Monday, December 29, 2014

Episode 53 - Get Ready for 2015!

This week we look ahead to what's coming in 2015, as well as talk about cinematics in gaming!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Episode 52 - Our Top 5 PS1 Games

This episode we talk about our top 5 PS1 games, reminisce with some holiday gaming stories, and flip out over Suikoden 2 finally hitting the PSN!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Episode 51 - A New Side of Suikoden

Suikoden!  That's the topic of the day.  We start off with our review of Suikoden II, and then invite Ryan back from the Suikoden Revival Movement to give a whole new perspective on the series!  Get ready for some Suikoden knowledge bombs!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Episode 50 - A Massively Effective Episode

It's our 50th freaking episode!!  We decide to talk about our love for a series that has grown with us just as our show has grown:  The Mass Effect Trilogy.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Episode 49 - Our Top 5 Horror Games

Matt joins JJ and Marc to talk about what it takes to give a video game that scare-factor!  We talk about our top 5 horror themed games, as well as another music-filled sidequest from Raul over at the Super Smart Gaming Podcast!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Episode 48 - Our Top 5 NES Games

This episode we kick things off with Marc trying his hand at the news.  We then go into our review of Diablo 3, and finish things off by going retro!  That's right, it's our top 5 NES games!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Episode 47 - Our Top 5 Guilty Pleasure Games

This week we talk about those games that you love, but don't want anyone else to know!  Brian goes on a rant over the upcoming Destiny "expansion", and of course gives Marc crap about Suikoden II!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Episode 46 - Our Top 5 Gaming Controllers

This episode we had the chance to talk to Raul of the Super Smart Gaming Podcast!  Raul told us all about his show, the sidequests he's done for us, and of course, his top 5 games!  We also talk about our top 5 video game controllers!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Episode 45 - Digital Dilemma

Oh man!  If there was ever an episode to send in "Brian Hate Mail," THIS IS IT!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Episode 44 - Our Top 5 Video Game Sidekicks

It's official, all 3 of the hosts have moved into the current generation of gaming!  JJ goes on a huge rant about Nintendo's recently announced "New 3DS", and we also talk about our top 5 video game sidekicks!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Episode 43 - To the Future!

This week we recommend some more games for people on a budget, as well as talk about the future of VR gaming!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Episode 42 - Our Top 5 Video Game Publishers

This week we talk about our top 5 video game publishers!  We've also got some great news stories, announce our Twitter contest, and Raul of the Super Smart Gaming Podcast joins us again for another Sidequest!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Episode 41 - A Different Perspective

This week we talk to our first official reviewer, Izsak!  We also go over what it really means to be a "gamer".


Monday, August 11, 2014

Episode 40 - Our Top 5 Video Game Plots

Matt joins us again this week to talk about our top 5 video game plots!  We also introduce our new segment: Sidequests!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Episode 39 - We're All Gamers (Part 2)

This week we continue honoring women in video games, Frozen North style!  What does that mean?  It means we do a massive top 5 list of course!  Rachel and Katie (Terra and Lightning's RPG Roundup) are back again for part 2 of our special episode to talk about our top 5 female video game characters!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Episode 38 - We're All Gamers (Part 1)

It's the first of our two-part special where we talk about girls and gaming!  This episode we are joined by our friends Katie and Rachel from the podcast "Terra and Lightning's RPG Roundup!"  We talk about some of the stereotypes and misconceptions that some people may have when it comes to video games and the girls that play them.  Next week:  Part 2!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Episode 37 - "Rampunched!"

