Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A few comments and questions

First the amusing: while checking on the search terms that led folks to this blog, I was tickled pink to find "looking at my Gucci it's about that time" among them. Chrontendo was probably not what they were looking for, but you never know what you'll find on the interwebs.

Chrontendo received its first spam comments on that post. Again, the culprit was clearly the world "Gucci". I guess that's a bit of a milestone for this blog.

In other news, the similarity between Sega localizing Anmitsu Hime as an Alex Kidd game and Nintendo doing something similar with Doki Doki Panic and Mario Bros was commented on. Super Mario Bros 2 definitely did it first - Alex Kidd: High Tech World was released about a year later - but by some weird coincidence, Chrontendo Episode 20 will kick off with DDP/SMB 2! That should be ready before too long; it's shaping up to be a bit more interesting than I originally anticipated. Other than SMB 2, we'll see a rather odd port from Jaleco, an early Square RPG, and the console debut from Rare.

Anyway, here's a couple questions for YOU, dear reader. First up: post length. Anyone think these posts are just too damn long? It's bad enough that I yakity-yak for 55 minutes on some silly old video games. It seems that adding so much further "clarification" about each episode on this blog might be a bit much for some people. I wondering if I shouldn't try to be more concise on these posts. Anyone have any feelings on this?

Also, few people have wondered if I'm going to be doing any consoles other than the Famicom & SMS. Admittedly, I'm not sure what the ultimate future of Chronsega is. It seems silly to focus on the Master System while ignoring the Mega-Drive/Genesis. Additionally, at some point (around 1990), the Master System simply became a dumping ground for 8-bit versions of MD games. And the system just refused to die; it went through a serious revival in the early 90s. In 1993 there were around 50 SMS games released as compared to 35 or so in 1987!

So... any thoughts, suggestions or interest on other consoles? In all seriousness, I value your opinions.

I will say this much: there will definitely be a third series of Chrontendo making an appearance in a few months. I'm sure anyone with a working knowledge of video game console chronology can figure out what it is. (Hint: it is not the Atari 7800).


Fred said...

Im just glad theres someone out there thats bothering to chronicle this stuff.

Your posts seem just about right to me, the fact that you break them up into managable chunks with the inclusion of screenshots really helps me through em though.

The episodes themselves can drag on a bit, but it really depends on the games. Sometimes there'll be a game you know and you remember playing it as a kid, but mostly its a bunch of stuff youve never heard of. But you're doing a great job covering all the games man (you must have the patience of a saint dude).

Chris said...

The length of the posts and episodes are fine. As for worrying about episodes dragging on; don't. When there is a game I remember fondly I could care less if it was an hour on just that game alone. However, I'm sure there is a crowd that has never played said game and feels it may be dragging on. The amount of time should be devoted according to each game's popularity, uniqueness, etc. With that said, I feel you are hitting the sweet spot with the amount of time devoted to each title.

You are doing an amazing job. I look forward to each episode's release and seeing what you have in store next. Personally, I would like to see the original Game Boy or the TurboGrafx-16 on your to-do list.

Lynxara said...

Generally my feeling on writing length is that you should go long enough to express your point. Brevity for its own sake is pointless online, while padded-out writing is just tedious to read. Right now the blog posts and videos feel "just right" to me in terms of length-to-content ratio.

At the point at which the Master System becomes a dumping ground for Mega Drive ports, I would think it would make sense to continue Chronsega but to transition to coverage of Mega Drive games so you can compare versions when appropriate. I think it's very interesting that for a few years the Mega Drive went head-to-head with the Famicom and gained some traction, but could never kill the system outright.

I am so psyched for the Doki Doki Panic / SMB 2 coverage next episode it's ridiculous. I've always really loved this game more than I think a proper retrogaming nostalgic is supposed to. For a long time it was the best NES game where you could play as a girl character and that meant a lot to me back in the day.

Frank Cifaldi said...

Your post length is fine, I think of the text as a "special feature" on the DVD - I read the text if I care, and ignore it if I don't.

I wouldn't mind seeing more "quick" updates in other ways - for instance, if you happen to learn something new about a game you've already covered, I wouldn't mind a very brief blog update about it. For instance, I know when you covered Makaijima you weren't sure if it was ever planned for the U.S., but there's a U.S. prototype build floating around now as Makai Island. Maybe you can do a quick update on that.

