12. Mother Russia Bleeds Sellout!

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12. Mother Russia Bleeds Sellout! – Plus… Carrion is coming!

 

Smitty, Erik and Dan celebrate another successful Special Reserve Games launch, with Mother Russia Bleeds selling out on both Nintendo Switch and PS4.

They then look at the 2020 inductees to the World Video Game Hall of Fame and make their picks as to which games they'd like to see inducted in the future. Erik brings us the 6th episode of Fire Flower, his ongoing history of Nintendo.

And finally, coming soon to Special Reserve Games: Carrion

Games You Deserve is a weekly podcast from Special Reserve Games that celebrates the digital art of video games. Join us for gaming industry interviews, insider perspectives, and interactive content. Production by Dan Vadeboncoeur. Music by Jesse Hamel. New episodes drop Sundays at 9:00 a.m. CST.

Listen below (or on your favorite podcast provider) and don’t forget to subscribe! Links and transcript follow beneath the player.

 

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Transcript

Smitty: Welcome to Games You Deserve brought to you by Special Reserve Games. This week, it's a Mother Russia Bleeds Sellout, plus we name our picks for the Video Game Hall of Fame and Erik brings us Chapter Six of Fire Flower.

Erik: Mother Russia Bleeds went on sale two days ago, I guess it was.

Dan: Is that Mother Russia Bled then? Past tense?

Erik: Mother Russia – 

Dan: Mother Russia's bled out.

Smitty: Well, you know what's funny is we were going to translate that title for the reverse cover, the internal cover, the reverse jacket art, and we were trying to translate it into Russian, so it'd be kind of a fun thing to reverse out the jacket and everybody that we gave the words Mother Russia Bleeds to came back with a different translation, but there is no direct translation into Russian for Mother Russia Bleeds. As close as we got it was Mother Russia is bleeding and it did not even mean what we wanted it to, like mom is dying or something. And so, yeah, but Mother Russia Bleeds sold like hotcakes, man. I mean it didn't have a one-hour sellout it only took about five and a half hours to sellout, but we had PlayStation 4 and Switch.

And oddly enough, the PlayStation 4 sold out before the Switch and I know we had more Switch units for sale, but it was really great to see PlayStation 4 come back in and have people buying the platform in strengths. And we had the same result with our partner's Limited Run games, so we gave an alternate cover, a variant cover for PS4 and for Switch, they had the same results, they had a sell out and they also had a very strong PS4 showing. So, way to go PlayStation 4 fans, you showed up.

Erik: We had so many people that were telling us on social media when we first announced it, right? We said, "Yeah, we're going to put out 500 copies from ours and we're going to have LRG put out this larger amount." And all of a sudden, man, people were just, they're "That's it? That's all you're going to do?"

Smitty: Make 500?

Erik: "Just 500, that's not enough." So, it was a great response. I actually loved seeing that many people come on and get all riled up and fired up about that and kind of pissed at us, right? They're kind of mad that we're only doing that. But that's great, that shows us, that told us, "Hey, we needed a few more out there, yeah."

Dan: Yeah. If you want the PS4 titles, you have to buy them because you guys were saying...

Erik: Absolutely.

Dan: ... in the previous episode, it doesn't sell as well in Switch.

Erik: But it did amazing this time.

Dan: It did this time. Yeah, it was excellent.

Smitty: But it's the same game. You know what? That's the thing, so exact same game, but one thing, somebody brought it up, I think even Erik, I think you might have said this to me as well that Mother Russia Bleeds plays better on a PlayStation 4 maybe than a Switch, like just the way that the PlayStation 4 controller is set up or just there's just something about it that a lot of people might appreciate how the game plays on the PS4 console. There's just some games that just are better on one console than another from just your personal satisfaction, the game play, the way, the default config of the controller, whatever. But it all comes down to personal, I didn't look and see, Erik, how many people actually purchased both console versions?

Erik: I haven't looked at that either, but I got to tell you. I mean, let's face it. There's a slightly different audience for the Switch and the PS4. There are definitely some overlaps there. I know a number of people that have both platforms, but at the same time, console, portable or hybrid, whatever you want to call the Switch, I like the hybrid idea, but there's definitely a little bit of a different audience between the two and maybe Mother Russia Bleeds is leaning a little bit more towards that PlayStation audience. At the same time, we did some cool stuff this time other than just the game. And I'm excited to see these when they finally arrive and get these in people's hands because I think they're going to be super surprised as to the quality of these prints that we're doing. These art prints, the acrylic. And that's not even, that's not some flimsy little piece of acrylic either is it?

Smitty: Four millimeter.

Erik: I mean that's a pretty hefty.

Smitty: It is. It actually has weight. And well, there's one thing that we did in the Reserves where we use this metal composite, it's actually dye bond. I'm not afraid, go look it up. It's really cool. It's metal on either side with the composite material in the middle and it's aluminum, but it doesn't have that aluminum swirl or whatever. We've got an actual flat piece of metal that we're printing on, but it has a reflectiveness to it. Kind of like a street sign does at night if you will.

Erik: Yeah, but it's not like chrome shiny or anything like that either, so – 

Smitty: No, no. And so that comes with the Reserve and that print version of that actual piece of art. The only way to get that one is on the metal print that comes in the Reserves, so hard to say, but those two 5x7 acrylics, what you were touching on, Erik, is we're actually launching something new. It's art for your walls, man. It's cover art for your walls and so, where it allows, we're still leaving the game logo on the art, but in some cases, we're removing the logo and everything and just using the actual background art, what we call the key art, a lot of times and letting that be the art and we want you to display it like you do other pieces of art, hang it on the wall, put it in a frame, put it on an easel. You just don't have to kind of oddly balance it on the shelf up against the GI Joe character holding it. You know what I'm saying? Treat it like art. And so, that's what I think the 5x7s that even though they're like 5x6.75.

Erik: Oh, it's like, yeah, almost seven, whatever.

Smitty: But they will be ready to hang on the wall as soon as they have a little stickams that go on the back and on the back of the 5x7s, those are numbered and so, they are in an open preorder state right now for those pieces of art. You can go to our website right now and get the alternate jacket covers that we had designed for Mother Russia Bleeds that didn't get used.

