Previous month:
November 2011
Next month:
January 2012

December 2011

Amazon Offering Big Game Deals Today Only

Buy somethin' will ya!Amazon is not about to let the holiday shopping season pass without offering another of its Lightning Deal days in which many video games are deeply discounted at different times throughout the day.  Today's big sale is for Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed: Revelations for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 which is a remarkable 40% off today, bringing its price down to a mere $35.99.  Other deals include sales on sports games including soccer & football, a gaming headset, a LEGO title based on a popular Disney property, and more.  Every purchase you make through the green links above goes to help support Press The Buttons which, really, is what the holiday season is all about.  Or so I tell me.

Weekly Poll: End Of An Era

Weekly Poll for 12-05-2011There's an overwhelming lack of importance associated with the Spike Video Game Awards.  I've been saying all week that they don't mean anything to me, and yet while actually watching the awards, I found myself disputing the winners and wishing that the show were generally better.  So, in the end, I suppose the idea of the VGAs means something to me after all.  I loved the fun animated clips with, say, Portal 2's Wheatley accepting the nomination for the year's best character while begging to someone to help him get back to Earth and the Joker's moment at the podium as he accepted the aforementioned award.  Shigeru Miyamoto's moment on stage was wonderful to see.  There were fun bits in the VGAs.  Then Felicia Day grabbed cupcakes with her mouth for some reason.  For more on how the VGAs can be better, be sure to listen to Episode 71 of the Power Button podcast.

Speaking of Shigeru Miyamoto, last week's retirement scare has people talking about how Nintendo will move forward once he does inevitably leave the company.  I certainly don't want him going anywhere any time soon, but the fact remains that the day will come when his unique talents and creativity are no longer available to the development teams working on the next installments of Mario, Link, and Samus Aran.  Do you believe that Nintendo will be the same once Miyamoto departs?  Let's hear your thoughts.

Meet Watara's Less Than Super Supervision

Watara SupervisionSeveral months ago I mentioned the Watara Supervision and provided a little quick backstory on the would-be competitor to Nintendo's Game Boy dominance, but now Racketboy's retrogaming division has crafted a proper orientation to the little lackluster handheld device.  You'll learn about the system's multiple revisions, its unknown development teams, pitiful marketing attempts, shoddy construction, and much more.  Is it any wonder that this gadget never became a major force in the gaming industry?

By 1992, Nintendo was crushing the competition in the handheld market with a piece of handheld hardware that was technically out of date when compared to its main sources of competition. But with a little ingenuity, great battery life, and some serious gameplay, the Game Boy continued to hold its own against the likes of the Sega Game Gear and Atari Lynx. The amount of success was enough to get many companies to take notice, and while some chose to try their hand making games for the beloved grey brick, a few others instead began speculating on how they could get a piece of the action.

Enter Watara, a Taiwanese company that figured it could take some of the Game Boy’s potential market if it released a product that was only slightly better in design and cheaper for the consumer to buy. Thus the Watara Supervision was born. But despite the technical improvements on the Game Boy’s design, the low price, the international releases, and the advertising, the Supervision failed to provide the quality of games needed to capture the market. This fatal oversight proved to be its downfall, and the Supervision fell into obscurity, just another machine left on the roadside in Nintendo’s wake.

Remember, this a system sporting a library of titles such as Super Pang, Happy Race, Dancing Block, Recycle Design, Witty Cat, and John Adventure.  It never had a chance in North America.  However, some people apparently have fond memories of the system.  There are emulators available for the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Microsoft Xbox, and PC that will bring the likes of Witty Cat back for those who originally loved it.  It just goes to show that even the most obscure games are never truly lost and forgotten.

(image via WiseGamers)

Power Button - Episode 71: Building A Better Spike Video Game Awards With Philip Kollar

Power ButtonThe Spike Video Game Awards air this Saturday night on — where else? — Spike TV, so ahead of the glut of winners, trailers, and attempted comedy, we thought we'd take an hour or so to discuss whether or not the VGAs matter, how they can be improved, and which nominated games we think will take home a few of the prizes.  Along as our guest this week is Game Informer's associate editor, Philip Kollar.  He'll help shine a little light on how the VGAs work and challenge us to start narrowing down our own personal Game of the Year lists  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 , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow all of us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons, @aubradley84, and @JoeyDavidson or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.

Power Button - Episode 71: Building A Better Spike Video Game Awards With Philip Kollar

Continue reading "Power Button - Episode 71: Building A Better Spike Video Game Awards With Philip Kollar" »

The Daily Show Investigates Freemium Mobile Games

If you want to score a big profitable success on the iPhone and iPad App Store, then you should make your game a free download, but charge money for microtransaction credits that unlock better in-game items and knick-knacks.  Then you offer a bundle of credits sold in bulk for an absurd price.  These freemium apps are often played by children who authorize expensive purchases on their inattentive parents' credit cards.  It's becoming more and more common to hear about a parent who handed a supposedly free game over to the kids only for the kids to rack up hundreds or even thousands of dollars in add-on purchase fees.  The Daily Show investigates these poor excuses for legitimate games and brings one frustrated father's complaints straight to the people behind the Tapfish freemium aquarium.  It's worth watching just to see the people responsible squirm uncomfortably.

