End of Freshman Year

I first stumbled upon Just Games Retro while screwing around in a 10th grade Computer Applications class. I had just finished a big spreadsheet project for Microsoft Excel, so I had some time to kill, and that afternoon, I was in the mood to read someone tear some terrible game apart, and lo and behold, after a quick Altavista search (that’s how I conducted business back then, don’t judge), there was a review for Bad Street Brawler, on this site I’d never heard of before. After plowing through that one, I figured I’d poke around to see what else they had lying around, and that afternoon, a JGR reader was born.

I’d always made a concerted effort to check in with JGR as often as possible, getting crazy excited to see a new game on the front page, like my own mini-Christmas every few weeks. I even remember the infamous “Turning in Our Badges” post, which was like a punch in the gut. I really liked what the guys were doing here, and seeing that it was ostensibly over was a bit of a downer. Yeah, I could find reviews on MobyGames, but it just wouldn’t be the same. Needless to say, I was more than a little excited when JGR made its triumphant return/conversion to WordPress.

Skip ahead a couple of years, to a late-night email asking if the site was looking for any new writers. After all, I liked classic games, I liked writing, and I’d always liked the site, so it seemed like it would’ve been a great fit, so I ended up sending in a review of Goldeneye, despite the fact there was no N64 section yet, nor were there any particular plans for one, and it was given the “thanks, but we’re not interested at the moment” treatment. A few months later, after what I’m sure were some intense discussions dragging into the wee hours of the night between J Man and Static, and some revisions on my end, the N64 section kicked off with the Goldeneye review on May 17th, 2013.

It’s now one year and a couple dozen reviews later, so I’d figure I’d take a quick timeout and thank everyone involved for making my first year at JGR such a tremendous experience. First off, obviously, I need to thank J Man and Static for giving me the opportunity and a little corner of the internet to sound off about the games we loved and hated, and for keeping the dream alive for over a decade despite never seeing one red cent for their troubles. Lesser hosts would’ve either sold out or packed it in by now.

Next, I have to give big ups to Rik and Stoo from Force For Good, our British partners in crime, for their insights and their opinions and for making sure that someone besides me actually read the cricket games’ reviews, and for not treating me like the annoying little brother who tags along that I am. Because of them, my ringtone is “Football” from PES 2008. Also have to slap hands with CarlMarksGuy for his neverending quest to find the ultimate 16-bit free roam experience, Mr. Creosote, VGJunk, ShadowAngel, and everyone else toiling away in the salt mines with us, hoping to pull out just a few nuggets of entertainment gold, as well as fellow JGR alumni Ubergeek and Cloudrulz for their contributions.

But most importantly, I need to thank you, the reader, for taking time out of your day to poke your head in and see what we’re up to. Every comment, every visit, every time you accidentally clicked our site in your browser history, that is the fuel it takes to keep the fires burning and the machine turning, and without you, none of us would be here today

It’s been an extremely fun first year for me here, getting to play all these old games, jotting my thoughts down, and especially seeing the feedback from you, the loyal (or even the occasional) reader, and I can only hope the next twelve months can match that. As a token of goodwill, then, I bring you a shamefully biased fanboy look at Super Metroid, and feel free to comment with any requests or other ideas you want to toss into the hopper, same retro time, same retro channel!

11 thoughts on “End of Freshman Year

  1. For me at least, it’s never stopped feeling strange to read about how someone became a fan of your work. Even though I absolutely do the same to other sites, it’s difficult for me to turn that concept around on myself and imagine someone getting excited about some thoughts I bashed out in an evening as a hobby. Still, it’s always nice to hear, and I know those readers are out there. I haven’t tracked site metrics for about five years, but based on numbers then and access logs now, there’s waaaay more people reading this stuff than it would appear!

    I say this to underscore how important having Dave as a contributor has been. I’ve said many a time how I look at those numbers, feel bad about not producing regular content, and spin into a distracting spiral. Having another awesome writer consistently delivering reviews which, I at least, enjoy helps prevent another “turning in badges” situation. And hopefully keeps visitors interested!

    I’ve never wanted to make money with this thing, which is part of why metrics are so unimportant. I just want to put on a good show, and Dave gets that completely. He’s been a joy to work with, and has taken right to doing his own thing and fitting in with the site like he was always here. Before this sounds too much like a work reference for his resume, I’d just like to say “Thanks Dave!” and I’m looking forward to continuing to ramble on about old entertainment software with you for the foreseeable future!