Erik: I was going to mention that. The idea of that, of what people's reaction was about those covers. Man, we saw so many people so excited about that, but they were also like, "I only get one in the pack? I got to have them all." They were hyped up about getting all the alternate covers, right?

Dan: There's four, are there four?

Erik: There's four bonus covers in.

Smitty: Yeah. Four bonus ones. They're characters, they're each one, like character shots, and each one of them was iconic in the game, it just depends, but we're having a lot of discussions about how important cover art is and we'll talk about that later when we talk about games like Gris, that we're looking at doing a second pressing, not a reprint, but a second pressing of same game, different art, just stuff like that. So, you get into the ideas of discussions with Dogfathers that I had earlier today and the Discord  is amazing. Once again, please join our Discord .

And I was trying to talk to him about the differences between a second pressing and preserving the value and the collectability and the specialness of the first one because we don't do reprints. We don't do that, but so we call something a second pressing. Well, when half of the guys and girls were there, what I started hearing was, "We just want that art." So, I would buy it again, I don't want to buy the game again, because I don't need to own the game twice, but I want it for the art. And so I said, "Well, what if we did a second pressing and we offered those jacket covers flat? Just like we did with Mother Russia Bleeds, we could offer a little accessory pack if you will, just the art flat?" And they said, "Yes, yes." I mean, there wasn't even a debate after that.

And so then you just realized that there is an appreciation for the art of these games. The game itself is a piece of art, and its shrink wrap standing there, and then the jacket cover and everything that went in to it is also its own art and if you separate it from the game. So anyway, it is neat to see how people are really appreciating and loving all the creativeness that these developers and independent artists have put into it and also the team here at Special Reserve, man. I'm a little, I don't know if I'm a narcissist maybe in real life, but I do give a lot of the love to the developers and the creators of this intellectual property.

But all this on the team here, Mike and everybody, Chloe, Beth, everybody up in Canada, hello. They have a lot of great input on what you guys see, too and then I've got some great print vendors here. I grind 10 hour days every day. I do press checks and we reject stuff. So anyway, it's just neat to see that people are really getting to appreciate all the hard work that everybody puts in. It's becoming a meaningful collectible art piece to them that couldn't mean more to me to hear people react like that.

Dan: So, when are you selling these ultimate prints of these pieces that are going up? Are they up now or are these three, I mean?

Smitty: Why are you trying to get insider information, Dan?

Dan: Oh, sorry, sorry.

Smitty: I mean, did you hear that, Erik?

Dan: Isn't that what we do?

Erik: I don't know. Mums the word for me.

Dan: I also thought I saw something on social media about it. I thought I saw something on Twitter about it today.

Erik: Well, the Mother Russia Bleeds alternate covers are available right now. You can go out and pick those up and the acrylic prints are available through the seventh. Those will be coming down on the seventh.

Dan: Okay. Both of them.

Erik: Got to get in on that pre-ordered.

Smitty: Yeah, July 7, everything will be done by high noon actually. I was just talking to somebody about, "What time on the seventh?" And I was like, "Let's just make it high noon, huh?"

 

[BREAK]

 

Smitty: We will have other 5x7s for other games that we'll put out as well, so for games that we've done in the past, games we will do in the future, so look forward to that being a recurring part of our series because we want you to be able to share your love of this art with other people by proudly displaying it on your walls.

Erik: Yeah. No, and I'm just really excited and happy that once again, we get somebody here that is a developer that just brings a wonderful game. Le Cartel has got this great vision in this beat-him-up, right? It's not Final Fight, that's for sure.

Smitty: No.

Erik: It's a totally different kind of style right there. So it's great to be able to bring something out in a physical form that really honors that vision for their game and have it sell out. And that shows I mean, gosh, we even had them in the Discord , Smitty. Remember that?

Smitty: Yeah.

Erik: They're there in the Discord , just blown away. They're excited. They couldn't believe the reactions that they were getting.

Smitty: I'm still talking about it. I mean, yeah, and when you talk about Le Cartel, they're in Paris, France. They're in France, not all of them, but there's four guys. There's two guys that kind of hang out with us, Frederic and Alexandre and so those are the guys in our Discord and those are people who signed our little signature card. We did put together a really cool signature bundle for Mother Russia Bleeds, we didn't talk about and it was actually a $250-bundle. We were actually going to sell for $300 and I kind of made a game-time decision to pull it back to $250, just so everybody, you know how I am Erik, it's like I love to design stuff. Where yeah, we could probably sell it for twice as much as we are. But I don't want that because I want someone to get it in their hands and go, "Oh, my God. I only paid $250 for this. Can you believe it?" Like it blows their expectations away and then, hey, if they want to go and resell it for 500 bucks or whatever that's up to them.

But that's the thing, like when I used to send away for collectible stuff, sometimes it showed up and it just didn't meet your expectations of even being a $20-piece. The signature bundle included the vinyl record, included all four different versions of the game, Switch and P4 all covers from Special Reserve Games and the ones that we licensed to Limited Run, all of the 5x7 art pieces, the one on metal, the two on acrylic, static clings –  that we have three different sheets of static clings of characters in there which is old school, but I can't wait to see people put these on windows and whatever and then a three inch embroidered patch and all these different things came in this one signature edition and we sold it for 250 bucks. There were 75 of them and it sold out in less than one minute.

Dan: Wow.

Smitty: But other than that, I do feel pretty good about the sale because I think the hardcore collectors got in first. They got those lower numbers that we do ship lower sequential numbers to the people kind of not exactly in order, but pretty close. You'll see everybody in our Discord  affirming that, except when I do mathematical errors and promise people, some 50s and they get up to 65.

Dan: Hey, everybody's human.

Smitty: Well, yeah, I just forgot that I had to send some to the developers. I didn't take that out of – 

Dan: Everybody's human.

Smitty: I didn't take that out of that sub 50 count, but and in anyway, yeah, it was just nice to see people get a chance to get in there and buy. Hotline Miami was such a violent scene after it sold out. People were angry that they missed out in a lot of ways, so it was nice.

Dan: Because I think it was a surprise. Everyone was surprised that it sold so quickly.

Smitty: Yeah, yeah.

Erik: Which is kind of crazy when you think about how great a game that is and what the legacy is on Hotline Miami, you probably should have known.

