Thursday, March 15, 2018

Ep 103: Closer to the Original

It's the third and final act of Uncertain Breeze, and it's time to ask just who this breeze is and where it is he is going. Along the way, we play even more great tunes. Josh shares memories of hanging out in arcades and Sega's presence in them. Emily talks about her time in a Bonus Level where her character could actually receive damage. So unfair! They also talk about whether mechs are cooler than real-life F14 Tomcats, parental console conversations, and things that are sad and creepy at the same time. We hope you'll join us on this episode and see how the breeze speaks to you!

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This episode was made possible by:
Game Track Title Composer(s)
Psychosis 4th Cause Atsuhiro Motoyama
Battleclash Game Over Yuka Tsujiyoko
After Burner II Super Stripe Hiroshi Kawaguchi
3D Fantasy Zone II Frozen Party Tokuhiko Uwabo, Manabu Namiki (arr.)

...and listeners like YOU.


  1. As promised, here is the full version of St. John's testimonial. PART ONE:


    For Christmas 1992, we got the Super Nintendo. But it was very nearly not so. At the time, I was 12, going on 13, and my brother was 11. We had a stay at home Dad, so we were blessed with never having to ever have spent a single day of our lives in day care. But this also meant that my parents were basically never out of the house at the same time. Well, for reasons that I do not recall, about two weeks or so before Christmas, they were. So what are two intrepid young lads, who never found themselves in that situation to do….but snoop for presents, of course? :) And what, pray tell, did that search unearth? Not a Super Nintendo, I tell you, but instead, a Turbografx16!

    The next two weeks were super tough for us, because we had to keep our excitement completely contained. If it got out that we knew, the entire thing could’ve been a bust. So, our time was spent in whispers of anticipation and in burying ourselves in, in particular, the TG16 section of a gaming magazine / catalog of upcoming releases, and fantasizing the near future world we were heading towards entirely too slowly where those would surely be the sights and sounds of our lives.

    Christmas morning comes, and all the presents under the tree are unwrapped, and there is nothing video game related at all. We weren’t worried, though, because if Christmas 1989 with the Nintendo taught us anything, it’s that my parents were given towards a penchant for “beneficent pranks”. And sure enough, without missing a beat, my Dad was like “Oh, Val, wasn’t there something else in the back?” My parents were terrible actors, and the delivery was so wooden and obvious. Even more wooden yet was my mom’s response “Oh, yes. Let me go check”. My brother and I shot each other knowing smiles, which were quickly wiped off our faces, and replaced with terror when the boxes produced couldn’t possibly be the TG16. It couldn’t be a box within a box either. So something was very wrong!

    Well, it turned out, the mysterious items turned out to be a Super Nintendo (with Super Mario World), Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and a promise that the next day, we’d go to the local Target to pick up a third game. Now, the arrangement was that Super Mario World was to be my brother’s and I’s – to share. LttP would be mine, and Jesse would get to pick out the third game tomorrow. He picked out…duh duh dummmmmm: Spider-Man / X-Men: Arcade’s Revenge. A mediocre game with a STELLAR soundtrack! Though in my adult years, I’ve gradually come to favor the sounds of the Genesis over the sounds of the SNES, I still can hardly think of a better entry for these 8-bit Nintendo kids into the wonders of 16-bit Music than the Follin Bros.-powered soundtrack of that game, at least of the stuff that was available as early as 1992.

    So my track will be from Spider-Man / X-Men, then…..right? Nope. :)

    1. St. John's testimonial, PART TWO:

      Now, I’ve since come to also prefer the PC Engine / TG16 (I’ll use those terms interchangeably) over the SNES as well, and regard it as among contemporaries hardware-wise in the company of SNES and Genesis, rather than as among contemporaries in the company of the NES and Mastersystem – or even as some weird evolutionary “transitional form” slotting in-between. HOWEVER, in retrospect, I simply cannot understate just how much I feel like they TOTALLY made the right decision in trading it in for the SNES. The Des Moines I grew up in was very different than the Des Moines I live in now. While it’s still a mid-size, of late, it’s really begun to become the kind of mid-size that’s more “tiny big city” than the kind that’s more “giant small town”. Not so in the early 90’s of my preteen years. Back then, it was a dull, dead, dingy town, that just happened to have a skyline. No one really would’ve known anything about the TG16, and what little they did know would’ve based on bad intel that painted it as a radically less capable system. We would’ve been made to feel like we made the leap not from NES to “the next generation”, but rather, into the null space, the shadow world, the planar rift in-between the generations. Like Nightcrawler teleporting through a wall, only to get stuck halfway. And at the time, we would’ve had no defense against that perspective.

