When Bob and I record standard Retronauts episodes, we use a very specific process: The two of us get together with guests in our small, un-ventilated studio for two solid days of warm, slightly ripe recording sessions. The half-dozen episodes we record in the space of a weekend end up being doled out over the next three or four months, once every other week.
This past weekend, we got together to produce episodes for the remainder of the summer and into autumn. The final episode we recorded, a look back at the birth and launch of Sony's PlayStation, was intended to run in September on the occasion of PS1's 20th anniversary in the U.S. However, we've ended up running it immediately, because in the middle of the episode we learned of Satoru Iwata's death. Bob and I agreed it would be awkward to have our live reactions to this sudden and unexpected news a few months out... and we also agreed it seemed slimy to put the episode behind a paywall for a week. So we're breaking our usual process in several ways to publish this episode a month and a half early.
I won't lie — this was a difficult episode to complete. We were all rattled by Iwata's passing, and it took us a little while to get back on track. It was also hard to edit... the process of prepping this episode brought that moment rushing back. Like I said, this is not podcasting as usual, but for such a grievous loss to the medium, we felt our raw, "holy shit" responses were only fitting. I began the episode by asking Shane if he remembered where he was when he learned the shuttle Challenger had been lost, and less than an hour later we experienced one of those "where were you" moments in real-time. It's impossible to overstate how great a shadow Iwata cast over the medium; for example, in an episode we recorded a few hours before this one, we ended up talking about his programming work on Balloon Fight in the context of a completely different topic.
As for the rest of the episode, it's solid stuff! Shane Bettenhausen, our long-time friend, coworker, podcast guest, and Sony enthusiast joined the show to dig back into the history of the PS1: Sony's entrance into the games business, and how that evolved from a hit-or-miss record label side project to the heart of the company's identity. Expect hard-hitting facts, uncertain speculation, and even a few little mistakes. (Sorry, I had been reading about the Super NES and Sega Genesis audio processors and got them mixed up — Yamaha co-developed Sega's 16-bit sound chip, not Nintendo's.) In other words, classic Retronauts.
Retronauts vet and Sony enthusiast/employee Shane Bettenhausen joins us to discuss the 20th anniversary of the PS1 launch in America. (This episode is running before its intended September time slot due to the tragic news that breaks midway through.)
Music in this week's episode mostly comes from Exact's Jumping Flash!, because it's wonderful. The ditty at the end, of course, is Hip Tanaka's "Balloon Trip" remix he released yesterday in tribute to Iwata, who made Balloon Fight (and Balloon Trip) possible. In any case, enjoy this episode's PlayStation talk, and please look forward to a proper tribute episode to HAL and Mr. Iwata, which we'll record next time we convene.
- 20 Brilliant Things About PlayStation: The USgamer team marks the system's 20th anniversary by looking back at 20 things it did right.
- The Best PS1 Games on PSN: Want to make the leap into PlayStation's world? Start with these classics, available for pleasantly reasonable prices for play on PS3, PSP, and Vita.
- Adventure Pals: This channel features the world's latest "chrongaming" project, both in terms of its inception and the content it covers: Look for PlayStation Year One, which covers the U.S. PS1 library from its beginning.
- Goodbye, Iwata-san: A more cogent look at the legacy left behind by Nintendo's tragically departed president.