DiscoverRetronautsRetronauts Episode 97: BRO-totypes

Retronauts Episode 97: BRO-totypes

Update: 2017-05-01


Steve Lin joins Jeremy and Bob to discuss that most primal of video game forces: Manly video games about manly men. We explore the pop social forces behind the rise of rugged 8-bit heroes, and how those beefy classics shaped modern game sensibilities.

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

this has brought to you by audible audiobook service with more than one hundred and eighty thousand titles to choose from a free audio book and a thirty day trial at audible trial dot com slash game this week in reference showing he is watching you the the twenty six join the queue means big brother oh my me and Yuki and he his brother which show great super okay big superlative yeah so hi everyone welcome to an episode of a very obscure episode of retro not they think maybe I mean we've we certainly started off on that footing already prove we only know Jay Leno Japanese through what we see Nana think or video games et yeah you know to join the key the scene in Final Fantasy seven with the the honeybee manner and the muscle dude like that was kind of riffing on that whole concept of like the the lake well I guess going to let the reverse of American stereotype of gay men you know instead of being like wispy and thin and limp wrist or whatever its other all Jain bodybuilders in Japan yeah I'm not saying either is good to sing their difference right so sorry that kind of a weird preamble to the senses but we are getting into some awsome and discover unexplored territory for us I think and I will be talking about really big muscle dude it's all all episode long so hello I'm Gary Parrish not a big muscular dude I'm neither Hall nor muscular so I have no business being here but maybe you guys can help me out from my straight ahead from my It From My noon my tall the clock below This is Bob Mackie and we finally have a president with the balls to reference bad it's the bad news before it is a it again and that is one president of the bad dudes do not want to thank you I think that you could fight him in a video game to be the last bus would make them by a well cooked steak well done steak with ketchup I'd rather eat a turkey leg of a trash can I'm a vegetarian or anything so does that I find behind barreled on stealing from the Beer Industry Foundation oh yes and congratulations on the launch of that thank you very exciting to work together and stuff as we're complementary purposes I think in fact we announced it on the show after you did and when words are cut Steve I know of that non profit making money on primer on it and we didn't think invite Franks a faulty for this episode but haven't heard from him so I guess he's not going to be here it's a shame because I really feel like this is an episode topic that he would have a lot to say about not because Frank is necessarily interested in you beefy muscle Men in video games but because I remember for long time ago that one up he was talking about something called what he called a guy games and it kind of done with this topic I think that he everyday he is perfecting his bio Force ape speed run too wrapped up its act to come to write for nuts yeah so the idea behind just like games about a dude who kill stuff and specifically in that kind of late twenty s era vibe you like the eight bit platforms like Vice project doom and shatter hand and that definitely intersects with what we're talking about here today which I'm calling this episode bro types the idea being that it's sort of the developmental prototype phase of the bros centric dude games that we see today you know when you have men of basically carved from tree trunks like in gears of War when that come from I think part of the answer is you know nineties Image comics but also I think there was a lot of development in this kind of aesthetic and mindset like the game should be empowering should be a big powerful dude that that took place throughout the eighties especially and interestingly a mostly sign in Japanese games you don't really think of like big beefy the muscular tcher and Japanese games together but that's really the kind of feel like that's where all of the sort of foam and in and came into shape so we're going to talk about this and I don't know what conclusions will come to if nothing else maybe we'll all just want to go back and play some more advice Project do I I don't I feel like there are some interesting things to be said about this so hopefully I'm not mistaken and I'm kind of jumping into a sort of bleak topic and will come up with something interesting the The The The The The The The your body is ready for my money to get he said Guy game and I were talking about the Rico to game oh yeah I had the day when the attack against us that one up because America's gave them a really rotten review which was well deserved and they that I was kind of an early take on the Like dentist I act Twitter attack approach with their noses back there so have to be even happened Red's c'mon guys get it right so we're going to set the way back machine for the early nineteen eighties and basically to this point you had to be very abstract like a new look at video games in the seventies it's pretty much stick figures or like the loose outlines of things and then you know in the arcade hardware started to develop and become capable of showing more of you know bigger sprites more colors more sprites more detailed backgrounds and then consul followed suit and computers as well you know compare for the in of the earliest like the Vic twenty or pet versus the C sixty four or the eighty s and you know there's this kind of evolutionary leave in in capabilities of what these systems are capable of demonstrating and as a result he started to see the developers explore more diverse and unique and specific styles I don't know did you guys Steve you're probably old enough to like me kind of remember when video games went from being just sketchy loose stick figures to something more more figurative yeah absolutely I mean look at France's Terry Box are right where he saw kind of the painterly things an OK they very abstract right when you look in actually playing the game but then he started seeing actual characters with limbs sort of definition that person from a different