Getting to know people is important in all walks of life. Taking the time to appreciate the different nuances of people personalities, what makes someone tick, and the different passions they have, can be one of the most interesting, and rewarding parts of living.
With this in mind, welcome to 20 Questions. A recurring feature where Electronic Bit Byte interview well known, or even up and coming, YouTubers, with the most in depth and informative questions available to the world!
Retropolis Zone is a YouTube channel dedicated to providing some of the most in depth critical analysis of retro video games on the planet.
Retropolis Zone, aka Michael, has reviewed games which will certainly peak the interest of any gamer who has a nostalgic leaning towards classic series such as Mega Man and Sonic the Hedgehog.
If you think that they remain as good, or as bad as you remember, Michael may well change or confirm your view.
Mascot adventures are the order of the day, and what better genre to critique than games that carry such passion from a fervent fan base who often have dividing opinions?!
However, Electronic Bit Byte is here to find out what makes Michael tick, so without further ado, lets get going...
1. What was it that made you become interested in the world of video games?
Starting out immediately with a difficult question, I see. Honestly, I don’t quite remember what it was, because I got into gaming at a very young age. Some of my fondest childhood memories are playing multiplayer games like Crash Team Racing with my family, as well as friends during recess. It’s probably that social aspect of gaming that got me hooked, and doing it solo all went from there. Games simply provided a lot more entertainment than physical toys, drawing, etc.
2. Is your passion for video games still due to that first topic of interest or has your reason for being involved in the video game scene now, changed?
It has certainly changed. While I still play games with friends and family once in a while, many of them play actual "men’s" genres like first-person shooters and FIFA. Those aren't my thing, so these days, I am more about catching up to a ton of games I haven't played before. These games range from classic to modern and obscure to well-known. That said, the primary reason I am involved in the scene these days is my YouTube channel. Whenever I am not at work, chances are I am working on that.
3. What is your most prized video game possession, that is not a game or a console, and why does it mean so much to you?
Do video game related possessions count? My grandma made me a painting of Sonic, Tails and Knuckles together for one of my birthdays as a child. She’s still alive, but for obvious reasons that painting is something I wanna hang onto. Other than that, I don’t think I own anything ''prized''. I am really not much of a collector and you won’t see me buying posters, magazines, figures or anything of the sort. I guess I’m just a basic bitch in that regard.
4. What genre of game do you enjoy playing even though you would say you aren't good at it?
Party games like Guitar Hero, Dance Dance Revolution and SingStar. Seriously, how could you not have a ball with these in a proper social setting? SingStar especially is great, because it gives me the consolation of hearing other people sing. One of my relatives especially believes he’s a talent, but sometimes imaginations don’t match reality.
5. What decision do you wish a game company never made and why?
Naughty Dog shouldn’t have changed Jak and Daxter as drastically as they did. The first game, The Precursor Legacy, is a strong collectathon with great controls and level design. Instead of expanding upon that, though, the franchise was turned into a hotchpotch of mechanics and ideas pulled from the things that were stealing market share in the early 2000s: darker tones, guns, GTA-styled hub worlds, skateboards and vehicles… Jak 2 and Jak III have their own strengths, primarily when it comes to storytelling, characters and cinematics, but the way people look at the franchise seems to have been tarnished by the shift. I think the trilogy would have been better had it stayed true to the roots of the original. Maybe ND could have implemented some cartoony gunplay elements and some more adult humour if needed, kind of like Insomniac did with Ratchet & Clank.
6. If you could only keep 2 consoles and 1 game for each what would they be and why?
This is a cruel question and you are fully aware of that. Off the top of my head, I’d say the PlayStation 2 and the Mega Man X Collection as first pick. I love the Mega Man X franchise (even though half of the instalments suck), and though picking a collection is probably cheating, I can’t choose my favourite instalment. For the second pick, I’m going with the Wii U and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, since that’s a multiplayer game I can pour hours and hours into with friends without getting bored. Ask me tomorrow and I’ll probably give different answers.
7. Why do you believe video games are still relevant in the world and are still so popular?
Video games started out as arcade-y and for geeks only. Over time, though, the industry has evolved so much. If you look past the AAA stuff, there is massive variety and something for everybody as a result. Video games can be an amazing source for competition, they can tell gripping and compelling stories, but they can also be something more relaxed: puzzle games like Professor Layton; life simulators like The Sims; or even visual novel-esque titles such as Ace Attorney. The interactivity of games is something not available in any other medium, so I don’t see it going anywhere now that it's matured so much.
8. Growing up, what was the one game that you wished was on the console that you owned but wasn't and why?
I was largely oblivious to big hitters on other platforms, because most of my friends had the same consoles as me. Usually I would just play whatever my parents bought me. I didn’t even know what Zelda was until we got The Wind Waker in 2003, for example. I did often play Mario Kart 64 on the Nintendo 64 at my aunt's house, so that's probably the best answer I can give you. Of the fifth generation, we only had a PlayStation 1.
9. Who inspires you to continue to better yourself and your channel?
I take inspiration from numerous channels and videos, sometimes even subconsciously. A SomecallmeJohnny clone is what I started out as, but then I slowly took a more MatthewMatosis approach to reviewing games. Now that's sort of transformed into a style of my own. Even still, I continue to watch many different creators, and there is something to learn and take away from most of them: I like TheGamingBrit’s sarcastic, bad-ass delivery in voice-overs, I like Nitro Rad’s camera and lighting work, I like Dark Pixel Gaming’s concise writing, etc. That said, I’m most often inspired by the presentation of other channels and videos. Rerez and My Life in Gaming come to mind in terms of channels that are so aesthetically pleasing and distinct. I’d love to nail that myself someday.
