Interview: The Game Fanatics
There are a lot of websites out there that have something to do with video games.
As someone involved with one or two modest sites of my own, I have the pleasure of interacting with those who run others, and very much enjoy communicating over social media such as Twitter. One of the simply coolest people I have run into has been @FanaticalG, who runs the show over at TheGameFanatics.com.
Although The Game Fanatics is a very modern site that covers the most cutting-edge titles in gaming, peripherals, and tech, there is also a notable fondness given towards retro gaming and their influence. I suspect most modern gamers have fond memories of old games, but always appreciate it when webmasters of these sites are willing to talk about older titles.
… which is all a very overly wordy and roundabout way of saying: I recently had the chance of interviewing Charles and Ryan over at The Game Fanatics about games and stuff, and am glad to host their joint comments here! Enjoy.
Eric: For any readers unfamiliar with you two, can you briefly introduce yourselves?
Game Fanatics: Charles here, founder of The Game Fanatics and host of our Game Fanatics Show. Love video games as both as entertainment and artistic medium and love being blown away by the advancement in technology and techniques. I also believe it’s important to remember where we came from, hence why I really dig retro games. It’s awesome hanging out with friends and reliving memories on the Atari or N64.
I’m Ryan Cayari, @RyCayari on Twitter. I’m Charles’ Co-host on the GameFanaticsTV and a contributor on the site. I’ve been gaming since I was 6-years-old, going to the arcades with my dad and playing the NES at home. I’m an all around gamer, enjoying all genres of gaming. I met Charles during the Extra Life Houston marathon in 2011, where we play 24 hours to raise money for the kids at Texas Children’s Hospital. He had an idea about a video podcast and he needed help to put content up on the site and I was more than happy to jump on board.
Eric: With The Game Fanatics website and GameFanaticsTV, you two seem to have a good thing going. You have your own unique features, tech reviews, trailer commentary — a lot to offer. What is the vision of the Fanatics, or how would you describe what you are trying to do for site visitors?
Game Fanatics: We like to inform, entertain and engage. We follow tech and gaming news closely and like all news, we need to impart it to the audience clearly and concisely, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun! We like to joke around with each other. I think Charles and I have the same type of humor so we crack each other up during each show. We’d like to think that if we’re having fun, the audience is having fun. Believe us, we have a couple of people behind the camera that gives good advice to better our podcast. A big shout out to our buddy, Arnell. He’s the man behind the camera and one of the biggest Nintendo fans we know.
Eric: Video games are not the only thing you guys do, but you clearly love ’em. How long have you guys been playing video games, and what were the first ones you can remember playing?
Game Fanatics: I’ve been playing games since I was six. I remember my dad taking me to one of those game rooms in the Philippines where you pay an hour to play an NES, where we played the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2, which is called the Lost Levels in America. That’s the first game I ever played and I remember it being VERY hard. It’s those damn poison mushrooms. Anyway, my mom was working in America at the time and she sent me an American NES with a few games. Since we got Japanese region games, I remember we had to get a converter to play some games, among them my favorites were Bomberman, Donkey Kong Jr., River City Ransom and Mega Man.
Eric: Now, even though you are both obviously up on all the modern titles and keep a cutting-edge perspective, you also don’t hide your love for old-school games either. You talk about the upcoming Wreck-It Ralph movie in a couple episodes of your show, you have retro games in your top 5 lists on the site, you interact with me (a gaming dinosaur!) on Twitter, etc. Do you guys still find any time for playing retro games nowadays?
Game Fanatics: Not as much as I want to! I’m happy that Square Enix, Capcom and Sega have released a few of their old games on the iPhone. While it’s fun to sneak in some Chrono Trigger or Streets of Rage on the iPhone, I’m not too comfortable playing it on the iPhone. I need a controller, dammit! It doesn’t feel the same. The last handheld system I owned was the GBA SP, I loved the hell out of that thing, but I’m looking to get the 3DS XL to get some Virtual Console games. Also, I want another excuse to play the hell out of Star Fox 64 again!