Peter said...

I wouldn't change a thing to the length of your texts. It's just great to read them. Keep up the good work, greetings from Belgium!

Jungman Jansson said...

Post length is fine, episode length is also fine.

Each hour just whizzes by, I can't see any need to make the episodes shorter. :)

Regarding the Master System - I can understand that some would call it a dumping ground for Mega Drive ports but it isn't always strictly accurate. Quite a few Master System games are fairly different to their MD counterparts (most notably the Sonic games), and there's actually a decent amount of Master System-exclusive games released after 1990... if one bothers to look.

Which brings me to my next point: The parts I personally find most interesting in Chrontendo/-Sega are the games that I haven't heard of, or maybe just barely know by name. The familiar titles that "everyone" played as kids are just that, familiar and well covered already. It's absolutely very interesting to see them placed in their historical context, but please don't skimp on the so-called uninteresting titles. They are what I perceive as the unique appeal of Chrontendo.

Anonymous said...

These are some amazing videos you are putting out, and I also believe that you should continue in your current style.

And I hope that this next Chron series is Chrongrafx! Seriously, the PC Engine stomped the Mega Drive in Japan at least; its worth a look.

Luke said...

I just started watching the show very recently... and making my way through the episodes in order. Up to episode 13 at the moment... and I absolutely love what you do. Only problem I've found is sometimes, what is going on on the screen doesn't exactly sync up with what you're talking about.

But I think for now, it's probably best to concentrate on the Famicom/NES... as it seems you have a load of work ahead of you with that one, and the others may delay the main focus on the site. But eventually, I'd like to see you cover SMS furthermore, perhaps when you have more done with the Famicom.

Let me guess... next is Chronturbo? :)


Tork said...

What are the odds of you doing a Chrontari or Chronleco?

I wouldn't mind seeing pre-1983 crash systems even though I realize that they wouldn't be as popular and the games aren't as sophisticated as Famicom stuff.

Anonymous said...

@Tork: He's said that he doesn't want to step on the toes of the chronogamer, who is up to 1980 I believe covering coleco, intellivision, odyssey, atari. The only thing about chronogamer is he doesn't make videos.

There are just way too many games to cover them all forever. Just keep going until you feel like you need to stop.

The length of the posts and videos are fine. If there's a game I'm not interested in, I'll skip ahead a little. Usually happens with the sports games.

I suggest doing all the consoles you are familiar with and can get the games for. Don't take on too much too fast though, or you'll get burned out. And don't worry about covering overlapping consoles at the same time. If you want to finish up NES before starting SNES or MS before starting Genesis, then I'm sure viewers will understand.

Doctor Sparkle said...

I don't think there's any chance of doing consoles of the Atari/Intellivision/Coleco era since a)moving backwards in time would feel weird. Chrontendo is all about forward momentum, and b)Chronogamer is not only covering those consoles, but doing a far better job than I ever could.

Frank - Good call on Makai Island. I actually have a copy of the rom, but completely spaced on its existence until you mentioned it.

Peter - I'd like to extend a huge thank you to the country of Belgium for making so many amazing beers. Seriously, Chimay, Westmalle, Delerium Tremens, Duvel, Rochefort, etc, those are like manna from heaven to a beer lover.

Lynxara - I'm excited about SMB 2 too, but I much do people relate on a gender-level to video game characters? In some ways I always thought of 8/16 bit characters as being sort of non-gendered.

Well, I'm happy to hear that folks aren't bummed out about the overly long posts. As for the future of Chrontendo/Chronsega and other cosoles, I guess I'll need to put some thought into it. At the rate we're going, it will be a while before I have worry about things like the Super Famicom.

I will, however, make an official announcement shortly on a related topic, so check back in a few days.

Tork said...

Fair enough. Thanks for answering my question and I hope you keep up the good work.

Helm said...

Post lengths are fine and video lengths are fine. You're doing a great service to lovers of the history of videogames with your endeavor and I congratulate you for it. I was also very glad to see that although there was some bitterness in a few early episodes when playing bad games, you seem to have addressed that and are finding what good there is in most of the games you try and are emphasizing that. I think that's a good thing because the 'angry internet video game nerd' thing really doesn't suit an archival project such as this.

I also do think you should just head of to the Mega Drive once it hits and just cover the non-ports for the Master System that come out.

