serious business incredibly entertaining, and whilst sites like ours aim to analyse and seek what little truth there is in the art-form, there are others more content with enjoying it for what it is – over many generations – bringing you the best and worst of what gaming has always been about: having fun.
So let’s take a moment to cut through videogame bureaucracy; set aside the console wars, and cease the discussion on ‘what input is the best’, and let’s really appreciate a great bunch of enthusiasts that remind us that videogames are a wholly inclusive, warming, and deeply interesting medium.
Let us a look at some of our favorite, more casual (at least, in tone!) and inviting video-game enthusiasts in this top five recommended list.
Metal Jesus Rocks is a variety gaming show that delivers on dynamic and high quality content. Presented by a lover of metal (as so many of these shows are), Metal Jesus Rocks showcases perhaps more games in any one show than any other channel of this list. I’m relatively new to this channel, but I’ve enjoyed the tone and enthusiasm from the presenter (whose name is not listed on his channel – I’ve no intention of digging for it) who is earnest in his endeavor to collect and showcase what he owns.
Metal Jesus Rocks isn’t really the go-to channel for objective reviews, but if you want high quality game footage for a wide variety of games on every system, then this is a really great resource. The pacing and editing is also very competent, with some nice over-lays and fade-ins with not-too-try-hard but very well crafted presentation. Whilst I think his console reviews are a little on the short side with perhaps not quite enough information, his ‘[console] Collecting: Hidden Gems’ series is fantastic and warming, and you can really tell this is a guy who loves his videogames.
- Hidden Gems & Forgotten Games
- Special Episodes
- Music and Parties
- Classic PC Games
- System Reviews
- Recent Game Pickups
- Game Room Tours
- iPad & iPhone Games
The channel is fairly consistent with what it shows, but it is exceptionally consistent with quality. Metal Jesus has the same excited, altruistic attitude in every episode, and he really seems like the kinda guy you could walk up to, grab a beer with, and have a great time playing games. This all comes across in his videos, and that’s why he’s on my recommendations list. It might be a little thin on the ground in terms of actual information, but he more than makes up for it with a wide variety of games on every episode, and a great attitude that greets you with a hand-shake and a Pepsi every week.
This channel is a tricky one to explain – partly because it seems so inconsistent now, and partly because at its best it’s simply brilliant. My primary interest is with the show ’16 Bit Gems’, a sometimes lengthy, always quality show dedicated to showcasing the best games of the 16 Bit era. Presented by ‘Roo’, this show takes a critical look at the games it presents with the right amount of seriousness and eloquence to do the titles justice. This isn’t just another “I like this game because” endeavor – oh no – Roo really takes a look at the history of the title – from concept, development and history, right the way to longevity – and tallies how its affected the industry and the lives of those who played it.
Roo is also a very good writer, and this really shines in his ‘The Way Games Work’ series, which is a Discovery Channel hit waiting to happen. In this show, Roo takes a look at the technology behind things like the Wii-mote, and Kinect, breaking down the technology to make it palatable to anyone comfortably watching at their PC’s. Sure, it might be ‘some guy’ regurgitating Wikipedia knowledge into a cheap HD camcorder, but it doesn’t feel that way. CotGW videos are very well written, very well presented, and they break the common flippant trend of ‘everything is awesome, fuck it!’ you find in a lot of these retro-era channels. At its best, CotGW does justice to what it covers on its limited number of shows, but at its worst it’s a little inconsistent, and videos have become quite few and far between. I think this is mainly due to their website eating a lot of time as a sort of gaming enthusiasts conglomerate – but whatever, it’s their time, and it’s all free. Long story short: Roo is an awesome kinda guy, and there’s a valiant effort here that surpasses mere hobby.
I wrote to Roo to commend his efforts, and received this personal reply:
Reply from Roo
I feel so conflicted when I recieve a (rare) yet thoughtful message such as this, because I believe I should write a really long reply to match the effort that went into the original message. But, I’m not that great at putting my thoughts into words, and it would ultimately be a lot of bluster just to say “thank you”.
It’s the ultimate gratification to know there are people out there who know that I try to do things well and put the effort into researching these games. Not to mention understand the honest affection I feel for these games. As you said, truly appreciating and understanding the effort is all the thanks I need, and in turn, spurs me to produce more content.
So, again, thank you. I feel honored to not only have gotten your appreciation, but also be the focus of your effort in such a well-constructed message. Hopefully I can keep standards up and continue to entertain and inform.
I suppose Nice and Games is more of a growing channel, but it’s a good one. With only a handful of videos within each of the 22 playlists, spanning every genre and system, Nice and Games is a very organised albeit (at the moment) thin on the ground viewing experience. The thing is, it’s totally won me over with some of the more bizarre and PC oriented offerings, such as the ‘Super Cassette Vision’ and coverage of the official Neo Geo X Gold Limited Edition console, which was disguised as an ‘unboxing video’ but played out like more of a review.
