Gravity is rad, and reversed, in the latest Retronauts Micro

Heigh ho everybody, and welcome once again to the Retronauts show! We’ve got a real corker this wee— aw, OK, it’s just another off-week Micro episode. On the plus side, I’ve decided to ditch my boring one-man-show approach to Micros and bring other people into the conversation, which should be a relief to everyone. To kick things off this week, we have Sam Claiborn from IGN in the studio to enthuse over classic NES mech platformer Metal Storm for a few minutes with me.

Metal Storm is one of those games that plays better in person than it does via audio — it’s a brief and fairly simple game, and its appeal comes from the way it pushes the NES hardware, and from the way its mechanics turn a straightforward five-stage platform shooter into a dense, nail-biting challenge. The game’s central premise (you can invert gravity while in mid-air) demands a higher standard of level design than the usual NES fare, and every screen of Metal Storm stands out as a sort of inventive action puzzle… without being an actual puzzle game. Trust me, I’ve seen a lot of those in my Game Boy adventures, and this ain’t one.

The biggest downside to Metal Storm is that you’re not going to be able to find a cartridge-only copy of the game for less than $100 unless you get really lucky. It’ll never show up on a download service, either, because publisher Irem ditched gaming altogether and, last I’d read, had delisted all its games from PSN and Virtual Console. This is why classic video game is so darned stupid most of the time.

Download Links

Libsyn (13:02, 9.4 MB) | MP3 Download | SoundCloud

Thanks to Sam for dropping by, and I’ll be playing the game on a live stream later this week via USgamer. So you can check it out that way if you’re curious about Metal Storm but too lazy (or scrupulous!) to emulate it.

HAL

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Oh dog dang it, I knew I forgot something yesterday. Hello! Here is the latest Retronauts, being posted here on the blog. I was so busy trying to get the advance episode prepped I totally overlooked our public-facing side. I am a monster.

Anyway, the nice thing about Retronauts is that it’s not really timely per se, so this episode will be every bit as valid and relevant today as it was yesterday. This week’s show is a follow-up to the PlayStation anniversary episode from last summer… the one where we learned of Satoru Iwata’s passing in the middle of the recording session and promised to circle back to HAL, the studio he helped build, helped save, and which helped him become Nintendo’s president for the company’s most successful and profitable run in its history.

Joining us this week, we have regular contributors Henry Gilbert of the Laser Time Podcast Network and Christian Nutt of Gamasutra. They know stuff.

Download Links

Libsyn (1:26:01) | MP3 Download | SoundCloud

Episode Description

Jeremy, Bob, Henry Gilbert, and Christian Nutt convene to look back at the history of HAL Laboratory in tribute to the late Satoru Iwata.

Enjoy the episode! Even though it’s late!

Retronauts double-header

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Hey! I forgot to post last week’s episode here! Oh well. Now you get two at once.

First: The latest episode, a Micro look at Namco’s Rolling Thunder. You kids seem to like Bob’s music-heavy episodes, and as it happens this game has rad-as-hell music. So rock on out to this one. I wonder if all the great music in this game informed Sega’s decision to make the bad guys in Space Channel 5 basically look like the Maskers in Rolling Thunder…?

Download Links

Libsyn (17:36 | MP3 Download | SoundCloud )

Episode Description

Jeremy looks back on Namco’s clasic arcade action game Rolling Thunder, the quintessential old-school take on “spy action” before Metal Gear redefined the genre to mean “stealth.”

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Aaaand speaking of Metal Gear, here’s last week’s episode, featuring Shane Bettenhausen and Jose Otero on Hideo Kojima’s long-running stealth franchise. See what I did there?

Download Links

Libsyn (1:57:36 | MP3 Download | SoundCloud )

Episode description

As an era ends with the release of Metal Gear Solid V, Shane Bettenhausen and Jose Otero join us to wax rhapsodic about the unique history on gaming’s longest-running saga. No haters or Hayters allowed!As an era ends with the release of Metal Gear Solid V, Shane Bettenhausen and Jose Otero join us to wax rhapsodic about the unique history on gaming’s longest-running saga. No haters or Hayters allowed!

Enjoy, and remember that you can listen to next week’s episode early by supporting us on Patreon. But it’s cool, you can also just wait a few days and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the episode all the same.

