Tag Archives: video

I’ll be streaming Zelda for tonight’s Gintendo!

Yes, Zelda is this week’s big topic. That and Switch, but at the moment most people only care about Switch because of Zelda. Sadly, though, Nintendo won’t let us stream the new one, so in lieu of Breath of the Wild I will instead be streaming the Zelda that will serve as a subject for this week’s Retronauts recording marathon: Link’s Awakening.

(I was going to stream Power Blade today, but we’ll save that for some other time. There are many more streams to come!)

The magic will happen this afternoon at 5 p.m. ET, which is (rumor has it) 2 p.m. PT. You can enjoy the madness on my YouTube channel, per usual.

Will I reach the Wind Fish? (Spoilers: Not even close.)

This will, of course, be the final Gintendo for February! I’ll be out of town for the following week for Game Developers Conference and the aforementioned Retronauts recording weekend, but I’ll hit the ground running once I return. Thanks as always for your support of Retronauts video endeavors… and don’t forget that there’s a Final Fantasy IV episode of the show online and ready for your enjoyment if you support the podcast, too.

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Oops, an unannounced Gintendo

Yesterday afternoon we recorded the first episode of Retronauts East, which I desperately hope turns out well — there’s a lot of fine-tuning that needs to happen with our recording setup, so the sound quality could turn out to be kind of awful. I guess we’ll find out! Once we wrapped the recording session, I decided to celebrate the show’s eastward expansion by launching an impromptu and unannounced Gintendo live stream of Castlevania:

Incredibly enough, it went remarkably well. Shockingly well, actually. I aced the two big sticking-point battles on my first go (skip ahead to 16:30 if you want to see the most impressive showing I’ve ever put up versus Frankenstein’s Monster and Igor). Then… the second half of the stream consists of my nerve breaking and me failing abysmally against Dracula’s stage and the final battle, over and over again. It was a pretty solid first half, though! I guess you could blame the gin (Reisetbauer Blue, if you’re curious).

Anyway, it’s here if you’d like to watch it.

I head out of town for a week on Sunday, so I won’t be able to host a normal Gintendo while I’m abroad. Although… I guess there’s technically nothing stopping me from taking along, say, the Retro USB AVS? And an Elgato device? And maybe picking up some random retro Famicom games and playing them? Hmm. If nothing else, I might try and stream a stroll through Akihabara or something, assuming it won’t devastate my international data plan. And I definitely will be posting all throughout next week on my game-shopping and developer-interviewing exploits in Tokyo, so you can at least look forward to that.

(Promo art by Rusty Shackles)

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Ping pong, like love, is a battlefield

One really great thing about Game Boy World: Finding strange obscurities that intersect with things I love. Example for today: Battle Ping Pong.

Have you ever heard of Battle Ping Pong before today? I’m going to go ahead and say, “No, you haven’t.” This one was pretty tough to track down (not quite as hard as Hong Kong, since a search on eBay for “Game Boy” “Hong Kong” nets you a lot of Asia-region releases and bootlegs, but still tough), because evidently most people haven’t heard of it — even in Japan. It was worth it, though! It’s one of the very first games created by developer Quest, one of my absolute favorite game studios of yore. Quest created Ogre Battle, Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics, and their key personnel has had a hand in the likes of Final Fantasy XII and Crimson Shroud. Quest is awesome. Well, was awesome. R.I.P., Quest.

Battle Ping Pong isn’t really all that awesome, though. This was clearly put together in the “walk before you can run” phase for the studio, and it’s pretty interesting as a curio. But it’s actually kind of crummy as a table tennis sim. It feels weird to use the words “Quest” and “crummy” together in the same mental breath, but, well, sometimes that’s how it goes.

Fortunately the next Game Boy World episode covers a game that, I hope, will bring us out of the doldrums of import obscurity. Please look forward to it in a few weeks.

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Weekend Gintendo: Let’s kill some actual Nazis [archived!]