This week we're talking about the game that JJ and Marc constantly gush on.  Come see what all the fuss is about with an entire episode on Final Fantasy VI!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Episode 36 - Our Top 5 Non-RPGs

This week we talk about our top 5 non-RPGs!  We would also sincerely like to apologize to anyone named "David Schafer." 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Episode 35 - Matt's Effect

This week we talk to our newest hire, Matt!  He tells us a little bit about his gaming background and talks about his top 5 games of all time!  We also finally get Marc's opinion on E3!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

State of the North Address 1



State of the North
            Well, it’s been a full year since I got a couple of my friends together and decided to make a podcast about story-focused video games.  The Frozen North has come a long way from just 3 guys hanging out and talking about the characters and adventures that we grew up with.  I’d like to take the time to address some of the highlights that we’ve had over the past year.
1.      Learning to Cast
a.       Honestly the three of us had virtually no clue what we were doing at the start.  I had done some minor recording sessions with Marc a few years prior, totally for fun, and never released anything, but I knew that The Frozen North was something I really wanted to try to make succeed and share with others.  I recently went back and listened to episode 1, just to see how much we have changed since then.  All I can say is “Wow.”  How anyone could have ever been a fan of the show right at the beginning is still a mystery to me, and it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come as a group.  The three of us have learned how to improve our sound quality, have cut down on the “um’s” and “uh’s” by a huge margin, and really feel a lot more comfortable in front of the mic.  I can say that, with confidence, we’ve come a long way from where we were.
2.      Other Podcasts
a.       We have gotten shout-outs and mentions on several other shows, and been influenced by quite a few of them.  I’d like to take a quick second to just mention a few of the big ones that have stood out to me, and have never disappointed in entertaining and motivating me to make a better show. 
                                                              i.      The RPG Cast (RPGamer.com)
                                                            ii.      Terra and Lightning’s RPG Roundup
                                                          iii.      The Dice Tower
                                                          iv.      The Sean Widmer Podcast
                                                            v.      The Video Games Show
b.      All of these are fantastic shows that, if you haven’t checked them out, head on over to iTunes and download their latest episode and give them a listen.  You won’t be disappointed! 
3.      Interview with Ryan of the Suikoden Revival Movement
a.       On Episode #19, “Saving Suikoden”, we talked with Ryan, who is one of the admins over at the “Suikoden Revival Movement.”  Marc and I just thought it would be cool to get in touch with a group that is working to revive a series that he and I are both really big fans of, but instead we got so much more.  Ryan talked to us about Suikoden such a great and memorable series, in addition to the state of modern RPGs, the gaming industry, and the direction of story-focused gaming.  It’s one of my favorite episodes that we’ve done so far, and the overwhelmingly positive response that we got from listeners (even ones who had never played a Suikoden title) was all the proof we needed to know that we had recorded something special.  I’m glad that I still keep in touch with Ryan every now and then as well, because not only did I find someone who could give us insight into a fantastic movement to revive a wonderful and breathtaking video game series, but I also made a great new friend to keep in touch with and talk about gaming every now and then.  I can’t thank Ryan enough for taking the time to come on our show, and anyone who has not gone to support their movement needs to go check them out!
4.      Our Own Website
a.       Facebook and Twitter have been great, but I’m so glad we finally got the website up and running.  Truthfully, I didn’t even think that we’d be anywhere near getting an actual site within the first year.  Well, to be fair, I wasn’t even sure we were going to LAST a year if no one liked our show!  With the emails we were getting and the requests for a forum, we figured “What the heck?” and gave it a shot.  I like what we have.  I’m hoping to do a lot more with it over the next few months, and hopefully we can get some more traffic over there to get more people involved in the conversations we have on the forum.  I’m extremely pleased with the way it’s working out so far.
5.      New Addition(s) to the FN Family
a.       After creating the website, it was clear we wanted to start expanding.  So we put the call out there for people to join us as reviewers, forum moderators, and contributors.  The first person to join the three of us here at The Frozen North was Matt, a longtime friend of Marc’s and mine.  Matt joined us as our first forum moderator, and has been doing a great job so far.  We plan on bringing him on the show very soon as well, so that everyone can get to know him better.  We DID also bring on one other person as our first official reviewer, but we are waiting to announce that until a little further down the road.  Needless to say, we are extremely excited!
6.      The FN Podcast
a.       Brian
                                                              i.      Brian has come a long way from when we first started.  He’s always excited no matter what’s happening, and jumps the gun on giving every opinion he has, usually before getting all the facts.  That’s why we love him.  He’s got personality coming out of his ears, and to listen to the way he talked in the beginning and how he sounds on the show now, it’s amazing to think that it’s only been a year.  Without Brian, I think the show would have gotten stale pretty quick.
b.      Marc
                                                              i.      Simply put, there would be no Frozen North without Marc.  I have no clue what I’m doing when it comes to the sound equipment, but Marc has taught himself from the ground up, and has done a spectacular job making sure that our sound quality is the best it can be with the equipment we have.  What’s funny is (and he’ll hate me for saying this), Marc is typically pretty quiet around people he doesn’t know, but if you listen to the show, you’d never know it.  I’m so glad that the world gets to hear Marc’s wonderful personality, and I’m extremely grateful to him for showing the same passion for the success of the show as myself.  The amount of time and effort he has put in to the show has been invaluable, and I can’t thank him enough.

