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107 minutes | Jan 24, 2022
Episode 79: Splinter Cell Chaos Theory
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory comes with a weighty legacy. Many consider this 2005 game to be the best stealth game of all time, edging out even games like Metal Gear Solid and Thief. Chaos Theory builds on the first two games in the series, introducing smarter AI, slightly more open level design and a unique hacking tool built to fit the cyber themed story that the game tries to tell.When we played Splinter Cell 1, we both really enjoyed the experience. And on paper, Chaos Theory does everything that the first does and much more. Does this all add up to a game that improves on the basic, yet refined gameplay experience that Splinter Cell 1 gave us? Or is it just a bunch of different features that look good on a box (or in a review)?On this episode, we discuss:What did we think of the story of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory? Does its take on cyber warfare and espionage come across as thrilling and realistic, or is it just a quaint misunderstanding on how technology of the future would function?Does giving the player more choices in how they approach stealth necessarily improve the experience? Or does the level design need to evolve to reflect those options?What did we think of the non-critical side objectives in Chaos Theory? Do they provide a meaningful challenge, or are they just busywork?We answer these questions and many more on the 79th episode of the Retro Spectives Podcast!—Intro Music: KieLoBot - Tanzen KOutro Music: Rockit Maxx - One point to anotherSplinter Cell: Chaos Theory OST - Amon Tobin---Make sure you check out our episode on Splinter Cell 1 for more stealth gaming goodness!—Are we on to something with our opinions on Chaos Theory, or are we completely mad? Are there any other major stealth games we haven’t covered that you’d like to see us explore? Is Chaos Theory really the best in the series, or was it just the best at the time it was released? Come let us know what you think on our community discord server!
119 minutes | Jan 10, 2022
Episode 78: Celeste
Celeste is not your average platformer. When it was released in 2018, it took the world by storm, delighting casual players and speedrunners alike. Its levels were divided into screens reminiscent of Super Meat Boy, featuring fast and frequent death with extremely frequent checkpoints. It had a simple, but warming and competently written story, a rarity for the platforming genre. And while it might appear simple at first glance, the mechanics at play here unfold deeper and deeper the more you seek to master what the game has to offer.We round out our second Xmas special with a detailed breakdown of everything that makes Celeste tick - the music, the story, the gameplay mechanics and much more. Is Celeste really the new high watermark for 2D platformers, overthrowing the old guard like Mario and Sonic? Or have we just been bewitched by something new and unusual?On this episode, we discuss:Is Celeste a difficult game, and is there a distinction between how punishing a game is versus how difficult it appears? What is the difficulty curve like, from the A sides all the way to Chapter 9?How does Madeline feel to control, and what does Celeste do to finetune this experience? Can a simple moveset of jumping, climbing and dashing inform a deeply satisfying mechanical experience compared to a more complicated moveset?Is it fair to classify Celeste as a precision platformer? In what ways does the main game and the different cassette tapes emphasise precision, technique and puzzle solving?We answer these questions and many more on the 78th episode of the Retro Spectives Podcast!—Intro Music: KieLoBot - Tanzen KOutro Music: Rockit Maxx - One point to anotherCeleste OST; Farewell OST: Lena Raine—Maddy’s Article on Madeline being canonically transGame Maker's Toolkit on why Celeste feels good to playTwitter thread detailing a lot of hidden game feel design choices—Enjoy the show? Are we right to claim that Celeste is the greatest platformer of all time? Got any games that you’d like to see us review? Come let us know what you think on our community discord server!
128 minutes | Dec 27, 2021
Episode 77: Mailbag 3: With a Vengeance
It's Mailbag time! In this episode, Pat and James continue the Christmas tradition of answering listener questions in their third annual Mailbag episode. We want to say a special thank you to everyone in our discord community, both for the questions and just being with us over the years. When we started the podcast we always hoped that something like this would happen, but realising it is something else all together. You are all the reason we continue to record episode after episode - it makes it all worthwhile.So grab a cocoa, snuggle up and listen in as we ramble, philosophise, and criticise our way through the mailbag!On this episode, we discuss:Why exactly is Dark Souls 2 a bad video game? We’ve both slagged off the dark sheep of the From Software catalogue in multiple episodes - and now you’re finally going to find out why.Which genre has stood the test of time the best so far? What genres have evolved into something fundamentally better, and which ones have either stayed the same or even gotten worse?What are your favourite books and why? Luckily we constrained ourselves to 2 books each otherwise this episode might never have ended.We answer these questions and many more on the 77th episode of the Retro Spectives Podcast!–Intro Music: KieLoBot - Tanzen KOutro Music: Rockit Maxx - One point to anotherStorvki Main: Andriesh GandraburBe Careful: Mieko Ishikawa–If you’re enjoying the show, we’d love it if you'd rate us, drop a review, or join up to our community discord server! We take listener suggestions for games, host game nights for our multiplayer titles, and we love criticising and discussing all video games, old or new.
