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Remember those classic Atari 2600 games? They were sure fun to play, but didn't you ever wonder why they sent a plumber to take out Donkey Kong? What Yar was seeking revenge against? What made those robots go berserk? Me too? ATARI BYTES is more than a game review podcast. It's an exploration of the games to divine what exactly the story within the game is. And if we can't find those answers, we'll make 'em up.
 
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Let ye who is without Sin-istar, cast the first pod. Well, fortunately for us, we DO have this episode's game SINISTAR, the 1984 Atari 2600 port prototype of the arcade game. Is the game a heavenly delight or sinfully awful? Count your luck stars and join us. Bad Poetry Corner: THE SINN SISTERS HOST A BRUNCH Thanks to Kevin McLeod at Incompetech.co…
 
The prevailing theme for NES games in 1988 has been multiplayer. From Contra to Life Force to Jackal, many of the best games for ’88 played best with friends. (That was probably also true for games that weren't published by Konami, even.) Fittingly, episode 88 sees not but three games that uphold that trend. First, there's Jackal, a widely overlook…
 
The machines have risen, taking control of this trio of games and obviating humanity altogether. Well, almost altogether. R.O.B. at least demonstrates the value of mankind working together, hand-in-, uh, claw with its new synthoid overlords to defeat the vile Smicks in Robot Gyro. As for the other games, well, they're all about robo-kind's fight fo…
 
Although I've previously covered The Tower of Druaga on Game Boy Works, this version precedes the portable rendition by half a decade and stands as the more towering achievement of the two. So to speak. Another solid arcade-to-Famicom conversion by Namcot, Druaga's move to consoles felt like a figurative as well as literal homecoming: As an arcade …
 
OK, this week we have the ACTUAL debut of Irem on Famicom, but it's hard to say TOSE's take on Zippy Race makes for a splashier debut than 10-Yard Fight would have. At least 10-Yard Fight had the benefit of not having been shown up by a conversion of the same game to technically inferior hardware more than a year earlier. TOSE also helps a second p…
 
Well, I goofed on this episode—the production order list I work for ended up getting scrambled due a copy/paste error, and I accidentally covered Geimos and 10-Yard Fight out of sequence (they shipped right after Robot Gyro, not Robot Block). This means that 10-Yard Fight wasn't actually Irem's first Famicom! Since I was on the road when I realized…
 
Do you smell what we're cooking? Because it's time to play the game(s) in our wrestling special! We've got a double book club this month in the shape of WWF No Mercy for the N64, and Fire Pro Wrestling World for PC/PS4! Are they the bottom line in wrestling games, just mid-carders, or a pair of jabroni jobbers? (ok, I'll stop). We also reminisce ab…
 
We catch up on the retro PC build and we spin off on lots of retro gaming tangents, ranging from CRT screens, how to clean your ball mouse and of course sound cards and game music. We also listen to the Monkey Island theme on PC speaker and compare it with the Roland MT-32. The difference is incredible! Find Passion for Pixels Retro Gaming Podcast …
 
In episode 304, you're joining the podcast at an historic moment...the debut of our brand-new (refurbished) ATARI 5200 CONSOLE (Thanks, Jose!) We launch into the stratospheric heights of new game possiblities by falling into the dungeon, the SPACE DUNGEON, to be specific. The 1983 Taito arcade port is my focus in this one...until my cameraman wrest…
 
As we move deeper into the Famicom's history, its timeline begins to diverse further and further from the American console's. Witness this week's episode, in which all three releases remained stranded in Japan. (Well, OK, Road Fighter shipped in Europe in 1992, which is such a weird and unlikely turn of events it seems like we all probably hallucin…
 
Throw this ATARI BYTES episode on the junk heap. Episode 303 is going to the SCRAPYARD DOG (For the 7800, Atari, 1990). Is this game doggone fun or just one for the dogs? SHORT STORY - BAD POETRY CORNER: DOGGED Thanks to Kevin McLeod at Incompetech.com for creative commons use of his songs "Take a Chance", "Reformat" and "Pinball Spring". Thanks to…
 
Three—three!—consecutive vertical shooters hit Famicom in this episode. Well, for a certain value of "vertical." All three of these games about shooting things while moving up or down along the screen, but all three take a very different approach to it. Star Force is the most traditional of the bunch, while Elevator Action combines vertical shootin…
 
We talk about why most movies based on videogames are terrible, but also why movies about games can be great, covering Super Mario Bros., Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Wing Commander, Final Fantasy The Spirits Within, WarCraft, Sonic the Hedgehog, The Wizard, WarGames, Pixels, Wreck-It Ralf, Resident Evil, Uwe Boll and more! Find Passion for Pixel…
 
