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Author Topic: Retronauts Mark II  (Read 8433 times)

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Arc

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Retronauts Mark II
« on: January 25, 2008, 10:13:12 PM »

== The Podcast ==

New recording as of yesteryesterday, on the topic of 1997. Pseudo year in review hooha, engage.

Worst episode ever? Jeremy may be stretching, but it was the most unfocused by far. Such is the nature of the topic, which needed some extra energy that Barnholt just wasn't bringing to the table this time around.

Covering acres of digital ground here, but to begin with: The N64. Funny how after all the Toy Story hype and Final Fantasy demos, we're greeted with Quest 64, and three years in a Toy Story 2 platformer as forgettable as Blinx.

The JumperPak pedestal had a slllooowww startup, and this was its premiere year to boot. So thirsty for new gaming, I was picking up Mortal Kombat Trilogy (nearly unplayable on the n64 boomerang of a controller), and Doom 64 (for a paltry $84 on release day). You can respect what these two titles set out to fulfill (revise, and cash in), but the prices were sadistic by any standard. Shadows of the Empire was strangely replayable, since the camera modes were adjustable, the environments were more forgiving than Tomb Raider, and the gigantic franchise relaunch coincided perfectly.

And Turok was all about the codes. Anyone that reached the first boss soon found that the level design wasn't the only pile of dead fish wrapped in this newspaper. We're talking hit points out the colossal ass here, with battles ranging upwards of fifteen minutes. So, the codes were slowly released in the months following. The internet had two functions at that time. One was nude Pamela Anderson jpgs, and the other was the biweekly turok code dump. No medicated drug at the time could equal loading in the infinite ammo + slow motion code. Hours upon hours of watching voodoo gumps getting launched into the air upon sequenced grenade explosions. Bliss.

Starfox was the Summer Blockbuster, complete with an Independence Day level done gloriously right. The Nintendo Power VHS promotion was actually an improvement over the previous DKC & N64 videos of past years, and disappointingly short for those of us that relished in such cheesefests. So ingrained is Fox64 with summertime in my psyche, that I find myself firing it up every other June to register the season correctly.

Jeremy isn't quite on the money with Goldeneye. The single player is still one of the finest to date, guards poking through doors & wall and all. Again, the mission objectives changed the dynamic of the genre throughout console and PC. Not the first to introduce such a dynamic, but the one that made everyone else catch on. The reason I bring up console & PC shooters together is because it came up so often back then. There wasn't any difficulty wrangling up players. The game single handedly made me King Shit. We're talking people getting turned away because the place was filled to capacity with gonks wanting to challenge my throne. The WCW vs nWo grapplerfest was the only multiplayer alternative that year, and at times I was thankful for such a break. However, a Quake player would stop by once and awhile, and it was always the same song and dance after I plugged them with fifteen kills to six.

"I'd whip everyone here if I had a keyboard 'n mouse!"

Naturally, I'm now in that exact same position with Halo. USB keyboard and mouse support is last-gen that still isn't apart of next-gen.

The Mortal Kombat series is synced with my lifestream or what have you, as the day I'm introduced to each new installment, some awkward life lesson occurs. The day Mortal Kombat II hit, I joined a gang. The day, Mortal Kombat Mythologies hit, I started shaving. Both involved my blood getting spilled all over the place. I'll write more on this if I listen to the Street Fighter podcast. It gets ssso rrreeeaaal.

My knowledge of the Saturn was limited to orgasmic GameFan screenshots at the time.

More on the Playstation later.
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Niku

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Re: Retronauts Mark II
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2008, 10:29:54 PM »

So, this is going to be weekly now, honest and true?

.. I'd contribute to actual topic discussion, but I tend to listen to podcasts while idling away the hours at work, with frequent interruptions to do work or to shoot the shit with coworkers.  It makes it hard for me to retain much from my Disposable Worktime Entertainment Of Choice.
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Kayma

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Re: Retronauts Mark II
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2008, 10:31:26 PM »

This was a fine episode. '97 was a good year to be a gamer, and damn if I don't loves me some Suiko music.
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François

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Re: Retronauts Mark II
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2008, 11:19:23 PM »

I still get chills listening to the Wild ARMs intro theme, even though I've had it in my mp3 player for a long, long time. The series collectively has my favorite soundtrack ever, which is certainly the main reason I'm a fan. Some games can't even manage to have a single listenable overworld theme; WA5 has four and they're all fantastic.

