Thursday, July 21, 2016


The Amigos in a nutshell

If you’re wondering why there’s been a dearth of new material here lately, let me put an end to the alien abduction speculation right now. I have been kidnapped, but not by little green men hooning around in flying saucers; the guys from the Amigos Podcast are holding me hostage in a covert underground bunker located somewhere in Hurricane, West Virginia, where they have me strapped to a blog entry generator contraption. If I don’t keep churning out Amiga-centric waffle it administers a jolting electro-convulsive zap to the temples. It’s a lot like the Kathy Bates-Misery scenario except a heck of a lot more fun, and my ankles remain in tact. Oh well, they feed me well enough, and I’ve never been much of a sun-worshipper anyway.

If you too have spent the last twelve months buried six feet under, you may not be familiar with John ‘boatofcar’ Shawler and Aaron Doughty, two pals from the Appalachian region of the Southern United States, who run the world’s leading Amiga-exclusive podcast.

Both family men, John is a school-based music educator, and Aaron works as the head technician for an outsourced IT services provider. They have each spent a scary numbers of years entrenched in the computer and gaming industry in both a professional capacity and as avid gamers. It stands to reason then that not only do they love the territory, but know it inside out and backwards.

From humble beginnings, over the course of 52 consistently masterful episodes, the show has evolved from an MP3-only podcast to a multimedia, green-screen fuelled (featuring breathtaking, rendered 3D backdrops provided by professional artist, Paul Kitching), audio-visual event.

It’s a game of two halves, much like football, only without the pretentious sports cars or cocaine snorting. The show opens with a round-up of the week’s retro gaming developments and site news, before segueing to the lab where the spotlit Amiga game is subjected to a microscope analysis. Leaving no stone unturned, John and Aaron cover the title’s origins, critic’s scores, collectability as gauged by eBay prices and proliferation, how it stands up against its genre rivals, and their own experiences putting the game through its paces.

Passion for the subject matter aside, what sells the show is the effortless chemistry between the genial hosts, who banter their way through the proceedings like time-served friends kicking back on a Friday night. Actually, no simile is necessary; that’s exactly what they are - no wonder it works so well. They possess a scarce quality that slick, prime-time TV presenters struggle to convey - that natural, genuine aura that puts you at ease, making you feel right at home wherever you are.

The regular tag team are often joined by Aaron’s brother, Brent, and John’s friend and colleague, Chad, who contribute their own enthusiastic, specialist expertise to the ensemble, via the podcast itself as well as its various spin-off media.

The ‘let’s play’ videos, for example, are another AP mainstay. Accompanying the podcast, the team thrash it out with the week’s featured game to determine if it lives up to the hype, whilst providing supporting commentary of their findings. John - on his lonesome - has also recorded dozens of narrated game-play footage videos for YouTube, not all of which focus on Amiga titles. There’s something for everyone no matter which era or retro gaming realm you are most partial to.

When the Amigos aren’t reviewing games, you will find them interviewing an array of notable industry insiders, posting snaps of listener’s Amiga rigs or showcasing their artwork, performing hardware mods or unboxing new - or assumed lost - kit. It’s a veritable feast of nostalgic nourishment - they didn’t win the ‘2015 Poddie for Best New Microcomputer Podcast’ for nothing you know.

Lots of people talk about starting a podcast, though very few actually deliver the goods, or work at keeping it afloat once the honeymoon period is over. With a phenomenal twelve month back catalogue under their belts, it’s safe to say the Amigos are in it for the long haul. Here’s to the next anniversary! *cheers*