 

[BREAK]

 

Dan: One of my other jobs is I read the news on the radio sometimes and this was like – 

Erik: Where you just like pick up a newspaper – 

Dan: That's right.

Erik: Page one.

Dan: I do. I mean, no. It's just to be fair, that's what they used to do. But no, we actually have staff and reporters and everything. And this came up on the wire. It's called a kicker. It's a fun little story that you put at the end of the news, because the rest of the news is so awful. The world is not a great place right now in a lot of respects, so you find a little fun kicker to put at the end. And that was the one I found and it was about these 2020 inductees to the Video Game Hall of Fame and I had no idea this was even a thing. So, it was kind of an interesting story.

Smitty: It's just not just a thing. It's also a place.

Dan: Yes, it's a museum.

Smitty: There's a museum in New York.

Dan: Rochester, New York. Yeah, the National Museum of Play. That sounds like a great place. I think I have to go there.

Erik: God, no kidding, no kidding. Yeah. So, the Video Game Hall of Fame, the first inductees, they actually kicked this off with a big class of extremely classic games back in 2015. So it's relatively new. This is not necessarily something that's been around forever. Of course, video games haven't necessarily been around as long as some of the other media out there, so I think it was great that somebody kind of officially made something like this. That first year though. I mean, you guys are looking at that list of games, it's really hard to argue about any single title in that first year. I mean, it's, it's the laundry list of the quintessential video games, right?

Dan: Yeah. We've got Doom, Pac Man, Pong, Super Mario Brothers, Tetris and World of Warcraft. Those were the first six games inducted in 2015.

Erik: It's really hard to beat.

Dan: To be honest, I've never played World of Warcraft. I've never been into that but Smitty, greasy.

Erik: You know that you're in the minority, right?

Dan: I'm sure I am, I know and it was a huge game.

Smitty: I'm the same way though. I've never got into WoW either.

Erik: I mean, we're talking millions of players on that game.

Smitty: Especially out of Asia, World of Warcraft was, I mean, it dominated people's lives. I had friends, it was like...

Erik: Oh, absolutely.

Smitty: ... I don't know necessarily a cultural thing, if you will, but I mean, I had friends in parts of like, in Singapore and in Beijing, they're addicted like a drug to WoW.

Erik: They did something really interesting with World of Warcraft just recently.

Smitty: They turned it into Call of Duty: Warzone and made it – 

Erik: No, no. Stop, gosh, with Call of Duty: Warzone every episode. It's literally all Smitty does when he's not working.

Dan: Which is never.

Erik: With World of Warcraft year over year, they've kind of progressed it over time, right? And they'll release new content, right? So you buy this new content, they open up a new area that changed the game a little bit, they modernized it a little bit each time and there's been half a dozen or more deals. I don't know what you want to call them. It's not even really deals the way that this stuff works. It's an add on. It's like a new expansion, I guess, is really the best way to put it. It's an expansion of the game and it changes at times the fundamentals of the game, the core rules of the game. But over time, it's gone so far away from what the original was, there was a lot of people that really wanted to play the original, the classic World of Warcraft. And it used to be that people would, there was a version of the server that kind of got out in the public. And so you could download and run the server and get people to connect to that and play the classic version.

Well, eventually Blizzard heard everybody on that and they said, "Okay, we will do a classic World of Warcraft where you can switch to classic servers and play the original again." And so here we are, years and years and years later, and a bunch of people are now playing officially classic World of Warcraft from many years ago when it first came out, original rules and so that was kind of a big deal, a huge thing to be able to go back in time. The other games on there that you mentioned though, Pong, everybody knows Pong. Everybody knows Tetris. I mean, name somebody that's not played Tetris.

Dan: My mom.

Erik: Has she not played Tetris?

Dan: I don't know. She probably has.

Smitty: That was like the default game on every Nokia phone, remember?

Erik: Right.

Smitty: Like they always had that? And Snakes.

Erik: And Tetris.

Dan: They came with the Gameboy when it first came out.

Smitty: Oh, yeah, that's right.

Erik: Pac Man. I mean, Pac Man, every everybody knows Pac Man.

Smitty: But did everybody own the vinyl record of Pac Man Fever?

Erik: Oh, heck, yeah. I think I did.

Smitty: Pac Man Fever.

Dan: I think my parents had that one, yeah.

Erik: Pac Man Fever, going out of mind.

Dan: That was a big deal back in the day.

Smitty: I mean, they had owed the Centipede. And I mean, I still remember some of the classic hits from that record.

Erik: Well, speaking of the '70s, that was in the class of 2020. Well, if we're going to like get to what was inducted this year.

Smitty: There you go, man. Finally, somebody caught on. Yeah.

Erik: Also King's Quest I think we've talked about that before on the podcast, haven't we? Didn't you talk about that one?

Dan: King's Quest is a classic, man.

Smitty: Yeah, that's an old – 

Dan: Sierra games, yeah. It clicked and searched.

Smitty: But they came on what kind of cartridge? I mean that was like on a – 

Erik: I think it looks like PC.

Dan: It was PC, man.

Smitty: Was it PC? And I couldn't remember if it had a cartridge or something.

Dan: Yeah. King's Quest. I mean, they had like CGA version of King's Quest back in the day.

Erik: They started out doing six games 2015, 2016 and then after that, they pared it down to four games per year, so the four games again this year were Centipede, King's Quest, Minecraft. There's a more modern game like something in the last 10 years and then Bejeweled, which apparently was the first, they're saying it was the first mobile game inducted, but Bejeweled isn't really on mobile. It's on mobile now, but it was before. It's been – 

Smitty: It was a PC game.

Erik: Yeah, it's been on PC. It's been all that – 

Dan: I think it started like a flash game or something like that?

Erik: Yeah, I think so. And it was just like it's been on pretty much every platform there is but I guess right now, the way most people play Bejeweled is on their phone. So, but I guess they're trying to ease us into the mobile games being a part of this.

Dan: I don't know how that makes me feel, honestly.

Erik: What do you think about the idea though, of just having a Video Game Hall of Fame?

Dan: Oh, I love it. I think it's great.

