This week's Retronauts episode is a good one, and for a variety of reasons.
For one, it's great because it's another look at a section of video games we don't cover all that often because of the logistical challenges involved: The golden era of arcade games. The logistical issue here being "one half of the show-runners weren't around for it, and the other was in elementary school." Plus, some of these games can be hard to come by. Thankfully, that's not the case with Williams; the long-time arcade manufacturer didn't produce nearly as many coin-op video games as your Namcos and Segas and Ataris, but the ones they did bring to the market were golden. The company's list of games in the '80s, barely a dozen titles long, reads like a who's who of the arcade's peak days: Defender! Joust! Robotron 2084! Sinistar! And those are just the big hits.
Another advantage we have working in our favor here is the presence of USgamer's editor-at-large, Jaz Rignall. I'm not sure most American gamers know this, but Jaz is a bit of a gaming and media legend back in the UK (though he's quite humble about it!). He built his reputation in large part on crazy scores with Williams arcade titles like Robotron and Defender—and on top of that, he interviewed Williams' programming genius Eugene Jarvis last year at Game Developers Conference (see links below). Jaz joins us this week to shed some true enlightenment on the topic. It's not the lengthiest episode we've ever put together, but it's easily one of the densest with information.
Jaz Rignall joins Bob and Jeremy to look back at Williams, who became an arcade legend with a small but fantastic collection of coin-ops. The innovation of Defender! The brilliance of Robotron! How Sinistar was arguably the arcade's first RTS! And more!
Music in this episode consists of the funky electric rhythms of Smash TV. I would indeed buy that for a dollar.