few of the several thousand wolves in the surrounding wilderness managed to gnaw on the miles of cable I have to lay down so our audio can reach the civilized world. The result is a little distortion that pops up here and there; I edited out as much of it as I could, but had to leave it in a few spots when chunks of conversation couldn’t be tossed away. Anyhow, this only happens a handful of times, so it shouldn’t be too distracting!

In case you couldn’t tell from Retronauts history, I’m kind of a gigantic goober when it comes to Christmas stuff. So this year’s special focuses on two miserable Christmas cartoons I’ve probably seen more times than I’d like to admit: The Super Mario Bros. Super Show’s “Koopa Klaus,” and Super Mario World’s “The Night Before Cave Christmas.” Both come from shows that, in the tradition of Captain N: The Game Master, serve as cheap, shallow attempts by the monsters at DIC Entertainment to cash in on Nintendomania. And, as expected, Super Show and World each deliver the most low-impact take on a Christmas special, where a character inexplicably forgets the True Meaning of Christmas until they learn it once again through contrived circumstances. Bah, humkoop!

Joining us for this one is Chris Antista, emperor of the Laser Time Network, and the creator of A Cartoon Christmas, a site that slavish chronicles every animated holiday special under the sun. And as a special holiday treat, I’ve given this episode a bit of Laser Time flair by filling it with wintry video game music from start to finish. If you don’t like it, don’t worry (or complain); it’s only going to be a one-time thing. Oh, and if you actually need to watch these specials, I’ve embedded them below for the sake of convenience.

Libsyn (1:01:27 | MP3 | 56.3 MB) | SoundCloud

This episode’s description:

“It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been naughty or nice — the Retronauts are back with another holiday spectacular to fill your sinful ears with delight. Join Bob Mackey, Jeremy Parish, Ray Barnholt, and special guest Chris Antista as the crew discusses Christmas specials from The Super Mario Bros. Super Show and Super Mario World, and curses the uncaring god who would let such things happen. (NOTE: This episode has a few audio issues due to unexpected interference from territorial wolves. Sorry!)”

This episode’s musical breakdown:

  • 3:30 | Kirby’s Epic Yarn “Cozy Cabin” (Tomoya Tomita, Jun Ishikawa, Hirokazu Ando)
  • 28:05 | Xenoblade Chronicles “Snowy Mt. Valac” (Yoko Shimomura)
  • 58:41 | Donkey Kong Country 3 “Frosty Frolics” (Eveline Fischer Novakovic, David Wise)

Aaaaand if you’d like to get us something this Christmas, why not make it a review of our show in the iTunes Music Store? It’s the perfect gift!

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Retronauts Vol. III Episode 12: Wrestlenauts

Retronauts 12 cover

I think the first time I became aware of pro wrestling was through games — specifically, the first issue of Nintendo Power I received, which had a feature on WWF Wrestlemania for the NES. Having no idea who anybody was in the game, I thus had no real interest in wrestling, and pretty much ignored it throughout my childhood, never quite getting it. But I came to realize there was real passion for the sport since it was televised, by people as smart and nerdy as I am, plus nearly 30 years of video games to fuel that passion. And that’s pretty much the focus of this week’s episode, requested by backer Alex “krae_man” Forsyth — who, if you were ever on the 1UP message boards during the Retronauts heyday, probably saw his demands for a “Wrestlenauts” episode. Well, Kickstarter can make dreams happen on either side, and I guess it works out that this is releasing close to Christmas.

Joining us are Dave Rudden and returning guest Henry Gilbert, both from Laser Time and their associated wrestling show Cheap Popcast; and Michael Donahoe, whom you may remember from EGM and 1UP (and respective podcasts). All three are experienced wrestling nerds who played most of the games that were released on this side of the world, and more, and as I guide everybody through a chronology of wrestling games, I more or less leave it to these guys when it comes to discussing them in greater detail.

Sure, there’s the typical going-down-the-list treatment, but we really get rolling once we get to Fire Pro Wrestling, the premier Japanese-made series filled with customization and realistic fighting system, and the 3D/polygonal era, when the developer formerly known as AKI made some of the best (and best-remembered) licensed wrestling games of all time. Those are times when Japanese developers were honing their skills and making the best wrestling games, becoming a sort of latent golden age for the genre. There’s plenty more to be said about certain arcade games, too, like Midway’s Wrestlemania game with the real digitized wrestlers, and as we reach the present day, some talk about where the genre could be going, perhaps always being led by the WWE and developer Yuke’s.

