Slim PS4 Reviewed Despite Not Being Announced Yet

Sony-ps4-logoSony was seemingly planning a stealthy "surprise, you can buy it today!" announcement for its upcoming redesigned PlayStation 4, but the new slimmer console has been spotted out in the wild prior to its official announcement.  Despite not officially existing yet according to the company line, the new slim PS4 is coming and Laura Dale at Let's Play Video Games has acquired a unit to review.  The short version is that it's the same PS4 but slightly smaller, quieter, and cooler with minor features added and one feature removed, but there's nothing here that fundamentally changes the PS4 experience.

The PS4 Slim model is, simply put, a smaller PS4. It doesn’t perform any better or worse than the previous model, but does run cooler and quieter. It has a slightly improved controller, but the box itself doesn’t run any better. Don’t expect Xbox One S-style HDR and 4K blue-ray support. This is still a basic PS4 model with no internal upgrades over the previous iteration, and is not the upcoming PS4 Neo. It does not make games run better, or upscale them to 4K.

It's good to see that Sony hasn't fundamentally changed the console in such a way that it renders existing PS4s obsolete (that'll come later with the Neo hardware revision).  The real news tagging along with this review is that Dale had to basically disown possession of the PS4 lest she incur Sony's wrath.  Her review opens with a few paragraphs spelling out that she does not own the PS4, nor does she still have it and that it came from a store manager who broke a street date, but did not steal it.  Moreover, numerous large gaming sites had shown interest in publishing the review, but all of them backed off.  Preemptive intervention from Sony warning those sites not to get on the company's bad side by running a review of a product they didn't want "out there" prior to an official announcement?  Sure seems that way.  Here is where Sony learns the hard lesson that it's not possible to keep a secret in our current age of information and social media.


How Long Does It Take For Zelda To Begin?

The Legend of ZeldaNintendo's beloved The Legend of Zelda series has a knack for roping players into its ever-expanding mythos of faeries, gorons, moblins, and zoras, but it seems that with each new sequel, players are forced to have their hands held for a prolonged period of time before the adventure actually begins.  What once started out as simply "It's dangerous to go alone!  Take this." before tossing Link to the wolves has turned into a tradition of hour-long tutorials and lots of expository dialogue ending with something along the lines of "Would you like me to repeat all of that?  → Yes No"  Matthew Martin over at Cult Of Whatever has crunched the numbers to determine just how long these tutorials have become and which games are the worst offenders.

Whereas the N64 game transitioned you from tutorial to first dungeon very naturally (you get your sword and shield and then enter the Tree, easy-peasy), Wind Waker’s first action sequence takes place, not in a dungeon, but in a forest, as you attempt to rescue Tetra from Ganon’s minions. That action sequence is first teased, when you look through the telescope your sister gets your for your birthday, but even the tease doesn’t come until after seventeen minutes of running around town “learning the basics.” After you know what you have to do (adventure!) you still have to go to the sword master (tutorial!) and “fight him” (that is, you have to learn how to do all the various sword strikes, even if you’ve played the game fifty times before). Once you’ve done that, finally, you can head off on the adventure. It’s fun the first time, but after a few more times it can be very tiring indeed.

I don't mind going alone, but just let me go!  These increasingly long tutorials are part of the reason why the Zelda games are starting to fall off of my radar.  I want to play them, but I also know that I don't want to sit through a long learning experience to teach me that rupees are worth money and that it's possible to throw pots.  I've known these series conventions for thirty years!  There really should be a way for seasoned players to bypass all of the instruction or, better yet, shape the experience so that all of the up-front training isn't necessary.

I've bought the modern remakes of Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess intent on replaying them all, but whenever I look at the cartridge or disc, I think of that seemingly endless exposition and put it back on the shelf.  I don't have hours upon hours at a time to dedicate to these games anymore.  Often I am looking for a quick hit of action which is why when I get the itch to replay a Zelda game, I turn to the original Nintendo Entertainment System titles or the Game Boy titles which kick Link off on a journey basically right away.  I'm so glad that the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild promises to follow in those old structural footsteps.  I want to swing swords at monsters, not herd goats or go fishing right at the start.

Would you like me to repeat all of that?

→ Yes
     No


Power Button - Episode 213: Blake Buys A Wii U

Power ButtonAfter years of swearing up and down that he would never ever buy a Nintendo Wii U, Blake Grundman went and bought a Wii U.  On this week's episode of Power Button we discuss what convinced Blake to pick up the console, which games he's enjoyed so far, and I recommend more games that he needs to play.  It's an all-star tribute to owning a Wii U!   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.


Mario And Sonic At The Rio 2016 Olympic Games Refreshes Classic Mario Music

Mario And Sonic At The Rio 2016 Olympic GamesWhile the Mario and Sonic crossover titles featuring the Olympic Games don't attract much interest from the gaming community for their casual, sporty nature exclusive to Nintendo platforms, we can always count on them for a fresh collection of remixes and rearrangements of classic music from the Super Mario series.  The Rio 2016 sequel is no different as it includes fresh takes on memorable tunes from Super Mario Galaxy, Donkey Kong Country, New Super Mario Bros, Super Mario 3D World, and many more.  Check out some of my favorites as we head into the weekend and browse the entire soundtrack on this YouTube playlist for so much more.