100 minutes | Dec 13, 2021
Episode 76: Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo
When Street Fighter 2 first released in arcades in 1991, it single handedly revolutionised the fighting game genre. It introduced shocking concepts like letting you select more than one character! And for the very first time combinations of attacks could be strung together while the enemy player was still stunned (which, hilariously, was a bug). Its characters essentially defined the archetypes and set the baseline for how characters should be designed. This was the Mario or the Doom of the fighting genre.A few years, and many revisions later, we got the final version of Street Fighter 2 - Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo. It doubled the character roster, introduced supers, added extra moves, and included many different balance changes to keep its competitive spirit alive. To this day, there is still a small community that enjoys throwing down using Fightcade. But we’re now more than 25 years from the release of this iconic title. What once was incredible is now assumed. This is a game with no training mode and a single player mode that may as well not exist. This is a game with a paucity of mechanics compared to any number of modern titles. This is a game which has 3 more entries in the series, let alone considering other contenders like Guilty Gear or Tekken. Can it be possible that its worth playing today?On this episode, we discuss:Is Street Fighter 2 better or worse for having specials? Should moves essential to a character’s build be barred behind having to enter commands in a precise sequential way, or is it an arbitrary imposition?Does Street Fighter 2’s neutral heavy game and more limited focus on combos lead to a more fun and engaging experience than other combo-centric fighters like Dragon Ball Fighter Z?Does the character variety present here still hold up when compared to its modern brethren, many of which have 3-4x the number of characters?We answer these questions and many more on the 76th episode of the Retro Spectives Podcast!—Intro Music: KieLoBot - Tanzen KOutro Music: Rockit Maxx - One point to anotherSuper Street Fighter 2 Turbo OST: Isao Abe Syun Nishigaki—Special thanks to everyone who played some Street Fighter 2 with us this week! It was a lot of fun talking about and complaining about Street Fighter with you all. If you’d like to play in future community games, or simply want to join the discussion, you can find our discord server here!
102 minutes | Nov 29, 2021
Episode 75: Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom
When Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom was released in 2002, it was not to a fanfare of fervor or excitement. This was the 6th title in Impression Games’ city builder series, and it was widely viewed as more of the same. Caesar, Pharoah, Zeus and now Emperor all had the same baseline mechanics, and although they had their own theming and nuanced differences, they still mostly played the same. Critics were not impressed.Emperor brought along a couple of refinements in residential walls and roadblocks, but was otherwise a refinement of everything that had come before. The real question is, is the essential gameplay here still worth experiencing? Is putting economic supply chains together, and turning your farms on and off a meaningful experience? Or does it all end up being a boring and repetitive exercise as you build up your city the exact same way every time?On this episode, we discuss:How important is the planning phase in Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom? What are the consequences of making mistakes in your planning, and how well can you recover from your mistakes?How well does Emperor communicate information to the player? Is this yet another strategy game with a learning cliff instead of a curve, or are you able to identify where exactly problems lie in your city?What degree of control do you have over your city? Are you given all the dials and knobs to tweak to achieve your desired outcome, or is it too hands off? We answer these questions and many more on the 75th episode of the Retro Spectives Podcast! Intro Music: KieLoBot - Tanzen KOutro Music: Rockit Maxx - One point to anotherEmperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom OST: Jeff Van Dyck We recently guested on the Retro Asylum Podcast where we discussed and reviewed Fallout 2! We had a great time covering Fallout 1 with Chris on our show - and he was kind enough to return the favour for the sequel. The episode should be dropping very shortly, so please subscribe to them for some more Fallout goodness. Does Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom deserve its status as the best of the Impression Games’ titles? Are there any modern games that exist as genuine spiritual successors to these games? Was there anything about the economic management that James and Pat drastically misunderstood? Come let us know what you think on our community discord server!