The real knowledge was Treasure

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Wow! This episode’s a day late. It’s getting to be a cool trend. Tardiness is gonna be all the rage in 2016, and we’re leading the way.

This episode of Retronauts Micro focuses on a company whose games I’ve never really gotten into but for whom I have tremendous respect: Treasure. The studio has been pretty quiet of late, working on Capcom’s Gaist Crusher series and presumably working with M2 on the 3D Ages version of Gunstar Heroes… but hopefully they have something fresh up their sleeves. They’re too talented to languish in obscurity, especially since the kind of challenge and mechanical complexity they deal in has become quite popular among a certain set of gamers.

Download Links

Libsyn (12:38 | MP3 Download | SoundCloud )

Episode Description

Jeremy takes a look at one of gaming’s great studios, whose work seems to have been largely forgotten in this day and age. Will Treasure rise again, or will their two-decade collection of brilliance stand as their legacy?

Music this time around comes from Hitoshi Sakimoto’s Gradius V soundtrack — not really typical treasure fare, but just a fantastic piece of music all around.

This week, it’s a two-hour lovefest for Mega Man

Hi! Big episode this week, in more ways than one.

One way: It’s a very lengthy episode, clocking in at nearly two dense hours of commentary and nostalgia. And it only covers nine games total, really — Mega Man 1 through 6 and the three Mega Man Legends titles. That’s like, 1/10 of the all the Mega Man games ever made.

Second way: We have a bunch of info on the newly announced Mega Man Legacy Collection, which is relevant to this topic. Capcom Unity‘s Brett Elston and Greg Moore join us not only to talk about Mega Man games, but also to detail the upcoming anthology, which is being produced by the former Digital Eclipse guys at Other Ocean. Former Retronauts contributor (and occasional cohost! Check out the Tengen episode!) Frank Cifaldi has a huge role in the anthology, and that alone means it’s likely to sit among the best, most accurate, and most loving compilation of classic games we’ve ever seen in the U.S.

You can read more about it all at USgamer. Or Capcom Unity. Or hey, just listen here.

Description for this episode:

Jeremy and Bob are joined by Capcom’s Brett Elston and Greg Moore to revisit a topic near to everyone’s heart: the Mega Man legacy. (And also the Mega Man Legacy Collection, due later this year.)

Listen or download here:

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

Man. If only revisiting old Retronauts topics always resulted in announcements like this.

Retronauts Micro 11 Gets Virtual

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Last week, we talked about the Game Boy line’s would-be competitors from the late ’90s. This week: A look at its erstwhile replacement, Virtual Boy. Since people actually bought and liked Neo Geo Pocket (and to a lesser degree WonderSwan), last week’s conversation worked as a full episode. Virtual Boy, however… that’s a 10-minute monologue topic if ever there was one.

Description for this episode:

Following our look at Game Boy’s competitors in the late ’90s, Jeremy explores the system’s would-be successor: Nintendo’s disastrous Virtual Boy. Aw, but it wasn’t all bad.

Listen or download here:

Libsyn (1:26:47 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud | Subscribe on iTunes | RSS | Support the show on Patreon

Next week, we’ll be back with another podcast. It’s kind of what we do.

A Rare opportunity for education with Episode 35

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Hi everyone, it’s Monday. And we all know Garfield hates Mondays because he hates awesome podcasts about video game history. But since you enjoy such things, you’ll be delighted to know that the latest episode of Retronauts is now live. Perhaps you’ll even be chuffed, given that today’s episode takes us to jolly old England to explore the history of one that land’s most legendary developers, Rare.

Ye olde description:

UK ex-pat Jaz Rignall joins Bob and Jeremy to discuss England’s crown jewel: Rare. From their early era as Ultimate Play the Game to their N64 glory days, we cover the full history of this enigmatic developer. By request of Kickstarter backer Michael Lee!

And the usual shenanigans:

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

Incidentally, we’ve just about wrapped up all our Kickstarter episodes with this — just a handful more to go! Drop us a line if you were a backer at the episode or co-hosting level and still haven’t told us what you want, OK? And the backer-exclusive content hasn’t been forgotten about! Expect good news on that front soon…

This week in Retronauts, you shall be as gods

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Hi everyone! It’s a little something different this week for Retronauts Micro.

