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Remember those classic Atari 2600 games? They were sure fun to play, but didn't you ever wonder why they sent a plumber to take out Donkey Kong? What Yar was seeking revenge against? What made those robots go berserk? Me too? ATARI BYTES is more than a game review podcast. It's an exploration of the games to divine what exactly the story within the game is. And if we can't find those answers, we'll make 'em up.
 
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While you gulp down the last of the pumpkin pie, give episode 320 a listen. We're clowning around with one of Audacity Games' 2021 debuts CIRCUS CONVOY. Does the game barrel down the highway of fun? Or does it stall out in a ditch somewhere? BAD POETRY CORNER: OVER THE BIG TOP Thanks to Kevin McLeod at Incompetech.com for creative commons use of hi…
 
This month, we're going on about Skyblazer - never heard of it? Good, sit yourself down and find out if we recommend this infrequently-discussed SNES platformer! Plus, there's much talk about Grapple Dog and the recent Mortal Kombat games, we offer our impressions on the Mario movie trailer after verbally dancing on the grave of Google Stadia, and …
 
On this Halloween Eve...eve, we've got an awesome treat. No, not candy. No, not money. No, not world peace in our time. Look, it's another podcast episode, ok? Episode 318 is MIDNIGHT MUTANTS for the 7800. Is it a tasty confection or a bitter pill? And why is Grampa Munster here?!?! Bad Poetry Corner: MIDNIGHT MUTANTS - A POEM Into the Vertical Bla…
 
We've got a real cracker in the book club this month - the silky smooth adventuring of 2022's highly acclaimed cat 'em up: Stray, for PS4/5 and PC. Does it deserve the high praise it's been getting? We find out! Plus, Ollie went to EGX in London for a go or two on Sonic Frontiers, and he brings back hands-on impressions of some great indies to watc…
 
A curious release this week, as we come to a game that shipped twice for NES: Once with Nintendo's approval, and once illegally. Ever the rogue, that Indiana Jones. Like Tengen's early conversion of Gauntlet, Temple of Doom adapts an arcade game but makes quite a few changes to its structure, format, and objectives. Capcom didn't have the monopoly …
 
One of December 1988's all-timers arrives this week, and while it may not be the best-remembered of the bunch (not when the other two big releases belonged to huge ongoing franchises), but I'd argue that it's the best and most polished. It's also the most fearless; Bionic Commando didn't so much ask players to learn an entirely new style of platfor…
 
Two games about American youths wasting their lives. Two games with various ties to Atari. Coincidence? Yes, actually. Sometimes, this stuff just happens. Skate or Die! may bear the Ultra Games branding, but it really owes its existence to Electronic Arts—and ultimately, to the former Epyx crew that EA hired up when Atari Corp. sabotaged that compa…
 
In this episode, I learned that the Power Pad is not really designed for use on hardwood floors. Bring back that deep-pile ’70s shag, baby. My feet are killing me. Super Team Games gives us the last of Nintendo's casual-appeal titles for 1988. There's still one final Nintendo-published game for the year, but it's kind of the opposite of casual-appe…
 
This week we have a pair of perfectly tolerable games that seemingly no one remembers. Yes, by late 1988, the NES library had grown sufficiently large that it could contain games beyond "brilliant" and "execrable"—works of competent mediocrity doomed by their lukewarm nature to be relegated to the dustbin of obscurity. Cobra Command takes a mundane…
 
I can't believe I completely failed in this episode to draw attention to the fact that Dr. Chaos is, in fact, a Superman villain. But then again, both games this episode read like latter-day comic book villains: Good-hearted souls with the best of intentions yet who somehow strayed from the straight-and-narrow path and now simply cause pain and suf…
 
This month we're getting jiggy with Banjo-Kazooie, Ollie's childhood favourite collect-a-thon 3D platformer for the N64 and Xbox consoles! Also, Tibbs delivers an impromptu review of Biomutant, and encourages Ollie to undertake a new career in video game journalism. Mainly though, we're talking about the bear and the bird, so come and join us, the …
 
In episode 312, we've got tunnel vision, focused only on bringing you a doozy of an episode! This time, it's the 1983 CBS Electronics game TUNNEL RUNNER, a ground-breaking, immersive 4D experience. Okay, actually, they call it it 3D. We added the fourth D for "DAMN!" Original Short Story: TUNNEL VISION Thanks to Kevin McLeod at Incompetech.com for …
 
