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February 2012

Mini-Review: Katamari Forever

Katamari ForeverThis article was originally published at Kombo.com on October 6, 2009.

When the King of All Cosmos decides to show off for the Prince by jumping high into the sky, he's beaned in the head by a passing interstellar object and knocked out, stricken with impactinduced amnesia. What's a Prince to do? He and his cousins decide to build a robot replacement to fill in for the King, but soon there's a flaming red alert as the newly constructed RoboKing goes off the hook, soaring into space and destroying all of the stars. Now the Prince is tasked with restoring the King's memories and helping RoboKing rebuild all of the stars in the cosmos in Katamari Forever for the Sony PlayStation 3. Both feats can be accomplished by rolling up objects on Earth, of course, as players revisit levels from both the PlayStation 2 title We Heart Katamari as well as the recent Microsoft Xbox 360 release Beautiful Katamari in this tribute to the Katamari franchise.

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Big Video Game Sale At Amazon.com Today Only

Buy somethin' will ya!As we stand on the cusp of all of the major spring season video game releases, Amazon.com has decided that it's the perfect time for you to stock up on a few titles that you may have missed over the past few months.  In order to encourage you to buy something, the online retailer is holding another of its Gold Box and Lightning Deals events that shines the spotlight on gaming.  Star Wars: The Old Republic for PC is marked down to $39.99 today while other deals will come and go during the day on software and accessories for combinations of the Sony PlayStation Vita, PlayStation Portable, Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, and Nintendo DS products.  Every purchase you make via the green link above goes to help support Press The Buttons, and you know that I appreciate your support.


Power Button - Episode 76: We're Not Buying PlayStation Vita (Yet); Let's Get This Party Kickstarted

Power ButtonPower Button is back after a three-week hiatus with a new episode in which Brad Hilderbrand and I discuss the recently released Sony PlayStation Vita and why we're both holding back on buying one.  Between hidden costs and the hard-earned expensive lessons of the Nintendo 3DS, we have reasons to be wary, but our collective hesitation goes deeper than that.  Our second segment discusses Double Fine Adventure and the amazing success that Tim Schafer has enjoyed with his Kickstarter fundraising initiative.  Does this crowdsourced funding model make sense for other developers?  We explore the possible potential.  Joey Davidson is off this week, Brad has a new project that you'll want to check out, and I tell you how you can win The Darkness and The Darkness II for the Microsoft Xbox 360 if you act quickly enough.  Fifty minutes of discussion await!  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 76: We're Not Buying PlayStation Vita (Yet); Let's Get This Party Kickstarted


Mini-Review: Shank 2

ShankBack in 2010, Brad Hilderbrand, Joey Davidson, and I spent a segment of the Power Button podcast discussing Shank from Klei Entertainment and Electronic Arts.  The consensus at the time was that while Shank was a solid and fun action game, the asking price was a bit too much considering how quickly one could blast through what the game had to offer.  We liked Shank, but felt a little buyer's remorse when all was said and done.  If only the game had been a little longer and cost a little less, it would have been a shoe-in to become an unquestionably solid hit.  Now Klei and EA have returned to the table with the downloadable Shank 2 for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and PC and, in the process, addressed our concerns and improved upon the aspects that we already enjoyed.  Shank is back and this time he's exactly where he needs to be.

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See Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II Run

Following on from those impressive screenshots of Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II from last week comes this trailer of the game in action.  Check out Sonic and Tails working together as a team as they traverse snowy mountains, rickety carnivals, and other hazardous zones in pursuit of Metal Sonic.  It's impressive stuff and appears to be a definite improvement over Episode I.  The game has a release date of Spring 2012 and is headed to the Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3, PC, iOS, and Android.  If I had to take a wild guess, I'd venture that we'll also see it for Nintendo's Wii U toward the end of the year.  That's just an educated assumption on my part, of course.


Mini-Review: Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth

CastlevaniaThis article was originally published at Kombo.com on January 4, 2010.  For more on Castlevania: The Adventure Rebirth, be sure to check out the additional video commentary.

First released in 1989 for the original Game Boy, Konami's Castlevania: The Adventure had more problems than pluses. Protagonist Christopher Belmont lurched forward at Frankenstein-like speeds, the trusty Vampire Killer whip powered down with each injury, and the game's four levels were designed with pixel-perfect jumps in mind in a game engine that could not support it. Looking to improve upon this frustrating entry in the Castlevania series, franchise maven Koji Igarashi and his development team have come up with Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth for Nintendo's WiiWare library in which the original game is pumped up with improvements and elements taken from a handful of other Castlevania games. The result is a surprisingly faithful traditional Castlevania adventure in the style of the original side-scrolling action platformer titles. Dracula has risen once again, so it's up to Belmont to enter Castlevania's six stages and slay the beasts. It's a well-traveled road, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

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Demonic 3DS Brain Age Could Be A Localization Nightmare

Demon TrainingNintendo struck gold with its Brain Age titles for the Nintendo DS, so it only makes sense that a new installment of the brain trainer series is in development for the Nintendo 3DS.  This one, however, might pose a challenge when it comes to North America.  See, the hook this time around is that the new puzzles are devilishly difficult, so friendly floating head Professor Kawashima has become a red-skinned horned demon.  I'm sure that'll go over well in the Bible Belt.  This seems like a localization nightmare when it comes to bringing the tentatively titled Demon Training abroad.  Nintendo will never be able to sell this game in highly religious communities.  I can already envision the local television news running a story about how Nintendo wants to corrupt your children with its devil game.  Stances on religious instances in video games are laxer in Japan than in the states, and while Nintendo of America has censored little aspects of games in the past as part of the translation process, it's also outright passed on games in which the religious iconography is too central to a game's main theme to remove.  Remember Devil World, for example?  Brain Age was too profitable for the next installment not to come to America, but I wouldn't be surprised if Demon Training were given an exorcism and entirely rethemed by the time it inevitably lands stateside.