Smitty: Well, I do want to point out real quick that in Dallas, we do have the National Video Game Museum, and you can look that up at nvmusa.org, but The National Video Game Museum started here, it's actually in Frisco, which is just north part of Dallas and this is actually a place where people go into. I wasn't really aware of the place in New York that had a brick and mortar, if you will. But the National Video Game Museum is where you can go in and actually see every single console ever made, displayed with information about it, and they actually have like birthday parties there and kids and they take school trips there to the National Video Game Museum.

So, I think it's amazing and especially when you do it that way where people, you actually get to go and see it in real life. And I think that that's the thing where this newer generation, this younger generation that will never probably even own a console that's tethered to a TV ever again, you know what I mean? And that they can at least go and see it and they won't have the same visceral reaction that we do or anything like that, but I think that at least try to understand that we were walking before we were mobile.

Dan: It looks to be more I think, I'm not sure, but this one, the Strong, the National Museum of Play, it's not just video games, it's also toys and other things, so they're like kind of casting a wider net here. Whereas the other one, the one you just mentioned, Smitty, is just video games, but they have like arcade cabinets and consoles and all these different things, like they've got these – looks like an amazing display here. So that's going to be my second stop on my trip to Rochester, New York, come to Frisco, Texas.

Erik: You may want to schedule something kind of in between those.

Smitty: Well, but hold on.

Erik: Long drive.

Smitty: This is something you can get Erik to come with us. You know what else is in Frisco, Texas? That's right, the headquarters for the world famous America's team, Dallas Cowboys. That's where their practice facility is, but there's also a lot of other great things. That's where Toyota relocated their marketing headquarters from California there, and I think you've got IKEA up there, and Frisco's got all the good stuff.

Dan: So you can go get some of them meatballs while you're over there. Go play some video games.

Smitty: Why do you talk about football players like that, man, I mean.

Dan: Meatheads. Yeah.

Erik: Meatheads. Yeah. That's different, that's different.

Smitty: Hey, but one thing when you were talking about World of Warcraft 2, I wanted to make sure and give a shout out to a company from South Korea that we used to work with named Phantagram and they were such big WoW fans that they did a game called Kingdom Under Fire and if you never saw Kingdom Under Fire, the first one for PC was called Kingdom Under Fire: A War of Heroes. And then they did have some for Xbox where they had Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders and Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes. But this is 1994 when they were actually founded and they were just a great company. We did publish Kingdom Under Fire under Gathering of Developers back in the late '90s. So anyway, just another great game in the spirit of WoW, that you were talking about, Erik. I didn't know if you ever even knew about Kingdom Under Fire.

Erik: No, I don't think I've known about that one.

 

[BREAK]

 

Erik: There's a ton of good stuff in some of the other years. You've got Sonic: The Hedgehog, you got Space Invaders, Zelda, you got Donkey Kong, Street Fighter II, and we've even talked about a handful of these games. I found one in here, it makes sense. It's a little bit funny to put this in the company of the rest of these, but it totally makes sense, Microsoft Solitaire.

Smitty: Yeah, absolutely.

Erik: It is classic.

Smitty: I mean, Solitaire, every uncle, grandfather and father I've ever met in my life knows how to play Solitaire.

Erik: Wasting time in offices across the world.

Dan: Exactly.

Erik: That's what we do when we are trying to kill that last half hour at work.

Smitty: Okay. Let me ask you this, Dan, when you're playing Solitaire against your computer, don't you just kind of have a sneaking suspicion that those aren't real cards under there that that computer is dealing me? I mean, it can deal me anything it wants.

Dan: Yeah.

Smitty: I'm literally clicking on something as if I have a chance of winning. It's predetermined. This is not a game of chance. This is just me wasting time until my computer rewards me and spits a cookie out, so I can eat it, right?

Dan: I have one Solitaire software, so I don't distrust it necessarily, but it does feel better to play it physically, the physical, let's get back to the physical games, right? The physical stuff, the dealing the cards feels more real to me, I guess.

Erik: Absolutely.

Smitty: Hold on. My computer's trying to kill me.

Dan: Yeah, yeah.

Erik: Well, with all of the great games that are in here, considering this has only been happening since 2015, I mean, you're really only talking about close to 30 games in here. So, what games are not in here that you guys – 

Smitty: Mike Tyson's Punch Out!!.

Erik: See? Now that's actually not, that's not a terrible, I love the choice.

Smitty: No. Well, actually, I do. When we were talking about it, I thought, weirdly enough, it popped right in my head, but the reason I like Mike Tyson's Punch Out!! is well, one, I love Mike Tyson back in the day, but it was one of the greatest games that truly merged licensing and fun gameplay and it brought in a mass audience quickly to gain that. It wasn't necessarily that easy to play.

Erik: No, it was not.

Smitty: You could like get in there, and I mean, once you got up against Bald. Oh, my gosh, I just blew his name.

Erik: Bald Bull?

Smitty: Yeah, kill you, right? I mean, there were some of the opponents that if you weren't perfect against you weren't going to win, you weren't going to be... if you got to Mike Tyson, well, then hey well.

Erik: Well, look, you're talking about the earlier version of the game before they took his name off of it? Before he went to jail?

Dan: Yeah, before it became just Punch Out!!?

Erik: Yes.

Smitty: Yeah. Yeah, when he was just a boxer and the worst thing in his life was Don King.

Dan: Yes, that's right. So, yeah, but there was, yeah, that there is that version of the game where you do fight Mike Tyson, but later on, they took him out and I don't know who you fight at the end of the newer one.

Erik: Give me another, Smitty. Hit me with another choice here from your thoughts.

Smitty: For me Terminal Velocity. I mean, I really liked Terminal Velocity, because it was the first 3D game for Windows '95 and it was also the first video game distributed on disk, on CD ROM, and so yeah, it was from Terminal Reality and yeah, I might know the people involved in it. But it also had Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill did the voiceover on that as well, so it had everything going for it, but it was the first 3D game for Windows '95. And so up until then you really had Microsoft Flight Sim, which wasn't considered a game, it was a simulator. And you had Bruce Hartwick’s team that was doing that game engine that allowed that open world navigation type idea of a flight sim.

