show episodes
 
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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A bit of an emphasis on day jobs this episode, but fortunately one of these games offers more than mere workmanlike effort. Activision's Rock'n Bolt stands out this week as one of the SG-1000's most appealing puzzlers—certainly a more interesting take on the genre than Soukoban, which gets credit for its primal nature but not for possessing any sor…
 
More arcade ports for SG-1000? Say it ain't so! These titles aren't especially well known in the U.S., since they've never seen a proper console release here (outside of maybe some collection that doesn't come immediately to mind), but both merit a close look. Taito's Chack'n Pop may not impress quite as much on the technical front as the more fami…
 
This week brings us two SG-1000 releases that feel miles removed from the console's earliest days of serious-looking war game: Doki Doki Penguin Land and Drol. Rather than involving the relentless destruction of military vehicles (and, by extension, the squishy humans inside them), these two titles see you doing your best to protect children. While…
 
Beginning with this episode, I'm knuckling down to wrap up as much of the SG-1000 video series as possible by the end of 2021. There are only about half a dozen episodes to go after this! It's a pretty small library, but the best times are ahead of us. This episode looks at, technically, three arcade conversions: Zoom 909, Choplifter, and Pitfall I…
 
Halloween season is upon us, and you know what that means: Where other people decorate their homes with cobwebs and giant skeletons, I decorate mine with a Castlevania-related video. This time around, it's a look at a Castlevania spinoff called Kid Dracula. Well, technically, this video is about Akumajou Special: Boku Dracula-Kun! Or just Kid Dracu…
 
I may have gone a little overboard with this episode, but it seemed worth doing. For one thing, the creator of the Golgo 13 series, Takao Saito, recently passed away. And for another, upon revisiting this game in the context of its original release chronology on NES, I came away deeply impressed by how much the developers attempted to do here. Did …
 
We have a follow-up to a 1986 classic here, in deed if not in name: Life Force, the sequel to Konami's Gradius. Well, sort of. It's complicated. But since we never saw the actual Gradius II on NES, this will have to do. Life Force makes use of the same excellent power-up system as Gradius with some refinements, including a new weapon option, new ha…
 
Treasure's N64 2D platformer, Mischief Makers is up for discussion in the book club this month! Hidden gem, rough diamond or.. a cubic zirconia..? We come away with at least two of these opinions. Plus, we talk about the return of Games Master, Tibbs plays his own personal round of "name that game" (hint: it's not Yoshi's Cookie), we talk a bit abo…
 
Birds of a feather listen to podcasts together. Or alone. Whatever. You do you. In episode 293, from 1982, we're playing one of the few Ultravision titles, CONDOR ATTACK. Does the game soar above the rest, or was I a dodo for playing? Here's hoping you don't get dive bombed while listening... Short Story: ATTACKED Thanks to Kevin McLeod at Incompet…
 
I LOVE TRASH! ANYTHING FUNNY AND GAMEY AND PODCASTY! OH, I LOVE TRASH...PODCASTS! In episode 291, can you tell me how to get to podcast street? We're playing the 1983 educational title SESAME STREET: OSCAR'S TRASH RACE. Oh, yes. We are. Bad Poetry Corner: GROUCH POTATO - A POEM Thanks to Kevin McLeod at Incompetech.com for creative commons use of h…
 
This episode focuses on perception, especially vis-a-vis Bases Loaded. A certain demographic of NES owners LOVES Bases Loaded. However, in my experience, people who discovered the NES later (when better and better-looking baseball sims were available for the console) tend to find it lacking and shallow. And then there is the Japanese Famicom owner'…
 
The Lemmings series is very much in the spotlight this month, as we look at three games from the series: The original Amiga versions of Lemmings and Lemmings 2: The Tribes, plus we take a very baffled look at the approach taken by the more recent mobile version of Lemmings. It's not all about tiny suicidal creatures though, we've also got a Nintend…
 
It feels like Famicom is kind of playing catch-up with SG-1000 this episode, as every game appearing here arrived on shelves in the wake of a Sega-published equivalent—either the exact same game (as in Space Invaders), one exploring the same root concept in different ways (Soccer), or a game with almost suspicious conceptual and mechanical similari…
 
Pass the Pepto!* I mean joystick! *This episode sponsored by Pepto-Bismol** **We wish. In episode 290, we're playing the Parker Brothers 1984 title MONTEZUMA'S REVENGE, where you race through gloomy caverns, dodging skulls, snakes, spiders, treacherous drops and lava. All to make your way to the toilet. Sorry! Make your way to the treasure room. Ma…
 