 

 

 


Power Button - Episode 212: Shake Hands With Danger In Episode 1 Of Batman: The Telltale Series

Power ButtonTelltale Games has brought its talent from Tales From The Borderlands and The Walking Dead to Gotham City with the recently released first episode of Batman: The Telltale Series.  This first installment, "Realm of Shadows" is the focus of this week's new episode of the Power Button podcast in which Blake Grundman and I discuss the events of the game, our favorite moments, trying to live up to the characterizations of our respective favorite Batman incarnations, why shaking hands with a notorious mobster at a party is a bad idea, how playing as Bruce Wayne is remarkably different than playing as the Dark Knight, and so much more.  We spoil "Realm of Shadows" quite thoroughly, so if you haven't played the game and want to keep up, be sure to watch my playthrough of the game.  Oddly enough, Blake and I each chose different paths through the game, so between the two of us, we have a fairly complete view of the entire picture.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.


Mini-Review: Batman: Arkham Asylum

Batman: Arkham Asylum

This article was originally published at Kombo.com on September 9, 2009.

When the Joker goes on a rampage in Gotham City, Batman intervenes and apprehends him. After delivering him back to Arkham Asylum, the clown prince of crime escapes custody and flees, forcing Batman to intervene yet again. This is no escape attempt, however. The Joker is putting his latest mad plan into action this night, and the other residents of Arkham - Harley Quinn, Scarecrow, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, and a few others lurking in the shadows - are eager to take a swing at the Dark Knight. As Batman, players must not only use his formidable combat skills to bring down Joker and his henchgoons, but also his sleuthing skills to save the Arkham staff from Joker's mad plot.

Continue reading "Mini-Review: Batman: Arkham Asylum" »


Let's Watch Batman: The Telltale Series - Episode 1: Realm of Shadows

BatmanTelltale Games is taking a different approach to its new Batman game by casting players more as Bruce Wayne than as Batman.  I wrote last month about how much I was looking forward to this idea and now that the first episode of the game, "Realm of Shadows", has been released, you can watch me guide Bruce through his first adventures as he throws a fundraising party for Harvey Dent's mayoral campaign and works with Selina Kyle to solve the mystery behind mobster Carmine Falcone's criminal empire.  I'll have more on Batman this week including a review of this installment of the game and a Power Button podcast episode in which Blake Grundman and I talk in-depth about this new Batman adventure.


Nintendo Power Loved Mario Paint

Mario PaintNintendo Power magazine had a knack for pushing upcoming video games that its mothership company, Nintendo itself, wanted to be overwhelming critical and sales successes.  One of the titles that enjoyed the extra coverage boost was 1992's Mario Paint for the Super NES which took the cover of Volume 39 of the magazine and sported eight pages of coverage which explained the point of the "game" (more a creativity tool than a proper game, really), how to control it with the new mouse controller, the best way to use stamps, the wonders of the Undo Dog, a basic animation primer, introduction to music composition, and much more.  Fan site SuperLuigiBros.com has the Mario Paint coverage from that issue for you to see.  Marvel at the era when video game enthusiasts had to be taught the concepts behind of frames of animation.  Today we see that same target demographic vehemently arguing over how many frames per second a game outputs with such values measured down to the decimal.  These truly were simpler times.


The Listen Of Zelda: Master Quest

The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the GoddessesBack in 2012 I happily attended a performance of The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses when it toured through Florida, so when I heard that it would be passing through the state again this year with its revised Master Quest program, I eagerly bought tickets.  My girlfriend and I sat in the center of the front row balcony last Saturday evening at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando to enjoy the Orlando Philharmonic perform selections from thirty years of Nintendo's beloved The Legend of Zelda franchise.  Hearing favorite musical selections played loud and with intense energy from Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess while dramatic moments from the games were projected onscreen behind the orchestra and choir gave me chills and sent me back in time to memories of exploring those games for the first time, making me want to replay them all over again (if I only had the time!).  Just about all of the major Zelda titles were represented in some form: Ocarina, Majora's Mask, A Link to the Past, Twilight Princess, Wind Waker, and Skyward Sword were all present. 

Continue reading "The Listen Of Zelda: Master Quest" »


Relive Nintendo History With The Nintendo Power Archive

Nintendo PowerUPDATE: The magazine archive has been deleted.  Lawyers strike again.

Like every Nintendo console-owning kid in the 1980s and 1990s, I had a subscription to Nintendo's in-house review/strategy/propaganda publication, Nintendo Power.  I came onboard the magazine with Issue 5 in March 1989  (Ninja Gaiden on the cover!) and for over ten years I read each issue cover to cover multiple times to  guide me through the games I owned, help me choose the games I wanted, and help me look like a gaming superstar on the playground with secret codes and tips.  I purged my collection when I left home after graduating high school, but the memories live on at Archive.org which earlier this year quietly put up a scanned collection of the first 143 issues which will take you from the days when Super Mario Bros. 2 was taking North America by storm though the launch of Super Mario World past the dawn of Super Mario 64 into the heady days of Super Mario Advance's impending arrival for the Game Boy Advance in 2001.  Seeing each cover again after all these years takes me back to specific moments in my life: laying in the family recliner and tracing a path through the maps for Mega Man 3 in Issue 20, reading Issue 50 while waiting for a haircut, reading Issue 61 in the backseat of the car...  I intended to list a few "greatest hits" issues as recommended reading, but as I browsed the collection I found myself marking down each and every issue, so let me just say to pick a magazine and start reading.  You really can't go wrong.