Anyone reaching into the depths of gaming history has surely hit upon gemsters and junkness, and probably games that could really qualify as both. One perhaps need look no farther than the original Ultima 1 (later, “Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness”… yeah, “darkness” for sure) for a telling example. We’ve come a long way since the early 80s. Games like Donkey Kong and the original Mario Bros remain replayable and endearing classics, while some of the more ambitious and trendsetting titles have sadly long since been eclipsed by modern experiences.
It’s hard to really say that Ultima 1 is ‘bad’ with any semblance of objectivity; it’s actually quite easy to appreciate the things it accomplished and the path it paved for the computer RPG genre, and even its own eventual well-loved sequels. This time around, we discuss our impressions of this first Ultima (and to a lesser degree its predecessor, “Akalabeth”) viewed from a modern perspective. We’re both pretty sympathetic to its status as an important piece of gaming history, but neither of us are too fond of the game (despite playing the more accessible DOS remake from ’87!).
It seems the game has soured Ultima overall for Steve, who no longer even intends to play the entirety of his Ultima collection for the forseeable future. Matt’s characteristically more retro, and is more likely to hack his way through the series some day to get to Ultima V ~ VII, which both boss nerds agree look to be much more appealing games.
Any parents listening might appreciate our lead-in where we discuss integrating our kids into our busy / nerdy lives; any childless folks are probably better off skipping a good ten minutes or so to get to the meat of the matter: why Ultima I might just beat Tetris on Stephen’s list of much disliked games that are supposed to be good.
The days of the classic arcade have come and (mostly) gone. Some people missed the boat entirely (anybody younger than, uh, 30? 25 maybe?), and some people never let go (like… us. Matt at least…).
This week we explore this classic place of entertainment and contrast it’s general disappearance in the west and lingering presence in the east.
Arcades do continue to exist in some form of course; they’re somewhat niche (good luck finding them in small towns), often full of import titles, or sometimes even intentionally going for a retro “vibe”.
As always, in addition to the subject at hand, you can expect some whining about parenthood and its destructive effects on our gaming habits and sleep, overt oozing nostalgia, and a rundown of our recent gaming exploits.
There were two main sources of gaming news, growing up in the 80’s and 90’s. We had the kid in our class who’s uncle worked at Nintendo and would tell us all the upcoming news months before it would ever find its way into print or on shelves… and we had access to a variety of print magazines each month that would tell us all the actual for real facts about the world of gaming.
It’s a little sad to notice that print media is so scarce these days, and so we spend this episode of The Vagabond Gamecast reminiscing about pre-internet life and how we got our news. Whether it was from Game Pro, Game Players, Nintendo Power, EGM, PlayStation Magazine, PC Gamer, or any of the other easily accessable magazines, we loved (and miss) all the wit, art, and tips that these papers contained. And not just papers! The demo discs and even VHSes were also awesome.
Take this one for example:
What more could an 11 year old hope for in the mail?
What were your favourite magazines?
This week we take a semi-deep dive into the “Rockman” / “Megaman” / call-it-what-you-will series and discuss our favorites, what makes each game stand out to us, and how the series incorporates into our personal nostalgia stories.
We focus on the mainline series and its evolution through the years, but do touch a bit on X and the other spinoffs, so this will hopefully serve as a bit of a nice mini history lesson for anybody not fully aware of the series.
As always, we touch on what we’re currently playing and finishing up playing. Matt’s been into FTL, while Steve’s completed Dragon Age: Origins lately. Reminiscing about Rockman has made Matt movie a couple X games up in his “to play” list as well!
You’ll find the Sprixelsoft Keiji Inafune interview transcription mentioned here!
It’s great to have grown up through a time when games have developed so much. We had the luck of being kids in the 8-bit era, and still love playing games today. One particular art form which we’re fond of from the PlayStation era is the use of pre-rendered backgrounds. We don’t see them as frequently now as we did in the late 90’s as developers have fallen in love with fully 3D environments.
After catching up a little bit on Matt’s completion of his Final Fantasy Tactics Advance playthrough, and our disappointment with the games Square Enix churned out in the beginning of this mellenium, we talk about our love for pre-rendered backgrounds. I think we’ve decided that if you want to check out some older PlayStation games such as Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy, and Parasite Eve, your best bet is likely on a PSP. You should definitely try to get your hands on the Kusanagi IV book if you want to check out some of the best illustrations that were used in Square’s games.
We discuss the pros and cons of a pre-rendered background while discussing games such as Saga Frontier 2, Final Fantasy Tactics, Ni No Kuni, Okami, and Mario 64. And given that Final Fantasy VII was a PlayStation cornerstone specifically because of technical differences between the PlayStation and N64, it’s interesting to stop for a moment to discuss a little bit how that came to be. If you want a history lesson on that time period, definitely check out Console Wars and the Final Fantasy VII Oral History.
…Or does it? Everyone enjoys games for different reasons, but what is it that really drives the appeal for you?
This time around, our time-strapped parents discuss what it is that “makes a game” for them. The contrast is interesting, as Steve puts more weight on the narrative and flavor elements like theme, visuals, and music; meanwhile, Matt feels that the core gameplay mechanics make or break the game (“are” the game, even).
Various examples through gaming history are plucked out to illustrate our points, so make sure you’re up on your 80’s and 90’s games!
That brings us full circle to Tetris and its ilk. Good? Bad? Important historically but not relevant to modern games? Not so black and white?
Tune in to get our take!
It’s always a fun time for our two temerarious hosts to dig through their nerdy game lists. Staunch listeners will certainly be aware of this “list-obsession” of ours. This time, we share what we’re excited to get into as 2017 rolls along, and dwell a bit on how we choose what games to play and what we focus on in prioritizing our jumbo game collections.
Both dweebo-coolsters keep multiple lists, but take a pretty different approach. We definitely still see a trend of Matt digging deep into the past with his game picks, though there are some ongoing efforts to diversify and focus on trendier and newer titles on his part. Stephen has a mixed bag himself, including some Ultima goodness.
Firstly… Steve apologizes profusely for his terrible audio quality. Having just moved, his mic set-up isn’t what it should be and it’s resulted in levels being blown out.
As you know, Steve has just recently moved to Montréal which is in the French region of Canada. This poses the question of what is it like moving to French Canada as an English speaker?
In this episode we discuss the milestone of our kids first starting to talk and the idea of raising them multi-lingual. This leads into a discussion of what it was like learning French as a child in English Canada and how things have changed with being an adult that travels the world.
Steve talks about quitting Japanese, and Matt talks about interests in language and then we discuss whether or not there is a language barrier in Montréal and some of the cultural differences we’ve witnessed between Montréal and Vancouver.
This leads into a small talk about Silence before we catch up on what Matt’s been playing this week.
Huzzah! It’s 2017 (for realsies!)
Steve’s finally relocated his nerdy butt over to Montréal and while he hasn’t gotten around to building himself an Ikea bed just yet, he is in a position to allow us to finally get back to our recording routine. That means that yes, this episode was actually recorded this week.
In this week’s 54+ minute gamecast we talk about Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, Nintendo’s primitive rules for buying digital games, and moving.
Rolling further in to the new year with some random Star Wars talk? Sure, why not.
After rounding out last year with some on-topic discussions of recent happenings and some reminiscence of the year in gaming, this week we visit the business of Star Wars sequels and prequels, and do our take on the topic that everyone has talked over to death: “Where were you when Episode 1 came out?”. Or, more accurately, “Why were all the prequels so bad?”