shirt and as you mentioned like especially arcade hardware of the time it was progressing pretty quickly so you would see games released in the same that look like they're from different decades right just because someone did come up with the way of providing more fidelity yeah I'd actually I think for me one of those moments was when he saw the size of characters like punch out on a wall like the arcade arcade which means I'm both Both any asana and arcade punch out were pretty remarkable achievements on their respective platforms but arcade to punch out really was just like how people capable of being on the screen right and i know i can sae that this started you could see personality and characters I think it's good to have their own little quirks and things like that I think those are the sort of the things I noticed as we're approaching era were talking I mean you look back in the seventies and you had pong and Space invaders where you can kind of see like there is a design aesthetic at work although all the alien invaders resembles seafood you know see animals basically crustaceans shrimp and crab and squid and you know you around the same time had something like Death Race two thousand where you're the biggest suggestion of a car running over stick figures but the nineteen but the nineteen eighty Pac Man you have rally acts were packed and there was a lot of detail but it was good design they managed to take a yellow circle and personified which you know that that takes some doing but it's a little fall in love well you're just part of it is the actual term for the camera but it is but the human desire to see themselves in things like that entire arm nom nom phenomenon like the power outlet right there they say is this going things and another thing and so that's a mouth so we looked at a circle that had a and re missing from it and that became a person with a mouth but as games began to develop tackle technically we didn't have to imagine the mouth we didn't have to imagine it was a person you know the same company of like the following year may dig dug we had a little squat dude and he actually did have you know human proportions kind of very very lumpy proportions but there was a face there was either arms and legs and torso eyes became Mr. Taylor's dad no I mean never never never took that franchise in that direction it was very cute I mean he was Mr. drillers data Mr. driller was very much a very cute looking sea was all along very stylish degree Linky we haven't read my dog fan fiction please include your deviant Art sun the inflation fetish forums and bore yeah anyway so yeah like I think you know in their hand especially you really saw game designers and developers graphic artists starting to look to cartoons and to msg and on a May and the very efficient approach that those mediums how when it comes to representing human bean mango was basically defined by au summit as a very very prolific artist who he was like Jack Kirby times five I mean it's amazing the amount of output that guy just sheared tons and tons of illustrations and animations everyday and it's it's in large part because he developed this very efficient style inspired by Disney that was extremely minimal like he could do is to define the character by just a few elements like their hairstyle their eyes the shape of the phase of their body maybe like some kind of weird for me like a giant nose with pimples on or something but it was extremely loose extremely sketchy and it created this economy of visual language that really took root in manga and that translated very nicely over to video games the games the Japanese developers were making in the early eighties I think the attraction is important but the enemy just looking and made cheaply made at the time how little they had to move on the screen to imply movement you would see that a lot of any schemes in cut scenes just like a character is bobbing up and down and there are just lines coming at him so they were able to take those techniques is very very cheap affordable and easy techniques and apply them to games as well I think right and so you know I remember from being in the face being in arcades during the golden era which lets say was nineteen eighty through eighty three eighty four video games were almost universally cute or else they were kind of you know like abstract technological of you know vehicles like Moon Moon Patrol or something we have a vehicle and it's not super cute it's just sort of detailed spaceship or something Yeah but if you had human characters or cartoon animals on screen they were extremely cute and so that was really the look of arcade games and you know that lead into console games and computer games at the same time by what we're going to look at this episode is what kind of evolved out of that sort of toward the middle of the eighties and I don't know exactly where the demarcation might be but it's this new trend in visual design for video games and again mostly on Japan's side there was some of and UK which will talk about but it's almost like this this strange mutation of Japanese art aesthetics just sort of came out of nowhere and suddenly video games started to be very cute or else very very violent very Butch extremely graphic and there is a huge obsession among a lot of these games with the sort of hyper muscular characters and yeah I'd like to talk about kind of where that came from and talk about some of the notable examples of the style you know up through the early nineties and talk about some of the results that came from this you know what what what's the legacy of the bodybuilder been The The The The The The The The The The The The The to begin with what what would you guys kind of peg you know if you were to just take a blind stab at it as this the sort of move away from shooting cartoonish the to muscular an angry gory and so on so forth I mean that maybe hit its peak in the nineties with stuff like thrill Kill which we talked about in the last episode recorded by it certainly that that mindset was around move long before that I would say just for me growing up maybe a golden axe the other is predated it was clearly I mean trees all a lot of these back to American movies you put on your notes here but that was clearly like Oh we suck on the barbarian or come to destroy or want to make that our