Hello? Is anyone there? It’s been 2 months of silence here in the semi-hallowed virtual halls of the pixel dreams compound, and we’re glad to be back! This weeks episode asks the broad question “What is the state of Retro?”, where is this nice little niche we’ve carved for ourselves going? This issue is especially relevant with the recent influx of ports, remakes, and downloadable content into the console marketplace. Is our resurgent love of the classics doomed to the bowels of reactionary capitalism and blatant consumerism? Will we receive an enhanced, HD resolution, 2.5D facelift to the Bubsy series in the near future?

Enough blathering, here’s our new episode. I can already hear the faint typing of angry fingers in the distance.

Episode 8 – Re-shelled


Update

22Apr10

Hello internet denizens, this is just a quick post to discuss the state of the podcast. Yes, we are still intending on making future episodes, but the laptop we record on had beer spilled on it. Lame excuse I know, but I expect us to be back up and running in the beginning of May. I know we’ve committed the cardinal sin of going on hiatus, but I hope those of you who enjoy our podcast will keep listening!

For now, please subscribe via the iTunes store and check out some our fellow retro comrades in the sidebar.

Until next time,

Drew


Natsume is a developer mostly known for their modestly popular Harvest Moon franchise. However, back before their talents were corralled within the Farming Sim genre Natsume was a fairly prolific NES and SNES developer who produced some very solid titles. Games such as Pocky & Rocky (SNES), Abadox (NES), and The Ninja Warriors (SNES) were very polished affairs, if none particularly groundbreaking or innovative.

Is this like cold fusion or something?

This description holds true for the majority of Natsume’s catalogue, truthfully. Most of their games were analogues of more popular titles released earlier. It could be said that it wasn’t until Harvest Moon that Natsume did anything particularly original; perhaps that is why it became their most enduring title. One could say “Whats so bad about a company developing their own versions of popular games as long as they are well done?” and I would agree completely! It just seems that, perhaps in their quest of producing a better Ninja Gaiden or Life Force, most of Natsume’s games suffered as a result of not being able to stand out amongst the crowd.

One can certainly see this in Wild Guns (SNES). On the surface, its another in a long line of Cabal clones. The Wild Guns difference is that it is the most refined of the lot. While watching the game in motion it could easily be mistaken for a Capcom or Konami produced title. Action never slows as you fire at a small army of opponents, explosions come quickly and the environment is fully destructible. The aesthetics are particularly enjoyable: stylized steampunk robots and vehicles blended with the feel of a classic western. Think Wild Wild West, except no Will Smith and not completely abysmal. Wild Guns is an actual fun, enjoyable take on the concept.

Can we at least get Kevin Kline?

The attention to detail is what makes this simple shooter a joy to play. Parts of giant enemies explode as you wear them down. Furniture is splintered, bottles shattered, vehicles destroyed. Natsume really understood what makes games like this fun to play: cheap visceral thrills. To that end, a lot of the appeal comes in blowing everything up. Not to say the game isn’t challenging. Far from it, as a lot of time will be spent dodging enemies and frantically shooting around for power ups to survive. Luckily the control is fluid and responsive, allowing freedom of movement while shooting and employing a handy quick dodge feature. You can even play 2 player co op, which as always does wonders to ramp up the fun factor.

Blowing the shit out of everything with your friend: a cultural touchstone.

It is always nice to see someone take a tried and true genre and hit on every point that illustrates what makes them so fun and timeless. Natsume certainly does that here. This is an unappreciated gem that should be played. Unfortunately, the game is rather rare. It came out late in the lifespan of the SNES, and went largely unnoticed. The prices for a cart are now exorbitant (no Virtual Console release here). Of course, the wonders of emulation make it a lot easier to experience this title for yourself.

filed by Eric.


Episode 5 has arrived right on schedule! As usual, Pixel Dreams is available via iTunes, downloadable from here, or streaming from your browser.

Drop in that controller overlay and GET HYPE, SON!

This week we change gears and dial it all the way back to 1979 to discuss the most intelligent video game console ever produced: Mattel’s favorite son, the Intellivision. We pour over the short history of the console as the merits, drawbacks, strange oddities and software library of the Intellivision are all covered.

In addition, we talk shop about Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril, a brand new independently released NES game. We also go over a unique Adidas marketing strategy involving a videogame, and Micro Reviews return with Dark Arms (NGPC), Shadow of the Ninja (NES), and M.U.S.H.A. (GEN)

Episode 5 track listing:

Battle Kid – Stage 1 Theme

Intellivision Lives! – Theme Song

M.U.S.H.A. – Stage 1 Theme

Ducktales – Moon Stage

filed by Eric.


soles made of neapolitan ice cream

I’ve always found it funny how our modern culture revels in nostalgia; thrift stores filled with irony-hunting hipsters, college dorms plastered with posters of films they’ve never heard of. Hell, even shag carpeting is having a resurgence! Save the cries of hypocrisy, obviously we are implicit in glorifying all things retro where video games are concerned, albeit for substantive reasons.

It is in this spirit of revival that Adidas has brought back it’s “ZX 500″ brand of shoes, which were popular in that most revered of decades, the 80’s. It’s not the shoe thats interesting however, companies can always be relied on to recycle popular products, its what comes with the shoe: a PC game called ZX Runner, which is based on the shoe.

The game is packaged in a USB-wrist band (one hyphenated word I had never planned on typing) and graphically the game looks like it could of been made on the Atari 2600. Unfortunately, not much has been released in the way of extended game footage or screenshots, but a pretty underwhelming teaser video has been released. Obviously we shouldn’t be expecting much from an “neo-retro” game based on a shoe, but I hope other companies will jump on this gamer-pandering bandwagon for the sake of hilarity. Who knows, there could be a 7-up game in our future…oh wait.

filed by Drew.


The format of Pixel Dreams affords us the opportunity to shine our flashlight on the broadest or most narrow of topics spanning video game history. This week, we get specific and expunge the thick mists of time surrounding noteworthy developer Treasure, of Gunstar Heroes(yes!), Ikaruga(woah!), and McDonald’s Treasure Land Adventure(uhh…) fame.

Hardcore Gamers Rejoice!

Rounding out the show is a veritable bounty of retro topics, including the VC releases Sonic and Knuckles and Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom. We discuss the eagerly anticipated Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, a 13,000 dollar NES cart(!) and review Ninja Cop (GBA), Pulseman (GEN), and Gyruss (NES).

Episode 4 track listing:

Sonic and Knuckles – Minor Boss Theme

Gunstar Heroes – Boss 4 Theme

Radiant Silvergun – Debris

Ducktales – Moon Stage

filed by Eric.



After braving the biting winds of technical difficulties, Episode 3 has been scuttled out to sea.

The most important Pixel Dreams Episode of all time.

This weeks show concerns the short rise and quick death of FMV games, their connections to 3D gaming, and a few 2D franchises who failed to make the jump to three dimensions. Also featured are reviews of El Viento (GEN), Survival Kids (GBC), and Umi Hara Kawa Se (SFC). In addition, as always we explore the latest Virtual Console releases and also engage in a bit of discussion regarding the upcoming Sonic 4.

Episode 3 track listing:

Alex Kidd in Shinobi World – Round 1

Sega CD Bios Screen Music

Castlevania 64 – Dance of Illusions

Ducktales – Moon Stage

filed by Eric.




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