Power Button - Episode 266: E3 2018 Wrap-Up

Power ButtonAs we do each E3 we have brought in our special E3 correspondent Ross Polly live from the loading dock of the Los Angeles Convention Center for an exclusive discussion about the happenings and events of the week that was in big gaming news and press conferences.  Join us for a super-sized two hour episode of the Power Button podcast in which we run down the highs and lows of the Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Ubisoft, Bethesda, Square-Enix, Sony, and Nintendo press conferences and digital showcases for conversation about games such as Anthem, Halo Infinite, Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Fallout 76, Just Cause 4, The Last of Us Part II, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate plus so much more.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, 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. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.


The Running Of The Smash Bros.

Super Smash Bros. BrawlSometimes on certain windy nights, if you listen hard enough and believe fervently enough, you can still hear the sounds of E3 2006 reverberating through the streets of downtown Los Angeles.  One of the last great E3s of days gone by before the expo contracted into the airplane hanger years for a while, 2006 gave rise to Nintendo's big Wii debut and Sony's lackluster PlayStation 3 introduction.  Nadia Oxford of USgamer was there, and her story about seeing the first Super Smash Bros. Brawl trailer reminded me of one of my own favorite E3 2006 stories.

Meanwhile in Nintendo territory, we saw the reveal for Super Mario Galaxy (charming and highly unique at the time of its reveal, and still one of the greatest 3D Mario games of all time), a playable version of Metroid Prime 3, and the incredibly crowd-pleasing trailer for Super Smash Bros Brawl. I still smile a bit at that Snake reveal at the very end: It set a standard for the surprise Smash character reveals that have evolved into tiny, potent packages of fan-crack. The Mega Man reveal for Smash Bros on the Wii U and 3DS at E3 2013 set a fire under a property that was nothing but cooling ashes at that point, and I don't think I'll ever be over the Cloud reveal.

I was also at that fateful E3 as part of the Advanced Media Network team, the crew that would later go on to become the now-defunct Kombo.  AMN had drastically scaled back its 2006 presence at the expo from around fifty representatives in 2005 to a more manageable and hard-working twelve people.  Nintendo was still holding live stage show press conferences back then, but the company also always saved a little something to show off later in the week.  Super Mario Galaxy stole the press conference and the show floor, but it was the first look at Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii behind closed doors later in the day that really turned heads.

Allow me to remind you of the technology scene of the era.  No YouTube.  No Twitter.  No Facebook.  No iPhone or Android.  Certainly no Twitch.  WiFi was a rare and expensive commodity in public settings when it worked at all.  Large files were still distributed by discs instead of cloud services or streaming video sites.  I was still carrying around a digital camera strapped into a belt holster at the show that year and my primitive cell phone only made calls.  AMN had sent two of our team to the closed door showcase and we all had to wait patiently to find out what was being announced in Nintendo's room.  Finally, the boss got the call: Nintendo had shown off the new Smash title and had given out discs with the trailer on them.  Whichever site could get that video online first and start the link spreading around the Internet through Digg and the like would win all of the gaming community traffic.  Our guys had a disc in their possession, but no way to get it on the Internet from the convention center.  So began the great Smash Bros. run of 2006.

Continue reading "The Running Of The Smash Bros." »


Power Button - Episode 265: E3 2018 Predictions: The New Batch

Power ButtonE3 2018 is a week away and we're gearing up to enjoy all of the new announcements and reveals.  This week on Power Button we're looking ahead to what we think the publishers and developers at the big show may announce and throw in a little bit of personal wishlisting while we're at it.  Join us for an hour of discussion.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, 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. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.


You Are Kirby's Hero

Kirby Star Allies

It's amazing how much a simple message can be such a great help.  I've had an especially rough time lately with my health and longtime readers will remember my decades-long fight with Crohn's Disease and its accompanying issues.  Earlier this year my pancreas joined the party with its own problems, and now for the past few weeks I've been pushing myself through extra pain and difficulties with digesting enough nutrition.  Just making it through a regular day or work and daily responsibilities is a physically overwhelming prospect sometimes.  I've spent a lot of time resting in bed, usually with my Nintendo Switch within reach.  Kirby Star Allies has taken up my Switch time over the past few months off and on, and I found a surprising boost in an unexpected place.

