Ep. 174 - Sega Macarena, with Liz "Lids" Ryerson

### Ep. 174 - Sega Macarena, with Liz “Lids” Ryerson

[Liz Ryerson](https://twitter.com/ellaguro) joins your favorite 7/10 podcast to cover the secret origins of CapyGames, the true name of the Saturn, and misunderstanding pixel art. Original music by Kurt Feldman.

**Questions this week:**

  • 1. Previously on Insert Credit #12: Which video game soundtracks are notable for their use of uncommonly heard instruments? (05:07)
  • 2. What musicians would you have chosen to celebrate Pokemon’s 25th anniversary? (10:06)
  • 3. Which video games are the best at inducing claustrophobia? (15:28)
  • 4. Which is better: games about upward movement, or games about downward movement? (21:09)
  • 5. Improv Zone: Salty Bet Commentary (27:17)
  • 6. Patreon Supporter Malcove asks: What is the best 3-player game? (34:42)
  • 7. What’s with Sony shuttering Japan Studio? (39:45)
  • 8. Is it time to retire pixel art in video games? (48:48)
  • 9. Frank’s Question: What do we think of modern pixel art emerging as a misunderstanding of classic pixel art? (53:58)
  • 10. What is the forgetting to defrost your ingredients until right before it’s time to make dinner of video games? (59:47)
  • **LIGHTNING ROUND**: Name Design - Tennessee Williams Plays (01:01:27)


  • - [That Squarepusher Album](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ufabulum) (and [the performance Brandon was at](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvLAKrVbCBM))
  • - [Lydia from Beetlejuice](https://beetlejuice.fandom.com/wiki/Lydia_Deetz)
  • - [Happier by Marshmello ft. Bastille](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l41BJaS_U3I)
  • - [Night of the Hunter](https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048424/)
  • - [Full Evergrace OST](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgJbPYDVgwM)
  • - [Secret of Mana 2 OST](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gD5n1pdDUT0)
  • - [Casio Rapman](https://www.synthmania.com/rapman.htm)
  • - [James Brown's Say It Loud I'm Black And Proud](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bJA6W9CqvE)
  • - [Earthbound Music, Samples and Legal Issues](https://earthboundcentral.com/2012/01/earthbound-music-samples-and-legal-issues/)
  • - [VGM Sound Sources spreadsheet](https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1JJBlHHDc65fhZmKUGLrDTLCm6rfUU83-kbuD8Y0zU0o/edit#gid=325792768)
  • - [3rd Base](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3rd_Bass)
  • - [White Knuckle Scorin'](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nintendo:_White_Knuckle_Scorin%27)
  • - [Britny Fox](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Britny_Fox)
  • - [The B-52's](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_B-52%27s)
  • - [Deee-Lite](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deee-Lite)
  • - [Space Channel 5](https://www.mobygames.com/game/space-channel-5)
  • - [100 gecs](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/100_Gecs)
  • - [Rick Astley's Together Forever](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ)
  • - [The Rippingtons](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rippingtons)
  • - [Mariya Takeuchi's Plastic Love](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bNITQR4Uso)
  • - [Everblue](https://www.mobygames.com/game/ps2/everblue)
  • - [Liquidators](https://store.steampowered.com/app/1382200/Liquidators/)
  • - [Downwell](https://www.mobygames.com/game/downwell)
  • - [GIRP](http://www.foddy.net/GIRP.html)
  • - [Freefall 3050 A.D.](https://www.mobygames.com/game/freefall-3050-ad)
  • - [Ninja Spirit](https://www.mobygames.com/game/ninja-spirit)
  • - [Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi](https://www.mobygames.com/game/shadow-dancer-the-secret-of-shinobi)
  • - [Salty Bet](https://www.saltybet.com/)
  • - [The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes](https://www.mobygames.com/game/3ds/legend-of-zelda-tri-force-heroes)
  • - [Super Off Road](https://www.mobygames.com/game/ivan-ironman-stewarts-super-off-road)
  • - [Rampage World Tour](https://www.mobygames.com/game/rampage-world-tour)
  • - [Street Fighter Alpha 3 (Saturn)](https://www.mobygames.com/game/sega-saturn/street-fighter-alpha-3)
  • - [Gain Ground](https://www.mobygames.com/game/gain-ground)
  • - [The Cave](https://www.mobygames.com/game/cave)
  • - [Earth Defense Force 2017](https://www.mobygames.com/game/earth-defense-force-2017)
  • - [Moonwalker](https://www.mobygames.com/game/moonwalker)
  • - [Alien Crush](https://www.mobygames.com/game/alien-crush)
  • - [Japan Studio](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_Studio)
  • - [Crime Crackers](https://www.mobygames.com/game/crime-crackers)
  • - [KungFu Rider](https://www.mobygames.com/game/ps3/kungfu-rider)
  • - [Flipnic: Ultimate Pinball](https://www.mobygames.com/game/ps2/flipnic-ultimate-pinball)
  • - [FantaVision](https://www.mobygames.com/game/fantavision)
  • - [Lifeline](https://www.mobygames.com/game/ps2/lifeline)
  • - [Octopath Traveler](https://www.mobygames.com/game/octopath-traveler)
  • - [Triangle Puzzle Strategy Experience](https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/project-triangle-strategy-switch/)
  • - [Panzer Paladin](https://www.mobygames.com/game/panzer-paladin)
  • - [Zippy the Pinhead](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zippy_the_Pinhead)
  • - [Rocket Knight](https://www.mobygames.com/game/rocket-knight)
  • - [Sonic Waterfall Dithering](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0weL5XDpPs&t=37s)
  • - [Xeno Crisis](https://www.mobygames.com/game/xeno-crisis)
  • - [Little Samson](https://www.mobygames.com/game/nes/little-samson)
  • - [Faith](https://www.mobygames.com/game/windows/faith)
  • - [Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken](https://www.mobygames.com/game/portopia-renzoku-satsujin-jiken)
  • - [Bird Week](https://www.mobygames.com/game/nes/bird-week)
  • - [Bubsy3d.com](https://bubsy3d.com/)
  • - [Panzer Dragoon mask](https://www.panzerdragoonlegacy.com/system/pictures/1788/original/panzer-dragoon-saga-us-edge-mask-advertisement.jpg?1492144845)
  • **Recommendations:**
    **Liz**: [Preserving Worlds](https://means.tv/programs/preservingworlds?cid=1699450)
    **Frank**: [Get in touch about donating video game magazines](mailto:info@gamehistory.org)
    **Brandon:** [Getting Cultured sauerkraut](https://www.instagram.com/gettingculturedkraut/), [Gunhouse on Google Play Pass](https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.necrosoftgames.gunhouse&hl=en_US&gl=US)

