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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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’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


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
And this is our obligatory spot where we beg for iTunes reviews.

Daaaarliiiing, it’s Retronauts Episode 22

Actually, despite the art and blog post title, this episode really has nothing to do with Lum or Urusei Yatsura. It’s just that we got sidetracked by a tangent about anime of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, and lacking any particular cohesive theme for this episode I decided to use that brief distraction as an excuse to draw Lum. I believe this makes for a “deal with it” kind of situation. So sorry.

retronauts 22 cover

This episode’s theme ended up being… well, let’s just say we played fast and loose. Kickstarter backer Jonathan Anderson wanted us to talk about misplaced nostalgia or nostalgia for things we never experienced, and we did our best to fulfill this mandate. I’m not promising we succeeded, but by god we gave it a shot.

Also of note: Long-time Retronauts contributor Chris Kohler finally makes his Vol. III debut. Huzzah!

This episode’s soundtrack selections come from Final Fantasy V, which we discussed somewhat at length near the beginning of the show. And my apologies if the sound quality isn’t perfect this week; I edited and assembled this podcast on a cross-country plane flight, so I can’t tell if the incessant whining sound was the plane engines or something in the podcast itself.

Anyway, please enjoy. Especially you, Jonathan Anderson.

Listen and download, fleshy mortals:

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Finally, please consider leaving us a nice review on iTunes Store, because it’s an easier (and less creepy) way to express your enthusiasm for Retronauts than hunting us down and hugging us.

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: