By request, we explore the Chrongaming mini-craze

So, I feel that it’s really important to preface this post with the disclaimer that this episode is a Kickstarter backer request (one of the last in the slushpile). I mention this because otherwise this episode will seem almost offensive self-indulgent and navel-gazing. While many Kickstarter backers requested we tackle one of a variety of episode topics, Sean Clements had but one demands: Talk about chrongaming.

Chrongaming, of course, would be the practice of exploring a console’s entire library in chronological order; the best-known venture out there is Dr. Sparkle‘s Chrontendo, which catalogs the history of Nintendo’s NES/Famicom in exhaustive detail. So of course we asked the good doctor to join us again, following on from his appearance in our very first Kickstarted episode. (Although as we learn here, Dr. Sparkle calls it “chronogaming,” not “chrongaming.” Live and learn, Sean!) Less famous, but rather closer to home, is my very own Game Boy World project, which aims to do the same thing as Chrontendo, except for the Game Boy platform, which is much less popular as a retrogaming topic than the NES. Even Dr. Sparkle wanted nothing to do with it!

So, needless to say, it’s the two of us and Bob jabbering about our own work for 80 minutes. Or airing out our sick personal obsessions, if you prefer. My apologies to all, but the people demanded it. Or at least one person. The tyranny of crowdfunding, eh?

Can a podcast be self-indulgent if the topic was provided by someone else? The famous Dr. Sparkle joins us to fulfill Sean Clements’ Kickstarter topic request: Chrongaming. Join us as we psychoanalyze our own obsessive-compulsive behavior!

Listen or download here:

Libsyn (1:52:00 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud | Subscribe on iTunes | RSS | Support the show on Patreon

Music in the episode comes from NES “brototype” game Shatterhand, which I’ve never really played… but damn does that soundtrack rock.

Retronauts Micro 009, the Kuros for What Ails Ya


Greetings and welcome to a thrilling new week… oh, wait, it’s Wednesday. Never mind.

Sorry for the delay on this episode, but the first version I recorded for this one didn’t turn out very well — my audio setup hadn’t been fine-tuned yet to my new office. So I made the executive decision to delay it and re-record it with a proper setup. Hopefully it was worth the wait.

Just kidding, it wasn’t worth the wait. This is a Micro episode, so no one’s really champing at the bit for it. But this is pretty much the definitive sort of Micro episode — it follows up on last week’s full episode to look with a bit more depth at a game we brushed on in passing, but which deserves more attention. Wizards & Warriors isn’t one of Rare’s most beloved classics, but the games hold a sort of unique place in the company’s history: They were among their first attempts to get their bearings on both NES and Game Boy, where they stood as pioneers leading other Western developers onto the promised land of Nintendo licensing. That makes these games pretty noteworthy, in my book.

This week’s show description:

After last week’s in-depth blowout on Rare, Jeremy pauses to look briefly at one of the company’s most significant yet underappreciated creations: 1987’s Wizards & Warriors for NES.

Listen to or grab it here:

Libsyn (1:49:23 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud | Subscribe on iTunes | RSS | Support the show on Patreon

Next week, we’ll be back with a standard full-length episode. Probably on time, too!

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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Please subscribe to and review us on the iTunes Store because, eh, why not.
You can also listen right here on this very blog post if you prefer:

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.

Retronauts Pocket Episode 15: Destiny of an Emperor

Retronauts 15 Pocket cover

Usually if I come into a Retronauts episode with knowledge of a game nobody has heard of, it’s about some obscure Japanese PlayStation game or whatever else was under the dart I threw at my ROM list in 2002. I did not entirely expect that to happen with this week’s topic, Capcom’s Destiny of an Emperor. It was a 1990 Capcom NES release, and I knew it wasn’t an oft-metioned classic, but among the four of us on the show and topic-submitter Steven Sztuk, Steve and I were the only ones who had a memory of it. Go figure.
But that’s part of the fun, and luckily, Destiny of an Emperor is an interesting game! Last week’s guest Gary Butterfield rejoins us for this chat about the game, where I go over its basic features — it’s an RPG based on a manga based on the “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” novel, and uses some very familiar old JRPG tropes that are applied, one way or another, to a game about amassing troops and fighting endless wars. It’s adorable, really, and worth checking out. Enjoy the show.

