We all love a list, so every Tuesday we’re posting one, on a variety of retro-themed topics! Feel free to share your own favourites down below — and let us know what other lists you’d like to see on future Tuesdays!
Happy Tuesday! Today we’re going to do something slightly different to what we usually do — rather than focusing specifically on games or pieces of hardware, we’re instead going to celebrate members of the retro gaming community. Specifically, we’re going to give some love to retro gaming YouTubers: our favourite entertainers, historians and fellow enthusiasts who like nothing more than to share their passions with the world.
Since YouTube is such a sprawling world filled with creators both big and small, we’re keeping this list as “fair” as possible by only including a few bigger, more well-known names in retro gaming YouTube, and reserving the rest of the list for dedicated enthusiast YouTubers who, at the time of writing, have smaller subscriber bases.
Remember, those numbers aren’t everything; more often than not, you’ll find that some of the smaller enthusiast channels are just as knowledgeable — if not more so — than some of the big names out there, particularly when they decide to develop a particular specialism. So be sure to give them all a watch and a subscribe!
Naturally, my own channel is ineligible for this list, but I still think it’s quite good and you should subscribe. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I? Enough about me; let’s get into the list!
At 404K subscribers, SomecallmeJohnny is one of the bigger retro gaming YouTubers on this list, and he’s been doing this for a long time, too; his first videos were posted 13 years ago at the time of writing, though some would probably argue he really hit his stride when he introduced his long-running “Johnny vs.” series in 2011.
Like most retro gaming YouTubers, SomecallmeJohnny’s style has evolved over time, but you can rely on his videos featuring a combination of factual information, personal anecdotes and well-argued opinions. His videos are well-produced, mostly eschewing the tendency towards “over-editing” a lot of today’s YouTubers go for, and they quite rightly focus primarily on gameplay footage rather than exaggerated “performances”.
SomecallmeJohnny also streams on Twitch, and archives of his streams can also be found on his YouTube channel if you’re in the mood for something longer and more “freeform” in structure.
Stop Skeletons From Fighting
Another popular retro gaming YouTuber, Stop Skeletons From Fighting (actually the duo of host Derek Alexander and producer Grace Kramer) is best known for the Punching Weight series, which takes a number of games or peripherals in a single category and compares them to see which are the most interesting, best and/or worst. Alongside this, the Past Mortem series looks more into the history of various games, consoles, series and individuals associated with the games industry.
Stop Skeletons From Fighting’s videos are appreciated for their energetic but informative and positive nature, and their willingness to look back on past “failures” with a certain amount of respect and an appropriately critical but fair eye. Recently, Alexander and Kramer took the decision to switch their Patreon income from being a charge per video to a charge per month, which potentially cuts their income in half — but which provides them with greater scope for creativity, so we can likely expect even more varied video topics from them from hereon.
Slope’s Game Room
Daniel Ibbertson, aka DJ Slope, is a well-loved retro gaming YouTuber whose channel covers both complete historical examinations of popular games and series, as well as tangents into the stranger side of crowdfunding. Slope’s Game Room is a great place to go if you enjoy long-form videos that delve into their subject matter in considerable depth — and if you enjoy a good laugh at the ridiculous things that show up on platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
To date, Slope has done meaty videos on the history of Rock n’ Roll Racing (above), Tekken, DuckTales, Daytona USA and more, plus as an active member of the online retro gaming community you’ll often find him collaborating with other creators on various projects.
Another longstanding presence in the retro gaming YouTuber scene, Kim Justice has been doing this for a good few years now, and puts out consistently interesting videos — with an emphasis on lengthy, long-form documentary-style videos. Kim’s videos are well-researched and cover a variety of topics that don’t get talked about by a lot of other retro gaming YouTubers — she has a particular interest in classic home computers rather than consoles, for example.
