It was only a few months ago that Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata pledged to bring a giant-sized augmented reality Mii card for the Nintendo 3DS to the masses so that everyone can enjoy posing one's 3DS Mii at a life-size scale. Now the promise has been fulfilled, as Club Nintendo has added a giant AR Mii card to the catalog of rewards. For just 200 coins you too can get an AR card that spans 28.5" L x 18.25" W for bringing your Mii to life. Better yet, the other size of the card features a similarly-sized Super Mario image to bring the plumber himself into your virtual world at a massive scale. I predict that there will be a lot of crazy 3DS photos posted online in the weeks ahead of giant characters getting up to no good.
Strange things are afoot at Amazon.com. It appears that the company has halted direct sales of the Nintendo 3DS due to some sort of nebulous product issue and is instead relying on its third-party vendors to fill the orders. The exact error quote that Amazon is handing out is as follows:
While this item is available from other marketplace sellers on this page, it is not currently offered by Amazon.com because customers have told us there may be something wrong with our inventory of the item, the way we are shipping it, or the way it's described here. (Thanks for the tip!) We're working to fix the problem as quickly as possible.
The Internet is a little fatootsed over this. Has Amazon lost faith in the 3DS? Is Nintendo discontinuing the system? My uncle's sister's second cousin told me that Nintendo is getting out of the video game business, ahhhh! Relax, people. The forumites at NeoGAF dug into this and apparently received an explanation from Amazon:
The reason why this is under a review: The flip-screen is loose when its opened, please inform them that Nintendo has confirmed as long as the upper screen locks into place, the unit is within Nintendo’s design specification. Customers can call 1-800-255-3700.
I've had my 3DS since launch and have never noticed this issue nor had a problem with any other technical aspect of the system. Is there an issue with a bad batch of recent 3DSs? Are the people who reported the issue being excessively rough with their 3DSs? These portable systems are meant to be travel-friendly, but aren't supposed to be slammed around. My guess is that this is either a temporary glitch in the matrix or a loud group of angry people enjoying an old fashioned online pile-on. Now is not the time to panic. I'm sure this will all end up as a tempest in a teapot when the smoke clears.
My generation has fond memories of racing to the television in the afternoons and on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons such as Captain N: The Game Master, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show (and it's spin-offs The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World), The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog (and it's counterparts Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Underground), and other gaming cartoons, and over the past few years, Shout! Factory has worked hard to bring them all (and a few others) to DVD. Unfortunately, at the end of the year those license agreements expire, so the entire catalog is about to go out of print. If you've been dragging your feet on picking up any of these box sets, you really need to get moving. Shout!'s online store is liquidating inventory until the end of July and Amazon.com is offering up bigger bargains, so it's worth pursuing if you need stubby green Mega Man in your life or want to show your kids that one episode in which Sonic saves Christmas.
Capcom has had a bad week. First it cancelled Mega Man Legends 3, sparking the ire of thousands of jilted would-be customers. Making matters worse, part of Capcom's PR team blamed the cancellation on lazy fans. Then the company announced the impending Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, angering everyone who just bought the basic Marvel vs Capcom 3 a mere five months ago and compounded that anger by clarifying that the update would not be available as a budget-friendly downloadable expansion. These events are just the latest in what's becoming a pattern of fan-unfriendly decisions in the name of Capcom's bottom line. What's a Capcom fan to do? On this episode of Power Button, Brad Hilderbrand and I kick the issues around for forty minutes to lay out just how it all went wrong and where the company can go from here. There's plenty of disappointment and bafflement to go around. Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, or subscribe via iTunes, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach all three of us via and you can even follow all of us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons, @aubradley84, and @JoeyDavidson or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.