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Find us on the iTunes Store and leave a nice review!

Retronauts Vol. III Episode 12: Wrestlenauts

Retronauts 12 cover

I think the first time I became aware of pro wrestling was through games — specifically, the first issue of Nintendo Power I received, which had a feature on WWF Wrestlemania for the NES. Having no idea who anybody was in the game, I thus had no real interest in wrestling, and pretty much ignored it throughout my childhood, never quite getting it. But I came to realize there was real passion for the sport since it was televised, by people as smart and nerdy as I am, plus nearly 30 years of video games to fuel that passion. And that’s pretty much the focus of this week’s episode, requested by backer Alex “krae_man” Forsyth — who, if you were ever on the 1UP message boards during the Retronauts heyday, probably saw his demands for a “Wrestlenauts” episode. Well, Kickstarter can make dreams happen on either side, and I guess it works out that this is releasing close to Christmas.

Joining us are Dave Rudden and returning guest Henry Gilbert, both from Laser Time and their associated wrestling show Cheap Popcast; and Michael Donahoe, whom you may remember from EGM and 1UP (and respective podcasts). All three are experienced wrestling nerds who played most of the games that were released on this side of the world, and more, and as I guide everybody through a chronology of wrestling games, I more or less leave it to these guys when it comes to discussing them in greater detail.

Sure, there’s the typical going-down-the-list treatment, but we really get rolling once we get to Fire Pro Wrestling, the premier Japanese-made series filled with customization and realistic fighting system, and the 3D/polygonal era, when the developer formerly known as AKI made some of the best (and best-remembered) licensed wrestling games of all time. Those are times when Japanese developers were honing their skills and making the best wrestling games, becoming a sort of latent golden age for the genre. There’s plenty more to be said about certain arcade games, too, like Midway’s Wrestlemania game with the real digitized wrestlers, and as we reach the present day, some talk about where the genre could be going, perhaps always being led by the WWE and developer Yuke’s.

Maybe this won’t be the most relatable episode of Retronauts — even for me it isn’t, on the whole. But again, it’s filled with information and enthusiasm, and no matter what your interest in wrestling is (if you get lost by any jargon, don’t forget this handy glossary), it’s still pretty fun to hear people who really know what they’re talking about share their expertise on games that can rise above the much-maligned sport they’re based on. Don’t shy away from this one!

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Find us on the iTunes Store and leave a nice review!

This episode’s breakdown:


Retronauts Pocket Episode 8: Jaws & Friday the 13th

Retronauts Pocket 8

Hello, boils and ghouls — It’s Bob again with my third episode in a row. (Hopefully you’re not getting sick of me by this point.) Retronauts Pocket episode 8 comes to you courtesy of David Shuff, who suggested Jaws for the NES as a possible topic, then — for the sake of filling a half-hour — agreed to let us talk about Friday the 13th as well. Now, these two typically make every “Worst NES Games Ever” list, and while there’s plenty of room for improvement, both Friday the 13th and Jaws contain some great (and distinctly Japanese) design ideas that would have made for much better experiences if the cruel taskmasters at LJN gave their hired guns more time to work with. That said, due to its topic and timing, Pocket 8 became our accidental Halloween episode, helped into creation by Brett Elston and Chris Antista (of the Laser  Time podcast network), who you heard on last week’s show. Enjoy, and for extra spookiness, be sure to listen to this one in the abandoned summer camp or moonlit pumpkin patch of your choice.

Libsyn (33:43 | MP3 | 24.6 MB) | SoundCloud

This episode’s description:

“In the late ’80s, Lewis J. Norman had a dream: delivering children awful video game adaptations of movies way out of their age range. But are these 8-bit monsters really just misunderstood? Join Bob Mackey, Ray Barnholt, and special guests Brett Elston and Chris Antista as they uncover the dark truths of Jaws and Friday the 13th for the NES, and brave the horrors of mechanical sharks and machete-wielding goalies.”

