Let me give you some context. Around May of last year I was enduring a rather hideous time in my professional–and by extension– private life. The company I was working for were suffering from a severe financial crisis. Having been hemorrhaging money for such an extended period, the company had no alternative but to seek alternative assistance. The company was of moderate size, with employees that communicated with one another earnestly, with no compunction for professional discretion. We were friends more than we were co-workers, which reflected in our workaday discourse and the way in which we chose to communicate. As a result of our friendly, honest conversations we were already vaguely aware of the companies struggles with solvency. We just didn’t realise to what extent. “Strategic planners” (this is how they were introduced to us) were consulted to try and market the business to prospective investors. For the next couple of months we tried to carry on as if it were business as usual, gossiping anxiously amongst ourselves and hoping that a solution was being finalised between the necessary parties. I’m sure there were many critical meetings and discussions going on to ensure the continued existence of the business. Yet despite several companies expressing a keen and legitimate interest, with one in particular coming close, the company was unable to secure a buyer. And that was it. The company was plunged into liquidation. Redundancies were made. And a once thriving business was no more.
Fortunately for myself I had managed to secure employment somewhere else in the interim, allowing for an immediate move away, yet still allowing me to claim my rather moderate, but no less beneficial redundancy. However those couple of months of uncertainty were so demoralising, that it affected me both emotionally and mentally. The thought of not being able to provide for my family was palpable, which was always my primary consideration. So to feel publicly exposed as a failure, even though this was an indirect consequence of other people’s negligence, was incredibly agonizing for me. This was one of the rare occasions in my adult life where I felt that control, or at least the perception of it, was taken from me. Now what does this have to do with a YouTube channel, featuring two of the worlds most ubiquitous voice/motion capture performers? Well, quite a lot actually.
Sitting on a leather upholstered sofa, surrounded by a plethora of desirable curiosities of distinct cultural significance, that if I could “would” decorate my own home, two men discuss the psychological implications of being humped by a dog. These kind of anecdotal confessions are what most lesser content creators would shy away from. Yet Troy Baker and Nolan North confront these critical issues with sensitivity and sincere conviction. And it’s bloody hysterical! The official premise of “Retro Replay” for the uninitiated is that the aforementioned Drake brothers play classic, and not so classic games from yesteryear. A more accurate description however is that these two encouragable “Sunset Riders!” stray down conversational rabbit holes, with many sinuous tangents that bare little relation to the original topic they were discussing ten minutes ago. Oh, and play games, occasionally. Its like meeting up with your best friends for a midweek chat, except you’re not interrupting them with excerpts about your own boring week.
Its refreshing to watch two actual friends engage with one another the way friends actually would. Especially friends that aren’t being moderated by their respective partners. There’s an organic gregarity that resonates through their interactions. Conversing with a natural fluidity and spontaneity that you’d expect from people that have a genuine interest in what the other is saying. There’s no false pretense. No scripted diologue. Just two icons of the gaming industry, that just happen to be good friends, blessed with the fortunate opportunity to work together on a show that affords them the chance to drink, play games and talk crap. All with a sincerity that alludes far more popular YouTube channels.
Retro Replay got me through those rough couple of months illustrated above. Eliciting great comfort at a time I was at my most anxious. I remember getting home from a job interview, which I didn’t get, settling down on my sofa with some comfort food I’d purchased post interview. Exhaling deeply, stifling an exacerbated sigh and wasting close to 3 hours watching past episodes I’d missed just to alleviate the burden of impending unemployment. Retro Replay provided solace from the precarity of my life and continues to assauge the debilitating monotony of my current job.
Troy Baker. Uncle Noly (sounds creepier than I thought?). Thank you. I can’t wait to see what you play next.