I started playing Wild ARMs with 3, which I rather liked. Then I played 2 and 1 (in that order, according to when I found them in rental places clearing old stock), and attributed the worst aspects of both to the fact that these were fairly ancient and that I might have appreciated them more had I played them at the time they were released. I don't find it hard to believe that they were actually kinda crappy back then too.
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Rosencrantz

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Re: Retronauts Mark II
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2008, 11:35:53 PM »

I still get chills listening to the Wild ARMs intro theme, even though I've had it in my mp3 player for a long, long time. The series collectively has my favorite soundtrack ever, which is certainly the main reason I'm a fan. Some games can't even manage to have a single listenable overworld theme; WA5 has four and they're all fantastic.

Oh man, I agree completely. In fact, all of the WA games have excellent overworld themes* and I was very pleased to see that WA5 decided to stick to the series' strengths and have four of them.

I'm still only about 20 hours into WA5, actually, and I've been meaning to go back and finish it. True to the rest of the series, it has a lot of interesting ideas that might have worked better with some tweaking and polish. (I can only hope that Carol doesn't have many more speaking lines, since her voice "actress" is one of the worst I've heard in a long time.)

*I don't think WA4 actually had a set overworld theme, but I believe this is the closest equivalent.
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François

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Re: Retronauts Mark II
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2008, 01:21:19 PM »

An unsung accomplishment of 4 and 5 is how they've been phasing in new composers who succeeded in staying true to the series, and in taking the soundtracks in a different, equally awesome direction. Like, among other examples, how "Perilous Change" in 4 and "The road to tomorrow follows behind you" in 5 have that fantastic retro flute thing going on. And "The Ice Queen" is possibly one of the greatest character themes ever.

I'm still only about 20 hours into WA5, actually, and I've been meaning to go back and finish it.

The final act is totally worth it, despite some cheesy moments. I'm not going to spoil it for you, but the big reveal still blows my mind a little every time I think about it. Besides, getting there is not very hard. You can neuter much of the game's random encouters by putting Sword Medium and a King's Crown on Dean; Penetrator + Double Critical will 1-hit-KO nearly everything that's not a boss, and Sonic Vision will make quick work of those.

*I don't think WA4 actually had a set overworld theme, but I believe this is the closest equivalent.

Yeah, pretty much. Those outdoor areas where you can encounter Melchoms and Grow Apples are basically linear bits of overworld. They serve the same purpose, in any case.
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Rosencrantz

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Re: Retronauts Mark II
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2008, 02:04:30 PM »

An unsung accomplishment of 4 and 5 is how they've been phasing in new composers who succeeded in staying true to the series, and in taking the soundtracks in a different, equally awesome direction.

Yeah, WA4 (despite its flaws) surprised me with tracks like "Nightless City Guara Bobelo". (Speaking of that town, I think that WA4's greatest strength was the level design - each area was distinct and unique. Unfortunately with WA5, almost every dungeon is a palette-swap of the same ruins.)

I'll be getting back to WA5 soon, especially now that I have Persona 3 completed. I think I'm going to try and ease off of searching every inch of the overworld for items, which is one of the reasons why I stopped... I was spending a lot of time checking every nook and cranny and trying to figure out how to get to the out-of-the-way areas.

By the way, how far into the game would you say I am? I am just about to go to [spoiler]some Gob's dungeon so I can earn the Monowheel.[/spoiler]
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François

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Re: Retronauts Mark II
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2008, 03:09:43 PM »

Ooh, yeah, Guara Bobelo. That's definitely my favorite RPG town. The atmosphere oozes sleaze, like a postwar Las Vegas that has grown too tired to keep up a cheerful façade. It's one of those nuggets of awesome that keep me coming back to these games.

