This post was delivered via email on September 30, 2019 as dispatch #05. Sign up to learn about a new video game podcast each week.
Here’s a quick review on one of my (admittedly biased) favorite podcasts, New Game Plus!
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New Game Plus
New Game Plus is a weekly podcast where “three guys play one old game for seven days, and then they talk about it.”
The show’s been running for 4 years, and just released episode 201, along with a slew of bonus content to dig into, as well. (Editor’s note: I’ve been editing this show for about 2 years. It’s one of my favorites, but mostly because I spend a bit of time with it each week.)
Episodes are typically around the 50-55 minute mark. Occasionally some special shows are over an hour.
Who hosts it?
New Game Plus is hosted by three guys – Dustin, Kenny, and Nolan. They’re not YouTube celebs, prolific streamers, retro gaming archivists, or journalists.
They are fairly normal guys, and I honestly think that’s the appeal here.
I started out as a listener around Episode 70: Battletoads. I appreciated how down-to-earth and familiar the hosts were. They talked about games the way my friends and I talked about games.
What’s the format?
The point of the show is to discuss one retro game (15 years old or older,) and determine if it’s worth revisiting, or playing for the first time.
New Game Plus is broken up into a few distinguishable segments:
- Intro – Every episode begins with an intro of sort, usually discussing a relevant topic in gaming — like E3 news, a recent trailer drop, new console releases, or events like Games Done Quick.
- The Segue – This has become a signature of the show. Dustin will drop some wordplay to connect the intro topic to the game at hand. Check out the Billy Hatcher episode for a prime example.
- Overview and Gameplay – The gang discusses the general premise of the game, and how the game mechanics work. They’ll touch on story, character and level design, and any unique characteristics of the game.
- Aged – After discussing the game, they transition into a reflection on how well the game aged 15+ years later.
- Final Thoughts – Does this game get their vote for New Game Plus status? It required 2 out of 3 votes. Typically, when a game is bad… it’s bad! But there are plenty of retro games that appeal to different preferences. Their lasting qualities are more subjective. On these episodes, there can be some tension and drama in the final verdict!
- Randomizer and Outro – After they vote, they put the current game to rest and pull the next game at random from a list of fan-submitted games (The Retro Master List) which now covers over 1,000 games. This is the most exciting part of the show. With a list that big, you really never know what to expect.
If you write in your opinion, you might even have it read on air.
What’s so special about that?
Okay. Pick a game at random, talk about it on the next episode… that’s not an original concept. So why add New Game Plus to your feed:
🙌 It’s what happens between episodes that counts…
This is so much more than a podcast. Between episodes, the hosts stream the game of the week on Twitch, share “first play” videos on YouTube (with early access to Patrons,) and discuss the game freely in their Discord server.
When you play along with the show, you can interact with others doing the same. Whether it’s an amazing game like Chrono Trigger, a dud like Rugrats: Totally Angelica, or an oddity like Einhander, people gather in Discord to discuss what makes or breaks each game. Dozens more hang out just to talk life and games.“Community” is a word that gets thrown around a bit on the internet. I can say with certainty that New Game Plus’s followers occupy one of the brightest spots in the dim world video game forums.
🎮 So. Much. Variety.
You really never know what game you’re gonna get. It’s exciting, but also lends itself to the variety this show can deliver. Sometimes you get a Nintendo 64 classic, other times a rare Master System game, and sadly a Windows 95 title that’s almost impossible to get running.
With the “15 years or older” rule being the only parameter, there’s a ton of exciting and miserable games to get into.
🍒 Easy to cherry-pick.
Because you know exactly what game/genre/system/era of gaming you’re getting with each episode, New Game Plus is surprisingly easy to pick up the episodes that interest you, and skip the rest. If you’re into JRPGs on 16-bit consoles, you’ll get ‘em! If you’re not so into real-time strategy games on PC from the early 2000s, you can skip ‘em!
What do others say about it?
There’s a 4.8 star rating on Apple Podcasts currently, from 97reviewers.
Here’s a good one from “Elise_209”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “So nostalgic”
I had a lot of fun reviewing the games I played and loved as a kid. It’s just such a fun podcast.
But don’t expect Norm the Gaming Historian with this show…
Here’s some feedback from a lower review from “jrbgn”:
I keep it in the rotation and listen here and there. I enjoy the premise of the show, but the conversation is often kind of stale and doesn’t offer much in the way of unique insight or critique. In contrast to other podcasts I listen to, such as Retronauts or Watch Out for Fireballs – one thing that frequently bugs me is these guys don’t seem well-read on the history of the releases, sometimes even getting titles or facts incorrect.
I think that fits in squarely with the “these guys are just like you and me” feel of New Game Plus. It’s not meant to be a panel of experts using expensive FPGA hardware, or even non-experts doing extensive research. They’re playing the game, often time on emulators, just as you might if you really wanted to revisit it.
Is it kid-friendly?
Yes! The gang keeps it PG. (Note: You might not care about this… I typically don’t, to be honest, but I’m on an epic quest to find podcasts that I can reliably listen to with my kids in the car!)
New Game Plus gets my vote for New Game Plus status. 🤣
But again, I’m biased. If you’re looking for a weekly discussion on one random old game, and a positive little corner in our dimly-lit internet, this podcast and community has you covered.
Where to listen? What’s a good starting point?
The latest episode couldn’t have been timed better. Check out Episode 201: Link’s Awakening! (Or just jump into a discussion on one of your favorite retro games.)
👇 Here are your links:
Do you already listen to New Game Plus? Have you checked it out after reading this? Love it? Hate it? Let me know your feedback!