Mike asks popular YouTube retro-gaming duo Game Sack a sackful of questions
Being an “old school” gamer, I still get confused to this day when I see how many views a “Let’s Play” video on YouTube manages to accumulate. Watching other people play video games? Why would I want to do that when I can just play the game myself? Being the oldest contributor here at Hey Poor Player, I’m probably the only one of us that refuses to watch one of these videos. The other guys here often pass by my desk watching in fear as I shake my cane at the monitor when YouTube decides to recommend nothing but Game Grumps and PewDiePie. Luckily, not all is lost to veteran gamers like myself. There are thousands of gaming related YouTube channels that provide amazing retro gaming content and can also teach the younger generation of fans about the history of their favorite hobby. One of these channels that I consider to be the best on YouTube is Game Sack. Joe & Dave have been teaching both longtime players and those new to the hobby about their favorite (and least favorite) gaming consoles, games, and peripherals since their first video in April 2011. When I reached out to Game Sack to inquire about an interview I was delighted to see how approachable Joe and Dave were, and could immediately tell how passionate they were about their channel. Hopefully this interview will introduce a handful of gamers to the Game Sack channel and also provide a bit of insight to long time fans on what makes Game Sack tick.
HPP: How did you two meet, and can you explain how the idea of Game Sack came to fruition?
JOE: We’ve been friends since high school and liked making videos together. Of course we also both love videogames. Once we saw others being successful with low quality shows we decided we could probably do that, too! And thus we started Game Sack.
DAVE: Joe summed it up nicely. I’ll just add a fun fact from our past. Back in high school I owned an NES and Joe owned a Master System and eventually a Genesis. At the time we couldn’t afford to own both a Nintendo system and a SEGA system but we were still curious about the all the games. To satisfy each other’s curiosity Joe would record gameplay footage from his SEGA systems to a VHS tape and give it to me to watch. I would then record NES games on a VHS tape for him to watch. I’ll tell ya that I was pretty jealous of a lot of the SEGA games that I saw. Eventually I ended up selling my NES and bought a Genesis. But that didn’t last long because I sold the Genesis to get a Super NES when it came out. It’s tough when you don’t have money.
HPP: Could you tell us how much time goes into producing the average episode from planning to finally uploading the video?
JOE: For me it’s probably around 30 or so hours per episode. Of course, each episode is different and some take more time and some take less. There will be a “Making of” featurette on our next Blu-ray scheduled to be out before the end of this year 2016 so everyone can see exactly how it’s done and see what it takes.
DAVE: For me it’s a lot less time since Joe does all the editing. I spend about 10-15 hours per episode recording gameplay footage, writing a script and then going to Joe’s to do camera work and voice recording.
HPP: Watching the breakdown of a console is our favorite section of your console reviews. Do you do the breakdown and film these sections yourself?
JOE: Of course! Everything in Game Sack is 100% us. The only exceptions is the rare case where we have to show part of a TV commercial or something for context, obviously we didn’t make the original TV commercials from 1990. Well I guess we don’t compose the videogame music used in our show, either. Though sometimes I’ve personally used creations of my own for a music bed and our title music was done by Brian Weidemann specifically for the show.
DAVE: The console breakdowns are definitely a popular aspect of console episodes. I enjoy watching them as much as our viewers. Although I wonder if Joe has any leftover parts after he gets a console back together.
JOE: Actually, I do have one screw left over that I have no idea where it goes in the PlayStation 2. Seems to work well, though! Except for the shock I get when I power it on but that’s normal, right?
HPP: It’s no secret that both of you take a deep interest in a video game’s soundtrack. Typical desert island question here: If stranded, what would be the one video game soundtrack that you would want access to?
JOE: Tough to say as I can’t really pick a favorite. There are soooo many. But if I was just limited to a single soundtrack I think I’d get tired of it no matter what it was if I were listening to it all the time. Maybe the Ys series or something with a ton of different tracks.
DAVE: That is a difficult question. There’s so many great soundtracks out there. Like ECCO (The Dolphin) on the SEGA CD which is great for when I like to relax. Then there’s Lords of Thunder for Turbo CD when I feel like screaming guitars. There’s so many more and I think what I would do is take all my favorite soundtracks and put them in a box a then blindly pick one. That’s the only way I would be able to make a choice.
