Podcasting is a huge part of my life. Growing up, I hated talk radio and thought it was boring due to how much of it was about local sports or the weather. Fast forward a good 10 years from that: I hardly ever play music anymore and (try to) put out three podcasts a week on this site myself. For your pleasure, here are some of my more beloved podcasts and some thoughts on each.
Along with SModcast, Podtoid was my first real escort down the podcast path. Although they had done radio-show type content for quite awhile before I jumped on board at episode 79, they were quickly my favorite video gaming podcast at the time to listen to and I cherished my time with the group every week. Unfortunately for us Anthony Burch was offered a new job, left Destructoid around episode 148 and after a close to a year of no updates, hosting duties were picked up by Jim Sterling.
Whereas Anthony would act very much like a guide through the podcast, Jim unfortunately uses the podcast as more of a personal playtime with his regular co-host Jonathan Holmes. This wouldn’t be so bad if there were more of balance between serious discussion and ridiculousness but instead, more often than not, only a nugget of the expertise and opinions that I even come to the podcast for in the first place is available and hidden within often rather childishly overwrought and overplayed discussions about how to sexually exploit/abuse Jonathan Holmes. In all honesty, it isn’t even the subject matter so much as how much they beat the horse to death.
This is where it gets hard to rate this podcast. On one-hand, Podtoid holds a special place in my heart because of the quality discussions, opinions and banter between the 3-5 co-hosts under the supervision and direction of Anthony Burch. Hell, I STILL download those old shows and listen to them and am amazed at how well they hold up with little production value more than knowledgeable people talking into a microphone. On the other hand, we have the new face of Podtoid which is essentially a podcast created simply for the hosts to hang out and take some time goofing-off in each others’ company. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily but when the same joke is played out for literally almost 20 minutes of an hour and some show, only to make way for the next half-hour of another ridiculous joke and then finish with 15 minutes of good, solid talk… it just makes it so hard to get excited for. Worst part about it is when the serious talks do happen, it’s usually some of the best on the internet.
Anthony Burch hosting era
Jim Sterling hosting era
The things I loved about the old Podtoid are somewhat represented in this sort of “reunion” podcast where the old members of Destructoid that have moved onto new things get together, herded by Brad Nicholson whenever they get some spare time. As much as this might seem like the perfect answer to my drought of the old Podtoid crew, The Electric Hydra updates so infrequently and randomly that it’s hard to really recommend it to anyone as more than a one off of old episodes to visit when bored. Sure, I still get excited when I see the RSS feed light up but many times it’s literally just been with Brad and Joseph talking about their football teams for half an hour. When it hits, it’s a great taste of the past though.
I came to the Giant Bombcast much later than many others might have but that doesn’t mean I didn’t go back and catch up on every single episode I could get my hands on. The reasoning behind my enjoyment of the podcast really stems from the same reason I enjoy the site; I like the personalities of the editors and writers for Giant Bomb. The chemistry between the hosts is one that only comes from years of cultivation and it makes for very open, comfortable and earnest discussions. It also helps that they each have differing opinions in video games and are very experienced in the art of discussing them. For the most part, I really enjoy and respect the hosts’ opinions on whatever subject they’re discussing and usually feel like I got something out of listening without worrying about major plot points of new games being ruined. Although, sometimes it can get a little annoying how often some will cut others off but overall it’s not too bad.
If I had to name one major, glaring issue I have with this podcast, it’s how little fan service is provided. For a website built(literally!) by a very devout and loyal community, it seems like a problem when only two “reader questions” are picked and are generally the most ridiculous questions that could be chosen. Maybe this would feel a little less like a spit in the face if the reasons behind not reading or answering more were more tactful than “this one sucked”, “I don’t want to answer this” or even just “meh”.
Okay, I know it’s somewhat gauche to even mention this considering my very occasional involvement in it and direct connection to the hosts but the Top Down Perspective are in many ways the main reason I do what I do today.
Where Destructoid and Giant Bomb were directly responsible for putting the idea in my mind that podcasting is a thing I would like to do, this was the podcast that made the idea accessible in my mind and cultivated a deep-seeded appreciation for the art of this relatively young medium (podcasting, not conversation). Obviously, being the main way I met Nathan through mutual friend/host Jon also has a HUGE influence on what this site’s main podcast has become.
The biggest downside is one many people won’t experience but since I know the hosts decently well at this point and speak weekly to one of them about some of the discussions they have on-air there is little surprise for me in what they talk about and how each will respond to certain things, making it somewhat redundant.
I think the best way to describe Mega64 for anyone who doesn’t already know who they are is a video game-centric comedy troupe that specializes in parodying specific facets of the video game industry, including moments in video games themselves. If you know who Mega64 are and enjoy their off-the-wall humor and ridiculous satire then you know what to expect.
This is a strange one for me as it’s originally shot/streamed live as a video podcast but the times I’m able to get to it are in audio format only so there are sometimes visual gags or jokes that I just can’t pick up on. There are also a couple moments that I’ve found they went too long on a specific discussion or joke and I somewhat lost interest in listening. Overall, I love listening to these guys but they aren’t the first thing I play on any given day.
Anyone into the podcast scene and a World of Warcraft player has heard The Instance and although I don’t feel I need to sing its praises, let me get my vocal chords warmed up anyways.
Now, let’s just put aside for a moment the fact that the sound quality is consistently extraordinary even under the pressures of recording live, the hosts are very genuine and their excitement for World of Warcraft is infectious. Let’s also put aside the more cynical side that might say the only reason they’re so well known is due to their early start, friends at Blizzard and somewhat brown-nosing attitude.
The truth of the matter is World of Warcraft only really has new noteworthy updates every few weeks with excitement for the game in general dwindling every few months to almost non-existence. Keeping this in mind, The Instance is still somehow able to put out a weekly show revolving around a game that goes through many droughts of excitement without any lapse in quality. They are a great example of not just a World of Warcraft podcast but how every podcaster should strive for consistency and quality.
One of the things I always loved in World of Warcraft was the story and lore in… well, the world of Warcraft. Sure, many origins might have retroactively been sloppily tossed into how we understand the lore of the Warcraft universe today due to the first couple of games having very bland and almost non-existent stories aside from “orcs and humans hate each other”.
But the guys (and girls) at WoW Insider do a fantastic job of taking in all the ridiculous timelines and names Blizzard throw out at us, put it together in easy to understand terms and answer questions from readers/listeners while being funny and insightful at the same time. Sure, they talk about the game and everything there-in as well, but what makes this podcast special is how well the hosts know all the nerdy little details of a larger-than-life universe.