It seems that Batman: Arkham City for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and PC cannot arrive quickly enough, as Rocksteady Studios and and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment have released another trailer showing more of the game in action. Today's slice of action showcases The Penguin and his Iceberg Lounge (both of which were alluded to in Batman: Arkham Asylum) in which the metaphorically feathered field is recruiting an army of the best that the worst has to offer. Game Informer offers this splendid description of this incarnation of the character:
Rocksteady's interpretation of the character maintains the character's trademark top hat and cane, while adding an interesting bit of flair. The cigar-smoking villain has clearly seen better days, as demonstrated by the device implanted on his throat. The trailer doesn't make much of it, but during the E3 demo we saw it periodically distorted his speech. That hasn't seemed to change the way his followers think about him, however, and the goons are more than willing to throw down with Batman to impress the boss.
The trailer's big reveal, however, involves the appearance of Solomon Grundy. Born on a Monday, this zombie villain was originally a Green Lantern foe before branching out into other parts of the DC universe. Grundy seems to be Penguin's final card in the effort to take down Batman. We'll find out in October if he's successful (prediction: he's not). I don't know who is providing Grundy's voice in this adventure, but when Grundy appeared on Cartoon Network's Justice League animated series last decade, his voice was performed by Mark "The Joker" Hamill, so if I had to guess...
While the cancellations of Mega Man Legends 3 and Mega Man Universe sting, they're not the first Mega Man projects to come to an unceremonious end at the hands of Capcom management. GameSetWatch has a brief retrospective of the other Mega Man titles that fell by the wayside over the years spanning the 3DO version of Mega Man X3 up through the Game Boy Advance compilation of Mega Man Game Boy titles, Mega Man Mania.
Originally released for the Super NES, Mega Man X3 saw the addition of animated cutscenes and remixed music in the transition from cartridge to CD-ROM. While the PlayStation and Sega Saturn versions were later released in Japan and Europe, the 3DO edition was never released anywhere in the world. Mega Man cancellations continued for years afterward.
Some of these hurt more than others. Mega Man on 3DO isn't really mourned since we did eventually get the comparative version for the Sony PlayStation and PC. The article covers the upgraded version of the Mega Man X Collection that was slated to contain all kinds of enhancements and extras that were removed before release in order to use in the Maverick Hunter X PlayStation Portable sequels that never happened, and those are dearly missed. Mega Man Mania may hurt most of all considering how much of a bargain it would have been. Five classic-style Mega Man games on a single Game Boy Advance cartridge? Sold! Or, rather, it would have been had it been released. I stopped by the Capcom booth back at E3 2005 and asked about the fate of the vanished game, and the folks running the area had no idea to what I was referring. Mania was a lost cause long before it was officially cancelled.
Mortal Kombat for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 has been expanded with a variety of downloadable characters since it's release earlier this year, and while the add-on kombatants have all been series stalwarts, the final kharacter to join the fray is something of a guest to the Netherrealm. Freddy Kreuger of A Nightmare On Elm Street fame is taking on Sub-Zero, Scorpion, and the others with his own unique brand of terror. Here's the announcement trailer that shows off Freddy's moves, and I think for most of us, that's really all we need to see. Freddy's fatalities involve a large wood-burning stove and being dragged to Hell? Yeah, that sounds about right. One criticism: Freddy is oddly quiet in this trailer. In order to be Freddy, doesn't he need to be spouting constant one-liners and wiseass remarks? Someone get Robert Englund into the sound booth, stat!
Power Button - Episode 55: How To Fix Nintendo Even Though It's Not Really Broken (Depending On Who You Talk To)
Nintendo has taken a lot of heat lately regarding its seeming inability to cater to the core audience, and by "core audience" in this instance I'm referring to the American division of the company's refusal to bring the three Operation Rainfall games — Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora's Tower — to North America. Is Nintendo's hesitance to publish localized versions of these games a sign that the company is somehow broken? If so, how would one fix it? This week on Power Button, Brad Hilderbrand and I welcome guests Keri Honea and Nick Michetti to discuss these very issues and hammer out just what Nintendo needs to do to appease the corest of the core audience. Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, or subscribe via iTunes, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach all three of us via and you can even follow all of us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons, @aubradley84, and @JoeyDavidson or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.