And another thing, bit more technical point: you might want to mention in the next chrontendos that there is a very real reason latter-day NES games looked and sounded (for the famicom versions, at least) much better than earlier releases. It's not just because the artists get used to the system and more advanced pixel art tropes were slowly established... there's a technological innovation that you'd be very interested in in case you're not aware of it. Bigger developer houses started making Multi-memory Controllers to expand the storage space of the NES that went inside the carts of the game on which, according to the controller, there could be better music (only for the Famicom due to an interesting construction glitch) and predominantly, much, *much* more tilespace. For example, Super Mario Bros. has 256 8x8 tiles in memory, and that's it. Everything has to fit in there. The more recent Konami mappers had 1,024 tiles or something equally extreme.

This is an interesting thing to note because it means that there was no way to make as pretty NES games in launch time as say, Hudsonsoft's 'Batman' title and it's not just because the artists were better. This didn't happen as much with 16bit games, although the practice wasn't dropped, especially in the case of the SNES and its more expensive carts. An interesting variation of this was noted on the sega genesis with the various attempts to prolong its shelf life with peripherals like the Sega CD and the 32X... those weren't exactly Memory Controllers but the principle was the same.

More on Memory Controllers in wikipedia :

If you want to ask anything about the more technical side of how pixel art worked on the NES I can get you in contact with people that actually emulate the system and know how it works. For any general information on pixel artistry, you can always visit Pixelation at

Good luck and I wish you patience with your project.

KouAidou said...

Like many others, I find the post length and video length just right. If I had one suggestion, I'd sort of like to see the employment of some simple subtitles for games where you show off gameplay videos of several different versions. Official US release vs. fan translation, arcade version vs. console version, etc. Of course, you always acknowledge the differences narratively, so it's not a big deal if it's too much trouble or would get in the way of the video stream.

On the gender point. I would agree that 8/16-bit characters are ungendered in the sense that most people won't let gender differences stop them from playing a character they think kicks ass. However, that doesn't change the fact that an overwhelming majority of leading characters in video games (and most other action-oriented entertainment media) are explicitly or implicitly gendered male. While this is not a major obstacle to girls projecting onto the characters in question, I think that most people still tend to feel a deeper connection to a character who is that extra bit like them. (Naturally, this doesn't have to stop at gender differences.)

PDT said...

I wanted to congratulate you on your titanic task. Let's hope real life does not truncate this project, as it is more important than most people would think.

Parallel comparisons between systems that existed at the same time are of great value.

Keep up the good work.

Lynxara said...

Dr. S - Girls seem to be made aware of gender differences and what is/isn't appropriate for a female person to do at a very young age. The censure will come as much from other girls in your peer group as parents, marketing, or whatever else.

Most girls considered games a "boy" thing because of the way they were marketed. Someone visiting your house who saw an NES and knew you didn't have a brother tended to look at you funny.

My way around this social hurdle was always to break out a game that involved a girl character, which usually made the activity suddenly acceptable (if eccentric). Princess Toadstool in SMB2 was very, very handy for these purposes. So was Final Fantasy, although most of my friends at the time considered it "too hard."

Chris Osborne said...

I know I'm being really late for this, but I was looking through the blog, found it, and thought I'd throw a thought into the mix.

I had the same thought about what I would do when I got to the Super Nintendo. What I'm thinking right now is that I'll do the games together since they're so similar. If my trek goes into Super Nintendo Land then I've got a year's head start.

Really, I don't think it can hurt to knock out the MS version of the game at the same time as the Genesis version. It really wouldn't be any different from the way you're comparing the PC, arcade, and console versions of things right now.

Unknown said...

I would think that you have enough on you plate with 3 series to not worry about going onto the genesis. Please don't do an incomplete Chronsega series. I'm really interested in seeing late SMS games. Especially because I haven't seen them. I really hope you finish you 8 bit systems before even thinking about 16 bit. Oh and I know it's like 3 years after you post, but post length is fine. And I like the between episode updates.

Doctor Sparkle said...

Sean - Unless I die first, we'll eventually get to all the SMS games. The catch is - I'm keeping all three series roughly contemporary with each other, so we are at mid 1989 right now. But the SMS release schedule dropped like crazy in 1989-1990 and then took off again as Sega continued to explode in Europe around 1991-92. So we'll see only a trickle of SMS games for a while.