Kirby has access to so many power and abilities over the course of the game that it's easy to forget how to control him sometimes, so the game's pause screen includes a recap of what Kirby can do in his current state: fire, ice, electric, ninja, etc.  Whenever Kirby is just plain ol' Kirby, however, there's not much to say about him, so instead the developers included a short message about how Kirby believes in the player no matter how tough things are.  I was surprised by how much a little encouragement from a fictional character helped boost my spirits when I was up in the middle of the night with pain and unable to sleep.  If Kirby believes in me, how can I lose?


Power Button - Episode 264: Sealing The Pact With Batman: The Enemy Within

Power ButtonWe're fans of both Batman and Telltale Games here on Power Button, so it's natural that when the publisher debuted the second season of its Dark Knight adventures, we had to discuss it.  We have a supersized conversation about Batman: The Enemy Within for you this week and it's packed with spoilers, so settle in with your favorite dark corner and enjoy.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, 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. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.


A Brief History Of The PS4 Share Button

DualShock 4One of the most significant additions to the DualShock 4 controller compared to its predecessors is the Share button which allows players to quickly and easily share screenshots and video clips of PlayStation 4 games with social media.  Over at Polygon, the people who created the Share button reminisce about the creative process of making the Share button a reality and discuss some of the challenges they faced.  For instance, some developers were mortified by the idea of players sharing snippets of their games with the world at large.

As Sony began to fully embrace the Share button as one of the “killer features” of the PS4, many game developers began to express concerns about the potential for spoilers, the details of their immaculately-drawn worlds and stories spilling out across social media in an unruly mess of trolling and outrage. Aoki recalls one long meeting with first-party Sony developers that resulted in a compromise — in order to prevent their precious ships from leaking, developers got the authority to block sections of the game from broadcast, up to and including the entirety of the campaign.

“It was one of our main concerns,” he says. “On a system level, it’s really hard for us to understand what the game wants to do, so what we ended up doing was giving game developers the power to select what to block, when to block, or whether to block at all. When we would say we wanted to share everything, some developers would reply with: ‘We don’t want to share! ‘We don’t want to share!’” Aoki recalls, laughing. “[...] At the beginning, some teams were really nervous. They’d block the whole recording until you finish the game, and you could only do it on the second playthrough,” he says. “Of course, that got some negative feedback from the player side. I think the game team now realizes the potential and meaning of having a lot of players sharing the cool content out, and how that represents a positive for the game.”

It's fun to be in the middle of a game like Assassin's Creed Origins or Uncharted 4 and  quickly dash off a fun or exciting moment to show friends and followers.  While some developers resist the idea, it's just not possible to keep restricted footage off of social media.  Even if the Share button is blocked, external capture boxes have been around for years and certainly don't respect a game's internal restrictions.  It's frustrating when that little box pops up proclaiming that recording is prohibited.  I recall wanting to show off a piece of the Marvel vs Capcom Infinite demo last year and discovering that the entire demo was blocked from recording, sharing and streaming.  This was a free demo meant to whip up excitement among the fans and Capcom went and blocked those same fans from being able to directly share memorable moments.  Sometimes I just don't understand corporate decisions.

 


Power Button - Episode 263: Mega Man 101

Power ButtonBack in Episode 255 we discovered that Blake Grundman doesn't know the ins and outs of the canonical Mega Man storyline and how the classic series ties into the Mega Man X series and beyond.  Obviously, this could not stand, so we invited David Oxford of The Mega Man Network and author of The Robot Master Field Guide to join us and lead Blake step by step through the series and explain the plot points that tie the whole thing together.  How is Dr. Wily related to Zero?  What happened to Dr. Cossack?  Who is the mysterious Mr. X?  All will be revealed in this week's episode.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, 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. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.