It’s been a pretty hectic weekend between the Lunar New Year and what appears to have been the second of 208 planned weekly protests by millions of anti-Trump demonstrators. Also, somewhere in there, an Analogue Nt Mini showed up on my doorstep, and I’ve been eager to put it through its paces. So I figure, why not combine two very important things — playing video games and a stiff drink to take the edge off — with a Sunday afternoon Gintendo stream?

And friends, I can’t think of a more appropriate game to play this weekend than Bionic Commando ’99.

Bionic Commando… ’99?” you ask, perplexed. Yes, ’99 — it’s Bionic Commando for NES, except this version was patched by Chris Covell (back in the year 1999, hence the name) to restore all the content cut in translation from Japanese to English. Nintendo of America shied away from controversy of any sort in the NES days, which means religious symbols and unpleasant political relics alike had to be modified or scrubbed for U.S. release. The Japanese title of Bionic Commando translated to Top Secret: The Resurrection of Hitler, and an image of ol’ pencil-stache himself glowered over the packaging art as the protagonist gave Fourth Reich soldiers, decked out in full brownshirt regalia, an iron boot to the face.

In America, however, all references to Nazis were edited to “Badds,” and Hitler became “Master-D.” Chris Covell’s patch simply changes back the references and restores certain Nazi imagery, including swastikas, to leave no doubt whatsoever about whom you’re killing. In an era where we have actual Nazis showing up in the national news skulking around under euphemistic terms like “alt-right,” I can think of no more fitting game to play than a game mod that revolves around the premise of calling Nazis by their real name.

So please, join me this afternoon at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT as I messily explode Hitler’s skull.

Today’s featured gin will be Greenhook Greensmiths’ American Dry, which is distilled in Brooklyn — literally a few miles down the road from JFK International Airport, the site of this weekend’s most fervent pro-immigration protests. And I’ll be playing on an Analogue Nt Mini, a clone of the Japanese NES hardware designed in Seattle. In short, this stream will be celebrating America, inside and out.

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Live streaming tonight: Zelda II for Gintendo

The Gintendo series achieved its funding goal a few days ago, and that means I will be streaming videos now, every week. While imbibing juniper-infused liquors.

To kick off the Gintendo series proper, I’ve decided to go with a game that recently celebrated its 30th anniversary: Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. You know, I don’t think I saw a single retrospective or tribute to the game’s 30th anniversary, which seems a little odd given the attention we all lavished on the original Zelda‘s birthday a year ago. You can attribute that to the fact that its anniversary fell on the weekend that Nintendo was running its global Switch preview events, which basically crowded out other Nintendo-related topics in the hearts of nerds everywhere. Or… perhaps less kindly, you could attribute it to the fact that Zelda II is the least-beloved of all entries in the main series. I will remain neutral on this matter and let you make the judgment yourself.

In any case, I’ll be streaming the game for an hour this afternoon, beginning at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT:

I do not promise to complete the game, or even to do particularly well at it. I’ve finished it a few times over the years — once when I was young and nimble-fingered, and more recently with 3DS Virtual Console save states — but this game involves a lot of tough combat and unforgiving design. I’ll give it my best, though!

And because this is Gintendo, I’ll be talking about the bottle I just opened: No. 209 Cabernet Reserve, an intriguing gin by a San Francisco-based distiller that spent part of its life aging in cabernet sauvignon barrels and has taken on a rich amber color (and, one assumes, a bit of a wine flavor). Join me for a journey of discovery through Hyrule, and through my cups.

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Do the Donkey Kong, again

Another week, another video… specifically, another video about Donkey Kong.

Might as well get used to it. Good Nintentions is about to hit a thick patch of Nintendo arcade classics, including two more Donkey Kong games, Mario’s first solo outing (which is, of course, a Donkey Kong spinoff), and Popeye, which is what Shigeru Miyamoto originally wanted Donkey Kong to be. That big ape cast a big shadow over Nintendo’s early console days.