As for where you are, hmm... I'd say about halfway through. If you've met the Kanon cameo (Crimson Warrioress or something like that; she hangs out in a train station with Brad IIRC), she tells you how many Sol Nigers you've purified and how many are left, which is a fairly accurate way to estimate progress as long as you haven't skipped any. There's a Sol Niger in every dungeon (including the four optional ones), and one in each quarter of the overworld.
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Sharkey

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Re: Retronauts Mark II
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2008, 03:41:33 PM »

Fuck me bleeding, they made five of those things? I could barely make myself tolerate the first one for a weekend rental, and I couldn't even manage that for the second. You had to use sonar to find towns on the overworld for fuck's sake.

Yeah, I don't like Wild Arms. It kind of epitomizes everything I hate about J-RPGs. Rote adherence to the conventions of others with the occasional weird addition that completely and utterly fails to not suck nine times out of ten. The things aren't actually designed so much as evolved through random mutation and survival of the fittest.

But yeah, 1997. I regret coming up blank on more PC stuff that year. I mean, fucking Fallout. And, more than anything, the introduction of 3D video cards. That last might have been the biggest damn deal ever, and the rapid adoption left a lot of people completely blindsided. Especially poor damn Blade Runner, which actually possesses the weirdest, and probably best software side voxel-based 3D engine ever. Totally backed the wrong damn horse, there.

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François

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Re: Retronauts Mark II
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2008, 04:57:21 PM »

Fuck me bleeding, they made five of those things?

Six, if you count the PS2 remake of the first.

Yeah, I can see how a reasonable person might hate the series. I mean, it's certainly low-profile for a reason. Sony isn't even bringing it to America themselves anymore.
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Rosencrantz

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Re: Retronauts Mark II
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2008, 06:44:43 PM »

Fuck me bleeding, they made five of those things?

Six, if you count the PS2 remake of the first.

Actually, seven. They recently announced that the PSP title is coming over to America.

Also, there was an anime series. Not really worth talking about, except that my favorite moment was when an early episode suddenly used Wild Arms 1 music during the last scene.
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Büge

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Re: Retronauts Mark II
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2008, 08:31:55 PM »

But yeah, 1997. I regret coming up blank on more PC stuff that year.

Quake II, X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter, Riven, Dungeon Keeper, Diablo:Hellfire... Betrayal in Antara... uh, SimTower? Lego Island? A Fork in the Tale, if you were feeling masochistic?
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EmaWii

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Re: Retronauts Mark II
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2008, 08:55:27 PM »

Finally got to listen. Well, in 1997 I was sort of off in another world, that mostly just involved transitioning from elementary school to middle school, but I did have an N64. I guess I do remember getting Diddy Kong Racing for X-mas and thinking that was rad. I just didn't have the context of a circle of gamers.  I wasn't really even friends with any until high school, and then they were the ones with the PlayStations and the awesome PCs, not me.

I was happy to hear the GameCenter CX: Arino no Chousenjou discussion tagged on at the end. It's a fun game that I had been really looking forward to :D And I think the appeal for it definitely does lie beyond just fans of the TV show, although you're probably not likely to pick it up unless you know what the show is...

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Burrito Al Pastor

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Re: Retronauts Mark II
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2008, 09:47:30 PM »

1997?

That's right, that's when I had a Game Gear.

Still have it. Love that thing.

(I also had Lego Island. But probably not until 1998 or later.)
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Arc

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Re: Retronauts Mark II
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2008, 10:04:46 PM »

That just triggered my memory of hunting all summer long before The Big Vacation, looking everywhere and anywhere for a Sega Nomad. No luck, terrible ride, would not buy again. Sure, I'd have been fortunate if the plastic brick didn't die within the span of nineteen minutes, but it would've been a GET! all the same.

So, Playstation, aka The PSX (before they went and manufactured the actual damned PSX).

Even though I had been planning to purchase one since '93, Nintendo Power's seduction rays sustained just long enough to hold out until summer '98.

One morning I awoke hungering to rip the undead to bits. A universal desire, I'm sure. Dropped by some Big Box store for an affordable Dual Shock w/ Mal Residente Dos, only forgetting that this was the same day of yet another Big Vacation. The still boxed system stayed behind, leaving my frame in jitters, longing to return to that of which I had no urgent desire for in the past five years beforehand.

After learning how to stop worrying and love the tank, I moved onto what else I had chosen to miss out on.

