Retronauts Episode 83: A trial run for “Retronauts Radio”

A bit of an experimental episode today as part of our incipient full-episodes-every-week initiative. I’m calling it “Retronauts Radio,” and that should give a pretty good indication of what you’re in for here. It’s all music, all the time.

Rather than take the same shape as previous music-centered episodes of Retronauts, however, this isn’t a themed “mix tape” or study of a single composer or company’s output. Instead, I’ve taken a more timely approach: A look at notable classic game music releases over the past month or so. This time around, that works out to be a mix of some recent game music LPs, some online-only remixes, and some classic game re-releases or remakes with tunes worth highlighting. I’d like to make this a monthly feature, drawing attention to notable recent soundtracks once a month or so. For logistical reasons, Retronauts hasn’t dealt much with timeliness since we moved to Kickstarter, but the shift to a weekly schedule and my full-time commitment to the project makes that kind of mindset a lot more feasible now, and this seems like a nice way to approach it. Time-sensitive, yet still timeless. Because when is great music not worth a listen?

If this goes over well, it’ll become a regular feature, a part of our standard monthly mix of episodes. (If not, well, back to the drawing board.) I can see where there’s room for some fine-tuning now that this episode is assembled. We’ve received plenty of positive feedback from early-access Patrons already; it sounds like most people would prefer longer samples of music, and it probably wouldn’t hurt for me to bring a second voice into the mix. I will definitely take those suggestions into consideration, along with any others you’d care to leave in the comments section below.

While we usually post Retronauts episodes in mono to keep file sizes down, I went ahead and made this one stereo. Hope that’s cool. I went to the trouble of ripping several hours’ worth of music from vinyl to include this episode and thought you might appreciate as much fidelity as an MP3 can offer.

It’s an all-music episode of Retronauts as Jeremy looks at recent classic game soundtrack releases of note. Includes looks at Panzer Dragoon, symphonic Final Fantasy, Castlevania: Dracula X, and more!

Libsyn (1:08:16, 99.6 MB) | MP3 Download | SoundCloud)

This is where I typically give a quick mention to the music in the current episode, but since this episode is all music, let me break it down for you a little more thoroughly. I’ve also included links to online store fronts where you can procure these albums for yourself, should you so desire. We’re not getting a kickback here or anything — we just love sharing great game tunes. Enjoy!

  • 0:00 | Intro [just me talkin’]
  • 2:45 | Zuntata: Taito Sound Team | Taito Classics Vol. 1Night Striker [Ship to Shore Media]
  • 3:32 | Panzer Dragoon [Data Discs]
  • 23:55 | Final Symphony [Laced Records]
  • 42:05 | Scarlet Moon Christmas Album [Scarlet Moon Productions]
  • 48:35 | Metroid Resynthesized [Luminist]
  • 52:57 | Wild Guns Reloaded [PlayStation Network]
  • 55:13 | Castlevania Dracula X [Virtual Console]
  • 1:01:16 | Retro pick of the month: Double Dragon for NES [Virtual Console]
  • 1:07:38 | Zuntata: Taito Sound Team | Taito Classics Vol. 1Elevator Action Returns [Ship to Shore Media]

40 Comments

Filed under Music, Retronauts

40 Responses to Retronauts Episode 83: A trial run for “Retronauts Radio”

  1. Jared

    I think this is a great idea! Keep up the good work

  2. Ricardo

    Wow, this has me thinking back to when Ray Barnholt hosted The Sound Test. Hopefully this will become a standard fixture here on Retronauts. Thanks very much Jeremy!

  3. Nathan Daniels

    I don’t usually make posts before listening to an episode, but I’m really enthusiastic about this one. I have a playlist of about 7 podcasts to which I regularly listen, and most of them are specifically related to VGM. Ironically, Retronauts finds a novel way of producing such a show: New releases. If this goes as well as I think it will…..well then I’m going to need to figure out how to squeeze an extra hour out of the week.

  4. Rhett

    Since you asked for feedback, I’ll tell you that I’m not a huge fan of all music episodes. But still, 3 full length episodes is better than two, so I’m thrilled that you’re finally at a point where Jeremy can make this his primary pursuit. Thanks for all you do!