And so that's Mark Randall, who was the guy behind Terminal Reality and the head programmer, founder, he came from Bruce Hartwick. And so his graphics engines that we worked with, were always meant to be large spaces, open world 3D typography, things like that. So then this idea of Terminal Velocity being this 3D space flyer, which is, that's what it is, you're flying in a spaceship over alien terrain was revolutionary in that style of gameplay for your PC at home. So I would say Terminal Velocity for a – by the way, it was made from Mac and then imported to PC.

Erik: Which is not necessarily usual anymore. You don't see that happening.

Smitty: No.

Erik: It doesn't usually start on that side. It usually ends on that side.

Smitty: I always go back to Terminal Velocity. I love one as a child that I just played endlessly, endlessly, endlessly was Pitfall and I just absolutely adored that game.

Erik: I'm surprised that that's not on here to be honest.

Smitty: I know. I know. It was just the mechanics of that game, where everything you got to jump over things, you got to grab and swing under things, you've got to – 

Erik: Have I talked about how that guy actually made that happen back on the Atari 2600?

Smitty: Mm-mm no.

Erik: The guy that programmed it, because the 2600 wasn't very capable, right?

Smitty: Yeah.

Erik: It's very limited, but he wanted to do something that could kind of be dynamic, so he created a mathematical formula that would automatically generate the level based on the result of the formula and he had a seed value. And so every time he wanted to kind of see what the levels would be one after the other, he would change the seed value, burn it to cart, run it and see how the levels went and then he just keep doing that with a new value over and over and over until he found a series of levels that were playable for a long time and enjoyable and that's how he did it. So it's really just a mathematical formula that generates all the levels.

Smitty: That's why I could never finish that one level because I'm bad at math.

Erik: Bad at math, that's right.

Smitty: But I've got two more, though. I've got – 

Erik: Oh, you got two more. Okay. Give me those.

Smitty: One, I know Street Fighter was in there but really the one, Tekken had a whole other level, whole other level.

Dan: 3D? 3D fight is.

Smitty: It is just very different, but – 

Dan: What's your favorite Tekken out of those, out of the series of Tekken games? Do you have a favorite?

Smitty: Well, no. I mean, no. I mean, I can't even remember some of my favorite characters because it's been honestly quite a long time since I've played Tekken. I just remember how important it was not necessarily to me, but some of my friend groups that it was what they did on Friday nights is they played against each other, and there was obviously some screaming and yelling and some friendships lost on some of those Tekken nights. But I'm not all about just fighting games and all that kind of stuff.

I also loved Age of Empires and that will be the one I close on is that just I loved Ensemble Studios. They were also a great Dallas company and one of the ones under Microsoft games, but Bruce Shelley and those guys, oh, my gosh, Age of Empires. We would leave Terminal Reality early. I had a roommate, Chat Carson, who was an artist there and we would leave work sometimes early on Fridays, just as a treat, not work until midnight, and we would go home and we would sit in our different rooms, and we would play Age of Empires all night. Now, it wasn't a co-op. It wasn't a multiplayer and it was just such a great game for me. I loved SimCity, but Age of Empires was a little bit different for me and it was kind of like a history lesson as well. It was great. It was one of the cool games that I'd seen that had like historical merit a little bit, if you will and you didn't necessarily learn history by playing it, but you certainly learned the patience.

Erik: Yeah, but it was great. Like graphically, it was really cool and all the landscapes were just really cool, the tiling. Yeah.

Smitty: Yeah, yeah. You could control large swaths of people just by mousing and dragging over that – 

Erik: Yeah, send your regiments wherever.

Smitty: Yeah, yeah, so it made it playable. So, Age of Empires for me, it embraced everything that Windows was, point and click, point and click. You don't have to know everything about it. All you got to do was point at what you want and click it and it had a great UI for that. And that would be User Interface for, if my mom's listening. But so anyway, those are a couple of the games I thought about right off the top. Maybe there's a variety in there. Dan, what do you think?

Dan: It looks to me like what they're trying to do is pick games from different eras. That's why Minecraft was in this year's list because it's a more modern game. I'm actually struggling to think of any modern games that should be in there other than Minecraft at this point. So, mine are all older ones. First of all, I thought about Dragon's Lair.

Smitty: Oh, yeah. First laserdisc game.

Dan: Well, yeah and I know that it's super hard and I know that it will just suck your quarters out your pocket, but – 

Erik: That's why it was made.

Dan: I know exactly. But there should be something said about the way that game was made and how it looked and how it just gets everybody in the arcade excited to watch it.

Erik: Well, remember, it had a second monitor.

Dan: Yeah, yeah. It had a second monitor. Everyone could sit around and watch the person playing and it was impossible to play it.

Erik: It's a good choice though. It's a good choice.

Dan: But it has significance, that's why I picked it. I think it has significance in video game history. Did they do a sequel to it? I don't remember if they did or not.

Smitty: I think they did.

Erik: Yeah, they do. There's that, but then there's not only the sequel. There's also Space Ace, which is...

Dan: That's right, Space Ace.

Erik: ... just like it, but set in a different setting.

Dan: Yeah, with the space guy.

Smitty: I forgot about that game.

Dan: Anyway, so yeah, one of the ones I picked. I also chose based on the Madden choice, which is in there, Madden, I guess the first Madden is in the Hall of Fame?

Erik: Yes.

Dan: For me being a good Canadian, I would choose NHL '94 as being the sports game that I would choose, like that is the best sport, of that series of that early run of those NHL games, NHL '94 is widely regarded as the best, NHL '95, they changed the game engine and it wasn't as good.

Erik: Yeah. So, you're talking about probably the Genesis version of that.

Dan: Yes, of course. Yes. The Genesis version.

Erik: If I would guess, yeah.

Dan: Yep. Yeah. I have that on Genesis.

Smitty: Go Gretzky.

Dan: And then I also picked GoldenEye for the 64.

Smitty: Oh, yeah, there you go.

Dan: Because that one was just... I know that Doom came before it, but that one because it was so readily available on the 64, it just kind of popularized the first person shooter even more so than Doom did, so I think it deserved a place in there.

Erik: That's also a very good choice and I'm surprised that that one is not chosen either.

Dan: Well, again, but like you said, they've only been doing it for five years...

Erik: That's true. That's true.

Dan: ... lots to draw from. I'm sure these will end up in there at some point.

Erik: Do you have any other picks or is that it?