game and they did and that was kind of I took note of it in terms of these muscular characters are committing acts of violence that was for the first time I took note I think yeah I think for me was that as the hardware progressed it gave a lot more creative freedom so people could start experimenting with things that are more violent area I had more definition in the characters waiting for me one of them was a car the Warriors with because again that the weird top down view big muskie is basically to Ram bows on the screen at the same time you Steve but growing up a lot of people call that Atari just because Atari was another video game thing and that was always very confusing is like no it's it's a car that's a Japanese word that I don't know what that means but that session D's name yeah the car where yours is not about changing his father noted ages top right I did a photoshop without ones with like the boxer for those characters the change in windows faces superimposed if anyone of them that it would be new me right yeah I think that one something will get into later but I think Operation Wolf was was a big one just because it was the environmental and that you had that doozy that that sort of shock and then close up to the guys it felt like you were actually in a Rambo movie right it was probably the closest thing that I can I could think of the time for me I think probably the first time I really like stopped and said huh that guy you know like Conan right there in a video game form was White Tiger by Cap com o You know I played before going next so I know you're a great and I'm not mistaken I didn't think to look this one up but I believe like the promotional art for that was actually just like totally just straight ripped off from Frank for Zara and that that's one of the the the inspirations for this style I think that we should talk about as frank as Atta and his fantasy art but yeah like like Tiger I'm sure you guys remember if you're like a dude in a loin cloth and you've got sort of like a chain flail so it's kind of a castle the new sort of thing but it moves a lot faster than Council the new and is not nearly as fair as Castle vain yet doesn't have that very deliberate design the castle venue has its much more like arcade quarter mature things you it's not fair rate but you know as you power up the new flail becomes longer and then it starts to like shoot beams or attackers or something and then it flies out in like multiple directions and you're shooting daggers in multiple directions so you get really powered up out of its kind of like um it's almost like the PC Engine shoot him up except you're a dude with the chains Leyland said of a spaceship flying around in space of the same sort of progressive power mechanics and it really does feel like you know D N D The module paint like box painting come to life was the sequel more of the sequel there's there wasn't but magic tower to tower was by going are you rescue a character and their partner yeah I like the one that was that was it eighties you know an explicit sequel to Black Tiger but it's very very much that same vein and I was more of that but I play like Tiger alots yeah I love those games and it's weird because like the idea of suburbia muscular dude in speedos like that's not my aesthetic like stuff but sometimes these though I'm kind of like manic about this dude who cares like the games are still fun enough that it doesn't really matter it's just another another ridiculous and unrealistic character that you're controlling it doesn't make a difference if it's you know ties owe her a little chubby big guy or the Black Tiger guy fishing interesting point to bring up the time I don't think I ever didn't play a game because of its aesthetic right a It was as it does look like a fun game or not and so it wasn't like I was looking for I want the big muscular dude or that was too cute art or curly or whatever for me to try out it was a lot of stuff is coming anyone see what a fun game and just play it so yeah I don't think this really became sort of an undercurrent until a little later but yeah like just the sort of primal fantasy type stuff doesn't really do much for me and I don't really care that much about a lot of genres honestly but they all tend to be sort of lake super masculine like that's that's tired that's played out but you know good game design game design so a lot of these games you know even though I look at the box art unlike its big muscle muscle guys again who cares good we finally have it the end of the era of revenge that games where you worry Dad getting revenge for some reason it's like in two thousand and nine to twenty twelve twenty thirteen games but a dad and he was like getting revenge about something a kid was take in or something or other but with the Liam Neeson as low as fad I did not get The The I think to kind of lay the groundwork for this you have to go back to the seventies really because there are lot of cultural trends that began to take hold in the sixties and especially the seventies a lot of them here in the US even though we're talking about mostly games from Japan we in those areas those days especially export so much popular culture and Japan was so kind of collectively hungry to absorb the media that we export did that I think it had a profound impact I mean I have to do is look at stuff something like You know the daikon for animation the guy next to it oh just full of Japanese pop culture stuff but there's also all kinds of references to Star Wars and other American media here's the thing I love how much does it's like we don't care will draw the sting because we like it was not meant for to be sold in any case but I just love how they're embracing all the things they love his videos are then you have no realization no Wii which has as Godzilla as a boss but also as Batman and Spiderman and whoops we can really were these guys that they had had to be changed in the Genesis version when it came to the US to get box are right on the cover of metal years Michael binder in mind that racing was that racing was strong with Khatami especially those yes but a lot of there's a there's a great feature on hardcore gaming to look through their archives but it shows like Top Box Art Through the Ages and it's like the features a two part er actually I was done was very