Monthly Archives: April 2014

Retronauts Volume III Episode 21: Girl Games


Some of us on Retronauts know more things than others, but one part of retro gaming has, for the most part, eluded us: girl games. Of course, it’s not hard to believe: The show has been a sausage fest more often than not. Still, even with having several women on the show over the years, the subject matter stayed in our comfort zones. Well, I thought we were due to change that, because there’s a whole realm of girly retro game nostalgia begging for coverage.And so, in the spirit of Wrestlenauts (as funny as that sounds), here’s a show the hosts can’t fully relate to, but that’s what an expert guest is for! Joining us is Rachel Weil: Fellow retro game nerd, artist, and orgainzer of FEMICOM, the “feminine computer museum,” which catalogs titles through to the end of the ’90s that fall under her definition of “girly games” — the various combinations of extra-cute characters, pastel colors, and yes, stereotypes often slapped with the “girl” label.And we go over all of that, including some obvious examples like Barbie or Japanese games like Sailor Moon, but handheld LCD games, notable CD-ROM games, the Casio Loopy (a 1995 system that dealt exclusively in feminine software, and is a special focus of FEMICOM) and how girl games have been perceived in general.

One important thing to note is that we’re not spending 90 minutes trashing girl games, nor is this some kind of treatise on gender norms — this is, like so many episodes of Retronauts, a largely appreciative, fascinated, fun look back on a part of history we grew up in, but may not have participated in. Either way, it’s a fun listen for girls and boys.

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This episode’s breakdown:00:00 | Opening & Introductions
03:04 | Defining a “girl game” / Games as boys’ toys
17:42 | Discovering, mismapping girl games
22:01 | Music from Sailor Moon (Mega Drive)
22:34 | Barbie, Princess Tomato, non-video video games, etc.
39:09 | Sailor Moon
43:59 | Music from Barbie: Super Model (SNES)
44:30 | CD-ROM games and critiques of girl games
01:01:16 | Music from Momoko 120% (Arcade)
01:01:46| Chop Suey
01:03:46 | All about the Casio Loopy
01:14:42 | Final thoughts, Rachel’s work, other cool stuff
01:24:30 | Outro & Plugs
Selected links:

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Retronauts Pocket 20 Explores RPGs with Modern-Day Settings

retronauts 21 cover

We’re all pretty big RPG fans on Retronauts, but in the (roughly) 30 years we’ve known them in their current console form, very few games from this genre have been set in the present day. And just why the heck is that? Well, I could tell you here, but then why would you bother listening to the episode? Thanks to Kickstarter back Juan Soto, Retronauts Pocket 20 brings you a thorough discussion of the surprisingly limited world of RPGs with contemporary settings. Joining us for this one is guest Kat Bailey, who knows her RPGs — and you may remember a few related podcasts on this topic she hosted in the past. Anyhow, enjoy, and please leave us your thoughts in the comments section below!

 Libsyn (45:03 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud

This episode’s description:

“Kickstarter backer Juan Soto brings you Retronauts Pocket episode 20, which explores the very small world of RPGs with modern-day settings. Why do we find them so captivating, and why do the majority of RPG developers rely on Tolkienesque fantasy? Listen in for answers to these questions and more with the help of Bob Mackey, Ray Barnholt, Jeremy Parish, and Kat Bailey.”

This episode’s musical selections:

  • 6:47 – “Signs of Love” Persona 4 (Shōji Meguro, Atsushi Kitajoh)
  • 18:00 – “SMILE” Persona 4 (Shōji Meguro, Atsushi Kitajoh)
  • 26:16 – “Heartbeat, Heartbreak” Persona 4 (Shōji Meguro, Atsushi Kitajoh)
  • 42:51 – “The Battle for Everyone’s Souls” Persona 3 (Shōji Meguro)

Don’t be another Unassuming Local Guy—give us a nice review in the iTunes Music Store!

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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!”

Due to popular demand, here’s the track listing for episode 20:

  • 2:50 – “Stage 2 (Volcanic Stage)” Life Force (Konami Kukeiha Club)
  • 39:46 – “Hoohoo Village” Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (Yoko Shimomura)
  • 44:38 – “Serris / Yakuza Boss Theme” Metroid Fusion (Minako Hamano, Akira Fujiwara)
  • 1:23:25 – “Town of the Fishermen” Tomba 2 (Ashif Hakik, Masaya Hiraoka)
  • 1:39:32 – “Look Sharp, Be Sharp” (Boston Pops Orchestra)
  • 1:41:21 – “Stage 5 (Temple Stage)” Life Force (Konami Kukeiha Club)

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.

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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.

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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.

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