Retronauts Vol. III Episode 26: RPG Battle Systems

Retronauts 26 cover

Hey folks, it’s Bob again with my second-to-last episode of the season—but don’t worry, there’s still a few to follow after mine. That said, this is a good one, with a topic brought to us by guest backer Cary Hamby, who unfortunately couldn’t make it in to be a guest on the show (but we still love him). Now, the subject of RPG battle systems might at first seem a little too specific for a 90-minute show, but as you’ll soon hear, we (all being RPG nerds) get a ton of mileage out of the topic, and still have plenty to say by the time the episode wraps up. This subject matter also gives me the chance to fill the episode with great RPG tracks, so you may notice I went a little overboard with the musical breaks. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.

Returning for this installment is GamesRadar’s Henry Gilbert, who also hosts the comic book podcast Cape Crisis, which just reached its 100th episode. I’m a big fan of everything going down at the Laser Time podcast network, so it’s always a treat to have Henry come in.

Libsyn (1:38:12 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud

This episode’s description:

“RPG battle systems: What started as a way to simulate the rolling of dice on a Cheetos-stained card table has mutated over the past 30-plus years into something far different from its Dungeons and Dragons roots. And even though Gary Gygax had no idea what a “limit break” was back in the early ’70s, this and other additions have made menu-based enemy encounters far more appealing than they used to be. Join Bob Mackey, Ray Barnholt, Jeremy Parish, and GamesRadar’s Henry Gilbert as they wait patiently for their little meters to fill up before saying anything important.”

This episode’s musical selections:

As you could probably guess, they’re RPG battle themes. Here are the ones I picked:

  • 11:42 – Dragon Quest 1
  • 21:52 – Final Fantasy 1
  • 34:04 – Final Fantasy IV
  • 40:34 – Tales of Phantasia
  • 57:15 – Super Mario RPG (Boss Battle Theme)
  • 1:14:21 – SaGa Frontier
  • 1:26:48 – Grandia
  • 1:35:35 – Happy Parade, Delightful Parade (Super Mario RPG Credits Theme)

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What a horrible night to have Retronauts Pocket Episode 25

Our current run of Retronauts is winding down, and this marks my last stint in the hosting chair for this season. After venturing out into the terrifying world of unfamiliar UK games from the ’80s last week, I felt compelled to scurry back to the comforting embrace of the familiar this time around. Yes, it’s a return to that most abused and tired of classic Retronauts topics, Castlevania.

Pocket 25 cover

Since all those old episodes have long since vanished into the ether, we figured, “Why not?” We’ll almost certainly be revisiting topics from the older, now-missing seasons of Retronauts in the next phase of the show. Consider this a sort of warning shot, I suppose.

Not really much to say here except that the music is from the Akumajou Dracula MIDI Collection album, and also thanks! It’s been an interesting and sometimes challenging run fielding your various topic requests, and I hope you’ve enjoyed what we’ve put together over the past year. Thank you for your support, and I’m sure you’ll hear me stambling my way through hosting duties again in the not-too-distant future.

A buffet of download options awaits you!

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Retronauts Vol. III Episode 25: (Union) Jack in for 100 minutes of ’80s games history

retronauts 25 uj cover

In the many years we’ve been doing Retronauts (the show is almost eligible to be its own topic at this point), our one big weakness has been our coverage of ’80s UK gaming. This has made many people angry and is widely considered… well, kind of inevitable, really. The British 8-bit microcomputer scene of the ’80s was very specific to Britain; outside of the Commodore 64, all the systems that defined the decade for England never really had much availability or impact beyond the English Channel. Though it would prove to be a fertile ground for major players who remain active today (Jeff Minter! Codemasters! DMA Designs aka Rockstar North! Psygnosis aka Sony Liverpool! Peter Molyneux! Rare!), the actual games that those legendary designers and studios created rarely left the UK.

The importance of the scene has made it a crucial gap for the show, but the insularity of the scene has made it difficult to speak to it with any authority, what with us being outsiders and all. So, for my final episode of this backer-supported season of Retronauts — for which you can thank one Mike Wasson, by the way — I could think of no more appropriate scheme than to rectify Retronauts’ greatest failing at long last by tracking down someone who actually lived in the UK and followed the gaming scene.

Handily, this required almost zero effort on my part, given that Bob and I happen to work with an icon of the ’80s UK gaming press: USgamer editor-at-large Jaz Rignall, who covered the 8-bit micro scene as a feisty teenager back in Thatcher’s England. We did the research for this one, but he fills in the generalities and hearsay with experience and perspective. The result is, I think, one of our best episodes ever (despite so, so many technical issues), a whirlwind tour of a fascinating but (to us) alien facet of game history. I hope you also enjoy it!

