The second podcast I’m looking at in this series of recommendation posts is Cane and Rinse. Cane and Rinse, much like last post’s Radio Free Nintendo, is a videogame podcast with an impressive record to its name: it’s been around for five years now with episodes released on a consistent weekly schedule.
What is the show about? Cane and Rinse’s unique selling point is that every episode is dedicated to a single game (or less often a single game series). At two hours per episode the show gets pretty insane in its level of detail. In fact everything about Cane and Rinse is insanely detailed and precise. For example, the show has a strict rule that to be on an episode all participants – typically four people including the host – must have reached the credits of the game in question. With a story-heavy game that means spoilers, late/end-game discussion, so basically the podcasts are generally targeted at people who have beaten the game.
Another rule I appreciate is that Cane and Rinse steer clear of covering newly released games. They wait for a minimum of six months after a game launches before dedicated a show to it, in order to let the dust settle a bit. In practice the show encompasses games from almost every era, platform and genre: you might have an episode dedicated entirely to the classic Golden Axe beat ’em up series on the Megadrive one week followed by one about Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, the sprawling PS3-exclusive RPG the very next week! (And in fact that is precisely what happened recently.)
Why I recommend it: You can probably tell based on my description of the show that I really like Cane and Rinse’s general approach to games – the lack of discrimination between new and old games, the willingness to discuss all aspects of a game including spoiler territory which you don’t tend to get from games media. But I have to confess I’m reluctant to include this show in a series about my favourite shows because I have a serious love-hate relationship with it. Now, most of the time when I listen to Cane and Rinse it’s perfectly agreeable. In general I would say I like the show about 80% of the time.
The reason I’m including Cane and Rinse in this series is because if I don’t get at least some of the hate out of my system here, I’m going to explode. I currently have two full on rant-mode posts sitting in my drafts folder, approx. 1000 words each, written in response to one episode or another that annoyed or aggravated me. That’s an embarrassing amount of bile. (Not to mention more than a little insane on my part, as Maya regularly reminds me.) But I think now, finally, approx. 2000 drafted words later, I’ve finally hit on what bugs me the most about Cane and Rinse. Put simply, there is very little conversation. Instead the show plays out like a kind of mass interview, where the host asks the episode’s participants a question – “what did you think of the graphics?”, for instance. The participants each answer in turn, one after another. Cue the next question: “what did you think of the sound?”.
You know, as someone attempting to write critically about videogames (and other bloggers reading this can relate I’m sure), I often ask whether a particular game takes advantage of the videogame medium. Cane and Rinse ask that question too of games, I’m sure. And yet I have to wonder whether Cane and Rinse are taking full advantage of the podcast medium here. I know the thing I’m looking for on a podcast is lively back-and-forth discussion, with debates and perhaps arguments – and that’s something unique a podcast (or radio for that matter) has over a blog post or an essay. You can’t be spontaneous in writing – not without it looking like anonymous internet comments anyway. To have a cast of three or four people together on a show, only to prevent them from responding to one another feels to me like wasted potential. All in all Cane and Rinse’s formula is just a bit too rigid for me to fully enjoy.
Where a newcomer might start: If you are interested in the sound(s) of Cane and Rinse – and despite my problems with the show, it’s usually a good listen – I especially enjoyed the episodes on NiGHTS Into Dreams, the Streets of Rage trilogy and the Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. However given the self-contained format of the show it’s probably best to look over the episode list on their website and pick an episode based on your personal interests: “Two hours of unadulterated Comix Zone discussion?! Pinch me, darling, I must be dreaming!”
Hope you’re enjoying these podcast recommendations. I shall return soon with a follow-up in which I recommend another sterling gaming podcast. If you have any recommendations too let me know below – there’s never a bad time to discover a new podcast!