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May 2014

Power Button - Episode 131: Lights, Camera, Pain!

Power ButtonYou know the list: Super Mario Bros., Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Double Dragon, Alone in the Dark, DooM, Bloodrayne, and so many more.  They're the video games that the movie industry has chewed up and spit out as major films.  On this episode of the Power Button podcast, Blake Grundman and I discuss our favorite terrible video game films.  You'll hear the story of a young, idealistic boy who was in line opening night to see Bob Hoskins play Mario.  You'll find out why Street Fighter looks like it was made on drugs by a cast that seems to subsist on chewing scenery.  You'll hear what Roger Ebert thinks of going to Mars but not actually seeing it.  You'll discover that Double Dragon was more successful than you might think.  We have an hour of Hollywood chatter for you, but you'll have to bring your own riffing robots.  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.

Nintendo Reveals GameCube Controller Adapter For Wii U

GameCube for Wii UNintendo surprised everyone today with the revelation that it has created a special adapter that lets players use GameCube controllers (considered by many to be the only way to real way to definitely play Super Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl) on the Wii U.  This snappy little box connects to the Wii U via USB and was revealed as part of the company's video hyping its Smash Bros. tournament at E3.  Curiously, there are no announced plans to sell this peripheral to the general public, but I can't believe the company would show off this gizmo and not sell it.  Perhaps they're waiting for fans to loudly demand and petition for its inevitable sale which allows Nintendo to say that they caved in to gamer demand.  I can already picture a special Smash bundle that includes the game, this accessory, and that snappy GameCube controller with the Smash logo on it.  My hope is that this add-on is just the start of uses for the GameCube controller; perhaps a wave of classic GameCube games is coming to the Wii U's Virtual Console service.  A man can dream...

Changes Coming To PlayStation Plus

Playstation PlusSony has decided to change how often it hands out free games as part of PlayStation Plus's Instant Game Collection.  Previously the program offered free downloads of games on various Tuesdays throughout the month for a limited time, and no two games seemingly had the same expiration date on your window of opportunity to claim them.  Street Fighter X Tekken may only be around for a week, while Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception would be available for a year, but Limbo has two weeks of time, etc.  It was confusing and difficult to keep track of how long you had to claim the games.  Starting in July, Plus games will become available on the first Tuesday of the month and remain available for the entire month.  No more new game each week; instead you'll get all of them at once in bulk.  Here's how the PlayStation Blog explains it:

Since we’ve seen how excited many of you are to download Instant Game Collection titles as soon as they’re available, we’ve decided to adjust the length of time each title will be available.  Starting in July, every title in the Instant Game Collection will be available the first Tuesday of the month, and will be free for the month, until the first Tuesday of the following month, taking the guesswork out of how long the game will be available for free. In the coming weeks, you’ll see that several of the titles that have had a nice, long stint in the Instant Game Collection will be phased out, so if you’re new to the service and haven’t had a chance to download all of the titles available through PS Plus — or if you’ve been thinking about subscribing but haven’t yet — now is the perfect time to get all the great games available with PS Plus.

In an effort to better balance the types of games offered, there are changes coming to how many games will be available, too.

Since we are always looking to continue evolving PS Plus to be a service that really serves our community, we are excited to provide a more balanced set of games introduced each month with PS Plus.   As you’ll see below, starting in June, members will have access to two titles per month for each of our platforms.

The blog's comments are already loaded with complaints from players with entitlement complexes demanding all the best PS4 games for free right now, of course.  As long as the free games keep coming and we don't see Plus revert back to the days of PS1 and PSP Minis representing the bulk of the catalog, I think we'll be fine.  It's too early to expect the major blockbusters of the PlayStation 4 to join the program, but they'll come in time.  The PS Vita will continue to be a haven for indie games.  With the PlayStation 3's lifespan coming to a close for new major blockbusters, some of the recent titles that have sold about all they're going to sell will certainly appear for free (Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time is due out next month on Plus, for instance).  Let's see how the program changes impact the titles offered before bringing out the pitchforks and torches.  While it can be dangerous to blindly trust a company, I think Sony's PlayStation division has earned the benefit of the doubt considering how well they've responded to consumer feedback over the past year.

Pushmo World (aka Pullblox World) Coming To Wii U

PushmoNintendo's eShop darlings Pushmo and Crashmo are about to be joined by a third in the series of push-me/pull-you block puzzler games.  Pushmo World (Pullblox World in Europe and Japan) is headed to the Wii U as an eShop download on June 19 worldwide.  Join protagonist Mallo for 250 new spatial challenges, a training area for Pushmo newbies, an extensive suite of puzzle creation tools, and even cross-compatibility between the new sequel and the original Nintendo 3DS Pushmo.  Puzzles created for one game will work with the other thanks to the magic of scannable QR codes.  I think Nintendo is starting to get the hang of this whole cross-platform deal.  Here's some of the press release:

In addition to the numerous puzzles included in the game, Pushmo World features almost endless replay value by letting players create their own puzzles using a selection of tools in Pushmo Studio. Once completed and solved by the creator, the puzzles created in Pushmo Studio can be shared using multiple options: Players can use the built-in QR Code generator to create QR Code patterns for each puzzle they create, or they can send their custom puzzles to the World Pushmo Fair, where players from all around the world with broadband Internet access can play and rate them. Players can also browse the fair to play and collect puzzles created by other players around the world.

World Pushmo Fair is the main hub of Pushmo World and serves as an interface to the Pushmo World Miiverse community. Players will even find new puzzles created by the game’s developers in World Pushmo Fair. If players find a puzzle they love, they can leave feedback and even give it a friendly “Yeah!” in Miiverse via World Pushmo Fair. With an intuitive interface, World Pushmo Fair is an easy way for all players to find and share a near-endless amount of fun puzzles.

