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Episode 175: Blaster Masters

by Greg Leahy - December 20, 2009, 5:17 pm PST
Total comments: 19

RFN gets in the festive Spirit (Tracks) with talk of Zelda, Blaster Master, and The Sky Crawlers, plus the return of your Listener Mail.

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The weather outside may be frightful, but RFN is here to keep out the cold by serving up your weekly dose of Nintendo discussion. The full cast is back for the second episode in a row, with Jonny and Jon kicking off the proceedings by gleefully reconnecting with this week's headline Virtual Console release, Blaster Master. New Business also features Greg's extended impressions of Spirit Tracks, plus the long-awaited arrival of a game that somehow fails to make James angry, The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces.

We catch up with your Listener Mail in the second segment, beginning with an N64-nostalgia-tinged look at the absence of split-screen multiplayer FPS titles on Wii. Next, we're forced to confront the fact that we may all be hopelessly past it as we examine how gamers' skills decline with age, before finishing the show with a lengthy discussion on the promotional use of game soundtracks in the West compared with Japan.

We're always looking for great Listener Mail to read and discuss on the show, so please send your questions or comments! (We really love seeing your praise and feedback regarding the show itself; however, in the interest of time, we may edit your letter to be read on the podcast.)

Credits:

This podcast was edited by Greg Leahy.

Music for this episode of Radio Free Nintendo is used with permission from Jason Ricci & New Blood. You can purchase their newest album, Done with the Devil, directly from the record label, Amazon.com, or iTunes, or call your local record store and ask for it!

Additional music for this episode of Radio Free Nintendo is copyrighted to Nintendo and Square Enix, and is included under fair use protection.

Talkback

YoshidiousGreg Leahy, Staff AlumnusDecember 20, 2009

Since I'm a terribly considerate sort of chap, I'm going to save KDR_11k the trouble of pointing out that Water Warfare has a split-screen local two player mode in it, which I became aware of after recording.

adadadDecember 20, 2009

Phew, at last! I was beginning to worry there wasn't going to be any RFN this week. Congrats for having kept it so regular, it makes a big difference in my opinion.

kraken613December 20, 2009

Wow, I forgot it was Sunday! haha

Because of being home for the holidays, I'm now two episodes behind.

I smell a Christmas gift wrappin/podcast marathon soon...

D_AverageDecember 20, 2009

Alright, Monday at work won't be so bad now.  Thanks for the top notch show dudes.

greybrickNathan Mustafa, Staff AlumnusDecember 21, 2009

Sweet! Does anyone happen to remember the song on an episode way back that Greg started humming in the background? I just remembered getting a kick out of it, it had to do with someone either mentioning the title or a line from the song and Greg sort of ran through a few bars while the other hosts were talking. I know it sounds crazy, but now I can't get it out of my mind and it is on the tip of my tongue!

Some Kenny G tune?

greybrickNathan Mustafa, Staff AlumnusDecember 21, 2009

Quote from: NWR_Lindy

Some Kenny G tune?

Oh lord if only. No, I think it was a real song.

YoshidiousGreg Leahy, Staff AlumnusDecember 21, 2009

Someone said "It's not unusual..." and that kicked off the Tom Jones song of the same name in my mind. You can thank/blame Mars Attacks! for that one.

greybrickNathan Mustafa, Staff AlumnusDecember 21, 2009

That takes a load off my mind, thanks! Dun du du, Dun du du, Da da da, dun du du....

yoshi1001December 21, 2009

From the mid 90's to the early 2000's, Nintendo did actually sell their music on CD in America, mostly in game stores and in the Super Power Club catalog. They also gave out the CD of the live SSBM concert CD to Nintendo Power subscribers in late 2002/early 2003 (best subscriber bonus ever).

broodwarsDecember 22, 2009

My impression on the difficulty of games like those from the NES era (and those that try to be, like Mega Man 9 and the Bit.Trip series) is that they stress  anticipation while modern games stress reaction and adaptability.  For example, in most NES games you eventually train yourself to expect one of 2 things (sometimes even both) when you see a pit:

1.  Something's going to jump out of it when you jump over it.
2.  Something's going to swoop down at you from off-screen when you jump over the pit.

You train yourself to spot patterns and anticipate what the game's going to throw at you.  If there is a pit, you edge close to the edge to see if something's going to jump out, and then you shoot while jumping to eliminate the air attack that's coming.  In Bit.Trip Beat, often I can't see many of the bits as they fly at me, but because I've spotted a pattern to the bits I've hit so far I can anticipate where the new bits will land.  Old games also had a habit of just being completely unfair, such as giving you 3 lives period and no continues in a long game with a fondness for instant death traps.

In modern games, developers try to introduce new skills in a gradual curve, so that as new challenges arise the players aren't completely blindsided because they have been trained to handle it.  The challenges end up being a culmination of what they have already learned, with the added bonus of having the player adapt their skillset to match what the game is now throwing at them.  But you are meant as a player to get through it within a handful of attempts.  In an NES game, you might need to play the entire game several times before pure memorization allows you to anticipate what a challenge will throw at you through (for lack of a better term) "gamer muscle memory".  We also have usually plentiful checkpoints and save systems to allow us to pummel a specific challenge until we get it without having to repeat the entire game.

In general, old games were hard because they were cheap, relying on traps; quick reaction times; and brutal punishment for failure.  Memorization wasn't good game design back then and it hasn't gotten any better now.  I find that in newer games, when I fail at a challenge it has more directly to do with my lack of skill.

EDIT: And as for the soundtrack question, I'd love to see more of them come to the U.S. as well because the import fees for them are ridiculous.  It still makes absolutely no sense that Nintendo of America has never brought over the Mario Galaxy and Twilight Princess soundtracks to the U.S. Club Nintendo.  The big work has already been done on them for localization, so what's the hold-up?  Were envelopes and cards just that much bigger sellers?

I'd at least like to see game soundtracks come to iTunes. I'm like TYP--I've got tons of game music on my iPod.

yoshi1001December 22, 2009

There is one soundtrack you can get on iTunes-Super Mario Compact Disco:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/supermario-compact-disco/id305731827

"Supermarioland" was a top 20 hit in the UK, by the way.

SouthForkDecember 31, 2009

Hello everyone.
New to the forums.
Thanks for reading my mail on soundtracks/scores and whatnot.


Question: Where is everyone getting their gaming music? Especially T.Y.P.


Rob.

Welcome SouthFork!

TYP is old school and has travelled worldwide.  I have no idea what secrets he has up his sleeve ;-)

SouthFork: for chiptunes (anything up to N64 for consoles and DS for handhelds) there are several sites with collections of music emulators and sound dumps. Chipamp.org is actually a good site to start with--they have a bundle of Winamp plugins. Then google up some of those file extensions with keywords like "music" and you should find some sites.  Anything more modern and you'll have to hunt harder I'm afraid. If fidelity isn't an issue YouTube has tons of soundtracks. 

SouthForkJanuary 10, 2010

Thanks T.Y.P.
And keep up the good work with the show. Quality stuff. I'm going back through the older episodes and I even got my wife listening (Even though she couldn't get Professor Layton and she had just played it the night before.)

GoldenPhoenixJanuary 18, 2010

Well I'm catching up on the shows, i enjoyed the Blaster Master discussion. The guys are right about Blaster Master, there is still nothing really like it, even Metroid. The game did some ground breaking stuff such as remember an enemy's energy when off screen, along with really taking advantage of organic environments to find new areas once you get a new item, it was really one of the first exploration/action games where it had a linear path in regards to getting to the next area, but still being open in many ways.

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