About the musical selections: Both Jaws and Friday the 13th contain about two minutes of music apiece, so I’m not going to bother listing my choices here. And the closing song is “Angela’s Theme” by Frankie Vinci from the 1983 movie Sleepaway Camp. Happy?

Retronauts Pocket Episode 5: The Media vs. NintendoMania

Retronauts Pocket 5 cover

Libsyn (36:38 | MP3 | 25.3 MB | SoundCloud)

Hey, it’s another episode of Retronauts Pocket! And this time around, we decided to take a look at the always-misinformed media’s reaction to late ’80s NintendoMania. What is this mysterious grey box from Japan, and how can we free our children from its pixellated tentacles?  Modern media giants Bill O’ Reilly and John Stossel asked these questions 25 years ago, and we recommend you check out their respective segments before digging into our own discussion:

Inside Edition (1988)

20/20 – “Nuts for Nintendo”

“Video Mania” (1991)

This episode’s description:

“In what could be the most John Stossel-heavy Retronauts episode of all time (we hope), your favorite classic gaming buddies and special guest Henry Gilbert (of GamesRadar) take a look at how the media reacted to Nintendo conquering a generation of children in the late ’80s. Sit back, relax, and get ready to hear middle-aged adults growing progressively crankier about how kids can’t stop playing those damned vidya games.”

This episode’s outro music:

“Super Mario Bros.” arranged by Motoi Sakuraba for Famicom 20th Anniversary Arrange Sound Tracks

Thanks again to Henry Gilbert, and be sure to check out his work on GamesRadar and the Laser Time Network!

Retronauts Pocket Episode 3: NES Accessories

Retronauts Pocket 3

We know that the games are what makes retro game appreciation, but for many of us, it wasn’t entirely the games that made an impression, but what we played them with. After all, monstrosities like R.O.B. and the Power Glove became much-discussed parts of NES history, though relatively few people actually owned them. On that note, this episode of Retronauts Pocket touches on NES accessories, with a focus on controllers or other direct-input peripherals such as the NES Advantage, NES Max, Power Pad, Acclaim’s wireless controllers, and several more. Of course, we couldn’t talk about everything (it’s Retronauts Pocket, after all), but hopefully we helped jog your memory a little. Thanks for listening, and look forward to more accessory episodes when I take the helm again.

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Links to pertinent TV commercials:

Retronauts Pocket Episode 2: Captain N: The Game Master

Retronauts Pocket 2
If you were born between 1975 and 1985, there’s no doubt Captain N: The Game Master once stood as the foundation of your Saturday morning cartoon and cereal orgy. Coming into creation at the end of a very long and dark period for television animation, this cheaply animated, glorified Nintendo commercial kept a nation of kids glued to their sets, if only for the chance to see their favorite characters as more than just fuzzy blobs of pixels. On this installment — which echoes some of our Movie Month episodes of the past — we sat down to talk about Captain N’s first episode, “Kevin in Videoland,” which is only a quick Google search away. But since you’re nice, I’ll embed it below:

We’ve talked about Captain N before on Retronauts, but only in the superficial way that everyone does — because it’s not as if this show merits serious analysis in any way. But I wanted to examine Captain N as both an artifact of animation history, and a marketing tool for Nintendo, all while avoiding the same jokes that have been circulating for 20 years (okay, we make about three of them). Anyhow, I’d love to use my mini-episodes to take a look at more media like this, so please share your thoughts in the comments section!

Libsyn (39:43 | MP3 | 27.4 MB) | SoundCloud | YouTube (coming soon)

This episode’s breakdown:

Supplemental content:

I’ve also noticed we’ve recently received a ton of a reviews on iTunes, which bumped us up into the “New and Notable” section of Games & Hobbies podcasts — thanks to anyone who contributed. If you haven’t, please consider taking a few minutes to leave your own review. We’d really love for more people to hear about the show, and this is the best way to do it outside of buying a Retronauts blimp.