Truth be told, I don’t fully know what the road ahead holds for the show.  I can tell you that I’m insanely excited to find out though.  We’ve got guests, new segments and top 5 lists, reviews, and all of the crazy inside jokes and goofy humor that you’ve come to expect from The Frozen North, planned for the coming months.  Again, I can’t believe it’s been an entire year already.  This podcast, we’ve talked so much about all of the stories in these great games, gone over our favorites, our least favorites, and everything in between.  However, I’m writing this as a sort of log to keep track of another story that I find compelling:  Our own.  I can’t thank the fans enough for the overwhelming support we’ve gotten in such a short time, and it’s already more than living up to my expectations.  Please keep the feedback coming, we want to hear from you!  If you all promise to stick with us, I promise that we will do our best to continue bringing you the best that story-focused gaming has to offer.  Until then, keep on gaming!

Sincerely and Most Grateful,
Joseph “JJ” Santaniello

Monday, June 30, 2014

Episode 34 - Our Top 5 Games in Our Backlog

This week we talk about our top 5 games that are in our backlog!  We also introduce our new theme song!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Episode 33 - Gamer Burnout

Marc is back, and just in time to talk to us about what we do when we get "gamer burnout"!  Brian also talks about how 23% = "Perfect".

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Episode 31 - P. I. Poe

This episode we go over some things that listeners say they're excited for at E3 this year.  We also have a review of "The Witcher", and talk a little bit about gaming on a budget!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Episode 30 - Our Top 5 Western RPGs

Episode 30!  First off we'd like to thank everyone who's supported us and stuck with us so far!  We really appreciate all of the kind words we've received over the past year, and hope to continue to entertain!  This episode we talk about our top 5 western RPGs.  Also, Brian makes up a new word....."Drorigins?"

Monday, May 26, 2014

Episode 29 - Pre E3 4 Thee

This episode we talk about what we're hoping to hear about at E3 2014!  We also have a long winded discussion about Fanboys and their impact on the gaming community.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Episode 28 - Our Top 5 Underrated Games

JJ's voice is a bit out of it this week, so Marc and Brian do most of the talking.  What does that mean?  They get to make fun of him of course!  We also talk about our top 5 underrated games!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Episode 27 - Bravely Repetitive

This week we have a review of Bravely Default for the 3DS!  We also talk about games we'd like to see come out with a new entry, and *gasp* we're also looking to expand our ranks!


Monday, May 5, 2014

Episode 26 - Our Top 5 Least Favorite Games

This week we announce our screenshot contest winner!  We also mix things up a bit in our Spotlight segment, and go over our top 5 least favorite games!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Episode 25 - Walking a Fine Line

This episode we have a discussion about religion in video games in our "Beyond the Game" segment.  We also talk about the most time logged into a single game, and of course, Brian gets chipped more than once!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Episode 24 - Our Top 5 Games We Bought on a Whim

This week we talk about our top 5 games that we bought on a whim!  We also talk a bit about Xeno-games and announce a great new contest!  Plus, our website is finally going live!