Call the Orkin man! (Gratuitous Orkin Man shout out. Send me a check.) In episode 311, I'm sorry to tell you, you've got termites. And not just any termites. Giant, space-faring, killer nest-building termites. It's COSMIC SWARM, the 1982 title from CommaVid. Termites all over the darn place. And you, friend, must destroy them. Fight that creepy cra…
 
Remember 1942? That really bad top-down shooter? Capcom would prefer you didn't. And, to wash that bad memory from our collective mind, we have its sequel, 1943: The Battle of Midway, simultaneously a sequel and a heartfelt apology for that previous misstep. Although this arcade adaptation fails to carry over the multiplayer element from the origin…
 
You've come for brains.. we'll give you.. bullets! .. We'll also give you a look at the superbly funny, irreverent and very foul-mouthed on-rails shooter, House of the Dead: Overkill for the Nintendo Wii! (adults only for that section please!). However, this is one dense fruitcake of a show, as we also review Sonic Origins and preview Sonic Frontie…
 
Sunsoft gets a major glow-up this episode after a mediocre start as a publisher of ancient arcade ports and one neat-but-meager light gun shooter. No one would accuse them of half-assing it this time around, though; Blaster Master shot instantly to the top of the NES all-time greats list as soon as it debuted, and it still holds up remarkably well …
 
If Super Mario Bros. was the culmination of the Famicom's early history in Japan, Super Mario Bros. 2 for NES served the same role here in the U.S. Debuting as the console hit critical mass in time for its first major holiday season in America, SMB2 sent players into a huge, imaginative game world that they could tackle with their choice of four di…
 
By a perfectly timed request by patron TheyCallMeSleeper, this episode arrives just in time to be positioned between this channel's coverage of Super Mario Bros. and its American sequel. Of course, this Japan-only sequel has almost nothing to do with that latter game besides the addition of Luigi as the Mario Bro. whose controls and physics turn hi…
 
The Famicom finally reaches maturity with the arrival of Mario's greatest adventure—and perhaps the greatest action game anyone had ever created to this point in history. Pushing the Famicom hardware to its absolute limits, Super Mario Bros. would become one of the most beloved games of all time and transformed a character that began as the star of…
 
As we head into the final quarter of 1988, we have three classic Nintendo games appearing on what is decidedly NOT a classic Nintendo console. Atari published ports of three vintage Nintendo creations (Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Junior, and Mario Bros.) on a variety of platforms in late 1988, including the 2600, their various 8-bit platforms, and as …
 
In ATARI BYTES 309, I hear voices. This is nothing new, but this time, I know the voices are coming from outside my own head. Probably. We're closing out Intellivision Month on the podcast by playing the 1982 Mattel title "Space Spartans" with - holy crap! - the "Intellivoice" voice synthesizer module. Is the game fun? Who cares! There's a robotic …
 
Episode 308 of ATARI BYTES is a blast! A GAS blast, specifically! It's true! In SPACE HAWK, your gas is the only thing that can save the universe. Tell you significant other to stop complaining. The 1982 Mattel title SPACE HAWK is for the Intellivision console. Why an Intellivision game on an Atari-based podcast? Well, it's our annual INTELLIVISION…
 
Capcom kicks off one of the most important creative threads of the NES's history: Their collaboration with Disney, back in the days when Disney was simply an animation studio struggling to reinvent itself for a new era rather than an all-consuming media megalith. Ah, but this isn't really a Capcom Disney game, is it? Appearances (and packaging logo…
 
Ollie and Tibbs play and discuss one of the most recent Nintendo Switch exclusives - Kirby and the Forgotten Land. You already know it's brilliant, but we tell you exactly why! If you've already completed the game, you might like to follow up this episode with a bonus 10 minute discussion about the ending and some of the post-credits content: https…
 
Continuing the trend of "games converted badly to Famicom in 1986 and published in America two years later," we have Bits Laboratory's disastrous adaptation of Activision's Ghostbusters. A fun, frothy, fast-paced little confection in its original Commodore 64 incarnation, Ghostbusters becomes a miserable and tedious experience on NES, bogged down b…
 
Does the 1983 nuclear terrorism game COUNTERMEASURE for the 5200 measure up to the quality you've come to expect from this podcast? Counter point: Don't sweat it. The podcast is free. Short Story: MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE...TO THE BONE Thanks to Kevin McLeod at Incompetech.com for creative commons use of his songs "Take a Chance", "Reformat" and "Pi…
 
