Retronauts Episode 76: Preserving Game Ephemera

Game preservation advocates Frank Cifaldi, Mike Mika, and Steve Lin of The Video Game History Foundation discuss the challenges and obsessions that drive the search for and archiving of the information and materials surrounding the classics.

Libsyn (1:24:23 | MP3 Download | SoundCloud)


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7 Responses to Retronauts Episode 76: Preserving Game Ephemera

  1. Nathan Daniels

    Wow, Jeremy, this could be the best Retronauts I’ve heard. You’ve seemed a bit less engaged in the last few episodes, so it was a particular treat to receive this one. It touches on the essence of game preservation, which in my opinion is really cultural preservation.

    And just in time, too: Frank Cifaldi might be my hero. I was in a discussion on a VGM podcast just last week about how I realized recently that gaming magazines were more responsible for my video gaming fanaticism than possibly even the games themselves. I purposefully eschewed subscriptions for years because I loved the experience of walking into that Babbage’s, Waldenbooks, or B. Dalton’s and seeing that virgin copy of EGM #13 sitting on the shelves(and later, GameFan and Next Generation). To pore through the International outlook with racing pulse to see the amazing things on the horizon that may or may not ever make it out here…….that experience possibly outweighs the fun I had playing the actual games.

    So I think I started collecting with EGM #8, but the EGM 1990 Video Game Buyer’s Guide was the magazine that started my obsession with video games. I remember it had pictures of the Super Shinobi for the Mega Drive, pictures of the Super Grafx, and even the FM Townes Marty. I’ve long since gotten rid of all my magazines, and I desperately want to be able to see that issue. Unfortunately, it does not exist on the internet. Not anywhere.

    Frank Cifaldi represents a hope to me that I will one day be able to see scans of that magazine, to reconnect with that 13-year-old that used magazines as a tool to see wonder and excitement in a world that was bigger than I could imagine.

    • Less engaged? Sorry to hear you feel that way.

      • Nathan Daniels

        I didn’t mean it as a slight. I think it was predominantly the N64 episode, and to a lesser extent the Punch-Out episode. You’re usually by far the most serious commenter in any given episode, whereas with the N64 episode it seemed like you were a lot more humorous and sarcastic.

        Again, I didn’t mean it as a complaint; frankly, I was more concerned than anything else, but that seems like a strange thing for a listener to say to a host.

        The Dragon Quest Micro was awesome, by the way. In any case, this may have been my favorite episode of Retronauts(followed by your Zillion and Castlevania IV Micros).

  2. It was a great episode. The Video Game History Foundation sounds like what we need. I’m looking forward to seeing what the actual site will be like. I would prefer a wiki like site but with more stuff on a games page. Screenshots, scans of related materials, links to other sources with info on the game, gameplay videos etc. Archiving interviews is important to. I hate when a site shuts down and I know there were something there that got lost.

    Keep up the great work.

    /a fellow video game historian

  3. Jeremiah Jones

    Another great episode! Some questions:

    In regards to preservation, where would peripherals (ex super scopes, memory cards, rumble paks, etc) fit into this? Do “saves” have a place in this discussion? Also, am I the only one who treasures instruction booklets?

    In regards to the discussion of press kits, I’d love to see that art someday. The initial draw of the internet for me was to collect video game art. Do you guys know about when the cutoff date for this collection is?

    In an odd stroke of randomness, I happen to be a lifelong resident of Culpeper, Va (unfortunately) and I have to file a complaint with the “Policenauts of Retronauts” in regards to the amount of nothingness in Culpeper.

    Doesn’t anyone realize just HOW much nothingness is here? Lewis Black once said something along the lines of “finding the end of the world in Houston, Texas because there was a Starbucks next to a Starbucks.” Not ONLY does my rural hometown have a Starbucks across from a shopping center that has a Starbucks inside of another store, but we have a whopping 4 7-elevens with in a 2 mile stretch in town, and 3 of them are in eye seeing distance of each other!


    We even have a semi active fault line near by. Where exactly? I don’t know. Even our own residents don’t know what’s here, myself included! (Decent to Good tasting food though)

    Then again, there IS something in Culpeper… ME, a proud Retronauts fan! *laughs*

    But in all seriousness though, for those interested in the Library of Congress branch, we are about 70 miles SSW of DC. Jeremy, if you do decide to come to the town, bring a car. It’s not very walkable, or great with public transportation.

    I wish you all the best with videogame preservation, and I’d love to help out in any way I can.

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  5. J.T.

    Early game builds have long been something that’s fascinated me. I remember the really early screenshots of Zelda 64 (when it was called that) and it looked NOTHING like the current Ocarina of Time. I’ve wondered what that game is like to play. Also, debug copies of games are interesting. I remember Nintendo Power posting screenshots from the debug copy of OoT, in which Adult Link was in the Great Deku Tree, and (if I recall correctly) could use the slingshot and Deku Nuts.

    Truth be told, early builds and unreleased games are my favorite type of ephemera out there. I spent a lot of time on after finding out about it in EGM. It’s really cool that the guy who created it was on the episode! I remember Frank Cifaldi from previous Retronauts but didn’t realize he was behind Lost Levels.

    Thank you for the episode. It was a treat.