  5. AJ

    Loved the episode ! You doing it solo works great otherwise you spend more talking than playing the glorious music.

    I would’ve thought you would go with Double Dragon II NES soundtrack than with the original, more so because DD IV is based on the sprite work of DD II. The soundtrack of the original is great but the second one is superb. They even released an excellent arranged album based on DD II NES soundtrack which features a track with an incredible saxophone solo. I pray that one day that arranged album gets reissued.

  6. Matt

    Enjoyed this more than I thought I would. I listen to Legacy Music Hour regularly and your approach here is much different so it didn’t feel like trodden territory. The editorial style that flowed the commentary/background with the music rather than a more traditional radio DJ approach of playing blocks of music with a track rundown was effective. This could have easily been phoned in so the effort put into it is appreciated.

  7. Nathan Daniels

    I also loved the episode, and look forward to more of the same. I think having an extra host on these would work as long as you made it a point to keep the talking right in the sweet spot you’ve created with this experiment.

    Your commentary about what made Panzer Dragoon so good could generally be applied to Sega as a whole: Whereas Nintendo’s approach to creating great games has always principally focused on the controls and play mechanics (meaning your immersion and enjoyment of a Nintendo game increased with your proficiency), Sega at its best has always focused on giving the player an exhilarating experience. Panzer Dragoon(and even more its sequels) ends up being more than the sum of its parts because of the fantastic world the player encounters……which includes the music. Incidentally, Moebius DID do the character designs, which I hypothesize being one of the two reasons PD was rumored to be the most expensive game ever produced up to that point(the other, I’m sure, was the orchestral pieces–a first for gaming, if I’m not mistaken)

    My own nostalgia for the Double Dragon music is highest for the arcade(experienced in that same 7-11……to this day I still associate the last level in the game with molten nacho cheese for that reason), followed by the SMS version, which was my jam back in the day. The NES version seems a bit stuttery by comparison.

  8. I forgot to mention that a composer spotlight would be cool as well.

    Like when you guys did Soyo Oka and Uematsu. But Zuntata, SST Band, and a whole host of othere would be great for this series.

    God, I love game music.

  9. Dan Mastriani

    The Panzer Dragoon cover was drawn by Moebius, according to an interview I managed to find at 1UP before it imploded.

  10. Garnsr

    Jeremy’s way of reading his micro podcasts always bothered me, but this one was much looser, like Bob’s, with flubs and ums left in. I liked hearing the commentary over the music, too, it’s different than other VGM podcasts, but it works for Jeremy, I think.

  11. Hi, Jeremy. Had a few thoughts I wanted to leave you, since you’re soliciting comments for this episode.

    * I like the format, and I like the wide selection. The primary change I like about this format vs. the previous “mix tape” episodes is the additional background and context you provide for each of the albums. That’s what makes Retronauts special. If I wanted to listen to only game music, there are plenty of alternative options for that.

    * I don’t think adding another person to the mix is necessary. I think you struck a good mix between narration and music, so it never felt like it was dragging or anything. However, special guests with a particular knowledge of whatever you happen to be discussing that month (like normal Retronauts) could be more interesting.

    * I love the wide selection, again something I prefer to the mix tape format. Focusing on contemporary releases is a neat angle, and it makes sense to discuss and semi-promote albums that are actually for sale. Please do include one or two “classic” albums per episode, though, similar to what you did for Double Dragon.

    * Big props for the stereo mix. The music sounded wonderful. I don’t mind downloading the extra bits for music-oriented episodes like this. Also, NES Double Dragon in stereo? Magic!

    * I guess my last comment will be at odds with the rest of the feedback – I personally like the shorter clips, for a few reasons:
    * it keeps things moving along at a decent pace
    * it allows you the time to provide extra discussion and extra examples from each album
    * if you play a song I don’t particularly like, I’m not stuck waiting several minutes waiting for it to end, or trying to fast forward and overshooting
    * conversely, if you do play something I’m really into, it motivates me a little more to seek that album out (eg., that Scarlet Moon Christmas album? Already bought).