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    [“Ep. 174 - Sega Macarena, with Liz "Lids" Ryerson"”,“Ep. 174 - Sega Macarena, with Liz "Lids" Ryerson”]

    Great episode! Thanks for guesting, Lids!

    Re: #4, I am firmly in the "Down" camp thanks to SteamWorld Dig and its sequel. Honorable mentions: Hollow Knight and Glittermitten Grove ;)

    #7 got me thinking about how disingenuous all those little nods to old Sony properties seem in Astro's Playroom now...is the lasting legacy of Jumping Flash or Ape Escape, for example, just going to be some throw-away background dressing or Easter egg in a pack-in game?

    #8 seems like a bit of an intentionally provocative question, but all I can say is that after experiencing The Return of the Obra Dinn I think there is way more fertile ground out there to explore re: pixel art!

    @Jaffe Is the first-best Tim Burton movie Pee-Wee's Big Adventure or Ed Wood

    Re: pixel art and XBLA, Brandon is right – look at the success of Fez on XB in 2012, hard to ignore that and say that Shovel Knight is what ushered in the modern pixel era.

    Also Everblue 2 is a GREAT game, most terrifying non-horror PS2, maybe best diving game ever (more like SubNOTica amirite). Nothing supernatural in the game, just the sound of you breathing in the dark, losing oxygen and descending further into caves and shipwrecks. It improves on the first one IMO but both are terrific.

    @GigaSlime#19064 It's Pee-Wee 100%. Ed Wood has incredible performances (Martin Landau is unreal) but it sugarcoats the reality of Ed Wood the man too much, he was a terrible alcoholic and it destroyed his career and life. Superb cinema though, Burton really had one of the all time unimpeachable runs in the 80s (and then had his marriage ruined and soul sucked dry by man-eating succubus Helena Bonham Carter, who had previously destroyed Kenneth Branagh's marriage).


    @espercontrol#19053 Rick Astley’s Together Forever

    You're going to hell for this, Esper

    i had no idea there was a dinosaur-jr-basically-sebadoh sample in mother 2, let alone at such a key moment. that's wild.

    is miharu koshi on that sound source spreadsheet frank mentioned? it was like 10 years ago but i'm pretty sure i stumbled across a song of hers that M2 sampled...

    I wouldn‘t ascribe the popular re-emergence primarily or specifically to XBLA—most of the big XBLA games weren’t pixel games, for one, but a lot of the more influential pixel art games of that era were platform-agnostic or not present on X360 at all. To give a few examples:

    Cave Story, which helped reawaken people to the idea that dot art was a vehicle for expression and auteurship beyond what the mainstream had determined was in-demand, was a freeware PC game and then a commercial WiiWare game (and then ported to everything except Xbox, for whatever reason).