Dan: I've got a joke pick. I put Minesweeper because the Solitaire's in there.

Erik: I don't know that that's a joke.

Smitty: No. It's like saying checkers and chess don't belong in the best of the tabletop games or something like that.

Dan: Yeah. Minesweeper, I guess, is one of those ones that was always available on the phones, on the old school phones.

Erik: I think that's a legit choice.

Smitty: Wasn't there a Minesweeper that they would put in the back of the comics like by the crosswords? Wasn't there like a Minesweeper type grid thing that you could – 

Erik: I don't know about that.

Smitty: I could have sworn my newspaper had something Minesweeper-ish in the printed newspapers.

Erik: Now, you might have to explain what a newspaper is to some of the younger people.

Smitty: Well, it used to be, honestly, here's a weird one for the old, old, old people in the group here. I remember my grandmother saying, "If you ever encounter a woman having a baby and you need clean towels and things to help her birth that baby, you can always get a newspaper because that stuff is actually almost perfectly clean because it came right off the press." Now, I was just like, "What?" But I do remember – 

Dan: Do you get ink all over the baby? What are you talking about?

Smitty: Well, I know but you see people pack fish and all kinds of stuff in a newspaper.

Erik: It's true.

Smitty: And it's just so weird how newspapers for what they were, they had so many uses. And what are the uses for newspapers now? Oh, they sit on your curb until you're like, "Why do they keep throwing these things on my lawn?"

Dan: Packing material. No, it's packing material. I just crumble them up and stick them to the box.

Smitty: You can also wrap presents with them and act like you're really cool, but you can only get away with that once.

 

[BREAK]

 

Erik: I kind of thought a little bit about what Dan had said and how they're picking games from different eras, so I actually did pick a game from different eras on this when I was thinking about it, so, I've got one from each decade from the '70s all the way through the 20-teens. So, the first one is 1976 is Breakout.

Smitty: Yeah, but the colored one?

Erik: That's the wall that's hitting on you. Yes, yeah.

Dan: That game, yes.

Erik: Hitting all the little tiles and everything. That's come out on pretty much every platform ever since.

Smitty: That came out on the 5200, right?

Erik: I think they've had that on literally every platform. The one that I played the most wasn't necessarily the ‘76 arcade game. I used to play Arkanoid which is the same thing.

Dan: Yes. That's the one I remember in the arcade. It was at the arcade when I played that. Yeah.

Erik: Yeah, but I mean that's essentially the same thing, so why not go to the original and say Breakout.

Dan: Yes, it's the same. Yeah, there was a bunch of different versions of that.

Erik: In the '80s, and this one surprises me, it's not on there, Metroid.

Smitty: Oh, dude. Metroid.

Erik: Yeah. Metroid.

Dan: Yeah.

Erik: Yeah, Metroid, Super Metroid, the Gameboy Metroid. I mean, it's become a phenomenon. They did 3D versions of Metroid with Metroid Prime, the trilogy. Metroid is poised to make a comeback. Nintendo has hinted at this stuff coming back. They've teased. I think COVID probably pushed that stuff back a little bit, but yeah, Metroid is a classic.

Dan: It's certainly the one they haven't touched at all I think in the era of the Switch, right? They have not made a Metroid game yet.

Erik: Correct.

Dan: So, they're due. We're due for a Metroid game for sure. We should make some calls.

Erik: Right. Right. Maybe you've got an uncle or something you can talk to.

Smitty: Hey, you know we have an uncle.

Erik: All right, in the '90s, Myst.

Dan: Ah, yes.

Smitty: M-Y -S-T, Myst.

Dan: And then, what was the follow-up?

Erik: Riven.

Dan: Riven, yeah, remember that one.

Erik: Riven. Of course, there's more after that too, but Myst is such an iconic game. You had the QuickTime player in it, that would actually play little movies that were embedded into the game, right? And so as you went, you had the guy that was talking through the book and he's kind of giving the story and you're trying to figure out these crazy puzzles, and you're making your way through the island. And what's funny about that is the original Myst, it didn't move, like there wasn't movement when you went from screen to screen, but everybody in their head kind of remembers that you would do that.

And so later, a company developed a game called realMyst, which basically replicates Myst in an actual 3D engine, and realMyst was released by our friends over at Limited Run just recently for the Switch. So, you can buy realMyst and play a 3D version of the original Myst which came out nearly 30 years ago at this point on your Switch, which is amazing. We get into the 2000s. And I had a really tough time with this because there are a ton of really good games, but I was looking for something iconic and our friends over at Valve released Portal.

Smitty: I thought you were going to say something else. But Counter-Strike, I thought you were going to say Counter-Strike.

Erik: But Counter-Strike is great, but it's not as revolutionary in gaming as Portal. There's a specific concept of what Portal did for gaming. Typically, in 3D games, when you walk through, let's say, a space into another space, it makes sense that the room size is the same as what it should be when you look at it from the outside. So if you went into a house, the size inside the house was what it should be, right? It wasn't bigger, it wasn't smaller. In Portal when you walk through a portal, you can see something on the other side of that portal that is different in size in space than what it would be by looking at it from the outside. And that introduced a brand new concept in how gaming could be coded, how you can move from one 3D space to another and change the size of the expected space. On top of that, it was just an amazing game and the sequel is even better, but I think you have to give it to the original. I think you say that.

Dan: Oh, for sure, yeah. And that mechanic of having the Portal gun and being able to move around and stuff like that, that was really cool. Yeah, it's really cool. I think you're right.

Smitty: All hail to Valve as well for creating one of the greatest storefronts, Steam, for without Steam, you couldn't have had a lot of the independent video game success.

Erik: Well, they brought a lot of that to people.

Smitty: I mean, it's amazing. When Steam started it was very highly curated and all the games were like super vetted and so, they did establish a clearing house, a marketplace that had a trustworthy, I guess, aura to it or whatever. But now, it's become a place where you have an opportunity to get your art out there and you really do have a real shot at being discovered being supported, being a huge failure, you have that opportunity, you have the same opportunity. It's really neat. So, all hail the Steam, it's a great, great platform and super glad it was invented.

Erik: And I got one more, yeah, for the 20-teens. Okay? This was probably the most difficult era to choose something from, right? The most recent era and so it's a little bit early in the 20-teens, 2011, The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim...