78 minutes | Nov 8, 2021
Episode 74: Jet Set Radio
From the very moment Jet Set Radio released, it wowed its audience. It blew people away with its at the time revolutionary cell shaded graphics, and boasts an undeniably funky soundtrack, with bangers like Yellow Bream and Recipe for the Perfect Afro. Adding graffiti tagging to the gameplay of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater? It seemed like a match made in heaven, and all done in incredible style.But have the sands of time been kind to Jet Set Radio, or just the opposite? We have seen endless iteration in the skating genre, and today we tend to demand tighter control. Does Jet Set Radio provide a gameplay experience that matches its swagger, or is it simply a case of style over substance?On this episode, we discuss:In what ways does Jet Set Radio establish its identity as a 90’s punk themed graffiti skater? Is it consistent in tone and execution, or is it just skin deep?How fun is it to skate around the streets of Neo-Tokyo? Does it provide a fast and fluid experience like Tony Hawk’s, or does it play more like a stop and start platformer?How enjoyable is it to battle and skirt around the foes in your way? Do the police, military and rival gangs add to the fun of skating and tagging, or are they just annoying nuisances?We answer these questions and many more on the 74th episode of the Retro Spectives Podcast! Intro Music: KieLoBot - Tanzen KOutro Music: Rockit Maxx - One point to anotherJet Set Radio OST: Hideki Naganuma, Various Artists Is Jet Set Radio Future (or Sunset Overdrive) worth playing, or is the original the best? Are the controls something that takes time to master, or are they intrinsically flawed? And are these truly the worst half pipes in the history of gaming? Come let us know what you think on our community discord server!
73 minutes | Oct 25, 2021
Star Wars Episode I: Racer
Star Wars: Podracer launched with a bang. It wasn’t the first Star Wars game, but it promised something that the world had been waiting for 16 years: a new movie. With only a few short segments of the film at their disposal, the in-house LucasArts Team designed a racing game - aiming to not only replicate the environments, but even the imaginary physics of the vehicles. The fact that they produced something uncannily similar to the pod racing scene from the movie is worthy of celebration in and of itself.But can it hold up all these years later? While it was released to fairly spectacular praise, there were some that damned it as just another F-Zero knockoff. And while there were many F-Zero titles released throughout the years, there’s only one Podracer. Does Star Wars: Podracer still provide an entertaining, lightning in a bottle racing experience today? Or are you better off spending your time shitposting over on r/prequelmemes?On this episode, we discuss:How does the meta-structure of earning credits to spend on upgrading your vehicle influence the challenge of trying to beat races? Is it better to have non-mechanical ways to succeed, or does this rob you of a sense of accomplishment?Is it better to have a track structure that feels like it blends into the environment, or are races more enjoyable on sterile and purpose built tracks?How do the boosting and repair mechanics add to the tension of Podracer? Is an internal cooldown on a boost more or less enjoyable than tying a boost metre to a recharge item or length of track?We answer these questions and many more on the 73rd episode of the Retro Spectives Podcast! Intro Music: KieLoBot - Tanzen KOutro Music: Rockit Maxx - One point to anotherStar Wars Episode 1 OST: John Williams Are there any other high speed racing games that can hold a torch to F-Zero or Podracer? Are there any cool shortcuts or crazy mechanics we missed? Are you mad about our opinions on the Star Wars movies? Come let us know what you think on our community discord server!
71 minutes | Oct 11, 2021
Episode72: Star Fox 64
Once upon a time there was a genre known as the Rail Shooter. Before developers had mastered free traversal in 3D spaces, they instead popped players on a fixed rail and took them through a series of linear shootouts. Many consider Star Fox 64 to be one of the highpoints of the genre, seeming to set the stage for many more to come. As time went on they started to disappear entirely though, only occasionally rearing up with titles like Panzer Dragoon and Kid Icarus.The question is, did the genre deserve to die? Can a rail shooter possibly be as fun as a fully 3D one, or is it just a relic to be appreciated with nostalgia? Star Fox 64 has an incredible legacy of meme history, but is it still fun to play today?On this episode, we discuss:How does the structure of Star Fox 64 impact its pacing and storytelling? How do the short runs and branching pathways compare to a more traditional linear campaign where you experience all the content in one playthrough?How do the linear rail shooting sections of Start Fox compare to the more open ‘All Range Mode’ where you can actually turn left and right? What did we think about the boss design? How fun are they to fight mechanically, and how does the visual design factor into the experience of shooting them to pieces?We answer these questions and many more on the 72nd episode of the Retro Spectives Podcast!---Intro Music: KieLoBot - Tanzen KOutro Music: Rockit Maxx - One point to anotherStar Fox 64 OST: Hajime Wakai, Koji Kondo ---What was your least favourite level of Star Fox 64, and why was it that stupid underwater level? Are there any other rail shooters we should play? Is Star Fox 64 the best Star Fox game? Come let us know what you think on our community discord server!
