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Episode 257: Ode to Joypads

by Michael Cole, James Jones, and Greg Leahy - September 4, 2011, 2:04 pm PDT
Total comments: 53

TYP joins James and Greg to discuss Ambassadorships, soundtracks, and the Python-esque destruction of civilization, plus a ton of your Listener Mail.

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As was foretold during our last episode, Jonny couldn't join the RFN crew this week, but what we didn't see coming was the after-effects of Hurricane Irene leaving us another man down, as Jon was still without internet access at the time of recording. Nevertheless, James and Greg persevere with the assistance of Radio Trivia host Michael Cole, and there's no shortage of Nintendo discussion to be had with the rollout of the Ambassador Program and a bumper batch of Listener Mail waiting to be answered.

New Business begins with our experiences of downloading and playing our ten free NES games on 3DS, with the latter component being a lot more fun and intuitive than the former. Next, TYP and Greg keep us stuck in the past by discussing Gargoyle's Quest and Final Fantasy III/VI, before James closes out the segment with Rock of Ages, a surreal Atlus XBLA game that combines mythology, history, tower defense, bowling, and Monty Python. Spoilers: James thinks it's awesome.

After the break, we take a collective deep breath as we embark on a (relatively) high-speed Listener Mail odyssey, beginning with a trio of tales regarding new 3DS owners. We then look at the chances of Wii U reversing the decline of the home console market in Japan, the correlation between game length and value, and much more before our journey of listener interaction ends with a subject near and dear to all of our hearts: soundtracks. An aspiring composer asks us what we like to hear in our video game music--will our feedback set him on the path towards greatness? Stay tuned for the next few decades or so to find out!      

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 (CD) (MP3), 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 is included under fair use protection.

Talkback

I can't wait to listen! Next episode is going to be another shake-up, but every crisis is an opportunity, as they say. Big plans...

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

Big plans...


AND NOW THEY'RE JINXED!

I warned of my absence well in advance this time. My power was out until Wednesday morning, and then Comcast couldn't get their act together until Friday afternoon. RFN was lost in the middle, unfortunately.

zachs1997September 04, 2011

James were you a professional musician.

I was a violist for 10 years.

zachs1997September 04, 2011

I am still learning but I play a silver violin.

It's worth it if only for the women. They can't resist.




That's a lie.

The end of the show features the potential for the worst musical performance on a major video game podcast since Justin McElroy's rendition of "Girlfriend".

I'm not linking what's in the spoiler there, it's on Youtube.

ShyGuySeptember 04, 2011

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wvOBJB8mf0

There are so many things wrong with this video.

ShyGuySeptember 04, 2011

Quote from: Crimm

There are so many things wrong with this video.

Yeah, I didn't know you wore glasses.

zachs1997September 04, 2011

Quote from: Crimm

It's worth it if only for the women. They can't resist.




That's a lie.

lol but their are a lot of cute girls in orchestra.
usaly

zachs1997September 04, 2011

Quote from: ShyGuy

Quote from: Crimm

There are so many things wrong with this video.

Yeah, I didn't know you wore glasses.

how old were you?

KDR_11kSeptember 05, 2011

I got Zelda 1 and 2 as NES classics (plus Metroid from Zero Mission), those don't fix the lack of a suspend-to-flash feature either. They do have a sleep mode though which combined with the GBASP's battery life will let you keep the game on for a looooooong time. I believe the NES games on the GBA had some vertical compression going on with the graphics though so I guess it may be worth trying them on the 3DS (and I don't need to use the GBASP for them anymore). Wonder if I'll get lucky enough again to find an energy tank right before fighting Kraid and Ridley each, that saves the whole grinding and when you have full health in Metroid 1 you can take a LOT of damage. Metroids are great item pinatas but you only find them in Tourian...

EDIT: Man, the segue to Rock of Ages was a missed opportunity by not going "And now for something completely different".

That video isn't me.


Just to clarify.

zachs1997September 05, 2011

Oh. But that is your youtube acount

ShyGuySeptember 05, 2011

Sorry, my mistake. You both look about the same age. ;)

KDR_11kSeptember 05, 2011

BTW, when will anyone on the podcast get Xenoblade? I guess Greg isn't interested but I know the rest of you probably ordered it.

