Thanksgiving is Over as Retronauts Explores Terrible Games of The ’80s

Thanksgiving is Over as Retronauts Explores Terrible Games of The ’80s

A look at the dicey boom-era games of ’80s Japan and the vanished studios that made them.

I guess if I were into working with corny clichés, I would have run this episode last week under the guise of a Thanksgiving tie-in. Ha ha! Here are some video game turkeys!

Instead, it serves more a clencher for the end of the Thanksgiving holiday: Your time to be happy is over. Here comes the sadness. Well, maybe I'm not being fair. The games we cover this week are generally not so great, but they're not necessarily the worst ever. Instead, we've put together a two-hour tribute to the not-classics of a beloved era of gaming. Yeah, Nintendo put the greats on the NES Classic Edition, but that's 30 games out of nearly 2,000 that showed up for the Famicom and NES between 1983 and 1994. You better bet your sweet bippy that not every one of those other 1,970 games (or however many it was) were true classics.

And that's this week's Retronauts in a nutshell: A look at the less-loved corners of the NES — and, on top of that, an exploration of the companies that created them, and the market trends and conditions that led to their creation in the first place. Retrospectives tend to focus on the greats, or the meaningful and influential games, or occasionally to wallow in grudging hatred of true stinkers. This episode is a little different: It's about the games in between, the ones that have largely been forgotten, and the little studios and publishers that sprang up to take advantage of the explosive popularity of the Famicom and NES.

Joining us for this discussion are two experts on the topic: Dr. Sparkle, who has grappled with all of these games under the auspices of the Chrontendo project, and Frank Cifaldi of The Video Game History Foundation, who has personal experience and insight into the kinds of games under the microscope here.

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Episode Description

TOSE! Towa Chiki! VAP! Meldac! SunSoft! Atelier Double! These are but a few of the studios we (that is, Jeremy, Dr. Sparkle, and Frank Cifaldi) explore in this look at weird, often terrible games made by vanished Japanese developers in the ’80s.

The observant among you may have noticed this episode breaks from our usual release schedule by being a second full-length episode in a row. It's true! That means you can soon expect two Micro episodes in a row. Look forward to the first of them in a week.

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