142 minutes | Sep 27, 2021
Episode 71: Pathologic
Back in 2005, a Russian studio called Ice Pick Lodge decided to continue the fine tradition of dark and dreary slavic storytelling with Pathologic, a survival horror game quite like any other. It received critical acclaim in Russia, but was largely unknown in the West, at least until a series of articles on Rock Paper Shotgun shone a spotlight on its existence. It is one of the most divisive games ever made. People praise it, people despise it, and many more seem to love and hate it at the same time. More confusing is the fact that the very things that some cite as problems are the exact reason others adore it. It's even a difficult game to describe or pin down, leaving its very nature something of a whispered mystery, even in the face of the many survival games that came in its wake.Well, no more shall the game remain inscrutable. We break down and discuss the gameplay, storytelling and atmosphere of Pathologic in excruciating detail, as newcomers to the game. Can it possibly still stand up in the face of a modern cross examination, or is its status hugely overblown?On this episode, we discuss:How does Pathologic use its interweaved narrative to create a sense of mystery, and were we right to pick different characters to experience different parts of a greater whole?What is the brick and mortar gameplay of Pathologic like? Is it harrowing, bleak and punishing? Or simply tedious and uninspired?How do the characters in Pathologic manipulate you to their own ends? Is there any room to manipulate them back, or are you destined to only be a pawn?We answer these questions and many more on the 71st episode of the Retro Spectives Podcast!--- Intro Music: KieLoBot - Tanzen KOutro Music: Rockit Maxx - One point to anotherPathologic OST: Andriesh Gandrabur Is the gameplay of Pathologic really quite that bad? What hidden aspects of the story completely slipped our notice (I’m sure there were many). Does Pathologic 2 improve upon the things we perceived as flaws, or is it just more of the same? Come let us know what you think on our community discord server!
71 minutes | Sep 13, 2021
Episode 70: Space Channel 5
In Space Channel 5, you take the role of space journalist Ulala as she uses interpretative dances to fight aliens, rescue hostages and defeat her fellow colleagues. If that sounds absurd, that’s because it's yet another weird game that James has chosen.The game was first released in 1999 for the Sega Dreamcast, and took a while to find success, but eventually developed a cult following. Its retro futuristic presentation delighted the senses, and lurking underneath it was a surprisingly hardcore rhythm game. With virtually no visual indicators of what to do, and no feedback for failing to hit notes, its difficulty even forced many people away.But does this all add up to a delightful experience all these years later? With rhythm games now a mainstream genre, can the quaint stylings of Space Channel 5 still possibly hold up? Or is Ulala yet another journalist who deserves to go the way of the Radio Star?On this episode, we discuss:How does Space Channel 5 use its presentation to immerse you in its world? Does it feel like you’re a character moving through locations, or is it simply a movie that plays in the background?Does Space Channel 5’s music suit the rhythmic gameplay? It draws on heavy melodic music, but so much of the gameplay is focused on the beat. Is this a problem, or just part of its charm?Should memorisation be an important part of rhythm games, or should you be able to just react to what's coming next? Pat and James disagree on this one, but James has the gall to bust out a literal psychology paper to attempt to prove his point.We answer these questions and many more on the 70th episode of the Retro Spectives Podcast!---Intro Music: KieLoBot - Tanzen KOutro Music: Rockit Maxx - One point to anotherSpace Channel 5 OST: Naofumi HatayaSpace Channel 5 OST with lyrics---Emulator that we both used to play Space Channel 5---Are you an expert at rhythm games? Does Part 2 change anything significant gameplay wise, or does it just expand on what was present in the first? Are there any other rhythm games that we should try? Come let us know what you think on our community discord server!