YoshidiousGreg Leahy, Staff AlumnusSeptember 05, 2011

Quote from: KDR_11k

BTW, when will anyone on the podcast get Xenoblade? I guess Greg isn't interested but I know the rest of you probably ordered it.

I stated during this episode (in the middle of the first Wii U question) that I have already ordered Xenoblade, but most stores here in the UK are waiting for a restock so it could be a while yet before I get my hands on it. James pre-ordered the game from a UK online retailer and presumably should be getting it fairly soon.

As for the Python bit, in my defence I have used that gag on the show before, and the title for the Rock of Ages chapter in the AAC version was "Sisyphus' Flying Circus." Still, it was a missed opportunity I admit.

My copy has not arrived. It has been my experience that US/UK is a reasonably predictable 14 days. I have passed that mark by a couple of days now, but it should be soon.

NeoStar9XSeptember 05, 2011

I think you mentioned you ordered your copy from Zavvi.com. Word is they are incredibly slow (more so compared to other stores outside of the US sending to the US). There are still those on neogaf that ordered from there that are still waiting for their copies.

I'm kicking myself for not pre-ordering when I had the chance. Just have to wait for NoE to put out another shipment. That is if they even do so.

Fiendlord_TimmaySeptember 05, 2011

As far as game music goes, I can't give you any in depth analysis or anything, but I've found that my favorite soundtracks are the ones that have a very distinct melody. The ones that I can go around whistling to myself are by far my favorites.

My favorite soundtracks include Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, Super Mario Galaxy, Final Fantasy 1-10 (yes pretty much all of them), Chrono Trigger, and Nier.

If you haven't heard Nier's soundtrack, for god's sake go listen to it. Everyone who's played the game instantly falls in love with the music, and even people who don't know anything else about the game absolutely adore the soundtrack. It employs many of the techniques described in this show's discussion, such as stylistic variations on a certain theme, a cohesive musical atmosphere, etc.

Here are just a few of my favorites from Nier:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0x0-EYfwP-c&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDftyQ96ZVs&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5xZbJDZZo4&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiDI4GZMVF0&feature=related


Really I could go on and on, but I imagine I'd end up putting the entire OST on here if I didn't stop myself. So I'll leave it to you to explore more for yourself.

/Shameless Nier evangelizing

KDR_11kSeptember 05, 2011

Quote from: NeoStar9X

I'm kicking myself for not pre-ordering when I had the chance. Just have to wait for NoE to put out another shipment. That is if they even do so.

To be fair that seems to be only an issue with online stores, you can find plenty of copies in brick and mortar stores.

NeoStar9XSeptember 05, 2011

Quote from: KDR_11k

Quote from: NeoStar9X

I'm kicking myself for not pre-ordering when I had the chance. Just have to wait for NoE to put out another shipment. That is if they even do so.

To be fair that seems to be only an issue with online stores, you can find plenty of copies in brick and mortar stores.

Ah I see. Being in the US though I have no choice but to use the online stores.

YoshidiousGreg Leahy, Staff AlumnusSeptember 05, 2011

The nearest branch of GAME to me only has the £50 Red CC Pro bundle version of Xenoblade in stock at the moment, which for someone with two CCs already in his possession is a bit too much to pay right now (my online order for the game on its own comes to a little more than half the price).

Regarding FF3/6's translation, there is a very good explanation for why TYP and Greg were sometimes confused about who is speaking in the story scenes. The game has both character-specific and generic dialogue, and many scenes contain both. For instance, there are a few times in the World of Balance when Locke is required to accompany Terra, but you can choose the other two party members. This is because Locke has a specific role to play in the story scenes, including his own unique dialogue. The other party members you selected are variables in these scenes, so Ted Woolsey wrote generic dialogue that is meant to apply regardless of which characters you have around at that particular moment. You can easily identify these passages because there will be no name preceding the text, versus the usual format of "NAME: Dialogue goes here."