I appreciate the fact that this video has sparked comment debate over which home version of Donkey Kong was best — Nintendo’s NES game looked most faithful, but plenty of people will vouch for other platforms where the game included all levels, animations, and music. Of course, Nintendo could easily put this debate to rest by releasing an official version of the arcade game that isn’t locked inside a grindingly tedious 3D platformer, or by making Donkey Kong Original Edition widely available. Wouldn’t that be swell?

The ongoing absence of a proper release of such a pivotal title remains pretty baffling. Knowing Nintendo, they’re going to make Original Edition one of their “free” sample titles for the Switch’s subscriber service, which ceases to be freely playable after one month, but not actually offer the game for sale. That would be awful, but somehow perfectly in keeping with the way things have been going for the archival travails of Donkey Kong.

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This video was not quite a Labor of love. A Patrol Labor, that is.

Game Boy World makes its 2017 debut today. I would like to say the subject at hand is inspirational and sets a great precedent for the year, but that would make me a heckin’ liar. On the contrary, this latest Game Boy release is all kinds of mundane. Not wretched, not enjoyable, just kinda there, a legacy of a publisher’s willingness to peddle a fairly popular license without giving much thought to the quality of the problem attached to it. It’s a shame, because I really like the Patlabor franchise and think it could make a heck of a game in the right hands.

To add to the sorrow: This YouTube video has unfortunately been blocked by Bandai in Japan due to my inclusion of some footage from the anime franchise being covered here. If you happen to be one of the rare few who watch Game Boy World from Japan, I apologize. You can watch via Libsyn instead:

Either way, you’re in for an 11-minute video of which about 7 concern how cool Patlabor (the anime) is, while the rest kind of offers a perfunctory critique of how tedious Patlabor (the Game Boy game) turned out to be. I scraped as much game discussion as I could out of this, but there’s a weird element to the game in which you’re given a password after completing a stage which does not function as the password for continuing the game. I had intended to take the time to translate the dialogue in an attempt to figure out what I needed to do in order to advance, but time constraints kicked in and this is as far as I made it. Patron Max Smith shared a Nico Nico link that shows footage from later in the game and… it’s all the same thing. Just dull turn-based robot fights from start to finish. So, no great loss.

Next episode concerns a game that maybe isn’t great but is definitely weird and comes from an interesting developer, so I’ll try to make up for this episode’s shortcomings there.

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Thank you + video feed

First, you’ll be downright chuffed to know that this week’s early access episode (wherein Bob and Ray and I discuss the mysteries of Bubble Bobble canon) is now available through Patreon.

Secondly, I’m chuffed to say that, thanks to a surge of Yuletide enthusiasm and generosity, we crossed over our “weekly full episode” tier last night. Over the coming month, leading up to February’s big change, we’ll be developing our new publishing plan, which includes the new monthly chapter of the show, Retronauts East. Tentatively, the East show will feature Benj Edwards of vintagecomputing.com and Ben Elgin, both of whom will bring a welcome dose of knowledge regarding classic computers, Atari games, and other bits of retrogame trivia that Bob and myself (who are largely, though not exclusively, Japanese console-centric in terms of our interests) have typically been a bit weak on. I’m excited about this new addition to the family! I will definitely need to pick some extra recording gear before we can start producing the new show, though.

Of course, this does mean that Retronauts Micro will be vanishing… unless we manage to hit our next funding goal, at which point it will resume its biweekly schedule. So, to recap, we’ve gone from two full and two Micro episodes per month to four full episodes, and our next stop will be four full episodes and two Micro. Hopefully we’ll get there soon.

I’ve also added a new link to the banner across the top of the site: an iTunes feed for Retronauts Chronicles videos. I always post my video projects several days early for video backers, but the iTunes feed also gets updates a day or two ahead of the videos going public via YouTube. This week’s early video on iTunes concerns Pilotwings for Super NES; next week will probably be Mach Rider, or maybe a prototype long-form retrospective on the SEGA Master System (monthly long-form videos being the next video Patreon goal, you see).