More newcomers arrive on NES this episode, each bringing a musty conversion of an even older original work in tow. Kemco-Seika makes its NES debut with a two-year-old port of First Star Software's Spy Vs. Spy, which kinda-sorta puts a bow on the two-player trend of NES software by way of a competitive espionage adventure. Just as dated is the debut…
 
It's two for two for the road this week with Bubble Bobble, a game specifically designed to be played with another person, and Racket Attack, the second-ever NES tennis game which, like Nintendo's Tennis, offers support for doubles play (though not competitive play). Amidst all the moral panic about the way video games were rotting the brains of Am…
 
Let ye who is without Sin-istar, cast the first pod. Well, fortunately for us, we DO have this episode's game SINISTAR, the 1984 Atari 2600 port prototype of the arcade game. Is the game a heavenly delight or sinfully awful? Count your luck stars and join us. Bad Poetry Corner: THE SINN SISTERS HOST A BRUNCH Thanks to Kevin McLeod at Incompetech.co…
 
The prevailing theme for NES games in 1988 has been multiplayer. From Contra to Life Force to Jackal, many of the best games for ’88 played best with friends. (That was probably also true for games that weren't published by Konami, even.) Fittingly, episode 88 sees not but three games that uphold that trend. First, there's Jackal, a widely overlook…
 
The machines have risen, taking control of this trio of games and obviating humanity altogether. Well, almost altogether. R.O.B. at least demonstrates the value of mankind working together, hand-in-, uh, claw with its new synthoid overlords to defeat the vile Smicks in Robot Gyro. As for the other games, well, they're all about robo-kind's fight fo…
 
Although I've previously covered The Tower of Druaga on Game Boy Works, this version precedes the portable rendition by half a decade and stands as the more towering achievement of the two. So to speak. Another solid arcade-to-Famicom conversion by Namcot, Druaga's move to consoles felt like a figurative as well as literal homecoming: As an arcade …
 
OK, this week we have the ACTUAL debut of Irem on Famicom, but it's hard to say TOSE's take on Zippy Race makes for a splashier debut than 10-Yard Fight would have. At least 10-Yard Fight had the benefit of not having been shown up by a conversion of the same game to technically inferior hardware more than a year earlier. TOSE also helps a second p…
 
Well, I goofed on this episode—the production order list I work for ended up getting scrambled due a copy/paste error, and I accidentally covered Geimos and 10-Yard Fight out of sequence (they shipped right after Robot Gyro, not Robot Block). This means that 10-Yard Fight wasn't actually Irem's first Famicom! Since I was on the road when I realized…
 
Do you smell what we're cooking? Because it's time to play the game(s) in our wrestling special! We've got a double book club this month in the shape of WWF No Mercy for the N64, and Fire Pro Wrestling World for PC/PS4! Are they the bottom line in wrestling games, just mid-carders, or a pair of jabroni jobbers? (ok, I'll stop). We also reminisce ab…
 
We catch up on the retro PC build and we spin off on lots of retro gaming tangents, ranging from CRT screens, how to clean your ball mouse and of course sound cards and game music. We also listen to the Monkey Island theme on PC speaker and compare it with the Roland MT-32. The difference is incredible! Find Passion for Pixels Retro Gaming Podcast …
 
In episode 304, you're joining the podcast at an historic moment...the debut of our brand-new (refurbished) ATARI 5200 CONSOLE (Thanks, Jose!) We launch into the stratospheric heights of new game possiblities by falling into the dungeon, the SPACE DUNGEON, to be specific. The 1983 Taito arcade port is my focus in this one...until my cameraman wrest…
 
As we move deeper into the Famicom's history, its timeline begins to diverse further and further from the American console's. Witness this week's episode, in which all three releases remained stranded in Japan. (Well, OK, Road Fighter shipped in Europe in 1992, which is such a weird and unlikely turn of events it seems like we all probably hallucin…
 
Throw this ATARI BYTES episode on the junk heap. Episode 303 is going to the SCRAPYARD DOG (For the 7800, Atari, 1990). Is this game doggone fun or just one for the dogs? SHORT STORY - BAD POETRY CORNER: DOGGED Thanks to Kevin McLeod at Incompetech.com for creative commons use of his songs "Take a Chance", "Reformat" and "Pinball Spring". Thanks to…
 
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