Nice and Games is a little dry, but presented well. The presenter has good annunciation with a great flow. Presented in a sort of Ashens meets LGR (we’ll get to that next) sort of perspective, Nice and Games gets to the meat of what he’s covering without too much fluff or pomp. You won’t see a face, and you won’t see a lot of flashy designs, but you’ll see high quality camera work in HD with good game footage and audio. Nice and games wins my number 3 spot because he offers coverage of gadgets and systems that other channels just haven’t taken to, and taking the jump to buy the Neo Geo X Gold to show us was a really cool move. I’m eagerly watching this channel grow.
Described by the presenter as “Opinionated reviews, commentary, & sarcasm on retro games & more,” LGR’s channel isn’t anywhere near as cynical as it sounds. In fact, it’s not even close to as lazy as it sounds, either. LGR is a goldmine for PC gaming enthusiasts, and what the other channels do for the console generations, LGR does for the PC. From early Macintosh games, to DOS and everything in between, LGR experiments with, showcases, and examines odds and ends from PC gaming with a clear and knowledgeable attitude. Completely unpretentious, LGR’s attitude is friendly, non-confrontational, and relaxing. He shows a clear and intricate understanding of everything he covers, and does it with an air of ‘that’s awesome’ which is both inviting and contagious.
The dude even has a site that mimics DOS. Way to promote to your demographic.
- LGR Wrap Up (monthly summary)
- Lazy Game Reviews (pt. 1 and 2)
- LGR Plays
- LGR Christmas Reviews
- LGR Edutainment Month
- LGR Top 17 lists (Why is it 17? Because “that’s a number”)
- LGR Oddware Series
- LGR Sims Game Videos
- LGR Hardware Reviews
With over 450 reviews alone, LGR has a ton of high quality content. You might think “oh, he’s running on old systems, so no FRAPS and quality footage?” Wrong. The presenter takes the utmost effort to – when he can – provide the best quality game footage for even the oldest games. I’m serious when I say this: this guy is Gods gift to videogame enthusiasm on YouTube. He’s the bearded Buddha of PC hardware awesome, and you’ll be sucked into his world, again wanting to sit back and just grab a beer and talk BS about videogames. LGR doesn’t really care about your opinion, but he doesn’t make you feel like a dick about that. He seems to have one rule: accept his opinion with a pinch of salt, and he’ll accept yours. Words to live by.
I recommend the decade specific top 17 lists to get you started.
Classic Game Room had so much content that it literally gave birth to a sub-species: CGR Undertow. CGR has a very long history on YouTube, and although I’ve decidedly written this article without too much prosaic history-digging, I believe it started around 1999 on a site long before YouTube, and bled successfully into then unknown website we know today.
The daddy, Classic Game Room, offers daily content (sometimes up to three videos a day) spanning everything gaming. The shows presenter, Mark, is notorious for making even the most mundane things imaginable interesting to watch. The guy reviewed a Bejewelled mouse-mat, and span three episodes over a series about Gamer Grub, some nonsensical trail-mix marketed to gamers paranoid about getting snack sauce on their hands. At its worst, Classic Game Room is enjoyably watchable, but at its best it’s an hilariously flippant look at video-games old and new. CGR doesn’t just showcase the oldest and newest games – Mark dips and dives through every and any game he can get his hands on (usually from Muhammad in Qatar, a likable long-time fan of the show who somehow sources rare gaming items and sends them to Mark like some kind of Middle Eastern contact in a Bond film).
CGR is notable because Mark basically never takes a dump on any game, or any thing. There are a couple of times I’ve seen in one of the many hundreds of videos when he’s said a version of a game is better than another, but only very recently has he taken to admitting when a game is out-right bad. In his words: “there’s a game for everyone,” meaning that every game will have its demographic. This is a fair way to look at it, and it makes the videos so enjoyable. Here’s the game, and here’s me having fun with it. CGR has an enormous amount of content, and Mark never loses enthusiasm. The guy’s a machine. It must be all the beer.
Undertow launched alongside CGR as a supplementary channel for those addicted to CGR to such a point as that in-between videos, they would get feverish and pass out.
The channel features the same dynamic for each video: intro, footage, dialogue, close. It’s a tried and tested formula that delivers short and fundamental coverage of games from the 8-bit era to modern gaming. Nothing gets left behind, even 90’s Soccer games. Undertow features a similarly flippant look at gaming with not much critique, but if the core mechanics of a game are flawed, or if the game is racist you’re gonna know about it. The shows main producer, Derek, constantly takes a lot of flack from his out-spoken opinions on some titles, but the problem is that in a 2-4 minute video, you can only really cover what you feel is the most important issue with a game, which makes the reviews ultimately unbalanced.
It’s better to look at Undertow as a content machine rather than a serious gaming show, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining. If a game is good, you’ll know. If a game is bad, you’ll know. That’s what they aim to deliver, and they do it in a digestible entertaining way.
The CGR Undertow bunch are much more approachable than Mark, who technically lives in space, so I advise hitting them up on Twitter if you want to discuss games or their work, but they’ve all a common theme: being passionate and awesome, delivering high quality videos in their spare (or not so spare) time.
They recently started covering PC games too through Steve. High five Steve!
Videogame Enthusiasm on YouTube
I’ve found these five resources incredibly invaluable over the years. The short, high quality videos are actually incredibly educational when delivered all together, and nothing beats this exposure for in depth coverage of the history of gaming from people who love it as much as I do.