81 minutes | Aug 29, 2021
Episode 69: Panzer General
When Panzer General first released in 1994, it revolutionised the war gaming genre. It was more accessible, easier to understand and more cleanly illustrated than any other war game to come before it. Portraying many historical battles of World War 2 (while also indulging in a few ‘what if’ scenarios), it was an instant hit amongst grizzled veterans and newcomers to the genre alike.But is what was approachable and revolutionary in 1994 possibly still strike the right chords more than 25 years later? Can a game with no characters and no real storytelling draw us in? Can the relatively inexperienced Pat and James possibly get into and dominate the battlefields of a war game they’ve barely played?On this episode, we discuss:How meaningful is it that the battles of Panzer General are historical battles instead of fantasy battles? Can historical context provide a meaningful hook of engagement in the absence of characters or story beats?How does the strategic layer of Panzer General actually function? What degree of decision making do you have on a macroscale to affect the outcome of a battle? Are these decisions enjoyable and varied?How does the more zoomed in tactical layer of Panzer General work? How easy is it to read and understand unit attack and defence values? What tactical configurations brought us the most success?We answer these questions and many more on the 69th episode of the Retro Spectives Podcast!---Intro Music: KieLoBot - Tanzen KOutro Music: Rockit Maxx - One point to anotherPanzer General OST: Doug Brandon---Panzer General is abandonware, which means its the excellent price of zero dollars. There are a few different ways to access it, but I recommend using a DOS version since early Windows builds can be complete nightmares to get working. First step is to download DOSBOX. It's a DOS emulator that runs Panzer General with no issues. You can download it here.Second step is to download Panzer General. Just use the top link on this page. To run the game, all you need to do is drag the Panzer General.bat onto the emulator icon. You can also launch it manually within DOSBOX, but it's far easier just to click and drag. Finally, make sure you download and read the manual located here. IIt explains most of the mechanics in the game, but I’m sure there’s one or two things missing. Most importantly, it has a detailed breakdown on exactly what to do in the tutorial, down to explaining how to split up your units to take multiple objectives and the order of attack.---How does Panzer General compare to the many war games that came after it? Which war game should we play next? Are there strategic or tactical depths to this game that we missed? Come let us know on our community discord server! Whether you’ve got a game to suggest, an opinion to share, or simply want to play alongside us each fortnight we’d love if you’d drop by!
76 minutes | Aug 16, 2021
Episode 68: Pikmin
We return once more to the strange and esoteric world of console RTS games with Pikmin! First released for the Gamecube in 2001, it combines strategy, resource management and puzzle solving into a truly unique game. You play as Captain Olimar, peacefully vacationing in space until an asteroid collides with his spaceship. He crashes to the ground, pieces of his ship scattering across the land, and no apparent way to get them back to repair his ship. Luckily for him the Pikmin are more than willing to be turned into slave labour to retrieve all those missing parts and murder the natural wildlife.But just how good can an RTS hybrid possibly be without a traditional RTS control scheme? Do puzzles, resource management and a tight time limit actually work in tandem with one another? Is Pikmin actually fun to play, or is it more tedious busywork as you stand around watching things happen?On this episode, we discuss:Is Pikmin designed as a game to be enjoyed for a first time playthrough, or does it flourish with repeat playthroughs? Is Pikmin more about exploration and discovery, or optimisation and efficient time management?Why does a puzzle game have a strict time limit of 13:30 minutes per day? Should the game have no time limit, or should it be structurally shifted to longer yet fewer days?How enjoyable is the combat in Pikmin? Are enemies intrinsically fun to fight, or are they better treated as obstacles to be avoided and distracted?We answer these questions and many more on the 68th episode of the Retro Spectives Podcast!---Intro Music: KieLoBot - Tanzen KOutro Music: Rockit Maxx - One point to anotherPikmin OST: Hajime Wakai---[Link to mouse and keyboard control scheme for Dolphin Emulator](https://www.reddit.com/r/Pikmin/comments/csapnb/pikmin_on_mouse_and_keyboard_is_here/)Remember to manually bind the + and - keys when setting up the control scheme. This gives you a map button, and the menu button to end each day early.---Does Pikmin have less busywork than we give it credit for once you better understand the game? What is the best time you’ve ever got to beat Pikmin? Do either of the sequels change or improve on the things we criticised? Let us know what you think on our community discord server! Join the conversation, recommend us a game to play or play alongside us!
94 minutes | Aug 2, 2021
Episode 67: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time took a beloved 2D platformer and transformed it into something spectacular. Building on the Prince’s athletic jumps, the Prince could now wallrun, leap between ropes and swing with the best of them. Most brilliant of all was the ability to rewind time, undoing mistakes that would have spelled instant death in any of the previous titles. Combined with his acrobatic combat, the Prince became an instant hit, and it served as the foundation for 3 more sequels and yet another reboot.We’re joined by special guest Chris Durston of the Philosophiraga Podcast to discuss and argue whether this take on platforming and combat is still enjoyable today. Is running sideways on a wall and climbing ledges anywhere near as fancy and fun as it used to be? Or has the Prince simply failed to stand the test of the Sands of Time?On this episode, we discuss: How does Prince of Persia tell its story? Does it have significant story beats, or is all the heavy lifting done through its characters and their interactions?What is it that makes the platforming of the Prince of Persia games special? How does it compare to more traditional 3D platforming like in Mario 64 or Banjo Kazooie?What did we think about the combat system? Is it better or worse than the far more complicated one found in Warrior Within?We answer these questions and many more on the 67th episode of the Retro Spectives Podcast!---Chris Durston is an author, and host of the Philosophiraga Podcast. His podcast takes complicated philosophical ideas, and breaks them down using video games as a medium. Intimidating concepts like Immaterialism and Empiricism are explained through the lens of Final Fantasy and Ace Attorney - and all of a sudden it stops being so hard to understand. We highly recommend you check out an episode, and we of course would like to point to the one all about Rationalism and Dark Souls.---Intro Music: KieLoBot - Tanzen KOutro Music: Rockit Maxx - One point to anotherPOP: The Sands of Time OST: Stuart Chatwood---Are you higher on the combat in Prince of Persia: Sands of Time than we were? Should we check out the PSP title in the series, The Forgotten Sands? Are there other modern games that have properly built on and improved on the platforming in this game, or is it really as unique as we claim? Let us know what you think on our community discord server!
