So a perfect storm of not caring about local sports talk radio anymore and the generally depressing/hopeless tone of the news led me to sample the video game podcast fare during my 20 minute ride to work everyday for the past couple of weeks.
First, let’s get some disclosure out of the way. When Gertsmanngate went down, I was interested in the story and for some reason kept up with his and Ryan Davis’ formation of Giant Bomb. I think it was because I confused them for the 1up guys- but either way, I have listened to 95% of anything Giant Bomb related since, well, before it was Giant Bomb. It is a weird feeling- I almost never want to meet any of them in person because I’ve been listening to them so long I feel like I know them and I’m sure if I was in their position that has to be really, really weird. So let’s start there- it’s one of the highest rated video games podcasts on iTunes with good reason- the Bombcast has some likeable guys who talk about video games, drink energy beverages and are pretty in tune with my video game tastes. I like it. Enough said. 5/5
The second podcast I checked out was the CAGcast, featuring Cheapy D from cheapassgamer.com and Wombat. I assume Wombat is his sidekick or something. I’ve probably listened to four or so episodes…and I don’t know. I’m not going to say that it is bad- it certainly isn’t. There’s just a large amount of Cheapy D talking about Cheapy D. A very high amount. Perhaps if I had followed this one like Giant Bomb I’d care. But the first one I listened to was a good solid hour about him winning an auction to appear on the Howard Stern show. I gave him some more chances- and there is some good talk about the news of the week and deals in games- but overall I can’t really recommend it. 2/5
Next was Kotaku Blog Radio. One would assume that Kotaku would put out something listenable. I might have caught them on a bad couple of weeks but I’ll say right now that the 3 I listened to were pretty rough. The reason? They are trying to do a call-in show. I like the concept, but it did not ever work. The one episode I liked was when Ken Levine (the Bioshock guy) was on for an extended interview. But even then, it sounds like Crecente and company are using walkie talkies. The worst one was from the Tokyo Game Show. The delay combined with trying to take callers was maddening. I did not finish it. And let me pile-on a little more- each week they do “Something Positive” and “Something Negative” and a segment called “Kotaku for Interlopers”. It’s a nice idea to get their contributors to participate in the show with taped segments. The problem is, these segments are completely useless and rarely a step above stating the obvious. I really do like Kotaku and desperately wanted to like this one, but I’m not sure they should be doing more than reporting the news. 1/5
Next up was Rebel FM. Hardcore dorks here- for example, sitting on my iPod is a special 1 hour 45 minute discussion of the game they are all playing- Half Life 2. I haven’t listened to that one yet, but I did listen to one of their episodes. I found it pretty good but not for everyone. They spent 45 minutes talking about some very deep inside baseball in the gaming industry. I loved it, but it could be boring if you just wanted to hear about the games themselves. These guys seemed full of big words and very thoughtful. I’ll listen to it again. 4/5
Last on my list was the GeekBox. Their name is indeed descriptive. The first voice you hear- I don’t know that guys name, but let me tell you- it’s the epitome of geek. The rest of the crew (which I think rotates) was.. OK. There was a girl on there (I think she crashed one of the Bombcasts at E3 and bored me to tears) who explained she didn’t play fighting games, and then proceeded to talk about them for 20 minutes. I don’t know if I’m sexist when it comes to podcasts- but I dunno about her. The others seemed fine. They wandered away from games, which is OK, but after listening to Rebel FM this one was not nearly as interesting to me. 2/5
I know there’s some more out there- Joystiq, bitmob, 1up, whatever Croal is doing… but there’s only so much time in the car each week. Right now I’m keeping Rebel FM and CAG will be 3rd string for me. I’ll probably sample all the others slowly. Help me out and let me know if I’m missing some good ‘casts out there… I’m almost positive I am.