Thanks to Jaz for joining in (despite our scheduling the recording session during the World Cup final, sorry!) and to Mike for prompting us to shore up this particular weakness.

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Retronauts Pocket Episode 24: Skyblazer

Mega Man without the guns? Or is it Hook without the… hook? One thing is for sure: it’s Skyblazer, a fun action game for the Super NES from Sony Imagesoft, the developers’ follow-up to their game based on the movie Hook. Skyblazer was not flashy nor an anticipated sequel, which didn’t help its chances in 1994, going up against some of the biggest soon-to-be-classics of the generation. And that’s a shame, because it is a challenging, well put-together action game with with a focus on close-range fighting, occasional acrobatics, and getting past enemies that take too much of your health.

We talk about this and more on the show — including developer Ukiyotei’s other work, more of Skyblazer’s similarities to Mega Man, and of course, a strong suggestion that you seek it out and play it.

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Retronauts Special #3 – Live From TooManyGames 2014

As promised, we went on our east coast journey for this volume of Retronauts, and we’ve come back with this recording of our panel at TooManyGames 2014, titled The Life and Times of the 3DO.

Retronauts never covered 3DO (the company nor the platform) in earnest, and for us and many other game nerds, it’s been the butt of a joke. However, the system was not exactly DOA, despite some obvious stumbles out of the gate. And after doing a bunch of work writing about Warp, who started on 3DO, I thought it would make a good, fun episode that could, in fact, fit in a 60-minute convention panel.

I took a less casual approach with the panel than we have in the past, with an A-to-Z presentation that hits some key historical facts about the 3DO, from Trip Hawkins’ attempt to shake up the industry, and onward to a selection of 3DO games worth talking about. (There’s nearly nothing mentioned in the talk that requires you see it — and if so, there’s the video links below — but for the sake of completion, I’ve uploaded a hastily-exported PDF of the slides).

Though TooManyGames’ panel rooms were small compared to other venues we’ve been, the place was nearly full and everyone seemed to have a good time. Thanks to everyone who came, and suggested TMG to us in the first place. As for the rest of you, enjoy the show!

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Videos used and referenced in the show:

Retronauts Volume III Episode 24: Intellivision

We just recently talked about the ColecoVision on Retronauts Pocket, but this time we talk about its competitor, the Intellivision, and it gets a full episode treatment! Mwahah! (Actually, no conspiracy here — it just worked out that way.)

Admittedly, we’re not big Intellivision intelligentsia — I was the only one of the hosts who owned it, and 18 years after it was relevant. But we’re here to appreciate, and that’s what we do.  As one of the first, biggest challengers to the Atari 2600’s throne, the Intellivision came out in 1980 and was backed by Mattel’s marketing strength, which led to games licensed on sports leagues or Dungeons & Dragons, and nabbing author George Plimpton as their original pitchman. And while Atari got the rights to a lot of arcade hits, some of them came to Intellivision thanks to the Atarisoft imprint — a peculiar part of history we discuss on its own. Altogether, the Intellivision was a formidable opponent, with a library well worth exploring (including homebrew!).

Crowdfunding backer (and therefore official Retronauts FunFriend™) Adam Heberling lent us this topic as part of his reward, so send an internet Thank You, and feel free to discuss your best Intellivision memories and impressions in the comments.

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Selected links:

We Deal with ‘Nauts of the Police Variety on Retronauts Pocket 23

retronauts 23 pocket cover

Hey, everyone—Bob here, with an episode that’s been struggling to reach you for months. We originally recorded this one waaay back in December, but lost the original audio. That’s nearly the worst thing that can happen in podcasting, second only to having your equipment catch fire and slow-roast you to death in a tiny studio. But I’m happy we could make it work, because Policenauts is one of those games everyone seems to know about, but few have actually played. I used to be one of these unfortunate souls until I found the time late last year to sit down and plow through one of the few Hideo Kojima games I never experienced. It’s by no means as important or well-crafted as Metal Gear Solid, but Policenauts still carries all the charms of a Kojima work — and that just might be enough to inspire you to give it a try.

Joining us for this episode is Michael Sawyer — AKA Slowbeef — who worked on the complete fan translation released in 2009. I’m also a big fan of his Retsupurae channel, which means you should be, too! How are we ever going to turn this thing into a cult without ideological purity?