The most specialised channel on this list, Shmup Junkie, as their name suggests, focuses exclusively on shoot ’em ups — both modern and classic. Their work is particularly noteworthy as they are currently in the process of putting together a substantial and Kickstarter-funded documentary on the subject of Toaplan shoot ’em ups — and the project has already secured the support of both industry luminaries and former retro gaming YouTuber legend Mark Bussler of Classic Game Room fame.
Shmup Junkie’s work includes in-depth looks at a variety of shoot ’em ups — including advice for beginners on the best ways to get into this challenging genre. His videos are a great resource for collectors, too — since many retro shmups can get seriously pricey!
Highretrogamelord is a really interesting retro gaming YouTuber because for them, it’s not about being a “YouTube personality” at all — it’s simply about showing off a wide variety of games on a huge range of different platforms. Their channel consists entirely of commentary-free gameplay videos, working alphabetically through various systems’ libraries and giving you a decent quick look at how a typical session with each game goes.
At the time of writing, Highretrogamelord is presently exploring the library of the NEC PC-88; previously, they’ve worked through the BBC Micro, Atari 8-bit and a variety of other systems to boot. Definitely the place to be if you want simple, good quality retro game footage.
Beyond the Scanlines
Formerly known as “hellfire64”, Rob Caporetto’s Beyond the Scanlines channel is a great place to find out more about, in his words, “interesting games on classic hardware”. With individual videos tending to focus on a deep-dive into a single game, series or subsection of a platform’s library, Beyond the Scanlines presents consistently informative, entertaining, well-produced and, yes, interesting videos.
Caporetto is a retro gaming YouTuber who makes a particular point of focusing on games that don’t get as much attention elsewhere online, so it’s likely you’ll stumble across some games that don’t get talked about all that much here — with a particular focus on home computer rather than console titles for added obscurity points.
Gears of Games
Gears of Games, aka Cogweasel, is a varied retro gaming YouTube channel that features quick looks at Atari ST and ZX Spectrum games, plus longer multi-part Let’s Plays of classic titles on various platforms. More recently, Cogweasel has also started providing videos that feature soundtracks from Atari ST games, so if you have a soft spot for the distinctive sound of the ST’s PSG chip, be sure to stop by.
Cogweasel’s work is a personal soft spot of mine, as the poor old Atari ST tends to lose out to the Commodore Amiga when people look back on 16-bit retro home computers — understandably so, since the Atari ST was technically inferior in a number of respects, and multi-platform games were almost always better on the Amiga. But it’s a distinct and unique platform in its own right — and the experiences you can have on it are just as worth preserving.
As the name suggests, RoseTintedSpectrum is a channel that has a particular focus on the ZX Spectrum, but this is by no means an exclusive focus. Instead, RoseTintedSpectrum is a retro gaming YouTube channel that celebrates both broader retro gaming culture and modern indie games, and is particularly enjoyed for the “Breaking Bad Influence” series, which sees RTS (and sometimes guests) providing commentary on classic British video gaming TV show Bad Influence. Bad Influence presenter Violet Berlin has even acknowledged RTS on Twitter, so you know he’s legit.
RTS’ videos feature a similar sense of humour to Internet Historian, with plenty of amusing stock photos and video footage spliced in with the gaming stuff, and there are some really creative series ideas scattered throughout the channel archives. Stop by if you’re in the need of a good chuckle.
Taking his name from a classic anti-piracy ad — explained by popular tat purveyor Stuart Ashen in this video — Bloggo is a retro gaming YouTuber who makes videos about things he enjoys, usually with a particular theme in mind. He’s particularly fond of looking back at lesser-known games both from the arcades and home platforms, and has covered an admirably varied range of topics over the course of the channel’s complete archives.
He also set himself the deadly promise that if he drops below a thousand subscribers he will play James Pond all the way through, which he really doesn’t want to have to do. So help a retro gaming brother out, will ya?
As always, this is far from an exhaustive list. Why not share some of your favourite retro gaming YouTubers — big or small! — down in the comments or via our social media channels?