Although the three games featured in this week's episode have already appeared in the vanilla iteration of NES Works, I promise that there's merit in revisiting them. All three titles—Nintendo's Wrecking Crew, Konami's Hyper Olympic, and Nintendo (not Irem's!) Spartan-X—hit differently on Famicom than they did on NES. Especially when one of the gam…
 
Sunsoft returns to Game Boy with a soul-crushingly brutal take on a movie that's about as close to being a cult classic as a major blockbuster can be: Gremlins 2 - The New Batch. It really captures the experience of being a small, helpless little fuzzy guy with stubby arms making his way through a skyscraper filled with raving murder-monsters. Alth…
 
You come at the king, you'd best not miss. In this case, they've come at Godzilla, the King of Monsters, and stolen his horrible little son Minilla. I personally would be happy to let Minilla languish forever in captivity, but parental instincts run deep even for a skyscraper-sized atomic-powered dinosaur... and the result is one of the best Game B…
 
Our shared journey through the SG-1000 library has been illuminating, and in this episode I attempt to encapsulate much of what has been covered here over the past year. This episode isn't simply a recap and recontextualization of the system, though—it's also an attempt to reconcile some issues in my coverage of the individual games. Part of what I…
 
In this episode, we look at the SG-1000's 1987 release lineup in its entirety... and, with those two games, we also wrap up the SG-1000 library as a whole. That's it! Go home! From now on, it's just Master System and beyond here on Segaiden. These two works are not necessarily the kind of thing you'd want to spend much time playing in the modern da…
 
A fully powered up episode if ever there was one - this month we've got Power Diggerz (aka Power Shovel) in the book club - a slightly obscure PS1 arcade/party game that has you saving turtles and dishing out curry with nothing but a full blown excavator! We'll find out if it's any good. Plus, it's another magazine feature! This time we're looking …
 
Do you remember the 1970's cartoon "Gilligan's Planet", where the castaways travel from the island to outer space? No? Well, you should. It was...something. The 7800 game BALLBLAZER, which we played in episode 301, is a little like that. It's like transporting a soccer game from the stadium to space. "Ted Lasso" in an astronaut helmet maybe. So, is…
 
ATARI BYTES is 300 episodes old! If it were years, we'd be older than America! ATARI BYTES deserves some respect as the country's elder. I'm going to stop paying taxes. We're taking a break from the video games and story-fying to play a good, old-fashioned video game. This time, it's Buffalo Games' 2021 SPACE INVADERS: THE BOARD GAME. But is this b…
 
By request of They Call Me Sleeper, here's one last Wonder Boy game until Segaiden gets to the Master System stuff: Adventure Island IV for NES. Or rather, Takahashi Meijin no Boukenjima IV for Famicom, as Hudson has never localized this one in any capacity. That's a shame, because Adventure Island IV belatedly but capably brings Master Higgins' is…
 
Famicom mainstay Hudson finally makes its American debut this week with two sizable hits from Japan. First, Adventure Island brings a little taste of Sega to NES by converting Wonder Boy with a thinly veiled graphical overhaul. Milon's Secret Castle goes a different route, abandoning linear action for a hunt-and-explore adventure inside a castle fu…
 
It's a new year of Pod 'em Up, and in the book club, we have a classic game from our childhoods - Micro Machines '96 on the Sega Mega Drive! We also discuss the series in general, so should be a great listen for fans. Plus, Tibbs just wants to play Rock Band, Ollie wants to know what an NFT is, and we both want to know why the hell Google Podcasts …
 
The penultimate set of SG-1000 games arrives as the system does its best to remain current and competitive in the medium's changing landscape with technology built around the expectations of an earlier generation of game design. Although the SG-1000 is woefully underpowered to hold its own amidst the new creative frontiers being explored on Famicom…
 
A brief break in the SG-1000's strong run of final releases with a set of titles that will remind you of the not-so-good ol' days when the console's library was generally pretty rough. This trio earns most of its points for effort from Ninja Princess, which converts an arcade game quite convincingly save for one massive technical hitch that has a h…
 
The SG-1000 didn't have much going on during 1986, with Sega's attention focused primarily on the shiny new Mark III console, but what little did make its way to the older console was pretty strong. After an indifferent shrug of a vintage-style single-screen arcade-format MSX port with Compile's C-So!, we get to the good stuff: ASCII's The Castle a…
 
The Moon God gets a bad rap. Sure, in QUEST FOR QUINTANA ROO, the 1984 game from Sunrise Software, the Moon God wants to kill you. But, I mean, in the game you are plundering the Moon God's ancient temple. On the upside, all this unpleasantness did bring about episode 298 of ATARI BYTES! Bad Poetry Corner: The Quest Chooses Us Thanks to Kevin McLeo…
 
A real sense of deja vu this week as we look at three games that have all appeared on this channel in other versions. I would like to say that these iterations are all the superior works, but Mom taught me not to be a liar. Now, this version of Dig Dug is far and away the best 8-bit home version ever published, an almost arcade-perfect rendition th…
 