1985 starts the Famicom on some familiar footing with a couple of future Black Box releases (one great, one meh); two shooters previously seen on SG-1000; and a Commodore 64 conversion from Hudson that would show up on NES under the aegis of its original publisher. No big surprises here (including the apparent Nintendo debut of TOSE, and the fact t…
 
Sega's 8-bit family goes on a diet this episode, with the SG-1000 media format suddenly slimming down from chunky cartridges to the svelte MyCard format, a credit card-sized chip that was so well-received that Hudson ripped it off wholesale for their PC Engine/TurboGrafx HuCards. Of course, this is really just a cosmetic change; the SG-1000 wouldn'…
 
Sega winds down the cartridge format for SG-1000 in favor of a new media type, and this corner of the console library unfortunately wheezes to a half-hearted ending. Somehow, Sega even managed to completely squander Konami's brief show of support for the platform by turning in a pair of clumsy arcade conversions in the form of Shinnyuushain Tooru-k…
 
In ATARI BYTES episode 289, the unicorns are chasing the centaurs across the grassy knolls that dot Mt. Olympus; winged gods soar above, inspiring the mortals...and probably impregnating them occasionally. Not really. We're playing MINES OF MINOS, from CommaVid, 1982. It's all maze, no minotaurs. You can put away your ball of thread. Or not. Someth…
 
After a short break, we're back to our normal format with a bang! We're looking at the excellent Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap for Game Boy Advance! It's Tibbs' first go on a Zelda, and we also approach the series in general from this angle, so anyone also looking to get into the series might do well to listen! Elsewhere, we've been playing embar…
 
Sega enters 1985 with the hottest game of 1982, and the good news is that Zaxxon looks and plays far more convincingly than its sibling release Congo Bongo did back in 1983. This adaptation of the arcade hit makes some curious tweaks to the game's flow and design, and it adds a bit of background music, which sets it apart from other conversions of …
 
Play a space game requiring super technical, minor adjustments to thrust vectors and yaw? More like YAWN, amirite? In 288, we're playing Activision's (squee!) 1983 space shuttle simulator SPACE SHUTTLE: A JOURNEY INTO SPACE. Instead of, we suppose, a journey into the local supermarket. The game is a technical marvel. But is it fun? Is it really eve…
 
A pair of arcade shooter adaptations leads us into the second half of 1988 for NES Works, both of which deserve attention for entirely different reasons. Defender II sees the publishing debut of HAL Labs (via HAL America), a well-deserved turn of events for a studio that was so essential to the early success of this platform. And this conversion st…
 
Technos (by way of freshman NES publisher Tradewest) follows up on Renegade with a home conversion of a massive arcade hit that plays extremely fast and loose with the meaning of the phrase "home conversion." Double Dragon on NES may as well be a completely different game than the coin-op smash, as it adds several new mechanics, expands the game en…
 
Belgian listeners! Episode 287 is for you! On this episode of ATARI BYTES, we're playing the 1982 Coleco game SMURFS: RESCUE IN GARGAMEL'S CASTLE. The game features those super annoying beloved blue cartoon characters the SMURFS! And we're terribly sorry about that. Can you ever smurf us? Hey! watch the smurfin' language! There are smurfettes prese…
 
One of the most beloved franchises of all time makes its debut on NES, though not its actual debut; the Metal Gear Nintendo fans knew and enjoyed back in the 8-bit era was in fact a port of a minor hit for MSX/2 home computers that had shipped about a year earlier in Japan. Although Metal Gear gets the broad strokes right on NES, it trips up over a…
 
It has been three decades since Nintendo launched its first next-generation console in the U.S.: The Super Nintendo Entertainment System. On the occasion of its 30th anniversary, Super NES Works returns for a limited-time engagement to wrap up this look at the system's launch window by looking at the system itself. What did the Super NES represent …
 
Our Olympic fever shows no sign of breaking. The mercury has shot out the top of the thermometer, splattering all over this week's episode. In 286 of ATARI BYTES, we're playing VIDEO OLYMPICS, one of Atari's 1977 "original nine" games. There's very little actual Olympic content. But that's okay because I have very little actual Olympic skill. This …
 
A curious case here on Game Boy Works: A game that is somehow two games. While Klax on Game Boy plays about the same as the Klax we've already seen on Atari Lynx, it takes two very different approaches to its presentation depending on the region you bought it from. The American release from Mindscape, which actually shipped in 1991, has the same va…
 
Puzzle platformers are in their Game Boy; all's right with the world. Yes, this episode brings us not one but two—two!—puzzle action games for Game Boy. As if we'd have it any other way. As often happens, one of these is far more fun and playable than the other in hindsight, reflecting poorly on the lesser of the two. For once, the better game rece…
 
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