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where you can pick up eleven books spanning the world of the Atari VCS to the Famicom Disk System all the way up to the withdrawn P.T. demo from just a few years ago.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  On the other end of the spectrum, P.T. chronicles Konami's withdrawn demo for the canceled Silent Hills project and examines what makes it so scary and why the publisher pulled the plug on it.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.

Power Button - Episode 261: Catching Up

Power ButtonAfter two months of illness and injuries, Power Button is back on track!  This week Blake Grundman and I spend an hour catching up on some of the noteworthy gaming events that we missed during our time away including our new iPhones, dipping to Batman: The Enemy Within, exploring Kirby Star Allies, and much more.  Join us as we gear up the podcasting machine after hiatus.   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.

Universal Orlando Planning Nintendo Attractions For 2023

Mario Kart

There's more news stirring around the Nintendo/Universal partnership that would bring several Nintendo-themed attractions to the Universal Orlando Resort.  WFTV out of Orlando reports that plans for new Nintendo-themed rides are supposedly planned for multiple properties at the Orlando, FL park with rides planned for Mario Kart, Donkey Kong, and Pokémon spreading between the existing flagship Universal Studios park and an upcoming new fourth park much like the company split Harry Potter attractions between the Studios and Islands of Adventure.  The downside is that the Orlando attractions aren't slated to open until 2023.

Along with Josh Young, a blogger with Theme Park University, Holmes spoke to numerous sources inside Universal who say Pokémon is indeed coming to Universal Orlando. The incredibly popular video game and franchise will be added to the KidZone section of Universal, where Woody Woodpecker and Barney are located now.

Originally, that area was slated to be home to Mario Kart and a Donkey Kong roller coaster, but now we've learned those rides will be moving across the street to the 400 acres Universal recently bought near Kirkman Avenue.

The KidZone area of Universal has to be aging poorly by now since it's headlined by characters that are unfamiliar to today's children.  I can understand replacing it with Pikachu and friends, particularly if the new area encourages trading Pokémon in games.  As for the new unbuilt park across the street, Floridians have heard many different plans for that plot of land over the past few years and while I'll believe it when I see it, building Nintendo attractions there makes a lot of sense and would allow Universal to spread out more than trying to shoehorn, say, Princess Peach's castle into an existing park.  And just think: by 2023 we'll all be enjoying the Super Nintendo Switch or Switch U or whatever the company's next console is called.

Third Time's The Charm For Hyrule Warriors

Hyrule WarriorsVideo game fans talk a lot about remasters and definitive editions these days, but for every Burnout Paradise and Spyro Reignited Trilogy, there are other games that have been updated and expanded several times quietly under the radar.  One of those games, Hyrule Warriors, started out as an enjoyable "Dynasty Warriors but Zelda" adventure for the Nintendo Wii U before being ported to the New Nintendo 3DS with additional content in an attempt to get the game in front of an audience sizable enough to check it out.  Now the game is coming back around for a third time as an even larger Nintendo Switch edition.  With two earlier versions under its belt, how much larger is the new iteration?  If you played the Wii U version but skipped the 3DS update, how much new content can you expect?  And if you devoured the 3DS version, is the Switch version worth your time?  Thankfully, Reddit's Thopterthallid has done the homework for you and has written a guide to explain how the new content impacts players of both previous versions.  Here's a taste:

How much more content are you getting overall?

For the 3DS version: Some, but not a ton. Especially if you already bought all the HW:L DLC. The main selling point here is going to be the multiplayer, and better performance. There are a couple small modes you missed out on, but more on that shortly.

For the Wii U version: A lot. It nearly doubles the size of the story mode, and offers a lot of DLC characters and adventure maps you might have missed out on.

It's quite an exhaustive guide covering new characters, weapons, modes, maps, items, and much more.  If you're not sure if you ought to double or triple dip on the new Switch version of Hyrule Warriors, this would be the way to line up all the content and see if you're interested.  As for me, I loved the original Wii U release and found it to be absolutely crammed full of content.  I rented the 3DS version and felt overwhelmed with all of the additional material to unlock and play, so if that version felt like too much, I can't imagine I'd be able to put the time or energy into playing through even more game on the Switch.  It's just too daunting a task at this point in my life.  If you've never played it in a prior incarnation though, it's definitely worth a look.

Power Button - Episode 260: Failure To Relaunch (Part 2)

Power ButtonWe are finally back in the podcasting saddle after two months off due to illness and injury.  More on that in a later episode though because this installment is one of our recordings from the can in which we take up the second half of our discussion about failed video game reboots and relaunches.  Catch up on the first half in Episode 256 and then join us for an hour of kicking around failed titles such as Bomberman: Act Zero, Conker: Live and Reloaded, Splatterhouse, Turok, a fun story about Sonic the Hedgehog at E3, and much more. Also, Blake received something special in the mail recently.   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.

An Evening With Video Games Live

Video Games LiveI love live performances of video game music.  I've been to the Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddess concerts twice and seen the western pioneer of the genre, Video Games Live, three times over the years in Los Angeles at various E3s, but last week the traveling show made stops in Florida, so obviously my girlfriend and I had to go.  This was her first VGL show and she's a second-generation gamer, so I wanted to make it special.  We had front row center seats that I had to secure a year ago to an amazing evening of gaming's greatest hits past and present. 

