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March 2014

Power Button - Episode 123: Purging The Binge List

Power ButtonEveryone has video games on which they love to spend extended amounts of time.  From massive JRPGs to open world sandbox games to traditional 2D platformers and beyond, some of the most beloved games in the medium's history have drawn us in as many do not.  On this episode of the Power Button podcast, Blake Grundman and I talk with our old pal Keri Honea of Strategy Guide Reviews (and a bunch of other places) about games which we can't resist binging.  Join us for eighty-five minutes of gushing adoration of games such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Just Cause 2, Infamous: Second Son, Bravely Default, Kingdom Hearts, Yoshi's New Island, Need For Speed: Most Wanted, and so many more.  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, 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.

Sony Reveals "Project Morpheus" VR Helmet For PS4

Project Morpheus

Microsoft has its Kinect technology and Nintendo has its GamePad, and now Sony has jumped into the unique peripheral ring with the reveal of a virtual reality helmet in the tradition of the Oculus Rift.  Codenamed "Project Morpheus", the unpriced, undated add-on for the PlayStation 4 uses the PlayStation Camera and, at times, the PlayStation Move to immerse players in specially designed games.  It's on display at the Game Developers Conference this week as a wired prototype, although the eventual hope is to make the final product wireless.  Here's USgamer with the details:

Much of Project Morpheus is still a mystery, including its technical specs, but Yoshida, along with Sony's Richard Marks and Anton Mikhalov, did his best to handle the baggage attached to the term "VR." When Marks took the stage, he emphasized the elements Sony intends to focus on with Project Morpheus: sight, sound, tracking, control, ease of use, and content. Anton Mikhalov later gave more detail about these qualities, all while stressing Morpheus' status as a medium rather than just a peripheral. And, frankly, the stats thrown out at tonight's presentation gave the impression that Sony wants Morpheus to make more waves than the Wii-inspired motion-control arms race that fizzled out at the end of the 2000s.  

Project Morpheus features a 1080p display, a 1,000HZ refresh rate, 360 degrees of movement, and the ergonomic design necessary for something that could be stuck to your head for hours at a time.

Morpheus excites me more than the idea of the Kinect or the GamePad, although you can bet this thing won't come cheap.  Not only will players need to buy the helmet to get involved with the technology, they'll also need the camera and a Move.  I'd hope that Sony offers a fairly priced startup kit that slightly discounts a bundle of these things as opposed to buying them all separately.  This technology could revolutionize first person shooters in a way not seen since a developer decided "Hey, let's make a game set during World War II" for the first time in the genre's history.

Metroid Comics Come Alive

Samus AranWhile her video game franchise suffers periods of dormancy every few years, Samus Aran's comic book career has unfolded steadily over the years.  The North American region has seen comics based on Super Metroid and Metroid Prime in Nintendo Power, plus Valiant's Captain N: The Game Master comic adaptation featured everyone's favorite bounty hunter.  Japan, on the other hand, has been host to Samus's official backstory in a long series of manga publications and unofficial side stories.  If you have some time to kill and an interest in Metroid, head over to the Metroid Database which has a full archive of these comics in a variety of languages.  Most of the Japan-exclusive comics have even been translated into English.  If you've ever been curious about Samus's childhood, then here is your chance to catch up on the character's history with the Chozo.  And yes, the Captain N comics are there too.

Decapre Coming To Ultra Street Fighter IV

DecapreCapcom's next update to Street Fighter IV (which picks up the adjective Ultra) will include five additional playable characters.  Four of them — Poison, Hugo, Elena, and Rolento — are updated imports from their appearances in Street Fighter X Tekken, but the fifth is a new character entirely.  The company has been teasing that the fifth character is making her playable debut in Ultra, hinting that it's someone who has been on the Street Fighter  sidelines all these years.  As it turns out, the fifth character has been revealed as Decapre.  Not ringing a bell?  I was in the dark, too.  Here's how Capcom describes her:

Making her first brief appearance in a Street Fighter game as a non-playable character in Street Fighter Alpha 3, where she was seen as one of M. Bison’s Dolls, Decapre now joins the fight! Although a partial mask hides a giant burn mark located on this Russian beauty’s face, challengers will be scarred by her quick and elusive scramble moves as well as her psycho power infused attacks, which allow her to share her pain with her opponents.

Aside from a blink-and-miss-her appearance in Alpha 3, Decapre has appeared in UDON's Street Fighter comic series.  She sounds like she plays like a cross between Cammy and Vega with her lithe moves and claws.  I always enjoy learning how to play new Street Fighter characters, so I'll definitely try Decapre out when Ultra Street Fighter IV releases this summer.  I'm still holding out hope for a definitive Sony PlayStation 4 version.