Wild Arms lasted into the first random battle, and then it was back into the rental case. A grand trick of hype and lacking selection, nothing more. Haven't experienced any others in the series since, but WA3 had a spunky enough style about itself to possibly checkout, maybe, yes?

Final Fantasy The Seventh I actually obtained on launch day... For the PC. It was likely that excruciating toll on the hardware that subconsciously justified a PSX purchase not a month later. Once I had listened to the Playstation internal MIDI as compared to the Yamaha drivers Eidos packed into their abortion, the wish to kick myself in the face was never greater. No complaints on Materia, as there was only so much to go around.

Body Builder Rape couldn't have been that much of an untapped market. Afterall, Sharkey's brother was buying systems for just that purpose.

Parappa is interesting just for the fact that he was the true mascot of Sony Japan, not Crash Bandihooha. Crash had a following, but Parappa was the one showing up in McDonald's commercials.

Oh, and here is the advertisement that had been alluded to:

Controversial not for the sexual subject matter, but because the recipient was Asian. Still a step above the marketing gauntlet of kids staring downward, their faces transfixed in awe, lit only by the glow of their console television.

For the PC, we were all over the map. Ultima Online, being as graphically impressive as J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings Volume 1 on the SNES (and just as arcane), didn't capture my attention (unlike my pals, who ran that sucker on Windows 3.1). While Blade Runner sat upon the shelves gathering dust, all eyes were directed toward Quake II's release date. Once the shareware dropped, the vidja card race lifted off like a jackrabbit on propulsion fuel.

To conclude, XBLA is also a nice future venue for the hardc0r3, Game Center CX & Minami-ke were on the same wavelength, some arcade compilations from after 1981 would be grand, and Kohler is super past dead for mentioning PartnerNet, but his hum of the Retronauts theme song will live on through my ring tone.

Any plans on more Bionic Commando retro, maybe bringing up other Capcom (Disney!) platformers?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqECtTE4Opk
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Büge

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Re: Retronauts Mark II
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2008, 11:25:16 AM »

I loved the book. In that it occupied me for one road trip before I "lost" it at the cabin.
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S D S

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Re: Retronauts Mark II
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2008, 03:41:53 PM »

In 1997, I had graduated high school, gotten kicked out of the house, stayed with a friend and her parents & worked a crappy hospital job in the summer and finally got my own place shortly after my 18th birthday in November. My biggest gaming moment? Renting a playstation & Final Fantasy VII (for free thanks to my new job at Blockbuster), and on my weekend off, playing it in a non-stop 7 hour gaming marathon that only ended because I had to turn off the console. I didn't even have a memory card (since that would have cost money). That playthrough was what convinced me to scrape together my meager discretionary income for two months so I could get a refurbished Playstation and a copy of FFVII at Funcoland.

I miss Funcoland. The clerk there also recommended
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Sharkey

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Re: Retronauts Mark II
« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2008, 03:46:39 PM »

I miss Funcoland. The clerk there also recommended

I quiver with antici
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Koah

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Re: Retronauts Mark II
« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2008, 04:29:20 PM »

SAY IT!
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François

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Re: Retronauts Mark II
« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2008, 05:06:51 PM »

Wild Arms lasted into the first random battle, and then it was back into the rental case. A grand trick of hype and lacking selection, nothing more. Haven't experienced any others in the series since, but WA3 had a spunky enough style about itself to possibly checkout, maybe, yes?

3 is still my favorite. The western style is much stronger and more defined than in the first two, in large part because it completely does away with its predecessors' medieval elements, which I thought were kind of weak and out of place. The random encounter system, or rather, the random encounter avoidance system, is clever and refreshing, and the battles themselves, while not revolutionary, have decent strategic elements to them. Plus the characters are likeable and somewhat unusual. It took me a while to realize that Gallows, the buff Indian guy with a sawed-off shotgun and immense HP, is actually the mage of the party.

Once I had listened to the Playstation internal MIDI as compared to the Yamaha drivers Eidos packed into their abortion, the wish to kick myself in the face was never greater.

Huh... It have be because I had a great soundcard at the time, but to me the music on PC was much better than on the console. The only thing I missed was the lyrics. I can't stand to hear the OST now because it sounds so crappy.

Man I miss my old sound card.
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