      And so, that paired with a bunch of unfamiliar franchises that we would’ve likely interpreted as “generic”, the absence of any big franchises we did know, and the complete sidelining we would’ve experienced in the schoolyard shout-fests that were the console wars in middle school, it probably would’ve ruined the system for us. Granted, it might’ve done the opposite, and ultra-galvanized us towards it, and turned us instead into diehards. That’s possible. But I think it probably would’ve jaded and embittered us towards it.

      So, they absolutely made the right choice taking it back for the Super Nintendo. Nine months later, our purchase in the bit-wars was augmented tremendously with the acquisition of a Sega Genesis – meaning we now got to experience life on both sides of the fence. I retained my allegiance to the SNES though, until my early/mid 20’s in the early/mid 2000’s, when I finally found the enlightenment that was “coming to the Dark Side!” :)
      Speaking of the early/mid 2000’s, in early December 2000, in a situation with no “Christmas connections” whatsoever, the “original Christmas 1992” scenario finally found its fulfillment as a friend had a TG16, and like, seven games, and was desperate for money, and sold me the entire lot for…a…mere….ten….bucks!!!!! I’m not sure I have an absolutely perfect memory of which games they were, but I can tell you they included Bonk’s Adventure, Keith Courage, Vigilante, Dragon Spirit, Tricky Kick, Galaga 90, and Legendary Axe – look at that! I did remember them all! :D So, at last, we got to experience this parallel universe we very nearly stepped into nearly half a lifetime ago. It was wonderful! It felt so foreign, and yet, so good! It felt like something broken was fixed, and something incomplete was made complete. Balance had finally been restored to The Force. I was home at last!

      So my track will be from one of these seven TG16 games that ushered in the era, then…..right? Nope. :)

    2. St. John's testimonial, PART THREE:

      Even though I got to finally hold, and behold, and “belove” the TG16 as early as 2000, it wasn’t until around 2012, or 2013, or so that I REALLY began to “Deep Dive” TG16/PCE music. I got Audio Overload on my Mac, and I found a site that had sound files for just about every PCE and PCE CD game. And over the course of about 3 or 4 REALLY intensive months, I listened to ALL of them! Now, I only remember a fraction of what I heard. But in truth, I have now at least experienced (even if not retained) more PCE / TG16 music than NES, SNES, Genesis, and their overseas counterparts - combined. I briefly came to actually prefer PCE / TG16 Wavetable synthesis over both Genesis and SNES sound. But after the initial enthusiasm wore off, I settled into a place where I’ve come to prefer Genesis and PCE (and by extension, FM and Wavetable sound as used on other systems) about equally.
      Therefore, over the river, and through the woods, to my track we FINALLY get. The track I’m featuring with this testimonial today is one of the very earliest tracks to jump out at me as a standout during my 2012 – 2013 Audio Overload deep dive. It is a very weird, and bizarre track, from a weird, and bizarre shooter game, known in Japan as Paranoia, and known here in the states as Psychosis. And of the weird tracks in this weird game, this track is likely the weirdest of them all, with an imbalanced sway of a sound that I can only describe as “Drunken Master”. Here’s “4th Cause – composed by Atsuhiro Motoyama!!!

      Another interesting thing about this track is that it’s an incredible case study in the matter of “composer intent” vs “listener response”. Judging from the visuals in 4th Cause in the game, it looks to invoke a kind of “Indian” vibe (Indian as in India, not as in Native America). Therefore, it seems “composer intent” was to capture something at least a little “Indian” sounding. However, “listener response” can be…..anything! What is my “listener response” to this track? Driving on rain-slicked roads at 3 in the morning, when you’re the ONLY person on the roads, and you haven’t been drinking, but you’re still so “fatigue impaired” and are so unaccustomed to being on even familiar city streets at this bleak hour that everything seems twisted and wrong somehow. Again, miles away from anything even remotely approaching “composer intent”. But just as “real” to me as if it were.

      Where I work, there are a lot of people from India, and I have made friends with a number of them. One of them, who had dabbled in learning Japanese, and loved Anime, I had him listen to it, with the intent of gauging how “Indian” he thought it sounded. His response? “Not in the slightest.” It sounds resolutely Japanese [Anime] to him. So there you go. But regardless, I absolutely adore this weird, twisted little number! It was the soundtrack of the dawning of my true discovery of the real magic of PC Engine and Turbografx sound. So much so, [and you can leave this part out if you wish], I made sure it appeared on my own show at the very earliest opportunity. Therefore, it is featured all the way back on Episode 4 from late February 2017. The topics of 1-3 wouldn’t have allowed this track, or else it would’ve been featured even sooner!


  2. St. John, what an interesting story! And I am also curious about why your parents switched out the TG-16 so late. Have you considered asking them?