Any old show could give you mutants, but how many can offer you COMMUNIST mutants? 2021 had Covid spinoffs, insurrections and climate upheavals. 2022 has communist mutants. Seems about right. In episode 297, we played the 1982 weirdly named Starpath game COMMUNIST MUTANTS FROM SPACE. Because with a title like that, how could we not? Short Story: A …
 
Continuing on from last week, we go from Hang On II to just plain ol' Hang On. But this in no way feels like a downgrade; quite the contrary. With Hang On (and Teddy Boy Blues), Sega brings its home hardware into line with Nintendo's Famicom/NES, boosting the basic SG-1000 architecture with a monstrous upgrade to its graphical capabilities and esse…
 
This week bring us the first of a two-part episode—or should that be "the second"? Sega's imprecise SG-1000 launch date documentation makes it difficult to know if Hang On II did in fact debut before or after Hang On (no Roman numeral) for Mark III in October 1985*. But the number II there is only for show anyway, as Hang On II is literally just a …
 
An 8-bit heavy hitter makes its Famicom debut, right around the same time as they first dipped a toe into the SG-1000 market: Konami, eventual creators of Castlevania and Contra, here still a mere stripling of a home games developer. As on Sega's platform, Konami made its debut in Nintendo-land with two games, though I would say both turned out far…
 
A couple of standout releases in this episode... but first, we have to survive another version of Lode Runner. Look, I like Lode Runner. Great game. But there's been a lot of it here in the mid ’80s! This time, the monk/robot guys win. Beyond that, however, we have the final entry in Activision's brief dalliance on SG-1000 (or maybe Sega's brief da…
 
It's the last episode of 2021! And in honor of our laziness tradition, for the last episode we put away the games and rest our story-thinking brains, and kick back with a movie. This time, we're watching the 1983....cult?...classic KRULL, which inspired the Atari game eagle-eared listeners will remember we talked about in episode 295 Was KRULL a kr…
 
No One Can Stop Mr Domino on PS1 is the book club game for this final episode of 2021, and as it's the last of the year, we're also doing our annual celebration of all the games we've been playing, in the Pod 'em Up Awards! The competition is really fierce this year, as we've played some cracking games in '21, so make sure you check it out and see …
 
ATARI BYTES episode 295 is all about KRULL, Atari's adaptation of the 1983 sci-fi movie...classic?...of the same name. The game, like the movie, has you, the hero, trying to defeat The Beast, with a star-shaped "glaive", save the princess and defend the galaxy. So, is this game a five-pointed romp, or a pointless exercise, times five? We'll find ou…
 
This week is a bit of an ouroboros: While the primary feature here is Capcom's Legendary Wings, this episode also touches on the NES release of Xevious, the game that very clearly inspired Legendary Wings (not to mention about a thousand other Japanese arcade games of the era). Xevious is by far the purer of the two, not to mention the fairer, but …
 
A bit of an emphasis on day jobs this episode, but fortunately one of these games offers more than mere workmanlike effort. Activision's Rock'n Bolt stands out this week as one of the SG-1000's most appealing puzzlers—certainly a more interesting take on the genre than Soukoban, which gets credit for its primal nature but not for possessing any sor…
 
More arcade ports for SG-1000? Say it ain't so! These titles aren't especially well known in the U.S., since they've never seen a proper console release here (outside of maybe some collection that doesn't come immediately to mind), but both merit a close look. Taito's Chack'n Pop may not impress quite as much on the technical front as the more fami…
 
This week brings us two SG-1000 releases that feel miles removed from the console's earliest days of serious-looking war game: Doki Doki Penguin Land and Drol. Rather than involving the relentless destruction of military vehicles (and, by extension, the squishy humans inside them), these two titles see you doing your best to protect children. While…
 
Beginning with this episode, I'm knuckling down to wrap up as much of the SG-1000 video series as possible by the end of 2021. There are only about half a dozen episodes to go after this! It's a pretty small library, but the best times are ahead of us. This episode looks at, technically, three arcade conversions: Zoom 909, Choplifter, and Pitfall I…
 
Halloween season is upon us, and you know what that means: Where other people decorate their homes with cobwebs and giant skeletons, I decorate mine with a Castlevania-related video. This time around, it's a look at a Castlevania spinoff called Kid Dracula. Well, technically, this video is about Akumajou Special: Boku Dracula-Kun! Or just Kid Dracu…
 
I may have gone a little overboard with this episode, but it seemed worth doing. For one thing, the creator of the Golgo 13 series, Takao Saito, recently passed away. And for another, upon revisiting this game in the context of its original release chronology on NES, I came away deeply impressed by how much the developers attempted to do here. Did …
 
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