Maybe this won’t be the most relatable episode of Retronauts — even for me it isn’t, on the whole. But again, it’s filled with information and enthusiasm, and no matter what your interest in wrestling is (if you get lost by any jargon, don’t forget this handy glossary), it’s still pretty fun to hear people who really know what they’re talking about share their expertise on games that can rise above the much-maligned sport they’re based on. Don’t shy away from this one!

Direct download (MP3) | SoundCloud | RSS
Find us on the iTunes Store and leave a nice review!

This episode’s breakdown:

Links:

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Retronauts Pocket Episode 11: Number Munchers, Oregon Trail, and More Educational Treasures from Minnesota

Retronauts 11 Pocket cover

Hello, friends: It’s Bob again with what might be the most educational episode of Retronauts to date — hey, get back here! (We promise it won’t hurt.)

If you’re of my generation (or maybe a little older), you may remember investing dozens of normally boring school hours into the many games of MECC — otherwise known as The Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation. This topic is a bit outside of Retronauts’ typical subject matter, but MECC’s output makes up a shared cultural experience for everyone who spent their “computer classes” pecking away at the keyboards of ancient Apple IIes. Enjoy, and thanks again to contributor Amy Sutedja for giving us the idea!

Libsyn (33:53 | MP3 | 24.7 MB) | SoundCloud

This episode’s description:

“If you’re a child of the ’80s, you may remember whiling away valuable school hours planted in front of  an Apple IIe, playing one of the many games developed by the Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation. From munching numbers to carving a path to the bounty of Oregon, the fine people of MECC gave plenty of kids a respite from long division and the shame of gym class — and we thank them for it. Join Bob Mackey, Ray Barnholt, and Jeremy Parish as the Retronauts crew explores the wonderful world of Midwestern edutainment.”

This episode’s musical breakdown:

(Note: This episode contains selections from Wild Arms since the MECC games don’t have much music to speak of.)

  • 13:10 | Wild Arms “Lone Bird in the Shire” (Michiko Naruke)
  • 31:54 | Wild Arms “Into the Wilderness ~ Into New Voyages” (Michiko Naruke)

Relevant Links:

The History of MECC

1996 Oregon Trail Documentary

Tombstone Pizza Commercial

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Retronauts Volume III Episode 11: The History of Video Game Voice Acting

Retronauts 11 cover

Hey, cats and kittens: It’s Bob again with another brand-new episode. Just so you know, this one was the first we recorded with Jeremy Skyping in from his new East Coast digs, so things might not go as smoothly as you’d expect from the well-oiled machine known as Retronauts. On the bright side — if you could call it that — most of the difficulties came in the editing process, since I had to paste in Jeremy’s locally recorded audio every time he spoke, while simultaneously cutting out the rest of our dumb voices. Because of this issue, I stumbled into a little SNAFU that would take too much time to correct, so you may notice that one of our musical breaks lasts just a little too long — but it probably won’t kill you.

To close the book on this extremely inside baseball, just know that we’ve since come up with a much more efficient process, so the episodes following next week’s should be back to normal. Then again, no one complained about the audio quality on previously posted Jeremy Skype-ins, so this paragraph could only serve to waste your valuable time. (Sorry.)

Anyhow, this episode covers an extremely broad topic we’ve touched upon plenty of times on Retronauts, but never fully delved into. That said, as I explained in the intro to this episode, we couldn’t possibly cover everything, so I did my best to track the evolution of voice acting using some very notable (and at times, infamous) examples. Special thanks go out to backer Chris Doucette, who donated to make this episode happen, and volunteered his time to help us talk about a very fruitful subject. Enjoy, and please leave us comments about anything we might have missed!

Libsyn (1:30:55 | MP3 | 65.7 MB) | SoundCloud

This episode’s description:

“From Berzerk’s creepy robot barks to Metal Gear Solid’s overwrought death monologues, voice acting has been a major element of video games — but just how did we get to where we are today? Join Bob Mackey, Jeremy Parish, Ray Barnholt and special backer guest Chris Doucette as they dine on Jill sandwiches, sit in rocket lawn chairs, and explore the mysteries of video game voice acting.”

This episode’s musical breakdown:

  • 17:38 | Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions “Main Menu”
  • 28:24 | Metal Gear Solid “Rex’s Lair”
  • 50:16 | Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions “Ninja”
  • 1:16:41 | Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions “Weapon Mode”
  • 1:27:14 | Metal Gear Solid “Metal Gear Solid Control Mix” (From the Metal Gear Solid OST)

Relevant Links:

Audio Atrocities

Metal Gear localization interview on Hardcore Gaming 101

I Know that Voice

NEXT TIME: We head to the Silicon Valley of the Midwest — yes, that’s a real thing. And maybe before Christmas, a little something extra in your stocking? Only if you’re good. And the best way to do this might involve leaving us a review on the iTunes Music Store

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