A Brief History Of Handheld Gaming

GizmondoAs Sony officially sends the PlayStation Vita out into the world in North America and Europe this week, 1UP has taken a look back at the many other handheld video game systems that have come before it and points out how each one succeeded, failed, or met somewhere in the middle.  You've heard the story of the Nintendo Game Boy before, sure, but the piece also includes some notable also-rans including the Watara Supervision, Wonderswan, Neo Geo Pocket Color, and the infamous Gizmondo.

Gizmondo arrived stillborn thanks to the shady dealings of its parent company. Even disregarding its terrible (and possibly criminal) business model, the Gizmondo wasn't a particularly compelling piece of hardware; its design bore a bizarre resemblance to a black rubberized taco with valves sticking out of the top. Its software lineup featured a handful of noteworthy third-party games and a whole lot of nothing. And let's not forget that Gizmondo's entire existence has been theorized to serve entirely as an excuse for its creators to fund nice cars and have fancy parties with the media.

It's impossible not to notice that the article ends up being a look at Nintendo vs The Other Guys across the history of handheld gaming.  If the company wasn't striking down Atari or NEC, it was matched with the likes of Sony or Sega.  Through it all, Nintendo is still there and still finding success.  There's certainly room in the market for two handheld systems and competition keeps everyone on their collective toes, and it's interesting to see how more recent handheld systems were designed in an attempt not to make the mistakes of the Lynx or Neo Geo Pocket.  Lessons have definitely been learned over the years.  Those who don't learn their history are doomed to repeat it with a Tiger Game.com.


Strider And Streets Of Rage Almost Returned

Streets Of RageThere's a lot of retro love out there for Capcom's Strider and Sega's Street of Rage franchises, but both of those series have been buried and forgotten for quite a while outside of Virtual Console-type re-releases.  As Eurogamer reports, both of them almost returned in modern reboots for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and PC courtesy of now-defunct developer Grin, but since nobody else bought Bionic Commando back in 2009, both projects were scuttled and the studio closed.  This is why we can't have nice things!  Sorry; I got up on my soapbox there for a moment.  Anyway, here's Eurogamer:

Grin Barcelona helped with Strider, developing assets for the first prototype of the game. The art team made the teaser video, below, with the help of animation studio 23Lunes. Strider was to be a reboot similar to PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 Bionic Commando reboot Grin made for Capcom for release in 2009.  The Strider reboot was apparently cancelled by Capcom a few weeks after the May 2009 release of Bionic Commando. Grin Barcelona, however, soldiered on, trying to build a prototype based on its work without the Strider license. It pitched the project to Ubisoft, but that deal fell through.

After that setback, Grin Barcelona set upon a remake of Streets of Rage, to be published by Sega. It was intended to be similar to Grin's own Bionic Commando Rearmed, and released as a download-only title. Work on this game didn't last long, however. Only a handful of screenshots and art, below, were unearthed, but apparently a build of the game exists somewhere.

It's a shame that Grin wasn't able to complete either title.  My thoughts on the wonderful Bionic Commando are well established by now, so I'd have loved to have seen what the talented folks there could have done with other forgotten franchises like Strider and Streets of Rage.  File these away under lost opportunities and What Could Have Been.  I'd still like to believe that both properties could return someday when talented studios can crack what makes each title so much fun.  Grin understood that Bionic Commando was all about the bionic arm.  Someone has to be able to crack the Strider and Streets of Rage codes in a similar manner.


CONTEST: Win The Darkness & The Darkness II For Xbox 360

The Darkness II

Congratulations to the winner: Brian Lepak!

How'd you like to win not just The Darkness for the Microsoft Xbox 360, but also its recently released sequel, The Darkness II?  Courtesy of publisher 2K Games, one lucky Press The Buttons reader will win this special double prize pack that'll have one up to speed on this whole The Darkness franchise in the amount of time it takes to call upon a dark force to wipe out incoming enemies.  Up for grabs is a Xbox Live Marketplace code for a download of the original The Darkness game and a copy of The Darkness II: Limited Edition that comes in the mail on a fancy disc and includes extra bonus content such as the Gourmet Hearts and Relic Hunter character abilities, "Crazy Abdul" darkling outfit, and custom illustration by Marc Silvestri, and a free download of The Darkness Origins Volumes 1 and 2 from Comixology.  All you have to do to enter for a chance to win is send an e-mail to contests@pressthebuttons.com with "Darkness Contest" in the subject line.  For an extra bonus chance to win, follow @PressTheButtons on Twitter and retweet the contest announcement tweet.  One winner will be chosen at random and will win both games.  The deadline for entries is 8pm ET on Monday, February 27, 2012.  Easy enough, right?  And now for the customary reading of the rules.   Contest open only to those allowed to possess and play M-for-mature rated games and with a North American mailing address, PTB is not responsible for lost or misdelivered entries or prizes, the winner will be notified to provide a mailing address for prize delivery, a powerful enemy now festers within you.  Good luck!