    Hope that’s not too much, but as you can see, this one area I’m pretty passionate about. 🙂

    Oh, and just to comment on one point you made in the episode (as opposed to commenting on the episode itself) – Final Symphony is indeed fantastic, for the very reason you highlighted – the fresh and original (and damn good) arrangements of classic Final Fantasy (and other beloved games) music. This is from the same team that put on Symphonic Fantasies and a number of other wonderful concerts full of original arrangements – I highly recommend anyone interested to check them out.

    Thanks, Jeremy. Really enjoyed this one.

  12. Nick Rothe

    did you ever listen to this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kA_XrKw2Ww&list=PLOmh4LXEo1OSY8SHN8t1lDi_ejaGTVgme the Balance and Ruin FF6 album. I thought it was way better than the worlds concert I went to sadly.

  13. Jeremy, please keep doing these! I loved your music mini episodes, and the fact that you now gave us a full length episode was just heaven. I really appreciate how you discuss and break down music and your comparisons to more established genres are on point. Loved it!

  14. DarthEnderX

    Hey, I just wanted to point out that Dracula X on SNES DOES have alternate paths like Rondo. And the endings do change based on the paths you take, because they determine if you rescue the two(I know Rondo has 4) girls or not.

  15. Have you seen that Castlevania II 10″ with sleeve art from Eric Powell (The Goon) that Mondo just put out? Looks goooooooooood.

  16. Luke

    I really enjoyed this. I could stand to linger a bit longer on the tracks themselves but I understand wanting to keep the run-time down. Enjoyed the background on the songs but don’t really care to get too into-the-weeds on the history of the games. That seems better suited for another podcast. For example: let me know that a track is a remix, how it differs, play a sample of the original for comparison, let me know the artists/composers if you are aware, a brief synopsis of the original game letting us know the developer, release date, system, genre and then a selection of tracks. Track-by-track info may be relevant too to give context. I would like the music-to-talk ration closer to 3:2 than a straight 50/50.

    But if every one is just like this I’ll still be excited to hear it. Keep up the great work as always

  17. elDuendeVerde

    I also really dug this episode. I do like the format of showcasing a few new releases/remixes and then showcasing some more classic versions like you did here.

    I don’t think there’s any need to add other people to the mix, unless they were intimately knowledgeable with the subject.

  18. autoTangent

    I’ve been listening to you guys for a while, but this episode finally got me to hop aboard the patreon train. You definitely did your research and recommended some fantastic music. Super excited for the future if this is a sign of what’s to come!

  19. Jeremy Hopkins

    Yep, I’m also a fan of the format and music choices. The Metroid remake is incredible and it would’ve totally passed me by without this podcast. I also upped my Patreon pledge as thanks for such great work.

  20. Joe X

    I thought the format was spot on to be honest.

    Second guest could be fun to bounce thoughts of but not a necessity.

    Could you possible look at the music of the Sims game. I think it’s really under rated.

  21. Gabez MccColish

    I really enjoyed it! I like the idea of talking about game music, so keep up the good work guys!

    Cheers from Hungary:

    gabezmccolish

  22. Torrey

    Loved this episode!
    Episode 90 from the original Retronauts podcast Titled “Videogame music” is probably my most favorite Retronauts episode. That episode opened my mind to VGM and really allowed me to understand and appreciate the composers I had known nothing about before listening to your podcast.

    I really enjoyed learning about new released soundtracks with this episode as they aren’t really advertised unless you are really looking. Loved the format of the episode as well and splicing in samples from the music and linking how to get them. I am definitely picking up a copy of the Final Symphony, it sounded so amazing!

    Thank you so much for all the great wonderful nostalgic feels over the years and I look forward to more music episodes.

  23. econmara

    I greatly enjoyed this podcast! Thank you.

  24. Dana Harvey

    Jeremy (and anyone else reading,) if you’ve never heard of Cane and Rinse, check them out. They have a weekly podcast series called Sound of Play, which is very similar to what you did with this episode. Frankly it’s one of my favorite podcasts. I think you did a good job with this one, even being on your own. Ryan from Cane and Rinse frequently does solo shows and does them well. It’s always interesting when he has other people on the show, though, so definitely keep that in your mind. Give it a listen and check out the community if you have the time. Phenomenal bunch of guys in the Cane and Rinse community.