Power Button - Episode 262: Movie Mode: Avengers: Infinity War

Power ButtonOnce again we're turning our attention towards a movie for this week's Power Button podcast as Blake Grundman saw Avengers: Infinity War this past weekend and has feelings he needs to express about it.  We have a spoiler-packed hour for you as we discuss the film with our friend Keri Honea of the Yelling About Comics podcast, PlayStation LifeStyle, and Strategy Guide Reviews.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, 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. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.


I'm Not Ready For PlayStation 5

InterocitorEarlier this month the Internet lit up in a flurry of excitement regarding a report that Sony was close to launching the PlayStation 5 earlier than most people expected with development kits (as if that term implies a single, fixed form for that type of hardware) for the new console supposedly already in the hands of noted studios preparing for a launch this year or next.  Kotaku's Jason Schreier put those rumors to rest and tried to calm the community down, but the clamor is real.

Most of the developers I spoke to, via phone and email and text, said they had not heard anything about plans for a new PlayStation. Even employees at Sony’s first-party studios said they have not yet been briefed on the existence of a PlayStation 5. People across all the disciplines (design, art, engineering, etc.) at major studios working on games scheduled for 2019 and beyond have told me that if there is information about the PS5 at their companies, they haven’t heard about it. (Those people said they haven’t heard about a new Xbox, either.)

I really don't understand the rush to move on to the PS5 and even the next generation of Xbox when the current consoles are just now finally showing us what they truly have to offer.  Highly anticipated games like God of War and the upcoming Spider-Man are showcasing development studios who are firmly in the groove and showing off their increasing mastery of developing for the PS4.  Why would players want to move on to the PS5 and have to wait several years for studios to fully understand new hardware?  Why would players be so eager to have to invest in a new console ecosystem already when many are still upgrading to the PS4 Pro or buying their first PS4?  Eat what's on your plate before ordering your next meal!  I'm perfectly happy to wait until 2020 or 2021 for the next generation of PlayStation.  My PS4 is meeting all of my PlayStation needs and I'm in no hurry to move it down a spot on the shelf just to make room for the PS5 and start all over again.


Add Some Retro Gaming Books To Your e-Shelf

21 Unexpected Games To Love For The Atari VCS and P.T.: A Video Game Ghost StoryThere are so many great games coming out lately and so many more games that you missed out on go on sale each week, so of course what you need now is some books to read.  You still have a few days to check out the Retro Wonder Game Bundle over at StoryBundle where you can pick up eleven books spanning the world of the Atari VCS to the Famicom Disk System all the way up to the withdrawn P.T. demo from just a few years ago.  It's a great deal. Here's the overall description:

Some of the biggest highlights for this bundle include exclusive ebooks on Hideo Kojima's 'lost classic' horror title P.T., on the Doom franchise's amazing start and triumphant 2016 return, and on unlikely gems for the Atari 2600/VCS (including, yes, E.T the Extra Terrestrial!)

We also have a truly wonderful book on the history of the Xbox, a complete look at the rare Famicom Disk System and its games, and a trilogy of Douglas Adams-style novellas about a retro computer/game collector, as well as rare games revealed from the Unseen64 crew and a look at the historical heroines that come in game protagonist form.

I was given early access to two of the books in the bundle, 21 Unexpected Games to Love on the Atari VCS by John Harris and P.T. - A Video Game Ghost Story by Joel Couture.  Both are great reading.  The Atari volume focuses on old classics that many modern gamers would deride as ancient trash that, nonetheless, hold up in various ways and are a worthwhile opportunity to look back in time at how some of today's modern genres took their first steps out of the primordial gaming ooze.  On the other end of the spectrum, P.T. chronicles Konami's withdrawn demo for the canceled Silent Hills project and examines what makes it so scary and why the publisher pulled the plug on it.  Make time for both of these and the other books in the bundle.  After all, you can't play video games all of the time, so you need to be ready to read about them, too.