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Episode 23 - F F V I I

Love it or hate it, Final Fantasy VII made waves when it was first released back in 1997, and is still a huge discussion point among RPG fans today.  That's why we've decided to devote an entire episode to it!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Episode 21 - FN Horror Stories

This week we complete our review of the Mass Effect Storyline with Mass Effect 3!  We also talk about some horror stories that we've had to endure throughout our gaming lives! http://archive.org/download/Episode21_20140329/Episode%2021.mp3

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

Spotlight - Celestian Tales: Old North (Ekuator Games Interview)

Last week we had a chance to talk to Cipto Adiguno, Producer of Celestian Tales: Old North at Ekuator Games, about their Kickstarter campaign. While the Kickstarter campaign has since surpassed its goal, you still have time to help them reach their stretch goals. A prototype of the game is available here.


TFN: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us! How would you describe Celestian Tales: Old North to someone who knows nothing about it?

Ekuator Games: As it says on the campaign page, Celestian Tales: Old North is a game that aims to redefine the classic RPG. It does this by combining classic gameplay aspects with refreshing visuals, unique storytelling method with multiple characters, and a heavy storyline very unusual to the genre.

TFN: In your Kickstarter description you call out RPGs in which you play as the "chosen hero", who fights dragons and saves the world. What is your opinion on these cliches and do you consider Celestian Tales a rejection of the aforementioned cliches?

Ekuator Games: These clich├ęs work. It's very hard to go wrong with the standard formula, and players don't usually complain if they become the savior yet again. With this in mind, it's understandable why few games want to stray from the 'safe lane'. In some ways Celestian Tales rejects that in an RPG we're always the 'good guys'. Remember when we stole from boxes inside people's houses, and did it right in front of their eyes? Yeah.

TFN: Celestian Tales will be released in three parts, with a plot spanning three decades. What are the challenges and rewards of telling a story over such an extended period of time?

Ekuator Games: The biggest challenge is to make sure that everything do change. How do the lands change, how did characters grow and mature, and how your choices affect them. They have very broad possibilities and describing it into the game is very tough.

The reward is that players can forge a bond better with both the world and the characters. Having your decisions matter makes you take responsibility for what happens, and that integrates you to become part of the game itself. You can understand how the world and characters become what they are right now because you've witnessed life-changing events of the past. No media other than games can deliver this kind of experience.

TFN: In many ways your game strikes me as a tribute to Japanese style RPGs, but the deep choices and consequences you've hinted at are more characteristic of Western RPGs. Are you fans of both, and what do you consider the strengths of each sub-genre?

Ekuator Games: I'm personally a fan of both. JRPGs fill up most of my time in the PlayStation / PS2 era, while WRPGs in the last few years of PC era.

When I return to my consoles play JRPGs, it struck me how they often show a world that is much brighter and happier than the real world. Even when it's about a land torn by war, the vibrant colours and character designs make those problems seem trivial. WRPGs on the other hand aim to be as close as possible to the reality, describing the grave matters at hand as it should be, but sometimes lacking the 'fantasy' aspects.

TFN: On your page and updates, you've mentioned famine, most notably with the phrase "Honor doesn't fill your stomach". Unpleasant truths like this would be glossed over by many RPGs, but seem to be a core concept in Celestian Tales. Can you describe your approach/philosophy in developing the plot?

Ekuator Games: We want to build a story where the biggest enemy is humanity itself. A story where the player will be unsure whether all the sacrifices made were worth the outcome. We want to touch the player in a personal level, up to a point where he/she might even question his/her own sense of morality.

Ekuator's vision is for its games to ultimately be part of you. This is one of the ways we do it.

TFN: Are there any games, movies, or other sources that have served as inspiration for Celestian Tales?

Ekuator Games: The storytelling in Celestian Tales is heavily influenced by western works such as George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire, Metal Gear Solid 3, and Mass Effect.