  25. Natalie

    I really like this format for music-focused episodes. The commentary really helps me to appreciate music that I’m used to letting sink into the background.

  26. Nathan Daniels

    Jeremy,
    Please consider playing game music how it was originally presented, (i.e. please don’t play stereo rips of NES tracks that were composed in mono). Since Retronauts is about curation and preservation, it follows that music played on these shows should be played as faithfully as possible to the way the composers/sound designers presented them.

    I love stereo NES tracks, even to the point of preferring them to the mono versions…..but when a track is presented that way, the person who ripped the track and made the choices on how to pan the channels becomes a significant part of the sound design team. It just makes sense that in this great work you are doing to expose us all to retro games, you expose them to us with fidelity to the manner in which they were presented.

  27. Kris

    Great mix of storytelling, analysis, and music.

  28. Gerard

    Hi Jeremy,
    Long time listener, first time caller.

    Loved this episode and I feel it’s your best “music episode” thus far.
    To cut to it.
    You don’t need a co-host, you sound energetic (for you) and you keep the pace going nicely. Though I agree with others that an occasional co host somehow related to the theme or pieces on certain future episodes wouldn’t be a bad idea. For the most part keep it solo, it provides clear thoughts about the pieces that don’t get drowned out by too many opinions. Your added PERSONAL insight (and taste) pertaining to the music is entertaining and blends well with the history of the piece (and game), it keeps it from becoming a stale “statement of the facts.” The shorter clips are nice, especially for the old chip tunes that are repetitive after 90 seconds. Speaking over the tracks is acceptable, especially for those repetitive ones. I would suggest highlighting one or two “important to the episode” tracks and play them in full, and keep the rest short clips. As far as the Mono or Stereo, we’ve spent so many years listening to those old tracks in mono, I’m ok with not needing the original mono and opt for a stereo version as long as it’s not obnoxious mixing. I like retro but refuse to be a slave to the constraints of what being a retro enthusiast means.
    Your change in delivery was a surprise from your usual micro episodes. Sounds like you’re speaking by looking at an outline instead of reading directly from an article you’ve written. It sounds more natural and you sound better than you probably think you do. Though personally, I prefer you reading from from your work verbatim. I just feel that you end up hitting all your points in a logical manner, and avoid the, “and one more thing I forgot syndrome.” Honestly I feel you pull off either voice nicely.
    Lastly,
    Never do a prog rock episode ever again. Seriously. It was a stretch to have it pertain to retro gaming.
    Thanks for such an amazing podcast.

    Sincerely,
    Listening in LA

    • Nathan Daniels

      I didn’t mind the Prog podcast at all, although your point about it being outside the scope of the show holds merit. I was hoping Jeremy would tie it in by playing Akrylik from Plok (classic Emerson Lake & Palmer sound) or some other Tim Follin magic, but it is what it is.

  29. Dave

    Loved the episode. Insightful commentary and a great variety of tunes. I don’t think you need a cohost for these episodes. One of the best Retronauts episodes I’ve heard.

  30. Eric Kennedy

    Great idea, great format! I might have actually liked this is a bit more than any previous “music” episode. I say don’t tinker with anything for now. Give it a few episodes, and I think we’ll have a better idea of what could be done better, or what needs to go. But I enjoyed everything this episode.

    OK, I guess my one criticism is that I would like to hear longer snippets of the musical tracks. Even if it means the episode is longer! This is the perfect thing to listen to during my commute.

  31. Jeremiah Jones

    This might be a bit odd to say, but Thanks. I recently went through a period of technical homelessness, and your podcast was one of the ones that kept me sane in the home stretch up to finding a place to live. I’m going to listen to this today. Thanks for being awesome.

  32. Billy

    This was awesome. Longtime listener here, thoroughly enjoyed this new concept. That Metroid album was mindblowing, what a find!

    Please keep these going, it was great!!