Plans For Canceled Sonic Adventure Toys Discovered

Sonic toyVideo games and fast food kids' meal toys have enjoyed a long and successful relationship over the years; those of us who grew up in the early 1990s surely have fond memories of McDonalds's line of Super Mario Bros. 3 toys.  The popular games come and go as Pokémon, Donkey Kong, and many other gaming franchises have been immortalized in cheap plastic.  Sonic the Hedgehog has seen his day in the sun, but one line of toys that didn't see the light of day is a set of ten amusements based on Sonic Adventure for the Sega Dreamcast.  Planned by Sega and Burger King, concept art for these toys was recently uncovered in a warehouse and is being sold on eBay for $150 per drawing.  SEGAbits has compiled the auction's images for your perusal.

As ebay listings don’t last forever, and because we can’t afford to buy all ten for $150 each ($1,500 total for 60 pieces of art), we’ve saved all the images from the listing in a gallery after the break. Had the set gone through to production, we would have seen ten toys: Rip Roaring Robotnik (spelled “Robotnic” on the art and corrected in the final version), Somersaultin’ Snowboardin’ Sonic, “Go Gamma Go!”, Knuckles Goes for a Spin, Twistin’ Twirlin’ Tails, Frog-Catchin’ Cat (oddly, Big’s name isn’t mentioned on the final version), Noisy Amy, Super Sonic Sled, Turbo-Prop Tails, and Walk ‘Em Sock ‘Em Knuckles.

There's some fun artwork here and like most lost creations, it's a shame the toys weren't produced.  Sure, these kinds of amusements aren't exactly meant for long-term fun, but for a freebie included with a burger or some chicken nuggets meant to entertain for a few minutes, these sorts of things were the best.

(via Poison Mushroom)

Where Are The Next Generation Strategy Guides?

Infamous: Second SonMy pal Keri Honea over at Strategy Guide Reviews has noticed that, as of now, there are no plans for any of the major strategy guide publishers to release a book focusing on Sony's upcoming Infamous: Second Son for the PlayStation 4.  That leads us further down the rabbit hole as she notes there's only one next generation exclusive title with a guide accompanying it.  Where are the guides for the hot new games?  Keri hypothesizes:

A couple of E3s ago, I talked to a few strategy guide companies about their lack of strategy guides for handhelds, and they all said the same thing–many retail stores aren’t interested in selling strategy guides for handhelds. If they can’t get stores to buy their books to sell, they aren’t going to publish a book. I wonder if this is the same case for the new generation of consoles.

Thus far, the only new-gen exclusive game that has a strategy guide is Dead Rising 3. Killzone: Shadow Fall, a game that could have used a strategy guide, particularly near the end, did not have one, even though every Killzone game in the past (save the PSP game) has had one. I don’t have the sales figures in front of me, but it wouldn’t surprise me if strategy guides for Dead Rising 3 didn’t sell well because the game didn’t sell that well. Did that experiment put a hold on future strategy guides for next-gen games?

I’m really surprised by this. You’d think that a major release like Infamous would warrant a guide (particularly with the large number of collectibles and secrets hidden away in it). Obviously there would be interest in a guide. It’s not like this is an obscure game that’s not expected to hit sales targets or anything. Hopefully the next generation guides will come in due time once hardware adoption rates go up and there’s perceived money to be made from producing them.  Until then there's always GameFAQs.

Last Chance To Register Wii and DS Club Nintendo Codes

WarioNintendo really is moving on from the Wii and Nintendo DS eras.  In addition to deactivating online capabilities for last generation's hardware, the company will also soon stop awarding bonus Club Nintendo coins in exchange for registered new copies of games from those libraries.  Time is running out if you're hording any codes for a rainy day.  There's a storm coming!

Starting on April 7, 2014, any newly registered Nintendo DS or Wii games (both retail and digital copies) will continue to receive product registration surveys, but no longer be eligible for 10-coin post-play surveys. In addition, starting on April 7, the deadline to complete newly earned post-play surveys for all games will be 30 days after they are issued.

This was bound to happen as the Wii and DS move further into history.  Once upon a time the company awarded digital goodies such as wallpapers and screensavers when registering GameCube games and, later, Club Nintendo coins; of course, those privileges are long gone.  Register your codes while they're still worth their current maximum value.  The deadline for Platinum member status is quickly approaching.