KDR_11kSeptember 05, 2011

Quote from: Yoshidious

The nearest branch of GAME to me only has the £50 Red CC Pro bundle version of Xenoblade in stock at the moment, which for someone with two CCs already in his possession is a bit too much to pay right now (my online order for the game on its own comes to a little more than half the price).

Aren't there other stores that sell games near you?

Killer_Man_JaroTom Malina, Associate Editor (Europe)September 06, 2011

Quote from: KDR_11k

Quote from: Yoshidious

The nearest branch of GAME to me only has the £50 Red CC Pro bundle version of Xenoblade in stock at the moment, which for someone with two CCs already in his possession is a bit too much to pay right now (my online order for the game on its own comes to a little more than half the price).

Aren't there other stores that sell games near you?

In Britain, there's definitely been a reduction in the number of brick-and-mortar stores that sell games. GAME is the only dedicated store now that Gamestation has been absorbed, and they tend to be more expensive than average. And when I say that, I mean that I've seen the past two Call of Duty games (this is the standard version, not the collector's edition) priced at £54.99, equivalent of roughly $88. I really wish I was joking.

Elsewhere, there's the supermarket chains, which have poor selections at high prices, and HMV, which isn't much better. All 3DS games at £34.99, regardless of when they came out? No thanks.

Put it this way: the nearest store to me is a 20 minute drive to the next town over, and that's just a Blockbusters that thinks it's okay to sell pre-owned copies of games for almost full price, which for console games is usually £39.99.

That's why nearly all of my shopping is done online now. Amazon is the go-to site - they pretty much always take £5-10 off the RRP right at launch, and cuts are common after that. Play also has decent prices on a lot of things too. Of course, can't forget Steam, the best download-only games service out there. Unless it's a member of the Call of Duty series, the big console titles start at £29.99, most start lower than that even, and there are new deals and bundles every week.

Basically, we're a long way from how it is in the state of Virginia, where from what I've heard from this podcast, you have five GameStops within a couple of miles of each other. Although based on all the horror stories I've heard about GameStop, it sounds like Amazon is still the prime place to shop for games.

KDR_11kSeptember 06, 2011

I mostly buy at electronics retailers. Media Markt had Xenoblade for 45€ at launch.


EDIT:
I don't think the Wii U has any real overlap with tablets, it looks similar but will be bought for a completely different purpose. The 3DS and Vita are competition to it but not as closely as the current and next generation consoles. I just hope the "play without a TV!" gimmick won't end up scaring devs away from using the touchscreen for game elements.


To me the main difference between jRPGs and cRPGs is the amount of consequence in them. Mass Effect asks for your take on things like five times in every cutscene. In Xenoblade the main story progresses when I make it to checkpoints and it doesn't ask me how I'd like to have it progress. While jRPGs can be infuriating if your characters keep doing stupid things (FFVIII anyone?) they're much more relaxed because they keep their game mechanics and story fairly separate, you can do whatever you want in the mechanical part of the game and don't have to worry about screwing with the story part.


I define a game's length as how long I play it, not how long it takes to get to the credits. It doesn't matter if a game has 40 hours of content if I get bored after five. Conversely many games don't have anything that defines their length, e.g. AI War Fleet Command doesn't have a single campaign to play through, a "campaign" is one game match and they're designed to be different every time.

KisakiProjectSeptember 06, 2011

I loved the soundtrack discussion at the end of the show.  Also Chrono Cross's OST is definitively and objective the best game soundtrack  :P: Dunno why you think its so hard to pic a favorite.

One thing about the Chrono Cross soundtrack is the dexterity with which it uses the "etude." The fact it is literally hidden in some songs is a nice touch for people listening closely.

NinSageSeptember 06, 2011

lllllet's get ready for responseehhhhhhssssss!!!!

... and here they are ...

1. I just went and counted and I have over 50 Wii games.  I definitely agree that anyone who can't find good games on the platform isn't looking hard enough.  Thanks for giving the underrated white box its due.