Mini-Review: Dante's Inferno

DanteThis article was originally published at on March 10, 2010.

Electronic Arts turned a lot of baffled heads when the company announced a video game inspired by / based on the classic Divine Comedy epic poem, but the end result is actually better than it has any right to be. Turning Dante's Inferno into a big dumb action game in the God of War mold for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 makes for an interesting exercise, as protagonist Dante must descend into the circles of Hell after his beloved Beatrice is slain and her soul taken into the underworld by the devil himself who intends to make her his unholy bride and Queen of Hell. The ensuing adventure goes deeper than you'd expect, as the player is actually drawn into the action and becomes part of Dante's trials. Comparisons to Sony's God of War and its progtagonist Kratos are inevitable, as the two games have plenty in common. Both games star a morally gray hero who has done unspeakable horrors in the name of religion, who were one day pushed too far, and who now vow revenge against powers greater than each. Both games play largely the same with similar camera perspectives, control schemes, and skill tweaks. Both games even have a combat power-up system through which slain enemies become a form of currency used to buy upgrades. While there are many glaring similarities, Dante's Inferno has a unique twist that sets it apart from Kratos's saga when it comes to thematic presentation and the playing of tricks on the player beyond mere gameplay mechanics.

Continue reading "Mini-Review: Dante's Inferno" »

New Doctor Who Game Coming To PS3 And Vita

The DoctorI've said before that I want to see a really good video game based on the BBC's Doctor Who, and while we've come closer in the past few years, we're not there yet.  Last year's Doctor Who adventure games for the PC were difficult to legally acquire outside of the United Kingdom and were simplified to the point of not being worth the effort to play them.  Now Supermassive Games is working on a new adventure featuring the Doctor and River Song for the Sony PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.  Subtitled The Eternity Clock, Sony must care enough about this project to give it some time on the PlayStation Blog.

So far, we’ve said very, very little about the game. This trailer just has the barest hints about the core of this story. What is The Eternity Clock? How is it related to the Doctor? How is River involved in this?

I’m afraid this post isn’t going to answer any of these questions; we’ll leave that to future posts and the game itself.

We’re very excited to be working with Supermassive Games as they’ve already delivered some great titles for PlayStation, such as Tumble, Start The Party and Start The Party: Save the World. The team are huge fans of the show and they’ve been great at bringing the key essence of Doctor Who into the game.

While none of Supermassive's past work may fill you with confidence and excitement at first glance, consider the strengths of a developer that has worked closely with the PlayStation Move controller working on a Doctor Who title. Yes, we may finally get a motion control sonic screwdriver function in this game.  Please, let's just skip the whole party / mini-game genre and go with the Doctor in a proper action/adventure romp. I want to see a developer do for Doctor Who games what Rocksteady Studios did for Batman games with Arkham Asylum.  I don't know if Supermassive is up to the challenge, but for now you can consider me intrigued and anxious to learn more about this project.  In the meantime, here's the teaser trailer to whet your appetite:

The Surprising Adventures Of Captain N: The Game Master

Captain NChildren of the 1980s certainly remember the old Saturday morning Captain N: The Game Master cartoon in which the dream of the Nintendo generation — to be sucked into the television in order to personally fight video game monsters alongside digital heroes — happened to Kevin Keene.  Dubbed Captain N, Kevin teamed with Princess Lana of Videoland to battle Metroid's Mother Brain in an endless kid-friendly war of mostly nonviolence.  As a cartoon for kids, Captain N didn't make the effort to understand its source material and certainly didn't tell any stories that made one think.  Animation studio DiC had toys and games to sell, after all.  Comic book publisher Valiant, on the other hand, wanted to go the extra mile when it got a shot at telling Captain N stories.  4thletter takes a look back at the short-lived Captain N comic book series from 1990 that explored some rather serious issues for a kids' comic.  Plus: Samus Aran!

On the cartoon, there was a very loose love triangle going on between Kevin, Lana and Simon. Kevin and Lana – being a bland teenage boy and bland teenage girl – were suggested to be relatively into each other. I don’t think anything was ever said, but he’s the nice guy hero and she’s the princess and they’re in a videogame world, so that’s how it pretty much is. Simon, who tried to act competitively with Kevin, would constantly hit on the princess and bask in how handsome he is. He got shot down constantly.

What they ended up with was a semi-capable douche being annoying while the other two had a vague and uninteresting romantic connection. I’m not complaining how it should have been – what with it being a crappy cartoon show for kids – I’m just stating the reality.