    Psychosis was an incredible looking shooter. Even though I wasn’t great at shooters(frankly, I’ve always been terrible), but I was always a little envious of the TG-16’s apparent prowess at churning out wicked shooters. That said, I’ll take your Psychosis and raise you a Biohazard Battle. https://m.youtube.com/watch?list=PLE6EEE1BABF2A00EE&params=OAFIAVgD&v=dF5bky3C02k&mode=NORMAL
    It’s the happiest and possibly the least weird track in the game, but it’s also in 5/4 time and chaotic. I think the two games were cut from a similar cloth.

  3. Your comments about mechs vs. F-14 tomcats was funny, especially since the Macross mechs were based off of the F-14. Which is why Josh mentioned the legs coming out, I’m guessing. Great Hiro track! His Space Harrier Theme was also long, which makes it a perfect choice for clubbing. I HOPE YOU’RE READING THIS, ROB F!

  4. Excellent! We made it to the testimonial! I have this episode queued up third in my podcast playlist as of this writing, and can't wait to hear it! Should be today yet, or tomorrow at the latest!

    I'll have more to say after I've heard it, I'm sure (and will get you a response then, Nathan), but in the meantime, I love how you divvied my testimonial into thirds using the "fake out moments" as the dividing lines! That is most excellent! :-D


    St. J

  5. Super duper sorry I'm so late in getting back to this, everybody! Everyone wanted to know why my parents took back the TG16 in exchange for the SNES. Here's the story:

    In 19XX, crime lords had taken over the city. Drugs and violence and prostitution were everywhere to be found, as the smoldering husks of burned out buildings dotted the horizon and police sirens replaced birdsong in the morning ambience. One day, my dad receives a call from a mysterious individual only identifying himself as Jerry, saying that they've kidnapped my mom, and that they will only release her on the condition that he agrees to return the TG16 in exchange for the Super NES. Apparently, this was a cartel who was collecting all the TG16s in America to sell to Ninjas in the black market, and would use, shall we say, "aggressive tactics" to get them back out of the hands of those rare few who bought them through legitimate sources. Hey, this was before eBay. What else could they do?

    Well, understandably, my dad was not about to take this laying down. So, he put on his brown slacks and brown suspenders, realizing too late to do anything about it that he left his shirt at home, bribed two neighborhood kids at the park with candy and pop to come with him. One was wearing a red gee, and the other was more casually dressed. And they set out to stop Jerry and his TG-stealing cartel, rescue mom, and restore birdsong to the city....

    ....they failed.

    And so my Dad, defeated and dejected finally consented to take the TG16 back....it was sad. And for all the trouble he caused the group, he was also made to give them all his Pink Floyd long-play record albums and also made to put on a shirt. To add insult to injury, it was a New Kids on the Block shirt. When Jesse and I asked him about the shirt, all he would say is that he'd talk about it after Christmas. He never did tell us till years and years later. But it all makes sense now. Good try, dad! Good try!


    .........okay, so maybe I embellished a little bit. But the REAL story is so much less jazzy, folks. But I suppose you still want to hear it. Very well. Provided is a link to a YouTube video where I introduce a new side channel on my podcast, as well as provide a harmonious, but slightly parallel telling of the Christmas 1992 story. Included is the explanation you are all so anxious to have. I'm sorry to do it this way, but the truth is so boring that I have to drum up some artificial excitement and anticipation somehow. As a nice bonus, it does also include the Christmas 1989 story as well, and that one actually is a really cool tale!



    p.s. because it includes a few seconds of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire", it has been banned in all countries outside the US. So if you're abroad, here's an alternate link to the video file on OneDrive:


    Cheers, all! :-D

    -St. J (NNR)

  6. Josh, you were wondering what Nintendo was thinking when they allowed strangers to make a Zelda game. The deal was that Nintendo was working with Philips to create their CD-ROM. According to wikipedia: “Witnessing the poor reception of the Sega Mega-CD, Nintendo scrapped the idea of making an add-on entirely.[8][9] As part of dissolving the agreement with Philips, Nintendo gave them the license to use five of their characters, including Link, Princess Zelda, and Ganon, for games on Philips's console called the CD-i, after the partnership's dissolution.[2][9]
    Contracting out to independent studios, Philips subsequently used the characters to create three games for the CD-i, with Nintendo taking no part in their development except to give input on the look of the characters[9][11] based on the artwork from Nintendo's original two titles and that of their respective instruction booklets.[12]”

  7. It’s interesting to note that this episode contains the first ad for The Diad Presents. For some reason, I thought it began earlier than this. Also, I so loved St. John’s testimonial. And although I only begrudgingly followed the link to the YouTube, recorded version of the story to hear why his parents switched his Turbo for a SNES, I’m really glad I did. It was a heartwarming tale and meant more somehow, hearing it from him personally.