Libsyn (44:26 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud

This episode’s description:

“Esteemed game designer Hideo Kojima has had his hands full with Metal Gear (exclusively) for the past 15 years, but once upon a time his games featured far fewer nanomachines. On this installment of Retronauts Pocket, we take a long, hard look at Policenauts, Kojima’s 1994 adventure game that signaled the end of his brief flirtation with this genre. Join Bob Mackey, Ray Barnholt, and Michael Sawyer (AKA Slowbeef) for the next 45 minutes, and learn all about the wonders of Lethal Weapon in space.”

The music tracks used in this episode are The End of Beyond and Opening Title – Old L.A. 2040 from the Policenauts soundtrack (by Tappi Iwase, Masahiro Ikariko, and Motoaki Furukawa).

Relevant Links:

The Policenauts Translation Project

Slowbeef’s Let’s Play Policenauts

JUNKER HQ

Retroware.tv’s Policenauts Retrospective

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You Gotta Speed, Keed with Retronauts Episode 23

retronauts 23 cover

Hey folks—it’s Bob again, and happy to report this is the first episode of mine in a while where I didn’t sit down to edit and discover some horrible audio problem that didn’t present itself during the recording. So hooray for that! Anyhow, you might not think this topic is your cup of tea, but in recent years I’ve become a huge fan of speedruns, and discovered they’re much, much more than watching people cruise through games at an alarming speed. And if you don’t believe me, listen on and prepare to have your mind changed and/or blown by our deep dive on this topic—and be sure to check out the links below if you’re interested in seeing these speedruns for yourself. Thanks again to Nich Maragos, who provided the generous donation (and topic suggestion) that made this episode possible.

Libsyn (1:27:50 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud

This episode’s description:

“The art of speedrunning is barely two decades old, but in that time we’ve seen our share of stupefying feats from game masters that would put Captain N himself to shame. Will this burgeoning subculture be the key to keeping love for classic games alive? Thanks to a generous donation from Kickstarter backer Nich Maragos, join Bob Mackey, Jeremy Parish, Ray Barnholt, and guest Christian Nutt as the Retronauts explore the joys of breaking beloved games open like so many digital pinatas.”

This episode’s music comes from the arranged tracks on the Wild Trax (Stunt Race FX) – Rare Tracks for Driving album.

Relevant Links:

The Let’s Play Archive

Awesome Games Done Quick

Speed Demos Archive

COMPET-N

The first tool-assisted speedrun (for Super Mario Bros. 3)

Gameological Society feature on Mario 64 speedrunners

Aaand here are some handy links that organize all of the Awesome Games Done Quick runs into a single list (keep in mind there’s more than one page for each of these). You can find almost all of the speedruns we talked about through the following:

Awesome Games Done Quick 2013

Awesome Games Done Quick 2014

Summer Games Done Quick 2013

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Come See Retronauts at TooManyGames!

It seems like only four months ago we were soliciting suggestions of east coast US conventions to have another live show. The majority response favored Philadelphia’s TooManyGames, and so we looked into it, and it wasn’t much longer before we got on the list. So we’ll be there at the end of June!

What can you expect from us this go-around? In truth, our topic was revealed on the TMG site a while ago: another profile of a great console of the ’90s, the 3DO. I’ll be hosting this time (hi it’s me Ray), and I was partly inspired to cover the system when recently writing about Warp. What’s floating in my head is something a bit different from our usual format, though I stress only by a bit — as much as I inquired, I can’t get a t-shirt cannon through the TSA.

The Retronauts panel is scheduled for the first night of the con, on Friday, June 27. If you’ve already got tickets, great, and we hope to see you and say hi! If not, well, hopefully today serves as a good reminder. We’ll let you know if anything changes, good or bad.

And thanks to all of you who lent your feedback earlier! We’re happy to head somewhere new on the east coast, and of course, will endeavor to do it again in the future.

Retronauts Pocket 22 and the joy of superfluous keypads

retronauts 22 pocket cover

Hi everyone, sorry this episode is a little late. I’ve had a busy week, not least of all because Bob just came aboard full time at USgamer, and I’ve been trying to whip him into shape. Dude is recalcitrance personified.

This latest Pocket episode revisits a topic that I’d actually forgotten we covered at all — the ColecoVision. But someone told me we did one of those, back in the olden times. After doing 150 of these shows, they start to blend together. In any case, I’m confident that this exploration of the ColecoVision is far more entertaining than any supposed forays into this topic that may or may not have happened once long ago.

We’ve already covered the NES and Atari 2600, and if I have my druthers this episode is simply another checkmark in our journey to jabbering about every classic 8-bit console. Stay tuned.

Retronauts Pocket 22 direct download | SoundCloudRSS feed
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