Saturday, April 23, 2011

Chrontendo FAQ

We are currently between episodes of Chrontendo, so I'd like to take a moment to answer a couple questions that I get in the comments from time to time.  In other words, this is a literal FAQ, unlike the vast majority of so-called FAQs out there.   Which makes me wonder -- why, in the video gaming world,  do we call an unofficial, thoroughly detailed set of instructions for playing a game a "FAQ"?  A "walkthrough" I can understand; but a FAQ?  Most of these things contain no questions at all, much less frequently asked questions.  Perhaps years ago GameFaqs was started by some guy who was tired of people constantly asking him how to perform MK II fatalities or something, and it just grew from there?

Hey... anybody out there have the "nudality" code?

Every subculture has its own special terminology and nonstandard uses of common words.  Another very strange usage I see a lot in writing about video games is "franchise," as in, "Microsoft's Halo franchise."  It seems impossible to talk about Mario, Zelda or any other video game series without using the word.  I've done it myself many times.  But why do we call a game series (or the totality of games based on a certain character) a franchise?  Strictly speaking, the word franchise means a right that has been granted to someone.  Hence the phrase, "disenfranchised voters," referring to those whose right to vote has been taken away or compromised.  In the business sense of the word, it means to right to manufacture or sell a company's goods.  McDonald's is called a franchise because they will allow you open up a restaurant with their name on it and sell their sandwiches (in exchange for a $45,000 fee and a chunk of the profits.)

Microsoft certainly doesn't go around granting people the right to make Halo games.  Nintendo has occasionally allowed other companies to make Mario games (probably a bad idea,) but you can't walk up to Mr Iwata, hat in hand, and say, "I'd like to apply for a license to make my own Mario games, sir."  So why do we insist on calling these things franchises?  Other forms of mass culture do this as well (e.g. the Star Wars franchise.)  When and why did we start using this word in such a bizarre fashion?  How have "series" and "franchise" become interchangeable?

This is what happens when you let just anyone use your characters.

Anyway.... enough ranting.  On the FAQ part of this post.

Are you going to be covering unlicensed or unreleased games?

In some form or another, yes.  Probably in their own special episodes.  We are technically already covering unlicensed games from Tengen, but releases from other companies such as Color Dreams or all those weird Asian companies like Sachen are a diffferent story.   Since no one seems to know much about the release dates of those games,  it would be difficult to integrate them into the main series.  There's also too damn many of them, so I'll probably just play the more interesting titles.   But you can look forward to Dr. Sparkle talking about Cheetahmen or Bio Force Ape at some point in the future.

A totally accurate depiction of someone playing Action 52 for the first time.

Will you ever be covering handhelds such as the Game Boy?

I can't imagine myself taking another project of that magnitude.  Plus,  I don't think most Game Boy games have enough visual appeal, being in monochrome and all.  GameBoy-tendo would be really boring looking.   However... feel free to start your own chronogaming series on the Game Boy!

What's the music that plays in each episode?

The opening is UFO by ESG.

The between game music is Tin Cans (Puerto Rican Remix) by Tortoise

There is a longer version of the between game music I sometimes use.  Technically the track used is 3030 by Deltron 3030, but 90% of the music in that clip is sampled from an old classical/electronic fusion album called Lux Aeterna from William Sheller, who later went on to make a lot questionable pop music.

Seriously, does he have his tie tucked into his pants in that video?  Someone should try to bring that back into style.

Lastly, the end music is a live version of "Vitamin C" by Can.  For the longest time I couldn't remember exactly where this track was taken from, but I have finally found it again - it was from a May 1973 performance in Paris.  This version has a wild guitar part which doesn't have a counterpart on the LP version of Vitamin C, so the clip I used isn't easily identifiable.  Going forward, I'll list the music details in the credits of each episode.

Are you ever going to fix Episode 7?

Yes, I swear.  It's just that Ninja Hattori Kun is such a boring game I can't think of much to say about it.  Also, I'm biased against that game since "Ninja Hattori" is one of the top search terms that brings people to this site by accident   It's quite surprising, the sheer number of folks who come in from this picture in Google Images.  I don't think this site is quite what they were looking for, but who knows?  I'm just baffled at how many folks are looking for info on Ninja Hattori Kun.

Oh, yes... if you're wondering about Episode 38: it is coming along pretty nicely, though the massive 1988 computer game roundup will slow it down a bit.  I'll post a preview before too long.


