Retronauts Pocket Episode 21: Joe & Mac

This episode of Pocket certainly doesn’t live up to its namesake, but I’d be lying if I said I expected it to turn out that way. This week we talk about Data East’s Joe & Mac franchise, but there were only four games to talk about, so how could we get close to an hour of talk? Well, we did, and chalk it up to four games that are pretty different from one another — Joe & Mac, aka Caveman Ninja, started as a straightforward arcade platformer, but Data East then shoved a different character under the umbrella, then changed up the formula for the next game, and then made the fourth and final Joe & Mac into essentially a Tumble Pop sequel. With characters like Bonk and Master Higgins staying pretty consistent in their game styles, you have a little less to talk about. But with Joe & Mac, there’s several talking points in each installment. But that’s what makes a good discussion! Join me, Bob, Jeremy and our guest, Mikel Reparaz from fellow podcast Vidjagame Apocalypse as we talk about this funky caveman duo (and their “country cousin,” Congo) and what makes their games so appealing. And maybe you caught Bob streaming the original Joe & Mac a day before we recorded — if not, check it out for his guided tour through the game.

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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:

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!

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 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

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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We earnestly request the courtesy of an iTunes Review

The music this episode all comes from various Mega Man games, because, hey.

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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Our iTunes Store presence begs pitifully for your positive reviews

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.

We Want Your Comments for our Listener Mail Episode!

normal_quillEver since the revival of Retronauts, people have been requesting — nay, demanding — we bring back our listener mail segment. And while we’ve yet to christen an official P.O. Box for its government-sanctioned purpose, there are other, easier ways to have us answer your smoldering questions: Like this very blog post! I’m planning a special viewer mail episode for our next recording, so if you desire to have a question answered by three guys who promise not to make fun of your name, regardless of consonant abundance, please leave them in the comments section below. But be sure to drop us a line before Friday, because that’s when I plan on gathering your missives for discussion in The Retronauts Vault. Thanks in advance, and, please, let’s try to keep things PG-13. Or at least a soft R.

Small delay

Just a quick note this morning: Episode 19 will be a day or two late, as I’m dealing with a pretty awful cold (and possible ear infection) that knocked me flat over the weekend. Expect the episode tomorrow or Wednesday. It’ll be worth the wait!

I hope.

Retronauts Pocket Episode 18: Nintendo Merchandise

Coming off the heels of last week’s talk about game media, which was a particularly rich trip down memory lane, we have this week’s episode of Retronauts Pocket, which explores another part of retro gaming minus the actual gaming: the merch! If you’re of our generation, where your childhood was defined by 20-to-30- year-old games, then there’s a good chance you came across a sticker sheet, a pack of trading cards, a bedding set, or whatever else branded with your favorite game characters.

With that in mind, we take a different trip down memory lane and touch on some highlights of Nintendo’s early journeys into Mario, Zelda, etc. merchandise. The cereal, the shampoo, the cake pans, and some special attention paid to Nintendo Power’s Super Power Club catalog. Join us, won’t you? And feel free to talk about any of the trinkets we didn’t!

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Timelines on the occasion of our Kickstarter anniversary

Oh, why hello there. Did you know that we kicked off the Revive Retronauts Kickstarter campaign a year ago today, based on what Bob tells me? It certainly doesn’t seem that long ago. But that’s because I’m old, and for old people, life is an ever-accelerating freight train hurtling toward death.

Though Vol. III of Retronauts didn’t begin in earnest until July 1, we wanted to pause a moment today to take stock of where this whole mad campaign has been. On the whole, I feel pretty good about how things have gone – the most important element of all this, the podcast itself, hasn’t missed a beat. Episode 18 Pocket goes up tomorrow, which is the… 39th episode overall, I think? Despite all the upheavals and changes we’ve had to deal with over the past year (including Ray finding a cool job and my being exiled to the East Coast), we’ve still managed to deliver a show every week since July 1. And we even produced a bonus episode for the holidays. The “third season” of Retronauts is on track to wrap up July 14, but we’ve actually decided to extend it slightly and produce a 27th episode and 27th Pocket episode so you get an even mix of the three different hosts filling your earholes. That means Vol. III now comes to an end on July 28th.

And then what? Well, we’ve decided we would in fact like to keep things going beyond that. Alas, that means we’ll need to drum up additional funding; between equipment needs, travel, studio rentals, and of course taxes, the coffers will be running low by the time we wrap the show. We haven’t pocketed the cash for ourselves; to be totally transparent, we agreed to set aside a very small amount for ourselves per episode, but I’m the only one who’s actually taken his stipend from the bank… and I used that money to pay for an extended Tokyo stay after TGS so I could record Dan Feit’s backer-requested episode. There’s been no looting, profiteering, or diving in the money bin like it’s a swimming pool. Basically, every cent we earned has been used for Retronauts. Thankfully, the original Kickstarter paid for all the equipment we need, so going forward any funds we source will essentially cover intangible expenses (rentals, event travel, web hosting, software licensing, etc.).

But! Before we consider how to extend the life of the show (which won’t necessarily happen with another Kickstarter campaign – we have a few possibilities on the table), we still have some other things we need to sort out first. The podcast has remained on track, and we’ve sent out T-shirts and stickers and such. However, there are still some unfulfilled matters to take care of, and we would like to present you with our hard deadlines for completion. These are promises to you.

  • DVDs and books: These will be completed and ready for production by July 1
  • Art rewards: These will be completed and ready for shipment by June 1
  • Charity livestreams: We’re a little vague on these still as we need to sort out the logistics, but sometime in early May and early July are our targets
  • Article rewards: These will be written and publishers by May 1
  • Two extra episodes: These will go up July 21 and July 28
  • Video commitments: These will be fulfilled by August 1
  • Final live panel: We’ve committed to an event, but Ray will announce that in due time. It’s 100% set, though!
  • Next wave of funding: Whatever form it takes, we’ll announce it no later than June 30
I hope that helps clear up any concerns! We’re 100% committed to living up to our word. Unforeseen real-life complications have slowed us down, it’s true, but at the end of this campaign, we will have done everything we said we would. Just… maybe a bit later than we had planned in some cases. And we understand those delays are frustrating, and that it’s easy to assume the worst about Kickstarter projects. We’re not sure yet how we’re going to fund future episodes, but if we decide to go the crowd-funded route, we won’t be holding out our hats until we’ve lived up to our existing commitments.

Let us know if you have any questions in the comments. And thanks for your support! Speaking for myself, it’s been an interesting and often difficult year, and your feedback has helped me keep going when things get rough. So thanks again.