10. At the end or your time on this earth, what game will you regret having not played, or not dedicated more time to?
Well, I try to knock every popular franchise/game that I am even faintly interested in off my backlog. It may not happen now or within the next year, but dammit I’ll get to them at some point. I would have told you Metal Gear as an answer to this question a few months ago, for instance, but I’ve actually played and finished Metal Gear Solid recently and am starting Sons of Liberty soon. Maybe Skyrim? I’ve never played that and don’t plan to.
11. If you had the opportunity to own your own game development studio, and money was no object, what game would you create?
Probably a very difficult, yet fair and addictive action game in 3D. Boss fights would be a major focus, but battles against more regular enemies should also be stimulating and exciting. The cutscenes would be highly cinematic, overall telling a truly meaningful story that goes beyond the scope of the game itself. I guess NieR: Automata is the closest to what I’m describing right now, but I’d make the settings and characters more fantasy-like with bright and vivid colours and such.
12. How would you like your audience to describe you and how close do you think you are to achieving this?
Professional and objective/fair, but also relatable, humane and laid-back. As I do game analysis, I naturally want to discuss a game with as little bias as possible. At the same time, I want the audience to see me as a genuine person they can follow, with his own preferences, opinions and personality. Johnny from HappyConsoleGamer is somebody I really love for that reason: that unique and welcoming flare he has to him. The closer to the centre of these described two ends I can get, the more satisfied I am with my content. I'm often told being objective and fair is something I've mastered pretty well, and I personally think my voice-overs have consistently become more natural and pleasing to listen to. My script writing could still benefit from more of that ‘’everyday speech’’ kind of quality to it, though, and I’d also like to do on-camera appearances in the future.
13. What is your earliest or most enduring video gaming memory?
The earliest video gaming memory I can remember, is of me sitting in the car with a newly bought, Platinum release copy of Crash Bandicoot. I still recall the streets we drove through and all on the way home, which are actually very close to the house I live in now. Another cool, early memory I have, is of glitching through the Barrel of Doom in Sonic 3 using the bubble shield. I got exceedingly excited when I could finally continue the game, and the hairdresser who was over, thought it was very cute. Funny that I was better with the females as a kid than I am now.
14. What one scene/section of gameplay in any game tweaks your nostalgic interest, and when you think of it, or play it again, makes you feel good?
It would have to be any boss encounter in Final Fantasy XIII that plays ‘’Saber’s Edge’’ in the background. The way the characters move around during battles, along with the build up and then climax of that godlike music track -- that’s some nostalgia right there. Final Fantasy XIII in general is a highly nostalgic game for me. I bought it with my own money back in 2010, when I was 14 years old, and it’s an experience I will never forget. The game is generally not liked by fans to put it lightly, but the music, the art design and graphics, the characters -- I’m very attached to it all.
15. What game do you love that is largely disliked by the majority and why do you think it resonates with you?
See, this is where I originally planned to say Final Fantasy XIII, but a large part of why I love it is the nostalgia; I fully acknowledge how thoroughly, heavily flawed that game is. Now, usually I find myself agreeing with or at the very least understanding why people consider a game bad, so I'll just give a reverse answer for this one: Super Metroid. To this day, people kiss its ass 24/7, yet I find the controls and physics too damn awkward and floaty. The map feature also leaves things to be desired in functionality, so I often forgot where I needed to return to with newly obtained items. Come at me, SM fanatics.
16. If you could only use one controller from the history of all consoles but it worked on all systems, what would your choice be?
The PlayStation 4 controller. It’s more ergonomic than the previous PlayStation controllers and has the D-pad in the right place for 2D games. I think I prefer the Xbox 360 and Xbox One controllers for 3D games, but that D-pad placement is a no-go for 2D games. The PS4 controller is a better all-rounder for me.
17. If you could have any piece of equipment in real life from any video game what your choice be and why?
The Sheepinator from Ratchet & Clank 2 would be neat. I’d get a laugh out of turning people into sheep.
18. If you could change your name to any video game characters, what would you change it to and why?
Man, I really couldn’t tell you with this one. ‘’Gordon Freeman’’ sounds pretty rad, I suppose? Normally I don’t think about this type of stuff, y'know.
19. What do you think is the next stage of gaming?
Probably another generation of consoles like this one, just with increased graphical capabilities. I think they’ll also start making advancements towards games being streamed online akin to Netflix. The internet connection isn’t there yet for everybody, but I could see them pushing it forward.
20. In life, what would you say or do to inspire someone to achieve greatness?
I still struggle to find the best way forward in life myself, but I would advise a couple things. To begin with, present yourself (and your work) well! You can be an amazing person with amazing talent, but if you fail to show this to the world and grab people’s attention, you’re making everything needlessly harder for yourself. Appearances and first impressions matter! Secondly, don’t give up on what you really want and feel passionate about. If there is something you want to do, do it! Don’t wait around and make excuses. Get to work! Every day that you waste is a day you won’t get back. Ignore the people who tell you that you cannot do something, or people who make fun of your failures. And don’t compare yourself to others far more experienced. You will not be as good as them staring out, but if you keep practising and training, you’ll get there. Lastly, do be careful not to lose sight of reality. If you want to turn your passion into something profitable and sustainable, make sure you have an income while you work on your passion. This way you have a backup in case things don’t work out or at least not as swiftly as you anticipated. Honestly, I could put so much more here, but the main point is: it’s your life and yours alone, and there will be opportunities and options along the way to make it all work. Go make the best of it!
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