  2. You certainly have been quite productive and it’s nice to read such a constant flow of reviews. At first I wasn’t sure whether I would be interested in them, since I never had an N64 and hadn’t heard of most of the games you wrote about, but then you offered some interesting insights into a strange old world, so I learned to leave my prejudices behind.

    Overall it’s really good to know that there are still a couple of sites around that offer reviews with a distinct style and constant quality – sites, which are maintained by fans for fans, with no commercial strings attached whatsoever. It certainly shows whether you do something out of passion or out of profitability and I dare say Just Games Retro certainly belongs to the first category.

    So, with this in mind: Thank you and keep those reviews coming! πŸ™‚

  3. Yay! Hand-slap returned. I’m glad my tendency to comment a lot has been appreciated and garnered shout-outs πŸ™‚ I’ve enjoyed your nifty and frequent reviews!

    (and I’ve also appreciated the subtle inclusion of useful rasslin’ jargon! That’s is a problem I have in real life — less so with the terms that have meaning OUTSIDE the squared circle, like “swerve”, but sometimes nothing expresses an idea quite as well as “heel turn”, or “no sell” as a verb).

    Now one of my trademarked tangents: I think I may be the only person on earth whose life has been MORE influenced in the long run by an online review of Bad Street Brawler (long story), but before now, I thought I was the ONLY person on earth whose life [blah blah] an online review of Bad Street Brawler, so…ya learn something new every day! πŸ˜€

  4. I, too, came upon this site about 3 years ago when I started work at Guitar Center (I had a lot of down time). I actually came across Force for Good first, and then them referencing you guys in a journal entry or two. I read a few reviews and noticed it had a similar writing style that I enjoyed from FFG, so I kept coming back. I also really like the design of the website for both mobile and computer – simple yet fun to look at (and read, of course).
    I feel like Uncle Dave is just another one of the JGR team, providing sound reviews infused with his own nostalgic sense of humor. He’s like the 3rd part of a trilogy you wish you had (staring at you Revolutions). Your contributions are valued and I hope to continue to read many more from each one of you guys. Thanks!

    Ps. Thanks for TWINE reviews!! I just hadn’t had the chance to post my response to them yet!

  5. Been face-down in bed for the last week but been meaning to drop by since this was posted.

    I’m at the age now where the years all blur into one another (also: if you’ve just finished freshman year, does that mean I’m one of those old kids who still hasn’t graduated?) but, yes, congratulations! I’d be interested to know how “Football” is interpreted when your phone rings – does it sound like the vaguely comical cockney knock-off that it is to American ears, or is it mistaken for one of our real (but equally dreadful) football songs that gets released at World Cup time?

    The money thing is interesting. It’s changed a lot with YouTubers in recent years but when it comes to the written word, I’m not sure there really are any commercial considerations. Like you guys, I’ve never even thought about it, never mind looked into it further, but I’m pretty sure that if the few pennies you’d likely earn from adverts were your main source of motivation, you’d be struggling. Also, why inconvenience the people visiting your website for the sake of such slim pickings?

    1. …I believe it makes you a professor of sorts.

      The only person who gave me feedback on the ringtone thought it was two people arguing the merits of Football (American Style) vs. Soccer (The whole “FOOTBALL!” “SOCCAH!” bit in the chorus). And I’m curious how depressing/hilarious the World Cup hype is like in England every time it rolls around.

      As for the money thing, I think there’s money to be made it the written word, because if you do ANYTHING well enough, and people want to see it, there’s commercial potential. Regardless of whether we’re at that level, like you said, I’d hate to think someone would happen upon us for the first time and be immediately met with ads instead of the content.

  6. World Cup hype in England alternates between: “We’re definitely going to win this time” and “There’s no way we’re going to even come close”. Currently it’s the latter.

    Which, I have to say, makes the inevitable disappointment of the tournament itself easier to deal with.

  7. Great work, Dave!

    I read this site for years, and you are the one who helps to make it stay fresh. So, J Man’s and Static’s choice to take you on board was just right.

    Keep it up, guys! We cheer for you all!


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