104 minutes | Jul 19, 2021
Episode 66: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
The Ace Attorney franchise adds a twist to visual novels that has rarely been replicated. Instead of having you as a passive participant in the story, or making decisions through dialogue trees, you instead gather clues and cross examine witnesses to get to the truth. Its eclectic cast of characters all have some deeper truth to hide, and it's up to you to get to the bottom of it as you defend your client from the rapid passage of justice. But just how well crafted are the murder mysteries that you unravel? Do you really feel like a defence lawyer as you gradually crack the case? And just how well does the gameplay of investigating and cross examining match up with the format of a visual novel?On this episode, we discuss:Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is zany, exciting and at times, rather silly. How does this affect the enjoyment of the humour, and the gravitas of its more dramatic moments?As the game continues, meta plot elements arise, and the individual cases you pursue start to become part of a larger picture. Does this add a deeper and more enjoyable layer to the story, or does it detract from the strength of the individual cases?Are the limited key frames that depict the characters in Ace Attorney (and visual novels in general) fundamentally poor, or stylistically dashing? Pat and James strongly disagree.We answer these questions and many more on the 66th episode of the Retro Spectives Podcast!---Intro Music: KieLoBot - Tanzen KOutro Music: Rockit Maxx - One point to anotherAce Attorney: Phoenix Wright OST: Masakazu Sugimori & Akemi Kimura---Next episode, we’ll be joined by Chris Durston, author and host of the Philosophiraga Podcast to play Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time! Each episode Chris takes a philosophical concept and breaks it down using video games as examples. It's a fantastic show if you’ve got an interest in philosophy but have always been put off by how complicated it all seems to be.---Do the later Ace Attorney games dramatically change or evolve on the formulae of the first? What other games (apart from Paradise Killer) have taken inspiration from the series? Do you prefer the meta heavy later cases, or the more isolated self contained ones? Come let us know what you think on our community Discord Server!
90 minutes | Jul 5, 2021
Episode 65: Megaman 2
Megaman 2, first released way back in 1988, quickly became one of the series’ most beloved entries. The game featured a radical new style of progression, letting you tackle any of its eight stages in any order that you please. Players around the world got stuck in, figuring out their own crazy paths through the game and its eight robot masters. But is an innovative progression system enough to make a game enjoyable? Is it possible to balance nine special weapons, and should you even try? Megaman 2 crams a lot of ideas together, but does it still add up to a fun game to play today?On this episode, we discuss:How open ended is Megaman 2’s level progression really? Are some routes more encouraged than others, and is there true creativity to be found here?How well designed are the bosses of Megaman 2? Does a boss need to be complex to be enjoyable? How well equipped is the player to deal with these challenges?Are older games improved through the use of savestates? Or is Megaman 2 better played the way the creators intended?We answer these questions and many more on the 65th episode of the Retro Spectives Podcast!---Intro Music: KieLoBot - Tanzen KOutro Music: Rockit Maxx - One point to anotherMegaman 2 OST: Takasi Tateishi---Have you beaten Megaman 2 without save states? Do you have a recommended ‘most fun’ pathway through the game that you stick to, or do you improvise for every playthrough? What Megaman game should we play next? Come let us know what you think, and join the discussion on our community discord server!