Chris Osborne said...

I'm getting visitors right now for people searching "Deadly Towers is a good game."

It's kind of freaky actually since I said nothing that can remotely be construed that way.

Doctor Sparkle said...

Ha! Juggle Chainsaws is pretty high on the Google results for that phrase! Due to "...found a good number of lists of the worst NES games. Deadly Towers was only on the ones..."

You have to be careful what you say lest you attract weirdos to your site.

Anonymous said...

Will there be a super chrontendo?

Anonymous said...

Y'know, I always thought that Halo counted as a franchise since multiple studios (if only Bungie, Gearbox, Ensemble and now 314 Industries) will have contributed to the series as a whole. But since Microsoft owns it, and not Bungie anymore, I can see your point.

Although EA did pitch Halo DS (modded their Goldeneye Rogue Agent game to create a pitch demo); since that never got very far, or got the okay from MS and/or Nintendo though, I guess you're right:)

Damn...even when you don't have new episodes up, I always seem to learn something when checking out Chrontendo;)

Kevin Moon said...

Hey Dr. Sparkle, I've always loved that ending theme you use and I've been wanting to check out the Krautrock band Can, so I managed to track down the exact album you referred to. Here is a link to a blog that has it:

I think you've gotten me hooked on this wonderful band now (how was I never aware of them before?) and just wanted to thank you.

Anonymous said...

I'd guess that the term FAQ found its home in gaming from those old call in tip lines. The people working the phones had FAQs, like this one for 'Eye of the Beholder':

If you look at the oldest FAQs on GameFAQs they are more terse and less walkthrough like. Once people realized that you could give a lot more information in writing and were no longer being charged $1/minute, walkthroughs became de rigueur. GameFAQ's prominence probably caused the term FAQ to stick around.

Doctor Sparkle said...

Kevin, yes, that is exactly the same recording. The things you can find nowadays on the internet...

An interesting Can story - years ago I worked for a large, now defunct, music retailer. One night I took a call from a polite British man ordering two Can records (Tago Mago & Ege Bamyasi.) When I was taking his name and shipping address he turned out to be none other than Johnny Rotten. He was in the US for a while, and wanted to have copies to listen to.

I'm sure anon's right about the origin of FAQs. It's just an obsolete term that we never think twice about using, like saying you have a bad "line" if your cell phone reception is fading.

monomaniac said...

Ha cool, never realized that's Tortoise and Can playing though I love both bands and have seen all episodes of Chrontendo! Anyway thumps up and cool story about Johnny Rotten there. Tago Mago still blows my mind.

Brewtendo said...

Doctor Sparkle, great entry. Keep up the good work.

proudhug said...

I'm asking that you please please PLEASE do a GameBoy-tendo! I mean, who are you kidding, a LOT of the games that are featured in the early days of the NES are boring looking! Besides, it's not the visuals that make this series so great as it is your insightful and informative commentary. I'd absolutely LOVE to hear your thoughts on Game Boy games. It's a system that doesn't often get a lot of attention and I think being Chrontendoized would do it justice and bring some attention to many very obscure games from the NES's little brother.

plsburydoughboy said...

Hey Doc! I'mma huge fan of your work, downloaded all the vids and watching
them over and over!

Not really a question, but I wonder if you would consider your show kid friendly. It seems that way, but I can't help wondering you may have occasionally shown something age inappropriate or didnt realize you cussed here or there. Can't wait for Ep 43!

Doctor Sparkle said...

Is Chrontendo kid-friendly? Boy... I don't know. While I decided not to go the established "constantly swearing while playing video games" route with Chrontendo, I probably do use some mild profanity. I swear a lot in real life, so it's hard to dial it down completely.

killias2 said...

I would argue that the reason people differentiate between 'franchises' and 'series' is because, increasingly, series are 'nested' within franchises. For example, the Mega Man franchise has like hundreds of series. Hell, some of these series have further sub-series. For example, Mega Man Classic also has the Mega Man Gameboy sub-series.

As a result, I feel like people desire some sort of "overall" term for the family of games.

Still, it is increasingly used for games that don't have this complicated framework - i.e. Halo, Starcraft, Warcraft, etc. Here, maybe it has more to do with the fact that these 'series' have expanded their media properties far beyond games. Almost all of these games have manga, comics, books, etc. etc.