Retronauts Vol. III Episode 10 Is 100% Duty-free

Retronauts 10 cover

Hey kids, it’s your ol’ pal Jeremy, back for more Retronauts fun. Today’s episode was actually recorded a couple of months ago. Remember when all the Laser Time folks showed up on an episode and I didn’t? That’s because I was in Japan, making this show happen. There’s a very good reason for the exotic locale: One of our Kickstarter backers who supported the show at the “co-host an episode” level, Dan Feit, lives in Japan. He pitched in assuming he’d never actually be able to make good on his pledge, but since I was over in Japan for Tokyo Game Show, we figured “Well, what the heck?”

Huge thanks to our friends at 8-4 Ltd. (hosts of the 8-4 Play podcast!) for lending us space, equipment, and opinions to make this happen.

So what did we discuss while we were in Japan? Well, Japan. Specifically, I put the question to everyone: What was the golden age of Japanese games? Each contributor had a different response, and the result was a pretty interesting (if overly nostalgic) conversation. Responses range from the mid ’80s to the late ’90s; sadly, no one wanted to go to bat for the past couple of console generations.

Taking part in this merry discussion was… a whole lot of people, actually. Obviously you have myself and Dan, as well as Mark MacDonald and John Ricciardi of 8-4. Also present was long-time contributor Kat Bailey as well as long-time Friend of Retronauts and all-around fashion plate Kyle McLain. And, finally, quite by surprise, former Retronauts regular Shane Bettenhausen happened to be in the office when we were recording and jumped in to share his opinions after a lengthy exile from podcasting.

Unfortunately I have to apologize up front for the uneven sound quality. We had seven people sharing three microphones, and the guy who usually does the 8-4 Play sound setup wasn’t there to get things working for us. Kat and I were also running late due to crowded trains, so we had to cut our session short. I’ve done what I can to balance out the audio, but there’s no avoiding the fact that some of the sound was clipped because I hadn’t set up the unfamiliar sound board correctly. And need I mention the crosstalk that inevitably happens with more than four people on the mike (especially when certain among us are so garrulous)? So, apologies again. Hopefully you’ll find the content of this episode sufficient to compensate for the imperfect sound quality.

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21 Responses to Retronauts Vol. III Episode 10 Is 100% Duty-free

  1. My golden age of Japanese video games is 87-89. It could just be my perspective coming exclusively from the American side, but that seemed like that was the time that developers really started unlocking the potential of the Famicom hardware. A lot of the landmark franchises debuted in this era. It seemed like this was the biggest boom period on both sides of the Pacific.

    Oh! Did I hear Shane Bettenhausen, ultimate Zelda II fan, dissing on Final Fantasy VIII for being broken? I’m inclined to agree with him, as I can’t stand FF8, but come on now. Zelda II is broken as all hell. Those Darknuts were infuriating. I was like, “Screw this! I’m not saving the princess. It’s not even the same Zelda, anyway.”

    And finally, Jeremy drops a line about how you guys got in trouble for talking about politics on the podcast. Uh, no. You guys didn’t get in trouble for talking politics. You got in trouble because politics so dominated the show that it felt like the episode wasn’t actually about video games. I thought I had accidentally tuned into the Rachel Maddow show.

    • We haven’t slandered the sterling reputation of Saint Stossel in three months — can you please give this a rest? It’s perfectly okay to disagree with people, you know.

      • Didn’t even bring him up.

        I don’t have a problem with differing opinions. I just prefer they be about video games. 😀

        Bob, I still like you. Don’t worry.

        What’s your golden age of vidji games?

        • Okay, that’s fine — just didn’t want to get into this discussion all over again.

          I think the 8-bit era was the most important, but I honestly had the most fun with games during the PlayStation years.

          • Conniption-Fit

            For whatever reason, and I don’t think it was just that I was up on following the coverage, the PS1 era was the first time I noticed a difference based on the country of origin. Maybe it was because the pre-rendered cut scenes made the animeish story telling come out, but for me playing Resident Evil or Final Fantasy 8 felt different where playing Mario never felt that different than a western platformer, quality not withstanding.