Yeah, we’re doing the hard sell here…. but hopefully the content makes it go down smooth.

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Donkey Kong Jr. Math and the platonic ideal

I’m not sure that anyone has ever used the terms “Donkey Kong Jr. Math” and “platonic ideal” in the same sentence before, but we like to do things differently around here. DK Jr. Math, as I mentioned a few posts down, was the subject of this week’s Good Nintentions video:

…and, while there’s not really all that much to celebrate about the game itself, this coverage really does embody the essence of what I’ve been working toward with projects like Good Nintentions and Game Boy World. By no means is this the first video anyone has ever produced about the game, nor even the first video that consists of more than just ranty swearing about how terrible it is. That part isn’t particularly unique.

Nah, it’s all the other stuff that comes along with the video that makes it (in my opinion) worthwhile: The post at the Good Nintentions site that contains a revised version of the video script, direct feed screenshots, and — happily — lots of photos of the game’s packaging. Since the complete physical edition of DK Jr. Math now sells for as much as $1500 — almost double the $800 it was selling for when I began accumulating material for Good Nintentions two years ago! — this is a pretty hard-to-come by set. Having it documented this way at least provides a decent record of the game and its packaging materials, courtesy of generous collector/friend of Retronauts Steven Lin, who very trustingly lent his copy to me to be photographed. Eventually, high-resolution versions of all of this photography will go into another Good Nintentions book, and there’s something about print that makes material like this real. A permanent record, I suppose.

And that’s really what I’m after with these documentary projects: To get as much material as possible into a single place as comprehensively as I can. I’ve been doing the best I can in my spare time, but now that Retronauts and the documentary video ventures are becoming a primary concern, I’m excited about what we’ll be able to accomplish. I just hope we’ll be able to track down the box to Fish Dude one of these days…

The one down side is that every time I hit a sort of goal or target, I realize there’s even more that can be done. For instance: Since documenting the box for DK Jr. Math, I’ve gotten my hands on a much nicer camera and invested some Patreon money into a rather pricey but incredibly worth-it high-speed macro lens — a combo that does much better justice to these artifacts. But now I feel like I need to do a bunch of reshoots. It never ends.

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Good Nintentions: New season, new theme

As foretold by the prophets — or rather, profits — you can expect daily blog postings here at retronauts.com going forward. Let’s go!

The first episode of Good Nintentions 1986 goes live shortly, which is something that merits a mention here now that (1) Good Nintentions falls under the Retronauts banner and (2) we’ve cleared the “daily blog post” Patreon goal. (Please forgive my shameless promotion of this link now that it determines my livelihood.)

Good Nintentions 1986 kicks off with, sadly, a look at the misbegotten Donkey Kong Jr. Math. As usual, I’ve tried to set this season apart from the others with a distinct YouTube thumbnail. (Yes, I realize that for maximum YouTube popularity my thumbnails should feature a photo of myself, screaming with rage or looking otherwise stupefied about the topic in question.)

Since Good Nintentions 1986 will culminate with the release of the NES’s first worthwhile third-party release, I wanted the thumbnail theme to reflect that climactic journey. And since that game in question was Konami’s Gradius, I decided to echo Konami’s iconic NES box art:

And finally, because the heart of a graphic designer still beats within my chest from time to time, I’ve used ITC’s Eras for the thumbnail font, reflecting the typography Konami used inside its NES manuals. No, shut up, you’re a nerd.

Honestly, those boxes still look great. The silver overlay with that distinctive gradient stripe — I’m not really sure how else to describe it! — would work just as well as a branding scheme today as it did in the ’80s (even if the use of actual hand-painted art pegs this as a work of a bygone era). Ah, if only Konami still made video games…

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