That said, Samus turns that on its ear. There is no Simon or dynamic of two guys fighting over a girl. Now it’s two girls fighting over a guy, only with some drama that I actually find myself caring about.

All five issues of the comic are covered here along with a tease for the unpublished sixth.  As a kid, I obsessively collected the various Super Mario comics that Valiant produced along with a handful of Legend of Zelda issues and the Game Boy mini-series, but I never picked up a Captain N book because I assumed it would be on the same level as the cartoon (which is to say, it failed to meet its potential even to my ten-year-old eyes).  Looking back on it now, I missed out.  The Zelda book told the occasional interesting story (look up the two-part story "The Power" and "The Price sometime), but Captain N seems to have been the unsung hero of the entire line.  Now I'm kind of sorry that I missed out.

(via LBD_nytetrayn)

Club Nintendo Offers Free Games

Super Mario KartThe Club Nintendo loyalty program offers some unexpected items in exchange for buying many Nintendo products and filling out company surveys.  For instance, you can exchange some virtual Nintendo currency for towels and playing cards featuring Super Mario and friends.  I can't say that I have much of a use for those, so my loyalty points tend to add up.  I may start spending them more often now, however, as Club Nintendo now makes four games each month from the various download services that Nintendo runs available for a few of the club's coins.  Virtual Console titles, eShop selections, WiiWare, DSiWare... it's all on the table.  Tiny Cartridge fills us in.

The games are chosen based on Club Nintendo member feedback, and are replaced with “a new surprise selection each month”. This is an obvious idea that I always assumed Nintendo would never implement because it’s too awesome, but here it is!

This month's options are Super Mario Kart (Wii), Xevious (3DS), Fluidity (Wii), and Mario vs Donkey Kong: Minis March Again (DSi/3DS) for 100 coins each (except for Fluidity which goes for 150 coins).  This is a great idea and a wonderful way to spend coins before they expire.  I may finally spring for Minis March Again under this program.  Here's hoping that future offerings are worthwhile and not the dregs of WiiWare.  These are supposed to be rewards, after all. 

Shigeru Miyamoto Isn't Going Anywhere (For Now)

Miyamoto likes to watchNintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto scared everyone overnight when an interview with Wired quoted the Mario mastermind as saying that he planned to retire.  Now, take a minute to imagine a video game industry without Miyamoto playing a part in it and I'm sure you can understand the panic attacks that Nintendo's stockholders experienced, as the company's stock dropped 2% once the news broke.  That, in turn, led to Nintendo issuing a very quick statement explaining that Miyamoto was misunderstood and that he's not actually going anywhere.  Here's Reuters with the report:

Nintendo Co Ltd on Thursday denied a report that Shigeru Miyamoto, widely seen as the world's most influential games designer, would step down from his current position and take a smaller role in the company.

Wired magazine had quoted the 59-year-old creator of popular games franchises including Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda as saying in an interview that he wanted to retire and work on smaller projects, passing the torch to younger designers.

"This is absolutely not true," said a spokeswoman for Nintendo. "There seems to have been a misunderstanding. He has said all along that he wants to train the younger generation.

"He has no intention of stepping down. Please do not be concerned."

Here's the relevant part of the Wired interview in which Miyamoto (via translator) clearly says that he intends to step down:

“Inside our office, I’ve been recently declaring, ‘I’m going to retire, I’m going to retire,’” Miyamoto said through his interpreter. “I’m not saying that I’m going to retire from game development altogether. What I mean by retiring is, retiring from my current position.”

“What I really want to do is be in the forefront of game development once again myself,” Miyamoto said. “Probably working on a smaller project with even younger developers. Or I might be interested in making something that I can make myself, by myself. Something really small.”

That seems pretty clear to me.  What I get from this is that Miyamoto wants to take a more active role in video game development beyond upending tea tables and offering hands-off guidance in his current producer role.  Perhaps he wants to get his hands dirty and direct a title again.  Whatever the change, I don't read this and believe that Miyamoto is ready to walk away from Nintendo entirely.  He'll still be there, plugging away in his own unique way.  No need to panic.  At least, not outside Nintendo.  Joystiq has a great guess at what's going on at the company's headquarters today:

There definitely appears to be a "misunderstanding," with Nintendo issuing a denial of Miyamoto's own quotes. We suspect there's currently a "misunderstanding" between Miyamoto, who wants to transition away from supervising massive projects, and Nintendo, who wants to put his name on every game.

I can understand Miyamoto wanting to change his role at the company, but I think this is one of those situations where the rest of the world needs him to carry on for the good of us all.  We need him working to guide younger developers and provide a colorful, happy counterpoint to the gritty mainstream video game releases of today such as Call of Duty.  There's plenty of room for games of all kinds, but without Miyamoto around to champion blue skies, I worry what the financial side of the industry will allow (and encourage) to happen to background colors that aren't brown, gray, or black.