93 minutes | Jun 28, 2021
Episode 64: Ys: The Oath in Felghana
Ys: The Oath in Felghana is a remake of a beloved NES title - Ys III: Wanderers From Ys. Oath takes the essential story beats of the original, but the gameplay has received a radical transformation, in almost every way. The original 2D sidescrolling has been expanded into the realm of 3D, and even swaps to a full-on isometric view in parts of the dungeons and most boss fights. Healing items drop from enemies instead of being inventory items, attacks combo and stunlock enemies, and platforming is now a significant part of the experience. The game now plays like a mixup between Diablo and Furi, with fast combat and a light RPG touch.But can this curious blend still be fun to play all these years later? Do the RPG systems add anything substantial to the experience, or is it just leftover baggage from the original game? And can boss fight design more than 15 years old possibly stand up to Pat and James’ modern standards?On this episode, we discuss:Ys: Oath of Felghana has some basic RPG systems - levelling up, and acquiring new gear to become stronger. Do these systems add anything to the gameplay experience, or would the game be better with it completely removed?Oath has simple, but fast and fluid combat. Is it fun to mow down hordes of enemies, or does it sink into being repetitive?We take our time breaking down some of our favourite and least favourite boss battles. What is it we like and dislike about Oath’s boss fights, and what do modern games have to learn from them?We answer these questions and many more on the 64 episode of the Retro Spectives Podcast!---Intro Music: KieLoBot - Tanzen KOutro Music: Rockit Maxx - One point to anotherOath OST: Mieko Ishikawa and Yukihiro Jindo (Arrangement)---Is Ys: Oath of Felghana the best of the entire Ys series, or are we neglecting the early era classics? Are our criticisms of the RPG systems justified, or do we just need to git gud? What is your favourite or least favourite boss, and do you agree with our selections? Come join the discussion, and let us know what you think on our community discord server!
118 minutes | Jun 7, 2021
Episode 63: DOOM II
Doom II came hot on the coattails of Doom, releasing just 10 months after the first game took the world by storm. Billed as a sequel, it resembled an expansion pack far more, introducing only a handful of enemies and one new weapon. Despite this, Doom II was massively successful at launch, and introduced all the pieces for the enormous Doom modding community that continues to thrive to this day.But is it enough to introduce so little and still expect the gameplay experience to be fresh? Could a game only in development for such a short time deliver consistently good level design? Or will Doom II end up being remembered more for what it introduced than the substantial experience of actually playing it?On this episode, we discuss:What does the addition of the Super Shotgun do to change the essential Doom experience? Can a weapon that's fundamentally overpowered actually be a good thing?What is it exactly that makes a good Doom level? We talk about teleporters, verticality and the scale of the encounters you have to face.How do the new monsters change how you play the game? Do all the monsters in Doom II have a role to play, or are some more interesting than others?We answer these questions and many more on the 63rd episode of the Retro Spectives Podcast!---Intro Music: KieLoBot - Tanzen KOutro Music: Rockit Maxx - One point to anotherDoom II OST: Bobby Prince---Did you enjoy Doom II more than Doom I? Are we over rating The Plutonia Experiment? Do you have any custom WADS to suggest? Come and join the discussion on our community discord server!
114 minutes | May 24, 2021
Episode 62: Resident Evil Remake
When you hear the term ‘survival horror’, you can’t help but think of Resident Evil. Back in 1996, Resident Evil blew everyone’s minds, combining traditional point and click adventure puzzles with tense and strategic zombie combat. Six years later, in 2002, the game received a remake for the GameCube that many consider to be one of the best ever. The pre-rendered visuals of the Spencer Mansion elevated the atmosphere to a truly horrifying place, even as you collected gems for jewellery boxes.But for all that it changed, in terms of level layout, item distribution and graphical fidelity, this is one remake that kept the essential gameplay the same. It kept the fixed camera angles, the tank controls and even the absurdly limited inventory. It doubled down on the essential design choices of the original, instead of making it more convenient to control and play. Did this decision lead to the best way to experience Resident Evil 1, or does its design seem clunky and outdated, a relic of another age?On this episode, we discuss:Is there any merit to having fixed camera angles and tank controls in any video game, or is it just unnecessarily frustrating and annoying?In what ways does Resident Evil put pressure on the player? Do restricted saves, safe rooms and limited inventory slots create a tense and immersive experience, or simply annoy the player with tedious micromanagement?How believable in the story and sense of place in the Spencer Mansion (and surrounding areas)? How scary is it compared to other survival horror games like Silent Hill 2?We answer these questions and many more on the 62nd episode of the Retro Spectives Podcast!---Intro Music: KieLoBot - Tanzen KOutro Music: Rockit Maxx - One point to anotherREmake OST: Shusaku Uchiyama---Is the REmake the best version of Resident Evil 1, or should we have played a different one? If we play another Resi game, which one should we play? Does the story get cheesier or more grounded as the series progresses? Let us know what you think on our community discord server!
