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July 2007

Cheap 32X Games For Budget-Minded Retro Gamers

Sega 32X ad It's somewhat ridiculous how many older video games are still comparatively expensive.  Supply and demand seems to dictate that if you want a used copy of Metroid for the Nintendo Entertainment System after all these years, you'll still pay upwards of $10.  Want Super Mario RPG for the Super NES?  Somewhere around $45 please.  Final Fantasy VII for the Sony PlayStation?  Why, you'd need a bank loan for that!  Then there are the games for consoles few people loved, such as the Sega 32X.  Retrogaming with Racketboy has put together a list of the cheapest, best games for the failed platform, and much to my surprise there are actually enough quality 32X games to warrant such a list.  The obvious games like Knuckles Chaotix and Virtua Racing Deluxe are included, but then there's a few of which I'm unfamiliar, such as Tempo and KolibriTempo definitely sounds interesting, and best of all, it's affordable!

Contra 4 Preview At AMN

Contra 4 Seated in a big comfy chair at Konami's E3 bungalow at the Fairmont Hotel last week, I came to a realization: I still really suck at Contra.  I was playing Contra 4 for the Nintendo DS, a game that goes back to the roots of the franchise for 2D sprite-based fun.  All of the classic elements seem to be there including the controller-hurling difficulty level.  I played the demo five times and never did make it to the end of the first level.  My preview of the game has been published over at AMN, so be sure to check it out for my take on the first half of the first level of the demo.

Halo DS Need Not Be A Shooter

Halo So apparently there's been pitch after pitch for a version of Microsoft's popular Halo for the Nintendo DS.  Siliconera recently spoke with the Halo developer brain trust at Bungie and dug deep for the answers.  Is there truly a Halo DS on the way?

Would you ever like to see that [Halo on the DS]?

FO: I mean if it wasn’t a drain on resources. The problem is the DS is not an FPS console right? It’s not an FPS handheld. There really is no such thing. If we did something cool I would like to see it. But I would rather see the Halo IP on any handheld system applied to a different genre because handhelds don’t necessarily do FPS well.

Who says Halo DS has to be a 3D first-person shooter?  Go a completely different direction with the series and make it a 2D side-scrolling shooter with 3D visuals.  Imagine something similar to the old original Duke Nukem games for DOS: a guy, a gun, and a goal.  It could be a side-story to the main Halo saga, have some great platforming action in addition to high-powered weaponry, and perhaps multiple playable characters, each with a special skill.  I know I'd be interested in such a game and I'm not even much of a Halo fan. 

Sega Drops The Ball With Mario & Sonic?

Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games Due to time limitations I had to make a difficult choice last week when I met with Nintendo at E3: do I spend my precious hands-on moments with Super Mario Galaxy or Mario & Sonic At The Olympic GamesGalaxy was the obvious choice and I'm glad I went with it, but I did walk away wondering about the first official Mario/Sonic crossover.  Had I just passed up gaming demo gold?  AMN's Lucas DeWoody assures me that, no, I did not.

In what is probably an attempt to connect to the same demographic as Wii Sports, the controls are waaaaaaaaay overly-simplified. A lot of the games just boil back into a glorified waggle fests, much like a next-gen Track & Field on a Wii-mote where you just stand there and shake the Wiimote/Nunchuck combo as hard as you can. The game will feature a tournament mode where all the characters can compete against each other in a full Olympic setting, but the game will not support any kind of story mode which feels like a waste of the license considering the historic relevance of the joining of these two classic characters.

This sounds like such a waste of potential.  I can understand the whole mini-game focus and the simplified controls.  I may not like it, but I can understand it.  However, what's the point of using Mario and Sonic if the developers won't give us a decent story to go along with it?  Even if it is happening a few years beyond Sonic's expiration date, this is still gaming history here.  Mario & Sonic should have one hell of a backstory that explains just how these two worlds came to collide for some athletic fun in China.  Considering that this is Sega we're talking about here I'm not expecting an epic tale (in fact, considering the last few plots to come from Sonic the Hedgehog games I'm not so sure I'd want an epic tale), but at least craft a little narrative to put the whole thing in perspective.  The game still has a few more months to bake before it's pulled out of the oven and left to cool on store shelves, so it's possible the storyline could be fleshed out before then, but I can't say I'm all that optimistic.

Dewy's Adventure Preview At AMN

Dewy We've seen a lot of unusual and unlikely video game heroes over the years: speedy hedgehogs, enchanted coats, circus bats, and whatever the hell Kirby is, just to name a few.  Why not a drop of water?  The team from Konami that brought us Elebits is hard at work on their next big project, Dewy's Adventure for the Nintendo Wii.  I had the opportunity to play a demo of the game at E3 last week which must mean that AMN has just published my thoughts on the matter.

Dewy's Adventure has a major cute factor going for it, as the character designs in the demo were dripping with personality. Dewy himself is the happiest game character we've seen in ages. Sliding Dewy around the land takes a little practice, but with a little practice he becomes easy to control. Being able to change Dewy's state of matter is an inspired idea and adds some depth to what would otherwise be a one-note idea.