much a thing that was common back then you'll see some of these ear but I kind of believe the DNA of every video game can be found in five movies of the warriors of Conan the barbarian Evil Dead The Terminator and Rambo two I think Star Wars a massively these games I store was maybe but I think we did an episode of Star Wars we really couldn't see a lot of influence in stuff when we're going on about that we had less influence than we thought it would that is true yeah but it still includes people but I think those five movie alien aliens six movies aliens is important too but yeah it could be six could be ten movies but like that period includes Japan who was at the top of their game at the time who made all the scams and that influence will be made after that so I feel like drawing back to those movies where like the roots of modern game concepts concepts come from stale yeah but you know even going back before those movies almost all of them are from the eighties the Warriors seventy nine you have these culture trends I was mentioning in one of the rise of bodybuilding I mean like the fifties or so you still have guys like Charles Atlas bodybuilding became this thing in the seventies it became extremely popular and you started to really see it reflected in fantasy art I mention fingers at others also forcefully oh my a Oh I don't I pronounce name Barbara Lyons yeah que no Sean Connery is also no I don't even picture the scene and already they're just like I think probably cone and is um is probably that the big inflection point for sure yeah but I mean Conan Arnold Schwarzenegger kind of rose at the same time Arnold Schwarzenegger was like the iconic Mr. Universe because of the just shared definition that he enforced upon his body was a huge guy already and he made of some extremely muscular and the muscles extremely well defined as opposed to being kind of what you saw before that where people would be muscular but also to have kind of like the football linebacker look sort of doughy outside the heart muscle core I mean we have muscular leading men now like replaced who plays Captain America Chris Evans yeah he's a buff guy but in this like they're always short lives in bronze and oily we saw them in in bodybuilder style like I guess poses in dealings in the new muscular words the new muscular in Hollywood is very lean muscle yeah it was yeah just like check out my quadriceps my biceps and triceps yeah basically also this time things like professional wrestling sort of in the that was the eighties yes oh and for some reason using the palette on it right yeah I think of Hulk Hogan I think of the in who's very buff in a natural way and seventies you had a cone and really kind of come into popularity through comic books and honestly before that if you look to come of the characters they the Superman type characters tend to be strong like they definitely had muscle definition but they weren't huge like you had you know John Burns style artwork where everyone is has well defined bodies like they're very lean but tended not to see super Hawking characters unless it was a character like the Hulk or Colossus whose entire gimmick was this dude hits really hard and I began to change you know it in the seventies and into the eighties thanks to the rise of bodybuilding something I can't really speak to myself but I think does tie into this is the sort of main streaming out of the gay community throughout the sixties and seventies and the sort of you know the idea that hey the male gaze can actually be at Mel's it doesn't just have to be looking at women's boobs it can be looking at really really well defined man as well be part of the power fantasy that a service Mel interest to our fantasies but I do think that you know as as mainstream America became more sympathetic to the gay community and I know I like I said I don't want this to assume too much here because it's outside my personal Rell experience I don't want to be insulting to anyone or make assumptions but you definitely did see them you know a lot of popular singers to people began to realize like a Freddie Mercury Queen like there's a reason that the band is called Queen and yeah like you know in the eighties you had the entire AIDS crisis where all the sudden think the gay community became extremely sympathetic because of what was happening to the notable notable celebrities were dying as people no one knew about so I really do think that this had an impact in kind of you know popular culture and things began the wait people were presented the way you know art looks I think there was always you know the creative community a lot of closeted people who couldn't necessarily express themselves in their lifestyles but maybe in their art work you began to kind of see the things it would back out and say Oh okay yeah that makes sense so yeah I don't know how much the impact that had but there's just all these things sort of building at the same time and again you had you know dungeons and Dragons knew had fantasy novels and that sort of thing so I think those all sort of convened in converged in the early eighties and write about that time the games began to operate on systems on hardware that was capable of rendering render humans like very well you know to find people and so of course you know video games frequently had an element of violence to them so it makes sense to have a big guy can inflict a lot of her running around with an axe and if he's going to be wielding axes probably gonna be big and strong to carry this giant axe so that is my thought on where a lot of these these these influences came from I think I'm missing stuff isn't like to propose anything I don't want this to be just me to see my last them the perfect storm of elements to cause these games he made I can think of anything else that you could be missing or could be wrong about Brian well I think one of the things you brought up that gay culture was just how how it changed over the sixties and seventies we still see things like Easy Rider or Marlon Brando that the leather jacket T shirt it was that sense of I guess machismo and started to become more prevalent and so you are seeing a wider of I can think the perception of homosexuality and I think I'll be using
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Retronauts Episode 97: BRO-totypes