158 minutes | May 10, 2021
Episode 61: Fallout
When Fallout first released in 1997 it bucked the trend of what people came to expect from an RPG. There were no swords or bows, no magic or elves - Fallout wanted to give people something different. It fused the grim and unforgiving world of Mad Max with a retro-futuristic alternative history of Earth, where humanity ascended to dazzling heights before being blown to pieces by nuclear weapons. You play as the Vault Dweller, born and raised in a community fallout shelter. Everything was going fine and dandy until the chip controlling the purification of water broke - and with no engineers alive who helped design it, that’s a serious problem. You get told to go out into the world to get another functioning water chip...but the world isn’t a friendly place, and you may run into one or two problems along the way.We’re joined by special guest Chris Worthington of the Retro Asylum Podcast to discuss and argue whether Fallout has truly stood the test of time! Fallout dazzled the world with its innovations and storytelling - an open ended narrative, a turn based tactics system with guns, and a world so bleak and unforgiving that even The Walking Dead is envious. But do we now take these things for granted with all the evolutions in the RPG space? Is Fallout just a primitive and barely functional shell of a video game, or does it still have something valuable to offer?On this episode, we discuss:What kind of impact do the RPG systems of Fallout have on your experience? How much room do you have to define your character as they level up and grow stronger?How engaging is the storytelling of Fallout? Does it connect with you through its characters, dialogue or worldbuilding, and are there emotional hooks to keep you invested?How does the combat work in Fallout, and does it give you meaningful decisions throughout a combat encounter? We answer these questions and many more on the 61st episode of the Retro Spectives Podcast!---It was our absolute pleasure to be joined by fellow podcaster Chris Worthington for our discussion on Fallout. He’s the host of two podcasts, both of which you should check out!Retro Asylum - The UK’s No. 1 Retro Gaming Podcast (circa 2013). Chris and pals discuss classic video games and consoles of the 80’s and 90’s, with the occasional dabble into pop culture and interviews with industry figures. It's a celebration of retro gaming, with episodes doing deep dives into what makes a game or console special. You can join their discord server here!Playthrough - A community play along podcast that explores new and ‘middle aged’ games. Each episode the hosts play through a chunk of a game, and then do a blow by blow breakdown of their experience. There are a fantastic selection of games already in their backlog, including Metroid Prime and Disco Elysium. Join their discord server and play along!Chris has kindly asked us to continue our Fallout journey with Fallout 2 on the Retro Asylum podcast later this year, so keep your eyes peeled for that!---Intro Music: KieLoBot - Tanzen KOutro Music: Rockit Maxx - One point to anotherFallout OST: Mark Morgan, The Inkspots---When you play Fallout 1, make sure you install Fallout Fixt. It includes a full restoration patch, but we recommend the purist download for your first playthrough and somebody, anybody - please play UnderRail. Pat is begging you. ---Are there hidden aspects of the dialogue system that we never stumbled upon? Does the combat have hidden depths to it that we were too dumb to understand? Is a 1 AGI run even possible? Let us know what you think on the Retro Spectives community discord server! We love discussing (and arguing about) games, both old and new, and would love to have you join us.
68 minutes | Apr 26, 2021
Episode 60: Another World
When Another World was first released in 1991, it blew everyone’s minds. The lengthy cutscene that introduced the game and the cinematic quality of its presentation was close to unheard of. It fused dynamic and lethal laser combat with the rotoscoped platforming that was seen in Prince of Persia. And it did it all in a time and place utterly unlike Earth, bringing to life a setting that truly felt like Another World.But 30 years have passed since Another World’s debut. The features that were once revolutionary wouldn’t even make a footnote on the back of the game box. Instant death and trial and error are now dirty words, and action and puzzles very rarely combine well together. Has Another World, the vision of a single person, kept up with all the innovations and modernisations of adventure platformers? Or is it outdated and frustrating, making a mockery of its once forward thinking design?On this episode, we discuss:How well does Another World set a sense of place? Did we truly believe we were on an alien planet as we ran through its weathered halls?Is there any place for guesswork and trial and error in a video game? Or is it a fundamentally flawed concept, one that we should be glad rarely sees the light of day?How well does Another World control, and how do the controls impact the overall experience? Are there situations in which clunky control schemes are justifiable?We answer these questions and many more on the 60th Episode of the Retro Spectives Podcast!---Intro Music: KieLoBot - Tanzen KOutro Music: Rockit Maxx - One point to anotherAnother World OST: Jean-François Freitas---Are we heretics for criticising this sacred cow of video game history? Does the Caves/Palace sections make more sense than we’re giving it credit for? Does the spiritual sequel Flashback solve the problems we had with Another World? Let us know what you think on our community discord server!
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