TFN: We are very impressed with the visual design in Celestian Tales: Old North! Can you explain how important it was to pursue a handcrafted 2D perspective versus a 3D or tile-based approach?

Ekuator Games: From the start we wanted to re-imagine the classic RPG. Top-down perspective was the norm back then, and so we decided to pursue that angle. Using 3D for the environment and sprites, while possible, would stray too far from the original intention. The game wouldn't be a re-imagining but something else entirely, and so we set aside that idea.

We originally tried to use tiles for the environment, but weren't satisfied with how it looked. It was more like a vintage remake than a re-imagining. In this time and age, we thought we need better graphics than a game released two decades ago. After a lot of trials, hand-painted environments and pixel sprites was the answer. They're malleable enough for us to create almost anything needed, and look good enough for the game to have its own unique identity.

TFN: Ekuator Games ran a Kickstarter campaign in 2013 which did not meet its goal within the allotted time, but you've come back with some vast improvements and it looks very likely you will exceed the goal with time to spare. Is there any advice you’d offer to aspiring game designers looking at the Kickstarter platform?

Ekuator Games: There are lots! The biggest advice is this: *listen to your backers. *They are people who believe in your dreams and idea, and contributed to it. You don't need any more reason to treat them as well as you can.

Also: *don't hide your game. *The old adage, "Obscurity is worse than piracy" is true. Build it as good as you can and share it with as many people you can find. If your story has a great twist, don't hide it. If your characters are quirky, show it. You'll receive a lot of feedbacks and have people interested. When you've taken those feedbacks into your game and have nurtured a community, that's when you should go for Kickstarter.

TFN: Our podcast is known for doing Top 5 lists every week, Celestian Tales is shaping up to be an incredible RPG. What are your Top 5 Role Playing Games?

Ekuator Games: Only 5? That's going to be hard... well, this an assorted personal pick:
- Suikoden 2 & 3
- Mass Effect Trilogy (though the ending is a bit disappointing)
- Chrono Trigger
- Final Fantasy VI
- Metal Gear Solid 3 (great story, but maybe doesn't count as an RPG)

TFN: Again, thank you so much for talking with us! Is there anything else you'd like to communicate about Celestian Tales: Old North?

Ekuator Games: Thank you for talking with us! Celestian Tales has evolved a long way up to this point, and it's thanks to everyone who believed in the project. We couldn't have made it here without you :)


Check out the Celestian Tales: Old North Kickstarter and consider donating over at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ekuatorgames/celestian-tales-old-north-redefining-the-classic-r

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Episode 19 - Saving Suikoden

It's a "Can't Miss" episode!  We talk to Ryan, one of the admins of the Suikoden Revival Movement, which we mentioned in a previous episode.  He talks to us with his feelings about the Suikoden series, JRPGs in general, and the future of the movement!  We also go over our top 5 funniest games, plus ANNOUNCEMENTS! http://archive.org/download/Episode19_201403/Episode%2019.mp3

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Episode 18 - Power Rangers Meets Final Fantasy Meets Dragons

This episode Marc and JJ talk about what it really means to be a villain in video games, as well as going over their top 5 open world/sandbox games! http://archive.org/download/Episode18_20140219/Episode%2018.mp3

Monday, February 10, 2014

Episode 17 - Our Top 5 Games of 2013

This week we go over our top 5 games from 2013, and knock out a quick review of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds for the Nintendo 3DS!  http://archive.org/download/Episode17_20140210/Episode%2017.mp3

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Episode 16 - Our Top 5 Plot Twists We Didn't See Coming

Spoilers!....Well not really.  In this episode we take you "To the Moon", and then back down to Earth to recruit the 108 Stars of Destiny in the first game in the "Suikoden" series.  We also talk about our top 5 plot twists that we didn't see coming! http://archive.org/download/Episode16_20140127/Episode%2016.mp3

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Episode 15 - Our Top 5 Underrated Video Game Characters