    Mega Man 9, one of the first truly high-profile games to sell itself on exacting NES fetishism, was released on all three consoles of the day but was released first and designed primarily for WiiWare (and looks kinda gross on Xbox, iirc).

    Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, which was one of the bigger games to adopt an original pixel art style decoupled from any established hardware-dictated aesthetic, was a mobile game that later came to PC, and only recently made its way to consoles with a Switch port.

    There's also the parallel handheld industry and even the early mobile industry, where a lot of very skilled pixel art veterans continued to do what they'd always done—Henk Nieborg, who came up in this episode, was all over games like Contra 4 and Shantae: Risky's Revenge, games that one might consider the apotheosis of that era of orthodox pixel art, before it became a conscious affectation. Of course, wider appreciation for the craftsmanship seen on those platforms didn't really come until they'd died off...

    I do think XBLA deserves broader credit for re-opening a commercial avenue for 2D or generally retro/traditional games on contemporary consoles, but similar to the whole ugly-HD-version-of-classic-2D-game fad that had to be endured for a few years, I think the industry had to forcefully shed a lot of the conventions established by XBLA for certain types of games—price, availability at retail, themes/subject matter, platform exclusivity, etc—before we could get to the point we're at now, where any two games can sit next to each other on a shelf and nobody really bats an eye.

    cold blooded to drop the improv zone this episode lol

    @GigaSlime#19068 you would have done the same thing if you had the opportunity. impossible to ignore that siren's call

    Someone mentioned on the patreon that we forgot lunar lander in the “down” category, which made me realize we also left out sub-terrania!

    So when I say "XBLA" I really mean the popularization of digitally downloaded smaller games... I meant that "era" and ethos of game making and buying. I buy handhelds as a continuation of the craft, but in terms of big breakout hits, I think a lot of that was still viewed as "for kids" or lesser-than versions of console games, etc. To me the big brain-change came from things like Fez being up on the store next to Gears of War, whereas Shantae on the platform next to Pokemon isn't that big of a sea change. Street Fighter II HD remix was a digital game at first, and that is the entire reason we still have Street Fighter today. Not exactly "pixel art" but I think these games were a big part of that changing of the idea of what a "new" game needed to look like.

    Hotline Miami is another big one from that era. It gave way to the idea that pixel art can be hyper styled to cater to “adults” as coked out as it might be. It was cool that they avoided the indie chip tuney soundtrack which seemed all too prevalent at the time.

    I know this isnt the correct answer but Owlboy was the first pixel style game for me where the switch got flipped from crutch to style choice. I know it was true before that but pixel art still felt like oh this was a neat idea that a small team had so they did cool pixel art so the game could come out sometime in their life time before Owlboy for me.

    I think it's cool that this bar is different for everybody, and is basically the first time you really encountered a game that had made it an artistic choice to do pixel art. I do think it was sword and sworcery for a lot of folks, too.

    banger episode. shoutout evergrace. shoutout dinosaur jr. shoutout squarepusher. DAFT PUNK IS JUST MARSHMELLO FOR 40 YEAR OLDS. crazy that vin diesel is actually marshmello.

    Unusual instruments: Crash Twinsanity holds the double crown of bad title and bad soundtrack. Game itself is alright though.

    It's notable for ditching the established [_Mutato Musika_](https://mutato.com/) soundtracks of previous games (or latterly ripoffs thereof) for an entirely a capella score because that's the obvious soundtrack for a Crash Bandicoot game duh.


    The narrative implied by Downwell is surprisingly bleak. A small person jumps down a well and though they face challenges and increasingly surreal and horrible monsters there is no escape for them. There is the old joke “When you fall down a bottemless pit you die of starvation” and that seems to be the goal of our protagonist. At least they wish to escape all things.

    The graphic design communicates this: the entrance to the well is grounded in everyday reality, but the deeper levels yield to stranger and stranger motifs. The tiny caves which sometimes branch off of the main shaft are little breaks in which the protagonist seems to rest only long enough to redouble their efforts at self annihilation, to marshal the part of themselves which desires annihilation against the vestigial impulse to continue to exist on the surface world. Discarded objects (objects which embody the idea of discardedness) eventually speckle the dark pit, the shape of which is suggested only by spikes. When the final boss is defeated our only resolution is a brief image of the protagonist continuing his downward rush unimpeded.

    Downwell is the aesthetic and thematic opposite of Celeste. That makes it more interesting than a casual glance would suggest.

    Arguably Downwell is the only game that is really about going down.

    I remember that crash twinsanity soundtrack - it really encouraged me to not play the game!