The Retro Asylum Podcast is officially the UK’s longest-running retro gaming podcast. The show was launched back in October of 2011 by Andy Godoy, Dean Swain & Glenn Atkinson after they’d decided to bring their previous show (which had focused on all aspects of gaming) to a close. The new show would now focus on the guys main passion, namely the games that they had grown up with. Unlike other “retro” focused shows that were around at the time, Retro Asylum looked at the scene from a UK prospective.
Whilst other shows talked nothing but Atari, Nintendo & SEGA, Retro Asylum discussed the systems the British audience had grown up such as the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 & Amstrad CPC as well as the consoles and looked at classic British games such as Manic Miner & Chuckie Egg. Within a few months of the show being launched it had shot into the top 20 of the iTunes gaming chart.
Eventually Retro Asylum would manage to knock modern gaming podcast’s such as IGN, Giant Bomb & The Official PlayStation Podcast off the top spot of the iTunes gaming chart and has now done so on numerous occasions. In 2015, Retro Asylum was voted “Best Video Game Podcast” in the very first UK Podcasters awards. In 2016, they also won “The World’s Best Podcast” award. The hosting line-up has changed numerous times over the years, Andy Godoy took a break and started another fantastic podcast and is still active within the retro gaming podcasting scene, Glenn also stepped away but makes the occasional cameo appearance every now and then, all these changes and new additions have never affected the core values that attracted many avid listeners.
Listen to Episode, Dean Swain and the rest of the current Retro Asylum team go in search of RA hosts of the past to celebrate 200 episodes of “The UK’s No.1 Retro Gaming Podcast”. The team look back at the show and discuss how the UK retro scene has evolved since they began Retro Asylum back in 2011.
Their content output is personality-led and combines conversation, music and stories from back in the day with ‘deep dive’ discussions about the computer systems that were popular at the time from the ZX Spectrum through to the Sega Mega Drive and Super Nintendo and up to the PlayStation, GameCube and Xbox.
In recent years the show has taken on a role as curators of gaming development tales through their interview shows. Some of the influential game makers that have graced the show are John Romero, The Oliver Twins, Walter Day, Shahid Ahmad, Dino Dini and Jon Hare. This archiving of stories and in-depth discussion around how video games have evolved has built an ever-growing permanent archive which will be available to future generations of gamers and game developers.
They never shy away from controversial subjects, such as episode 202 where three of the current hosts, Steve, Mads and Chris take on the elephant in the room to discuss the vital role software preservation plays in keeping retro alive. This shows their commitment to covering all aspects of retro gaming.
One thing that has always impressed me and ultimately been part of the reason for the podcasts huge success is the diverse nature of the show, as you can see from the images above, the content is wide and varying across all sections of retro gaming, another unique side to the podcast is the way the guys have a magazine style image that accompanies each and every podcast, this has led to some completely stunning images being created for the show by some very talented artists like this one that was for the Christmas 2019 episode.
As you can see, the guys love to pay homage to all elements of the retro scene, even recreating this iconic cover from issue number 9 of the Zzap64 Mag from back in 1985/86.
To end our Retrospective look at The Retro Asylum we asked Dean Swain, the last remaining founder of the podcast to give us a few of his favourite episodes, a funny one that they recorded and maybe one he considers to be an informative podcast.
Dean:Favourites: The first 8 Bit Wars was great fun to record and was very entertaining although I think that I became the most hated man on the internet for a week or two as I probably went overboard defending the good name of the ZX Spectrum. I received a lot of hate mail from Amstrad & C64 owners over that episode. Episode 155 was all about budget games on the 8 bit micro’s which is a subject that most retro gaming podcasts & youtubers ignore and us vintage UK gamers all have memories of picking up budget games from the local newsagent and taking a chance on the cover art.
Funniest: Again it’s probably any of our 8 bit of 16 bit wars episodes. Episode 200 was great fun, bringing a lot of our ex hosts back for a catch up. The section that I recorded with Ally was actually recorded in his shop whilst it was open so we had to keep stopping, starting again but it was so funny talking about old times.
One of the most interesting episodes for me was a fairly early one which was Darren Forgarty’s C64 top ten from 1983. Growing up I was into the Atari 2600 & ZX Spectrum so hearing about the Commodore 64’s early games really intrigued me and I bought a C64 as a result of listening to that one. Our last episode (217) is all about Manic Miner and we really went in depth and again it made a very interesting episode and I hope it got a few people back into playing the game again.
Finally, can i personally thank all the hosts of The Retro Asylum, new and old alike, there have been to many too name them all, but you know who you are. You have played a part in mine and many others lives for so long, you have added so much joy to my love of the retro gaming scene, all through this world of podcasting.
The Retro Asylum is available via
Retro head and key holder of RVG.