HPP: What has been your favorite episode to produce so far?
JOE: For me, our upcoming episode (set to air this sunday) and also the “16-bit FMV Madness” episodes. Mainly because they were different and just fun to do.
DAVE: I liked doing the Sharp X68000 episode. It was really cool to be able to see and play one of these things in real life. That’s a chance I won’t get again.
HPP: Which episode had the biggest fan response?
JOE: The system-focused episodes usually do pretty well. The Kart Racers episode people lost their minds because Crash Nitro Kart wasn’t in it. Like it needed to be in that particular episode or else! As if we couldn’t possibly include it in a future Kart Racing episode (which we did). The Sega CD episode got a good reaction I felt because we showed the good games on the system which surprised a lot of people since most associate it with FMV garbage.
DAVE: I think the biggest reaction has been from our PS2 episode. Not only was that a good episode based on a great console but it was our first episode after we took our long break. The comments were great and it felt great seeing how happy people were that we were back at it. I still read comments quite a bit. I pretty much just ignore the ones where people say “I can’t believe you forgot this game”. Other than that the comments are generally positive.
HPP: For Joe – What’s your favorite Nintendo title?
JOE: Wow. There are a lot of good ones. Super Metroid? F-Zero on the SNES? Metroid Prime Trilogy? I bet Dave chooses Golden Axe for his favorite Sega game. Or Gain Ground. Or Sonic the Hedgehog. He looooooves Sonic.
HPP: For Dave – What’s your favorite SEGA title?
DAVE: (laughs) Mine is definitely NOT Sonic! As far as a favorite goes I can’t just pick one. Golden Axe is in the top three for sure. A few more way up there are Outrun 2006 and Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing. Those are great arcade racers that I can play any time. I also like the Shining Force series. I’m not a fan of typical RPGs but SRPGs hell yeah!
HPP: What are some of the YouTube channels that you guys enjoy watching?
JOE: I don’t watch much Youtube but My Life in Gaming is great because it helps people get better video quality from their gaming consoles. There are others that I watch but they already have enough of a following. My Life in Gaming needs a bigger audience.
DAVE: I think I’m subscribed to about 23 channels. The thing is I don’t watch all the content put out by these creators. I only watch the episodes that look interesting. There’s only been one channel that I’ve watched every episode and some of them multiple times and that’s Turbo Views by Spida1a. Sadly he rarely puts out content anymore but I’m always hopeful to see a new video from him pop up.
HPP: Do you two own current-gen consoles or PC gaming rigs?
JOE: Current gen consoles, yes. I typically buy all of the consoles. PC gaming rigs, no. For some reason I just don’t care about gaming on the PC. I now it’s better and all that, but the apathy is overwhelming. Also I do not like the concept of Steam and digital-only games. At the same time it’s be weird to have a physical PC game since there’s no governing body making sure everything comes in matching boxes like there are for consoles.
DAVE: No PC gaming rig for me. I do own all the current consoles though. I bought a Nintendo Wii U at launch just because I am still a Nintendo nerd. I always hope that their consoles will get popular again like they were with the NES and SNES. Sadly Nintendo thinks everyone wants motion controls and touch screens. I think that stuff was fun for a very short time but now they need to get back to their roots and leave the gimmicks behind. I bought a PS4 for God of War and Uncharted. Looks like Uncharted 4 is coming out and I’m still hoping for God of War. I bought an Xbone for Cuphead and the Rise of the Tomb Raider. That was a great game and I wasn’t disappointed in the least. I’m hoping Cuphead still gets released here soon.
HPP: Since starting the show do you still have time to play games for your personal enjoyment?
JOE: Only if I consciously make time. Usually I work on the show or get sidetracked in doing something else. I have to think to myself “Hey, I really should play these 5 year-old games that are still in the shrink wrap.” Even during our hiatus I didn’t do much of that because I got sidetracked by doing other things like watching movies.
DAVE: There’s still time. Before our break I had very little time and a 20-hour game would take me about 4 months to finish. Now that we are back to a bi-weekly schedule I have more time. That same 20-hour game only takes me about 1-2 months now.
HPP: Well guys, thanks for taking a bit of a break from producing your upcoming video and providing me with great answers. I look forward to future content and am intrigued to see what this weekend’s video brings. Now let’s look for that missing PS2 screw, it’s got to be around here somewhere.