Pile Of Bullets VCR Game Revealed

Pile Of BulletsThere was a brief blip of a moment in the early 1990s when interactive VCR board games attempted to take the game market by storm with cheesy acting, confusing rules, and a lack of replayability.  Popular television franchises such as Star Trek: The Next Generation, Wayne's World, and Robocop each released VCR games, but there were plenty of original concepts out there such as the Nightmare series and Dinoland.  Thankfully, these bizarre attempts at fun faded into history thanks to general market apathy, but their spirit and memory live on in places like the "VCR Maintenance And Educational Publishing” episode of NBC's Community in which Abed Nadir and Annie Edison get way too into a 1993 VCR game called Pile of Bullets.  Featuring an old west motif and overly complex rules, this parody of VCR games is right on target.  Watch this clip of the game in action via Hulu.  Tornado!

Continue reading "Pile Of Bullets VCR Game Revealed" »

Portions Of Nintendo DS, Wii Games Set To Go Dark

Nintendo Wi-Fi ConnectionEarlier this month Nintendo announced that the online service that drives its Nintendo DS and Wii software will be discontinued in May 2014.  Any function in a DS or Wii game that relies on Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection connectivity will go dark, forever left to ping a server that will not respond.  No more online racing in Mario Kart DS, no more global Super Smash Bros. Brawl matches, and no more DQVC shopping service in Dragon Quest IX.  Those parts of these games and many others will be forever lost in just several weeks.  Over at USgamer, Jeremy Parish wonders how future generations will look back on these impendingly incomplete games when parts of them are dead.  Here he is talking about the impact of the shutdown on Dragon Quest IX:

I guess it's no big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I find it disappointing on a personal level. It means that second copy of the game I picked up for a future playthrough will largely be wasted. It's bad enough that I'll never be able to have a truly satisfying replay of DQIX since Street Passing comprised so much of the experience; bringing other players' avatars into my Quester's Rest and gathering the treasure maps they brought along kept me entertained at several consecutive PAXes. I can't imagine ever having another opportunity to be in the same space as several hundred other people actively transmitting DQIX Street Passes (remember, in the olden days before 3DS, that wasn't a passive system-level feature), so I'll inevitably miss out on an interesting social element that added high-level perks to the game. And now, with the death of WFC, I'll be unable to access another advanced feature of DQIX.

This isn't the first time that the online part of a game has gone dark, of course; PC gamers have dealt with this issue for years, while console gamers have only just started to experience it with games such as the annual Electronic Arts sports titles, Metal Gear Online, and Halo 2.  The Nintendo shutdown looks to be the most high profile termination yet though with dozens of worthwhile games being crippled at once. Granted, it's been years since I played a classic DS or Wii game online and I doubt that there's still enough interest in those games to justify continuing to run the server infrastructure needed to play, but it still hurts to be know that these modes are going away.  Nintendo also wants to nudge players towards their current products for sale.  There's no new money to be made from Mario Kart DS after all this time, so why not encourage customers to pick up the upcoming Mario Kart 8 to fill the void?  These aren't the first online modes to die and they certainly won't be the last.  Take your favorites for one last spin while you still can.

Street Fighter II Defined

M. BisonHave you ever considered the total bizarreness of the backstory behind Capcom's Street Fighter II?  It's generally common knowledge that dictator M. Bison has organized a World Warrior tournament to draw out his enemies and eliminate them as part of a bid for world domination mixed with revenge, but think about the premise from an outsider's perspective.  Really take it all in.  Over at MetaFilter, user EatTheWeak has summed up the story as part of a discussion on this week's earlier article about Street Fighter: The Movie.  His take is strangely accurate.

The game didn't really have a story, just the clues you cobbled together from the backgrounds and the endings. For me, what it added up to when I was a kid was superhuman martial artists competing in the World Warrior fighting tournament, global in reach but largely based in Thailand. Bison, a crimelord and dictator with psychic powers, had made himself king there and named himself champion of the World Warrior as well, even though everyone saw the last one end with that kid from Japan throwing a dragon punch that flayed open the reigning champion's chest.

Shadolaw's operation in Thailand must have been tight beyond belief because INTERPOL, the Soviets and the United States Airforce all decide that placing an agent in the World Warrior tournament is worth doing. How hard is it to get at Bison if competing in gladiatorial combat just to draw him out is a credible strategy? This tournament is insane: there's a mutant with electric skin on the card, there's a guy that breathes fire and that kid from Japan is all grown up now. At minimum, it is assumed every competitor is able to punch a car to death.

Someone's gonna get hurt, and badly. Vendettas will be settled against the backdrop of Bison's crumbling psychic crime dictatorship of Thailand. Depending how the brackets work out, Mike Tyson might fight Bruce Lee before it's all over.

And you know what?  He's right.  That's the best explanation of what's going on in Street Fighter II that I've ever seen.  No wonder Hollywood had trouble adapting the game into a big blockbuster movie; how can anyone hope to improve upon that?