I’m also a sucker for HD remixes or downloadable rereleases. My XBox 360 is full of them, such as the X-Men arcade, the Simpsons arcade and Turtles in Time. I also got Comic Zone on my Wii. That game was hard and I thought that older me could handle the challenge. Nope. That game is still hard.
Eric: Modern or retro, portable or console, whatever: What is your favorite video game of all time?
Game Fanatics: River City Ransom on the NES and then again on the GBA. When I was a kid, I always wanted to be player 2. Why? The player 2 character’s name is Ryan! It’s a classic beat-’em-up with RPG-like progression. I love that you actually felt your character getting stronger. The seamless transitions between the city and streets blew my mind when I was kid. When it was rereleased on the GBA, I got it day one. It was just like I remembered it, but with better graphics. It also looked glorious on the backlit screen of the GBA SP.
On a side note, I LUUUUURVED the Scott Pilgrim game. It’s a great homage to River City Ransom.
Eric: One thing I like about your show is that the two of you obviously have good chemistry together — and you keep things pretty chill, pretty casual, pretty laid back. You obviously just try to have a lot of fun with whatever you do. Is this an intentional vibe you try to put out there, or just a natural reflection of your personalities?
Game Fanatics: Like I mentioned earlier, Charles and I pretty much have the same type of humor and the same taste in games. ! It came naturally, and to be honest, I don’t think neither of us are that good to fake that kind of chemistry! The show is basically us hanging out, we talk and geek out the same way whether the camera is on or off. We have the same passion for gaming, nerd culture and tech. We crack each other up all the time. Actually, one of the challenges of the show is getting a logical flow and not let the both of us go off in a weird tangent. We have our producer to thank for that!
Eric: Video games have obviously come a long way from what they used to be. When you look at the high-definition era of shooters and the mega-popular MMORPGs, can you see how older games have influenced modern games at all?
Game Fanatics: Without older games, we won’t be where we are now. Older games always and will continue to influence modern games. I’m afraid such influences are lost in the blockbuster games, but you can really feel the spirit of older games in indie titles. Lone Survivor by Jasper Byrne not only pays homage to retro games in the art style, but also carries the weight and atmosphere of a Silent Hill game from the XBox era. It’s a masterpiece and I can’t recommend it enough. Shadow Complex takes the style of Metroid and Castlevania and uses the Unreal 3 Engine. It’s a retro-styled game using one of the modern industry standards for game engines. Then there’s Dark Souls. It emulates the difficulty and precision we had to take into account back in the NES days. Dark Souls, to me, was like an early Mega Man game, difficult, but fair. When you messed up, you know why you failed.
Gaming wouldn’t be at this point now without the old games played. The influence is still strong.
Eric: Is there any little thing that you used to see in older games that you wish we still saw in new releases?
Game Fanatics: I miss the fact that you can go to your buddy’s house, order some pizza and play. Everything is online now! I no longer get the excitement of playing Golden Eye with three of my friends in the same room. Sure, I can text those same three guys and we can get on Left 4 Dead, but it’s not the same. The camaraderie you feel when you play alongside a friend dwarfs the feeling you get when you play online. I had more fun playing Zombies Ate My Neighbor coop than I did with Gears of War 3. On top of that, many games, especially racing games, have done away with splitscreen mode. It you want to play with a friend, he or she must have their own console and copy of the game. We need to play together in person more. I need to start that movement somehow.
Eric: Can you tell us about any upcoming Fanatical projects or anything you’re currently working on that you’re excited about?
Game Fanatics: Thanks to our buddy Arnell, who produces the GameFanaticsTV show, we are exploring ways to get more video content on the site. We’re hoping to get more shows that delve into different aspects of being a Game Fanatic, such as tech, movies, comic books and more. We’ve also grown, so we have more people to cover big gaming and tech events, such as PAX, CES and more! The GameFanatics is definitely growing and you’ll see more unique content and cool new projects soon.
Thanks again, guys, and keep gaming fanatically!