A few years ago, I revisited a game I deeply hated, Xenogears, with the intention of giving it a second chance. After pouring a heck of a lot of time into it, I came away not precisely changed, but with a deeper understanding of my issues with the game along with a deeper appreciation of what director Tetsuya Takahashi and his team were trying to accomplish with it. I wrote up my findings in a lengthy essay for my side project GameSpite Journal; rather than retread the same territory, I’ve adapted that old essay here into a condensed podcast script.

Music this episode, of course, comes from Xenogears, because what kind of idiot would create a podcast about Xenogears and not use Xenogears music?

Libsyn (9:30 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud | Subscribe on iTunes | RSS feed

Jeremy explores his uncomfortable mixture of admiration for and frustration with Squaresoft’s almost-classic RPG for PlayStation, Xenogears. It’s a complicated episode for a complicated game.

Relive the days when Nintendo’s handheld announcements made you happy, not angry

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Look, we could argue at length about the point at which something qualifies for discussion under the banner of Retronauts. Some people still hold fast to the idea that anything after the NES launch doesn’t really count as old, an idea that had some merit back when I first saw it being bandied about at the dawn of console emulation circa 1996 but makes much less sense in 2015.

But whatever your personal definition, I won’t lie: Talking about the Nintendo DS as a classic game system is really stretching that definition to the breaking point. Not only is the system barely a decade old — practically brand new in this, the year Home Pong turns 40! — but you can still buy DS games and systems at retail if you look hard enough. They’re easier to find these days than most Amiibos.

In our defense (or rather, my defense, since I was the idiot who decided to put this episode together), the DS began life pretty much being retro. It looked so clunky and primitive next to Sony’s PSP… and yet, as we discuss in this episode, it absolutely spanked the poor PSP in short order, despite the odds being stacked almost hilariously against it. The success of the DS seems almost poignant when contrasted against the seeming tone-deafness with which Nintendo continues to approach its sequel, the 3DS, as seen in the wake of last week’s New 3DS XL announcement. It was a heady time, when games that looked a decade old could be the best-sellers of the generation. The DS was a weird system that should have failed horribly… but it didn’t, and we love it both for its tenacity and its vast and entertaining software library.

What is “retro”? This week, we test the limits by talking about a 10-year-old system whose games you can still buy at retail. But in fairness, the Nintendo DS was pretty much retro from the moment of its conception. Featuring Games Radar‘s Henry Gilbert and USgamer’s Kat Bailey.

Libsyn (1:49:00 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud | Subscribe to and review Retronauts on iTunes

Music in this episode comes from the Dragon Quest IX Symphonic Suite album, because why not?

P.S., if you enjoy Retronauts, may we recommend USgamer’s podcast From US to You!? It’s a similar mix of people to Retronauts, and a similar low-key form of discussion, but it’s focused primarily on current topics rather than game history. Give it a listen.

Hark, the herald angels bellow, “Telenet and Valis is go!”

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You can tell it truly is a season of miracles, because we somehow managed — about five years after the fact! — to pull Shane Bettenhausen (and Christian Nutt) into the studio so they could gush about the Valis series for more than an hour. Bob and I are almost ghostlike presences this week, but somehow I don’t think anyone’s going to complain. This will probably be the first episode I’ve hosted in years that no one will complain about, because it’s a work of sincere enthusiasm by two passionate fans, tackles a niche series in exhaustive detail, and above all has the authenticity of a first-person account.

We are committed to making full Retronauts episodes a biweekly (that is, fortnightly) endeavor, but we’ve made an exception this week as a seasonal gift to everyone who’s supported us over these past couple of years while we fly solo, free of the succour (and funding) of corporate interests. This episode could never have come to pass without your help. You are cool.

You can read more about this episode at USgamer, but you can listen or download here. If you like.

Yes. It actually happened.

The next few episodes will be Micros while we take it relatively easy over the holiday break (and wrangle our schedule back into proper order), but we’ll be working on finishing up the last of our Kickstarter obligations while we’re away. And when we get back, we can all sort out what everyone wants for their first round of Patreon awards. Materialism!

Download links:

Libsyn (1:24:48 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud | RSS | Patreon

And of course, the usual begging for iTunes reviews goes here. We’re never going to be the most popular show on iTunes, but they can’t get rid of us that easily.