While the upcoming Wii U from Nintendo will not natively play those shiny little GameCube discs that many of us are still hording, word has it that a selection of GameCube titles will be available as downloadable retro titles for the new console due out next year. The GameCube is becoming a retro console. Are we all feeling old yet? In an interview with NintendoGal, Nintendo of America's Director of Entertainment & Trend Marketing, Amber McCollum, reveals that classic games from the turn of the century will make a reappearance. Game Informer summarizes the relevant quotes for us:
"Nintendo’s history usually goes back one system. The Wii was compatible with GameCube and Wii U will be compatible with Wii and that’s pretty traditional in launches from Nintendo," says McCollum. She goes on confirm that some GameCube titles will be available via download: "The GameCube discs will not be compatible with Wii U, but a number of the games that were playable on GameCube can be downloaded from WiiWare."
GameCube games on the Virtual Console... I like the sound of that. Super Mario Sunshine, Super Smash Bros. Melee, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and plenty of other beloved titles now long out-of-print will return for an encore. Let's just hope that Nintendo keeps the offerings coming and makes those offerings worthwhile. So far the 3DS's Virtual Console support has been rather lackluster here in North America. While The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening and Donkey Kong are true classics, was anyone really clamoring for a return engagement from Tennis or Fortified Zone? Let's see more Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and less Shamu's Deep Sea Adventures.
I love a good history book when the history being covered involves the video game industry. That's why when I was offered a review copy of All Your Base Are Belong To Us: How Fifty Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture written by one Harold Goldberg, I jumped at the chance to read it. Then I started on it and was struck by how dry and overwritten it was. Sadly, I didn't find it to be a compelling read and didn't have much to say about it on PTB. Fortunately, my girlfriend Nicole found it on my table and realized it was perfect for her website in which she holds snarky court on pretentious and overwritten books, so I passed it on to her to tear apart at Books Without Pity. She finished the long slog through the book recently and has composed her thoughts on it.
Goldberg’s chapters follow in a mostly chronological order, beginning with the Magnavox Odyssey and ending with the Wii, as well as a “bonus” chapter with a look towards what the future might bring. All the major players are featured: Pong, Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., Tetris, Grand Theft Auto, The Sims, et cetera. His prologue, if you will, relates his personal experience with “Tennis for Two” at a recreation exposition in the place of its birth, Brookhaven National Laboratory. Towards this section’s end, however, it begins to suffer something that spreads and infects the rest of this book – the disease of extraneous detail. All Your Base, in its paperback format, appears rather lightweight, clocking in at slightly over 300 pages. Generally, this is something that I could read through quickly. However, this took me a week to slog through, and that is embarrassing for me to admit.
To give you an example of the author’s detail-itis: in his chapter “A Space Odyssey,” which tells the story of the Magnavox console, he gives some backstory on Ralph Baer, who created it. Baer invented things when he was younger, and here are a few examples. He was an engineer during World War II. Alright, these two things might have had an impact on Baer’s later years with regards to video games. However, Goldberg also tells us other things that Baer did during the war, such as laying and removing mines, and teaching military strategy, which detract from his main point. If this were an essay submitted to a teacher, there would be red ink striking several sentences from that page, making it rain more blood than a Mortal Kombat fatality.
Which brings me to my next criticism – the popular culture allusions. I know this is a book about video games. Therefore, allusions to video game characters and plots is likely. However, he overuses them, and most of them are downright terrible. “Ran for the hills like Sonic the Hedgehog on speed.” “Like those aliens being shot as they fell from the night sky in Space Invaders.”
Somehow I don't think I missed anything by skipping All Your Base. It's a shame, too, as the general subject matter interests me, but from the way Nicole tells it, the information is buried beneath stale comparisons and extraneous information. There's even some strange allusions in unexpected places such as a digression about the homosexual subtext between Ratchet and Clank dropped into the middle of a chapter about BioShock of all things. Oh well; can't win 'em all. Nicole and I had fun coming up with our own overdone analogies. See how many you can spot in her takedown of the book.