Smitty: Oh, my gosh.

Erik: Skyrim. How could you not have Skyrim in a list like this?

Dan: Yeah.

Erik: Skyrim defined the modern RPG and it is to this day one of, if not the most modded games that you can find. In fact, to the point where you can go on –  there are websites completely built out of mods where you can customize your install of Skyrim and make it look incredibly lifelike and realistic to this day. And the depth of the story if you really want to chase it down in Skyrim is there. It brings all the modern elements to an RPG. It really does kind of exemplify what a classic, a modern classic would be, in my opinion. So it's really hard to do that, plus, I mean, it's The Elder Scrolls, right? You've got Oblivion, you've got all these things, you've got just a whole slew of story behind this and they're poised to come out with another one that they teased, gosh, like, what a couple of years or a year and a half ago, so I can't remember exactly when they teased it now, but it's been a while.

Dan: I think longevity has a lot to do with this, like, that's one of the reasons why Minecraft is in this because Minecraft has been over 10 years now and it's still – 

Smitty: Oh, my gosh, really?

Dan: Yeah. It's been 10 years.

Erik: Yeah, yeah.

Dan: It's as popular as it ever was, like, it's one of the biggest games ever. What I love about Minecraft is that it's cheap. It's 20, 30 bucks, whatever it is, It's 20, 30 bucks. And I probably purchased, because of the discs getting scratched up with my kids and everything, I probably purchased like three versions of Minecraft for different systems, but it's worth it right? Because it's such a great game and that's the same thing as The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. I mean Skyrim, like you said 2011, it's been nine years, it still is popular as it ever was and still like a huge community around it, so that's a great pick. I think you should be on this Selection Committee, Erik, I think your list is the best out of all of us.

Erik: I love all these games and I think that the idea of kind of memorializing these things into a Hall of Fame is really a good idea and sharing that because what do we do? We talk about preservation. That's what this is, too. A Hall of Fame for video games is absolutely preservation for the ages.

Dan: And all these games are available to play at at this museum in Rochester, New York.

Smitty: Oh, fun.

Dan: So, you play them and they have them set up. So, I guess I don't know if that means they have, I guess an arcade of Centipede? Is that what they would have? I don't know.

Erik: I would imagine so. They might even have some consoles. By the way, anyone can log on to their website and nominate a game and it's worldvideogamehalloffame.org. Yeah, spell that whole thing up, worldvideogamehalloffame.org.

Dan: I'll put the link in the description below, so people can click on it.

Erik: Yeah, definitely do that, but you can go and anybody can nominate a game, so if you guys feel strongly about a game, you can go out and vote for it. One of the things I'd like to do is invite our podcast listeners to go ahead and contact us and tell us what game you would want to nominate in here that's not already in the list. Did we miss something? Did you have an idea that we didn't think of? You can leave one of those wonderful voicemails. Dan, tell them how they do that again.

Dan: In the description below the podcast, you'll see a link that says leave us a voice message and if you click on it, it may prompt you to download the Anchor app, which is what you're going to have to do if you want to leave a voice message for us. Then you could delete it afterwards if you want. Leave us a message and we might play it on the podcast.

Erik: Or you can go ahead and email me Erik,  erik@specialreservegames.com.

 

[BREAK]

 

Erik: Previously on Fire Flower from Paper to Pixels, Nintendo enters the Wild West with light gun in hand innovating in the field of Electronic Entertainment using Sharp's photo sensor technology, a brand new form of fun starts to take shape both at home and at the arcade while an oil crisis courtesy of OPEC nearly pulls the rug from underneath Nintendo's exciting new ventures. Though light guns and 16-millimeter projectors brought a wow factor to the early arcade scene, Hiroshi Yamauchi continued to push the company to be forward thinkers and masters of creativity and with the beautiful minds of Gunpei Yokoi, Genyo Takeda, and Masayuki Uemura, the sky is the limit.

 

[BREAK]

 

Erik: In the late 1960s, CBS Labs, the R&D department of the CBS Television Network had developed a new film based video recording format. This new film used the Twin Track 8.75 millimeter format and the film was wound in a 750-foot reel stored in a plastic cartridge. With the small and effective format, players that were much more compact could be manufactured. Additionally, the film did not require tractor feed holes on the sides of the film to pull it through. The user would simply insert the film cartridge into the unit, and it would grab the film for you without having to feed it manually to set it. Initially, the format was only used in black and white with the ability to swap between tracks. It even offered freeze frame and the ability to step through the frames in either direction. Over the course of the next few years, CBS Labs was able to introduce a color version where one track was used for luminance and the other for chrominance. Though CBS themselves never manufactured players for the format. Multiple electronics companies licensed the format and produced equipment.

One of these partners was Mitsubishi, who in 1975, began collaboration efforts with arcade game manufacturers. Nintendo used the video technology to introduce large scale five- and six-player race betting games. EVR Race was released in both car and horse race format. Each player stood around the game cabinet and made their choices for which horse or car would win. After the player selections were made, the EVR player would run the race on the screen for everyone to see. EVR video produced a rather high-quality picture for its time. EVR Race was designed by Genyo Takeda and is considered by Nintendo to be their first video arcade game. Though one could argue that the Laser Clay Shooting System should also have the said title. Although at the time EVR Systems produced a high quality video experience that was difficult to beat, the format did not catch on with Mitsubishi ultimately ceasing production only one year later in 1976.

The failure of EVR ultimately pushed Nintendo towards looking for yet another core technology to place at the heart of their arcade entertainment devices. Recent developments between Nintendo's R&D2 team and Mitsubishi on the home front would prove to be just the thing they needed. Utilizing a CRT video screen and computer circuitry, Nintendo would release Computer Othello to arcades in 1978. Computer Othello was a sit-down cocktail style cabinet with controls for up to two players running in black and white with a green color overlay on the screen. Between 1978 and 1980, Nintendo produced a few other games similar to this platform, including Monkey Magic, Hell of Fire and Space Fever.