EDIT: My point in posting this figure was to illustrate that there are still games I feel my collection is lacking.  Endless Ocean 1+2, Lost in Shadow, Fragile Dreams, S+P2, ShaunWhite:World Stage (hey, I liked the first one!).  Future purchases will include: Bit.Trip Complete, Skyward Sword, DQX, Kirby'sRtD, and any of the OpRainfall games that NoA decides to grace us with.

2.  A thousand agreements that the Wii U needs a new name.  They are going to lose so many sales because people will be confused.  Even people who aren't confused will have trouble understanding why they need this new white box if the old one has a uDraw.

Anyone think there is even a CHANCE it could have a late name change like Sony's NGP did??

3. That's a pretty astute observation on the source material for RPGs, James.  I'd never thought of Western RPGs as having D&D roots but I guess I can see it.

4. Yea, I used to loooove longer games.  And back then, games didn't need to worry about being 20hrs (padded or otherwise!) to avoid negative buzz.  But for me, now, a 5-10 hr jaunt of a game is perfect.

I burn through games JamesJones-style.  100% if I can.  That's just how I enjoy games.  If I spend too long between plays or try to play more than 2 games at a time, I get fuzzy on the details and then I feel like starting over =)

So yea, these days my approach to gaming is a lot like punk rock: "don't bore us, get to the chorus" =D

5. I don't remember how long in all, but playing 999 enough times to get all the endings certainly took me a while!  *grumble*grumble* stupid ending ..... that 3DS sequel better answer some damn questions!  I am letting Chunsoft (right?) fool me once on this franchise.  If it happens again? I'll be saying NEIN NEIN NEIN!!

*canned applause*

6. Really loved the intellectual discussion about music in games.  And yea, the Layton franchise is really all about atmosphere, and so far they've nailed it every time!

Off the top of my head, MegaMan, Sonic and Kirby games probably get my top 3 for music.  Certain Zelda tunes can really tug at my heart strings (Lon Lon Ranch!), but those other franchises tend to have the kind of stuff you can throw on a music player and just enjoy as kick-ass instrumentals.

7. Let's go, Buffalo!!
(... and, slightly more importantly, the NY football Giants!)

TJ SpykeSeptember 06, 2011

The NGP name didn't technically change because Sony made it clear that Next Generation Portable was just the codename and was NOT gonna be the final name. I think the Wii U name is fine and don't understand the hate and confusion over it.

NinSageSeptember 06, 2011

Quote from: TJ

The NGP name didn't technically change because Sony made it clear that Next Generation Portable was just the codename and was NOT gonna be the final name. I think the Wii U name is fine and don't understand the hate and confusion over it.

yea... I was kinda thinking that. Well, NGP aside.  Anyone have any hope for a name change?!

I respect your opinion that the name is fine.  I just think there's a ton of room for improvement and I really think it's going to do harm come purchase time.

yoshi1001September 06, 2011

Playing the ambassador games really reminds me of Retro Game Challenge. Anyone else get that vibe?

TJ SpykeSeptember 06, 2011

Played some more:

I don't like Wrecking Crew, seems primitive and controls not that good.
Metroid still feels as very dated and not good now.
I don't like golf games anyways, so I was not a fan of NES Open Tournament Golf and the manual didn't help.
The Legend of Zelda has good music, but I was never a big fan of the game and never played much of it.

yoshi1001September 06, 2011

If you don't like Metroid, I'd say give it another shot with the "NARPAS SWORD" password. It makes the game very easy (you can't die), but you can still explore as much (or as little) as you want.

KDR_11kSeptember 07, 2011

Nah, don't bother breaking the game, it's easy enough once you get used to it.

broodwarsSeptember 07, 2011

When it comes to gaming music, I prefer my soundtracks to be based around a wide variety of memorable melodies.  That's really the mark of an excellent soundtrack: you notice it's there when you play the game and it inspires the appropriate feelings, and it sticks with you long after you stop playing it.