  2. Jere...met?

    What was the song at the end? I specifically came here to find that out because a certain host specifically said to come here to find that out…

  3. Christoph

    I really did not enjoy this episode. The audio quality was poor and everyone kept shouting over each other. This was an episode of 8-4 with Jeremy, not an episode of Retronauts. And it definitely suffered for it.

    • I’m sorry the tricky logistics for our one chance to make good on a paid backer request didn’t work out more to your liking. This will be the only episode like this.

      • Steve Martin

        I thought the audio was fine for the cramped setting. Thanks to Dan’s generosity, we got to hear a wondrous EGM/1up reunion. Huzzah for the Shane cameo!

    • theBigSnit

      Oh, man. If you didn’t like this episode then certainly steer clear of retronauts Vol. 1 (by far my personal fave , still to this day!)

  4. Adam Campbell

    Shane Bettenhausen and Kat Bailey on Retronauts?
    Secret best episode yet :D.
    Awesome stuff.

  5. pasha

    Holy crap.

    This was probably the most retro of Retronauts. I definitely did a spit-take when Shane spoke up.

    When are we getting that Valis (?) ep of Retronauts that Shane always promised and/or threatened us with?

    Great to hear Kat and the 8-4 guys as well… pity Chris Kohler hasn’t popped up yet.

  6. JohnLearned

    I absolutely loved this episode. I didn’t think the sound was that much of a problem, and it was such a lively discussion that I wished it went on for another 30+ minutes. I don’t care if people wound up talking over each other; give me a bunch of knowledgeable people energetically talking about a topic dear to them and I’ll listen every time.

  7. Luke E

    Given the warning in the show notes, and some previous Retronauts episodes back in the day that had audio troubles, I was pleasantly surprised that everyone came across very clearly in this episode.

    I feel like 1997-1999 was a golden age for gaming not just in Japan, but everywhere. A lot of great games were coming out on consoles both from eastern and western developers, while at the same there was a boom of great PC games as well.

  8. Dave

    Sorry, but I have to echo Christoph. Far, far too much shouting over each other, to the point that it became unlistenable. Particularly on occasions when one speaker would make some minor factual error and another would immediately blurt out a correction, not letting the first get out their broader point.

  9. econmara

    Great to hear Kat Bailey again and Dan is a true retronaut.
    I really enjoyed this episode. Thanks.

  10. Captain N

    I always enjoy the episodes Kat Bailey are on a little extra. I hope she can make it onto the podcast more often! : )

  11. BearChair

    Great episode guys. I had not issue with the audio at all, but my bar for podcast audio is pretty low. Can I understand all people speaking clearly? Yes, then it’s fine.

    Also, I don’t mind people talking over each other. It sounds like a bunch of friends having a conversation and not like a professional presentation. If I wanted that, I’d go to Hardcore Gaming 101 or Jeremy’s Anatomy of a Game series. That type of in-depth information is better presented in text anyway, at least in my opinion.

    Great episode, keep them up.

  12. LeAbuele

    I’m having a blast with this episode, I remember that my first incidental import was made with the help of a friend in a bazzar.
    We bought SUNSOFT’s Batman for the Mega Drive. We both own Genesis, so we had to open the cartridge in order to insert the card and play the game.
    At that time we didn’t realized that the game was not region locked, we just played through it, for us the experience was just enjoying this queer game with japanese text instead of english and the wierd cartrigde.
    I would play the crap out of Return of the Joker for the NES, and even consider it a better iteration than the Genesis one.
    The last time I imported games was in the PS ONE era, I also modded that console and played the crap of every game I put my hand on, even those crappy japanese dating sims, which lead me to the Evangelion dating sim, JEEEZZ!!!
    Congrats on this great episode.

  13. Progearspec

    To much talking over each other i’ve had a hard time making out,what was being said.To me the golden age of japanese video games was late the late 80’s and through out the 90’s.