Sure, sitting that close means that the big screen displaying gaming clips and other fun programming is slightly blocked by the performers, but you just can't beat being right up close to the action.  VGL founder, host, and performer Tommy Tallarico has a manic energy that you can best see sitting right up front, and when he calls out for responses or requests, it's the front row that he's going to hear.  My girlfriend badly wanted a Borderlands suite, but that wasn't meant to be this time (hey Tommy, add that one to your to-do list!).

Continue reading "An Evening With Video Games Live" »

A Short History Of Ratchet And Clank

Ratchet And ClankSometimes I wish that Insomniac Games and Sony would reteam for new Ratchet And Clank sequels more often than they currently do, but then I remind myself that part of the reason the series is still innovative and entertaining is that the developers don't drain the creative lake by overfishing it.  At GDC 2018, some of Insomniac's current and former key people including writer T.J. Fixman recounted the history of everyone's favorite Lombax and robot duo in which they detailed the creative process behind so many important elements of the series.  From weapon design to cheeky subtitles to stacking crates, there's a lot of work that goes into this futuristic world.  GamesRadar has the story.

The Ratchet and Clank series spans 14 games, with some unusual highs and lows. “After about six years, we’d seen a number of changes to the development team, and a lot of the new designers didn’t really know how to design a stack of crates”, said director Brian Allgeier. This led chief creative officer Brian Hastings to draft a four-page document on the art of stacking crates. Unusual as it sounds, smashing up crates to release a shower of collectible bolts is one of the game’s small joys that benefits from a set of design rules. For example, they created guidelines for the shape of the stack, the number of the crates, when to include exploding boxes (to encourage use of your wrench as a projectile)… each little detail contributing to the game’s feel.

They're on to something about the crates.  One of the little joys of the Ratchet games, particularly near the end of the story when multipliers are active, is to toss the wrench at a large stack of crates, see them smashed to bits, and watch as what feels like thousands upon thousands of bolts come flying at Ratchet and somehow land in his pocket as spending money.  It's such a little thing, but the series wouldn't be the same without it.  Knowing that, I'm not surprised that there are pages of guidelines on how to stack crates properly for maximum enjoyment and fulfillment.  With all the care that goes into Insomniac products, why should the crates be any different?

Street Fighter TV Show In Development

Street Fighter IIThis is early news, but the idea is exciting.  A Street Fighter television series is in the works from the team behind the web series Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist.  There's no network, no completed script, or anything like that yet (just the business deal), but there's potential here.  Deadline Hollywood has the news.

Street Fighter the series will draw on the game’s World Warrior story-arc — introduced in the 1991 Street Fighter II: The World Warrior sequel to the original game — as the jumping off point, centering on four protagonists: Ryu, Ken, Guile and Chun-Li. Together, they fight to take down M. Bison, the evil mastermind who runs Shadaloo, a global criminal organization. Though on different journeys, our heroes’ paths will cross as they are drawn into the World Warrior Tournament, a competition devised by M. Bison to find the most powerful and capable fighter in the world. On the journey they come to share, they must draw on their strength, skills, intelligence and loyalty in a battle to survive and emerge as the World Warrior.

Street Fighter has enough characters and just enough lore to make a TV series worthwhile and it gives everyone involved a chance to actually tell the franchise's story in chronological order (none of this sequel, prequel, sequel, interquel, sequel to the interquel nonsense, please).  With the right casting and a slow pace at introducing new characters, I could see this show running for several seasons provided the plot starts out slowly and gives audiences a chance to understand the interpersonal relationships.  Starting out with the premise of a world tournament and then immediately jumping into the madness of Cammy being M. Bison's clone/next body and whatever the hell Seth was trying to accomplish in Street Fighter IV would be too much for those not up on their lore.  Take it slow and do it right.

Health Update: Attack Of The Pancreas

Dr. MarioWhenever I vanish for a prolonged period, you can be sure that a new episode of failing health is behind it.  This time around I'm dealing with an attack of pancreatitis which is a new experience for me.  Sure, I've had my intestines, gallbladder, kidneys, and liver fail at times before (not to mention that time when several of those organs plus others all fused together and had to be surgically separated), but the pancreas is a new spot on the bingo card.  For the past month I've dealt with pain, dehydration, malnutrition, and all of the other fun things that come with a issue adjacent to Crohn's Disease.  I've spent most of the time asleep in bed or at my doctor's office being pumped full of fluids, plus I have new medication to take the stress of my ailing pancreas for a while.  There were two weeks there where I didn't even have the strength to play any video games!  That's how you know things are really tough.  I'll be alright in the end and thankfully I've been able to stay out of the hospital this time, but for now I continue to rest and recover and, yes, I'm back to playing again when I feel up to it.  Thanks for your patience while everything has gone dark temporarily here at PTB.  I'll be back as I continue to feel better and can sit at the PC for longer periods.

Power Button - Episode 259: Movie Mode: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Power ButtonBlake Grundman hijacks the topic this week for an hour of discussion about Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  Spoilers abound and may the Force be with you!   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.