I'm looking forward to seeing where the developers take Dewy.  The demo was short and sweet (and adorable), but there's plenty of potential in the concept itself.  If the finished product is as fun and innovative as Elebits, I think we'll all be in for a treat.

Weekly Poll: A Winner Is Who?

Weekly Poll for 7-09-2007You'd better hurry and snap up a "cheap" Sony PlayStation 3 before the stock of 60GB units runs out.  After that, well, it's anybody's guess how much this stuff will cost.  After playing Ratchet and Clank Future at E3 I'm drawn to the PS3 over the Microsoft Xbox 360, but at this point they're both too expensive to justify a purchase for just a single game or two.  I'll be watching the price wars with great interest.

Moving along, with E3 2007 behind us it's time to carefully consider all of the news and information presented last week and arbitrarily crown one of the big three hardware manufacturers a winner.  Who won E3 this year?  Don't forget to back up your vote with some comments.

Castlevania's Unchosen Paths

Castlevania 3: Dracula's Curse Who likes great fan-based gaming music covers?  You do, you say?  Then get yourself on over to Goat's Castle and download the new Unchosen Paths album of original Castlevania 3: Dracula's Curse cover songs.  I'm still in the process of listening to all of the songs, but what I've heard so far is dead-on (no pun intended).  There's even bonus medleys from the original Castlevania and Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest.

Unchosen Paths is my guitar-driven tribute to the music of Castlevania, focusing on Castlevania 3. All the songs from CV1, CV2 and CV3 are included.  The original music for Castlevania 3 was made by legendary Club Kukeiha, copyright 1990 Konami. Mad flying chain-whipped props to them for the inspiration. Lament of Innocence and Curse of Darkness original music by Michiru Yamane.

What amazes me is that this seems to be a single person's creation.  It sounds like a whole band performing, but it's the work of a single fan.  Impressive!  I think we can all sink our teeth into this one (pun definitely intended).  Once you finish with this album you can move on to Goat's many other gaming performances.

(via Racketboy forum)

E3 2007: Here Endeth The Lesson

E3 Media and Business SummitThe books are closed on the 2007 E3 Business and Media Summit and as we count down to the announcement of next year's conference (or untimely cancellation thereof) let us look back on last week's massive amounts of content.  Here's a refresher of PTB's E3 materials in case you're joining us late (and if you are, where have you been?):

We're not really completely finished, of course.  AMN will be publishing more E3-based hands-on preview material throughout the week including my thoughts on demos for Contra 4, Dewy's Adventure, Ace Combat 6, Silent Hill Origins, and several other upcoming titles.  Who says E3 has to end just because everyone has gone home?

PTB Is TypePad Featured Weblog

Featured by TypePad Greetings new readers from TypePad!  Press The Buttons is today's TypePad Featured Weblog, so allow me to welcome all of you finding your way over here from their weblog of featured sites or from the front page of itself.  There are more than two years worth of entries in the archive, so it can seem a bit intimidating at first.  Allow me recommend some of my "greatest hits" if you want a crash course in Press The Buttonsing.  Firstly, I just got back from attending E3 2007 in Santa Monica.  The past week's worth of entries is packed with goodies from that trip, plus there's a whole photo album full of my adventures.  Then there are the two celebration posts from when PTB crossed the 500 and 1,000 entry marks.  When it comes to categories, my favorite articles are from the Secret Origins series in which I share the stories behind tracking down and purchasing some of my most beloved games over the years, everything from the Nintendo Entertainment System days to more recent acquisitions.  Then there's The Forgotten in which I expound on older games lost to time that should be revived.  That should be enough to get you started, so enjoy your time here and I hope you'll become a regular reader.  I think you'll find that I have a lot to say.

E3 2007: Ratchet and Clank Future Video

Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction Here's a ninety second look at the upcoming Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction for the Sony PlayStation 3 from Barker Hanger at E3 2007.  The demo for this one was very impressive, and if there's one game that'll move me to pick up a PS3, it'll be this one.  For the most part the demo was all classic Ratchet action, albeit with new weapons such as the Groovatron, a disco bomb that causes enemies to cease their attacks and bust a move for a short while.  Then there's a transformation gun that turns raging baddies into harmless penguins (complete with hat and scarf).   The gameplay feels very familiar and comfortable, although it looks to be more of the same, it's a lot of fun and looks so much better than previous games in the series.

At the start of the demo Ratchet is trying to fix his hovercar when Captain Qwark puts in a nervous call for help.  Our heroes take off in the still-malfunctioning vehicle and wind up plummeting down to the city below, meaning that they have to fight their way to Qwark's location.  We join the demo in progress in this video clip after the grind rail that Ratchet had been sliding along has been blown up by enemy robots, causing him to free-fall.  Players can tilt the Sixaxis controller to control Ratchet as he falls.  Now, let's watch.