Reviews, reviews, and more reviews!  We take a look at a couple of indie games that you may not have heard of, as well as the first game in the Amnesia series, and Dead Island!  Marc and JJ also stage an intervention for one of Brian's video game habits! http://archive.org/download/Episode15_20140112/Episode%2015.mp3

Monday, January 6, 2014

Spotlight: Long Night Q&A with Trickster Face

We had a chance to talk to developer Trickster Face last week about their Kickstarter Survival Horror Game, Long Night. A demo of their upcoming game is available on their website: http://www.trickster-face.com/

TFN: How would you describe Long Night to someone who knows nothing about it?

Trickster Face: Long Night is a third person survival horror about intimate fears coming from family drama. The characters are a bunch of teenagers in an American holyday camp in the 90’s. The player will have to understand the meaning of the fears to face them and use his intelligence and instinct to survive this supernatural night.

TFN: In your Kickstarter video you say, "Survival Horror is more than shooting hordes of monsters." Can you elaborate on how this thought has impacted your game design?

Trickster Face: With Long Night, we choose to remove the weapons from the game design and focus on reflection above destruction. The gameplay was design to answer directly to the scenario and vice versa. It means that all features (exploration, chase, riddles and bosses) make sense in the story. For example, you will not have out of context riddles (find the jewel to put it in the statue to find another item, to finally open a door, to progress). In Long Night, resolve a riddle will help you to understand the psychology of the character and find direct way to face the fears.

TFN: Are there any games, movies or other sources that have inspired and influenced Long Night?

Trickster Face: Of course Long Night was inspired by many sources, like “it” from Stephen King (and his work in general), the urban legends, Silent Hill 2 for the psychological aspect, Resident Evil 1 for its atmosphere. In the movies, we were inspired by classic horror like Psycho, Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, Friday the 13th… We want to build Long Night as a love declaration to the horror gender.

TFN: How do you feel the long-form storytelling of video-games enables you to explore fear in ways movies (which are typically shorter than three hours) cannot?

Trickster Face: Long Night use an approach closer to the TV shows. We take the video game time to dig into the characters back story. We want the player to feel intimate with those teenagers so they can relate to their own life, past and present.

TFN: Can you describe how player agency has been beneficial and also challenging in designing a Survival Horror game?

Trickster Face: During the development of Long Night we focus on the reward of the player’s implication. Meaning that more the player interact and explore, more knowledge and more horror events he will get. We build the scenario with several level of interpretation so, as a player, you can build your own Long Night experience. It gives to the game a replay value and above the possibility to discuss about your vision of the story with other players.

TFN: What has your experience been with the Kickstarter process and is there any advice you’d offer to aspiring game designers looking at the platform?

Trickster Face: Well, we can say about Kickstarter that it requires a lot of work of presentation and communication. It’s a really living platform, so it’s difficult to be noticed when you’re surrounded by so many ideas. Today, making a game became easier with the accessibility of development tools, but the consequences are that the press is submerge by interesting projects. So, our advice to any game designer looking at this platform, could be: “Don’t come with just an idea, but bring some concrete to your audience so they can understand your project better”.

TFN: Our podcast is known for doing Top 5 lists every week, Long Night promises to be a truly frightening Survival Horror game. What are your Top 5 Survival Horror games?

Trickster Face: Top Five horror games of Trickster Face

1 Resident Evil Rebirth
2 Silent Hill 2
3 Resident Evil Code Veronica
4 Project Zero 2
5 Alan Wake/Obscure

TFN: Thanks for taking time to talk to us! Is there anything else you’d like to say about Long Night?

Trickster Face: Thanks to you for giving us the opportunity to talk about our first born: Long Night.

Our ambition is to make a game very close to the player, because that’s what fear is about, intimacy…

This isn’t a game about psychosis and unbelievable stories. It’s a game about you, me and the truth inside us.

Check out the Long Night Kickstarter and consider donating over at: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1102758921/long-night