Also in the list of games that Nintendo was developing during the late 1970s, was yet another wild west shooter called Sheriff. In Sheriff, the player controls the titular character with an eight-way joystick, shooting down bandits via a rotary dial control, but the most notable detail about Sheriff is not the technology or the controls at all. The cabinet artwork was created by none other than one of Nintendo's newest employees, Shigeru Miyamoto. Miyamoto was hired in 1977 as an apprentice in the planning department. He was also involved in art for the 1980 release of Radarscope, a seven-color fixed shooter game similar to Space Invaders, but with a perspective shift. Radarscope arrived at a critical moment for Nintendo.

Over the years, Nintendo had begun selling many of their products within the United States and it seemed to be a natural move to expand the business. Hiroshi Yamauchi's daughter Yoko had married a man whose family owned and operated the quite successful Arakawa Textiles Company. Minoru Arakawa attended Kyoto University during the early 1960s and subsequently moved to Boston, Massachusetts, to attend the prestigious MIT. While in America, Arakawa traveled throughout the States on a shoestring budget, often sleeping in his car. After returning to Japan, Arakawa met Yoko Yamauchi during a ball. They began dating and wed shortly thereafter. Arakawa was eventually offered by Hiroshi the opportunity to use his experiences in America to become the first President of Nintendo of America. Soon after taking the position, Arakawa ordered 3000 units of Radarscope for the American arcade market.

As fortune would have it, Nintendo was unable to move enough units of Radarscope. Only one third of the units were sold and the game was quickly becoming outdated and a failure. In an attempt to salvage the disaster, Arakawa contacted Nintendo of Japan and asked Hiroshi for a new game that could be retrofitted into the remaining 2000 units that were already produced and sitting in a warehouse collecting dust. Pulling together talent throughout the organization, Gunpei Yokoi was paired with Shigeru Miyamoto to develop a game that could help salvage the remaining Radarscope units. Their efforts resulted in one of the most well-known arcade games of all time, starring a damsel in distress, a guerrilla villain, and a little hammer wielding hero. Through creativity and unique circumstances, Donkey Kong was born.

Dan: What's coming up for Special Reserve Games, guys? What do you have coming down the pike?

Smitty: Well, we have many games, actually the second half of the year is getting ready to be quite fun. And the first half of the year, we've noticed this cycle of building where the physical direct to consumer business does seem to be kind of opposite to what big box retail is. So, during November and December, early January, where the Best Buys and the game stops in Walmart, you're getting all that foot traffic and Amazon's getting tons of orders, we aren't. And then in the summer, when retail is dead, we're thriving. Well, we've also noticed the similar cycle with developers, that people take family time and enjoy the holidays together and whatnot. So, we kind of have a low around Christmas as well, where we all enjoy peace and quiet, maybe the mountains and our families. And so the production cycle really doesn't kick up for us until starting in mid-January.

And so we've been building, building, building, and just so everybody knows it, I would say I spend an average of three months out, starting these game projects. I wouldn't say I start anything too much less than three months out, where we actually are in some level of production. So, it's going to sound like we've got a lot of games coming up and it's not that we're sacrificing quality or trying to rush anything out. We've been building a lot of these things slowly over time, and now we're getting ready to release them. So, I just want to preface by saying, yeah, we've got a lot of games coming out. It's going to get a lot busier. It's not because we found a cheaper place to print or packaging or anything.

Erik: Well, it's not like we're going to be releasing one every day either.  

Smitty: No, but we are going to be releasing two or three sometimes in one month and that is new to our customer base, that's kind of new to our internal cycle, so some of the games will have, where we put out one version on PS4 a long time ago, and now it's coming out on Switch like Ruiner that we'll talk about later. But what's coming up in July and another in August that we've released and announced something for, Carrion is coming out. Now, we haven't announced the release date for Carrion, but it's going to be soon, I'll tell you for sure.

And if you want to tune into Devolve or Direct, the Devolve or Direct webcast, you'll actually see a little bit of Special Reserve Games featured before on the countdown. And that is what essentially would be their E3 Press Conference, their video press conference. They're calling it Devolve or Direct that's taking place June 11, I mean, I'm sorry July 11, whatever, July 11. And man, I'm thinking about next year already, but they will be talking about a lot of games and Carrion is one of them.

So, I will tell you some things that we're doing with Carrion that are unique and new because it's a great game. It's from Phobia out of Poland and they have a very specific vision for this. It's a reverse horror game where you play as the monster and the people are the bad guys. They're trying to kill you, but you do – 

Dan: How many times have you seen something like that and you're like, "Man, I wish I could be the villain in this."

Smitty: Yeah, exactly. And but, well, those people do get eaten.

Erik: It's true.

Smitty: I will say, I will say, they do pay the price. They do get eaten. But one thing that we're doing for Carrion is introducing a few new pieces around the art of the game and it does have kind of a movie, horror movie poster thing that you want to do with it. But what we did was I contacted a great friend. His name is George Tsougkouzidis and he is from Greece.

Dan: Wait, just say that again.

Smitty: Greece.

Dan: No, no.

Smitty: George Tsougkouzidis, Tsougkouzidis.

Dan: I can't say it.

Smitty: It's a great name, but he is an incredible sculptor. He does a lot of his own original art. He doesn't knock off other things, but he has a big Cthulhu series that is just phenomenal. And so we contacted him about doing an original sculpture. That is his artwork, but it is inspired by the game Carrion and there was already a tie, the monster from Carrion, just kind of, it really struck me. I thought I'd reach out to George and see if he'd want to make something special with us, so it's not that he made a sculpture of the Carrion monster. He is sculpting something from his own mind, his own artistic mind and vision, but it's inspired by Carrion and you'll see it's very similar, and it's pigmented clay. So this isn't a PVC or resin pour or something like that. Every single one of these is going to be a pigmented clay live signed by George and bundled together with some things that we're doing for Carrion.

So, not only will we do a fantastic physical release for Carrion, we're also going to honor the art of that game, and all the other art that's being done, and to show how you can display art differently, but you can think about the art differently because if you see what we're sculpting, it's a 3D what we call wall plaque, so it is flat on one side. It's meant to be hung on the wall, the rest of it is all 3D sculpted. So it's going to be something kind of fun. So, I'm really excited about Carrion and everything that we're going to put around it to honor it physically.

Erik: Well, gentlemen, I think that we've really hit all the high notes today, haven't we? I think we're going say that we thank you for listening and this is: Game over.