Best Gaming Blogs is our brand-new series committed to supporting the best gaming blogs across the Internet (especially indie ones!). For each post, we interview blog owners who inspire us with their original content and passion for all things gaming. Keen to be featured? Drop us a line here and tell us more about your gaming blog! Indie game developers with blogs are also welcomed!
For our debut episode, we reached out to Ralph Durso, esteemed owner of RETRONUKE. We first came across his team of gaming bloggers while searching for fresh reviews on retro-style pixelated games. In all our Google journeys, we found RETRONUKE to be by far one of the best gaming blogs that pays true homage to this much beloved aesthetic (and also, gameplay) niche. But enough from us. We’ll let Ralph himself do the talking!
GLZ: Tell us about a little about yourself and the people behind RETRONUKE!
Ralph: The RETRONUKE team comes from all over the world. Whether it’s California, New York , Alaska, or the UK. We also all have a common love of retro gaming nostalgia and want to share that love with other gamers out there.
I myself have been a huge fan of video games for as long as I can remember. Like many gamers my age (30), the first system I had was the Nintendo Entertainment System. Something about that grey and black box really struck a chord with me.
What’s your fondest memory growing up as a Gen X Nintendo gamer?
Ralph: As a kid, I used to do extra chores around the house to get enough money to go to the Funcoland nearby. They used to have a giant paper list of all the Nintendo games they had and I’d highlight the ones I thought were cool throughout the week. I’d then eagerly wait for that next chance to pick up a new game.
Whether it was the bloops and bleeps of the chiptune soundtracks, the intense challenges (without saving), or the pixel-art graphics, I was absolutely glued to my Nintendo. For me, there’s something about pixel-art and chiptunes that leave a lot of space for your imagination to explore. As a kid, that inspired so much creativity in me. I started drawing and playing guitar because I basically wanted to learn how to play all the songs from Street Fighter 2010 and Mega Man 2. I owe a lot of who I am today because of the NES.
“For me, there’s something about pixel-art and chiptunes that leave a lot of space for your imagination to explore.” – Ralph
Why’d you decide to start RETRONUKE, and when?
Ralph: I started RETRONUKE in 2013 as a personal blog where I could write about new games released using pixel-art graphics. I wanted to share my love for this style with others and was happy to see that developers were creating games that looked like the titles I used to play as a kid. RETRONUKE was my way of connecting with more people out there like me who still wanted and loved this stuff.
The focus of our site hasn’t changed from the start. Our goal is to create a community of gamers that appreciate retro nostalgia and to help keep the memory of those experiences alive. RETRONUKE is my way of giving back to an industry that gave me so much as a kid.
“Our goal is to create a community of gamers that appreciate retro nostalgia and to help keep the memory of those experiences alive.” – Ralph
What’s the most satisfying thing about running a gaming blog such as yours?
Ralph: It’s definitely the positive engagement we get from the indie gaming community and feeling like you’re helping support something you love and believe in. There’s been ton of games like Oniken, Read Only Memories, Axiom Verge & Dropsy to name a few. These games not only pay homage to the retro games that inspired their developers, but also introduce modern mechanics that help keep the style alive and relevant. It’s a great time to be a “retro gamer”!
How is RETRONUKE different from other mainstream gaming blogs?
Ralph: RETRONUKE is different because we’re a bit more niche. We pretty much solely focus on PC indie games that use pixel-art or which have old school gameplay mechanics. We’re also completely self-run by a talented group of writers and would love more gamers that support this idea to come on board and write for us! (contact us).
Likewise, what makes the whole retro / indie gaming community unique?
Ralph: The community is one of the most supportive groups I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Communication is really open with everyone and each person, whether they are a developer or a fan of gaming in general. Twitter has especially been a great place to connect with others to share ideas and promote each other’s games.
“The [retro / indie] gaming community is one of the most supportive groups I’ve had the pleasure of working with.” – Ralph
We love your logo! What inspired it?
Ralph: The site’s logo is inspired by Contra Hard Corps. I wanted a brand logo that captured the gritty textures of post-apocalyptic retro games and love the way it came out.
What’s the environment like for retro-style pixel-art game developers at the moment?
Ralph: In my opinion, STEAM Greenlight and Kickstarter have been super helpful in getting really good games off the ground. Crowdsourcing has been great for understanding the demand for certain types of video games and I’m really happy that we live in a time where this type of diversity in the marketplace is possible. Because of these channels and the prevalence of the internet, we have been able to see pixel-art inspired games that might not have actually gotten made come to the forefront of the industry and become modern classics.
Any potential for pixel-art games to be integrated with emerging VR tech?
Ralph: I don’t see why not. I’m not really sure how well 2D platformers would translate into VR, but I’m sure they’ll find a way. We’ve also seen things like the 3D NES emulator which would probably be really cool to experience in VR. I think we’ll start to see first-person pixel-art games in VR come out initially, followed by other kinds.
Quick blast questions! Your top three favorite indie / retro games?
Ralph: Tough one – Super Metroid, Castlevania Symphony of the night, Hotline Miami 2!
Best gaming platform, ever?
Ralph: NES. Hands down.
Greatest gaming character, ever?!
Ralph: Shovel Knight! Instantly iconic.
Why the extra love for pixels?
Ralph: Less is more.
For more, head on over to RETRONUKE! Keen to write for them? You can reach Ralph here. Be sure to also follow RETRONUKE on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.
Stay tuned for more episodes of Best Gaming Blogs! Want to be interviewed? Contact us!
Love indie games? You might want to check out 10 Unique Games Like Undertale.