I liked Nier's soundtrack enough to buy it, but when you listen to it a lot of the songs tend to bleed together because they are based around the same motif: haunting chorals in the background with a light tune that may or may not have a beat.  Chrono Cross is a great soundtrack with a great variety of tracks (some of which call back to the Chrono Trigger theme), but I only found a handful of tracks to be altogether memorable outside of the game.  I thought Chrono Trigger struck a really good balance in that respect, so of the two games I vastly prefer that OST.

Mop it upSeptember 07, 2011

I consider the length of a game to be how long I played it, not how long it took to see the credits. Some games may be short and beatable in a few hours, but if there is extra content or reason enough to replay it, it won't be a short-lived game. Then there are multiplayer-focused games like Mario Kart, where the single player can be completed in two hours, but the multiplayer and online modes make it infinitely replayable. That's a part of the reason why I like random elements in such games; no two races of Mario Kart are the same, and so races feel fresh for a long time because they always play out differently.

The time logs on the Wii and 3DS are appreciated, because they are a good indicator to help me determine how much entertainment I got out of a game and if it were worth the price. That doesn't mean I enjoyed every minute of it, but it does give me an idea of it.

As for soundtracks, I can't even remember any tunes from Chrono Chross. After an amazing soundtrack like Chrono Trigger, there was just nothing in it which could compare.

NinSageSeptember 08, 2011

Mop_it_up - Yea, too bad gaming media is built on professional reviewers who need to get to those credits so they can move on to the next game on their schedule =\

This may or may not have been mentioned in the other comments, but at my last few visits at Wal-Mart, I saw the price was reduced for their current stock of Wii systems to $135.  Isn't MSRP currently at $150?

To me that would be an indication of the new model coming to North America soon, and Wal-Mart trying to deplete remaining stock before this happens.  That person that was teetering between buying a Wii and waiting for a Wii U may want to jump on purchasing a new Wii before the neutered one that doesn't have GC backwards compatibility takes over retail shelves if that backlog matters at all to them.

TJ SpykeSeptember 08, 2011

Yes, the MSRP is still $149.99, and it's what other retailers (GameStop, Best Buy, and Amazon from what I checked) are charging. Walmart might just be doing a sale like they sometimes do, or they might assume North America will get the gimped Wii too.

Fiendlord_TimmaySeptember 08, 2011

I played the original Metroid for the first time about a year ago. At first, I hated it because I couldn't figure out where the hell to go. But then I printed out a full map of the game off the internet and that was enough to get me through the rough spots. I ended up beating the game and thoroughly enjoying it.

So if you find yourself hating the first metroid, don't feel ashamed to use the internet to help you. Do whatever it takes to make playing the game fun.

NinSageSeptember 08, 2011

Quote from: Fiendlord_Timmay

Do whatever it takes to make playing the game fun.

This is a good motto for all gaming.

.... other than online cheating of course.

TJ SpykeSeptember 08, 2011

I used a Action Replay to play Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, and I had no problem doing so. I had fun playing the game.

KDR_11kSeptember 09, 2011

Maps for Metroid are unnecessary, don't you have a brain for that?

NinSageSeptember 09, 2011

Quote from: TJ

I used a Action Replay to play Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, and I had no problem doing so. I had fun playing the game.

I use cheats all the time for games I've beaten already.  That's why the Game Genie was "the radical game ENHANCER"!! =P

LittleIrvesSeptember 09, 2011

James, you're a talented violinist....  but you're wrong about NES Open Tournament golf. I love plowing through 18 holes in half an hour and trying to best my score. Sadly, it's pretty realistic, in that I can barely break 90. Very simple fun, the NES game I've played most on my 3DS so far.

Again, not me. Not a violinist. Not me.


Also, no I'm not. It's horribly basic.

Fiendlord_TimmaySeptember 09, 2011

@KDR You may be lucky enough to be able to memorize an entire game in photographic detail, but I can't. Sorry I'm so inferior.

@NinSage Ok, ok that's true. Online games are the exception. But if cheating in a single player game helps you have fun, knock yourself out. It's when you start affecting other people's enjoyment that it becomes a problem.

KDR_11kSeptember 10, 2011

I don't need full detail, only the important bits.

Still working from behind on RFN. I would like to see Crimm's evidence that I've been possessed by a demon.

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