I completely enjoyed Pushmo and Crashmo even if the puzzles became especially unforgiving in later levels.  Pushmo is a perfect addition to the Wii U library considering the GamePad's touchscreen providing a larger canvas for puzzle creation and Miiverse integration is always welcome.  It's not a reason to buy a Wii U and won't sell many consoles, but for those of us who already own one and enjoy the series, Pushmo World is an instant buy title. 

Pushmo World

Pushmo World

Pushmo World

For more screenshots and art assets, check out this Imgur gallery while GoNintendo has a condensed fact sheet.

Nintendo Brings Smash-fest To Best Buy In June 2014

SmashfestDo you want to get your hands on an early preview of the upcoming Super Smash Bros. for Wii U?  Start packing your box lunch and stock up on hand sanitizer because Nintendo is teaming up with Best Buy again this year to offer a playable four-player demo of the game on two afternoons in June during E3 week.  Here's some of the press release:

On June 11 from 4 to 9 p.m. and June 14 from 12 to 5 p.m. local time, more than 100 Best Buy stores around the U.S. will host "Super Smash Bros. Smash-Fest @ Best Buy," an event that features the same demo version of Super Smash Bros.for Wii U that people will get to play at the E3 2014 video game trade show in Los Angeles. Participating Best Buy locations for the event can be found by visiting

In addition to the action-filled demo, the first 70 attendees who pre-order Super Smash Bros. for Wii U or Nintendo 3DS at each event will receive a rare collectible Super Smash Bros. gold coin (one per customer, while supplies last). As a bonus offer, people will get a $5 My Best Buy Rewards Zone certificate when they both pre-order and pick up their game upon release.
Line up early if you want a chance to play.  I went to last year's event and the organization at the closest Best Buy left a lot to be desired.  I hope that this year's event is better planned.  If nothing else, it's a great opportunity to collect some Nintendo 3DS StreetPass tags.  Check the location list to see where your closest participating Best Buy can be found and don't despair if your area isn't on the list.  Last year the locations kept changing up until the day of the event, so if your hometown isn't listed today, it might be tomorrow.  As it stands, I'd have to make quite the drive to the closest store to me, so I'm hoping there are more locations to come.

A Brief History Of Handheld Revisions

Atari Lynx IIIt's become an inevitability in the electronics works: whenever a device is released, a smaller, most cost-effective version is in development.  Such is the way with handheld video game systems; from Nintendo's Game Boy to Sony's PlayStation Vita, our toys have been shrinking and reworking features for decades. Over at USgamer, Jeremy Parish has turned a review of the new model of Vita into a brief retrospective of handheld redesigns.  It's interesting stuff and a fun recap if you're joining the industry late.  Here's a look at how the Atari Lynx emerged from its R&D cocoon:

The first-ever handheld hardware revision is one of the few flawless victories, though it shouldn't have been necessary in the first place. Atari streamlined the utterly enormous Lynx into a smaller form factor. This didn't affect any internal features like hardware power or battery life, but it did make the system portable, a trait severely lacking in the device's massive original release. In truth, the initial concept for the Lynx was more in line with the Lynx II's design, but based on focus testing Atari came to the conclusion that what people really want from a portable console is a system so large you need a backpack to lug it around. Remember, kids, focus testing kills.

I tend to buy once and stick with my choice.  I happily ran a lot of miles out of my original Game Boy, Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, and now 3DS and Vita.  Had any of them become completely inoperable, I'd have replaced them with the latest and greatest, but why do that when the ones I already own work just fine (well, my 1989-era Game Boy is suffering from digital glaucoma, but the used Game Boy Advance SP I picked up some years ago (admittedly a revision, but it's my first purchase in the GBA line) handles my GB needs just fine).  Besides, modern redesigns lose great features.  The DS ditched its second cartridge slot needed for GBA play and secondary DS peripherals starting with the DSi, both the PSP and Vita have tinkered with lesser quality screens, and even the GBA itself lost a headphone jack when it became the otherwise better SP model.  There's always a trade-off, so I figure why not do my best to stick with the developer's original vision and intent?  Nobody wants a compromised experience (well, except for the Nintendo 2DS owners, anyway, but that's the whole point of that device and it does have a place out there).

Welcome To The High Definition Galaxy

Super Mario GalaxyNintendo's two Super Mario Galaxy titles for the Wii are some the best games available on the system, but thanks to the Wii's maximum visual output of a paltry 480p, we missed out on seeing these amazing adventures presented in high definition.  What would the Galaxy games look like had they been created for the HD era?  There's a video on YouTube courtesy of Nintendo Life that proposes to answer that question with a fantastic look at Galaxy running in high definition thanks to the magic of a Wii emulator.  The game scales up beautifully and it's a shame that the Wii U cannot perform this kind of magic when playing a regular Wii game as the Sony PlayStation 3 can slightly improve older PlayStation classics.  While it's tempting to want Nintendo to remaster Galaxy for a Wii U re-release, I'd rather see the company working on new projects.  However, that said, I wouldn't hesitate to pick up such a product if it existed.  Crank up the streaming quality on this video and watch it on the largest screen you have.  It'll knock your plumber's cap off. 

Power Button - Episode 130: Kinect Drops Out

Power ButtonEveryone's talking about Microsoft's sudden decision to remove the Kinect from an upcoming Xbox One bundle.  With the motion camera add-on now demoted to an optional accessory, we spend this episode of Power Button discussing what this means to the marketplace, the consumers, and the developers who were hard at work on games that require Kinect.  That leads us into wondering if Nintendo will follow suit and drop the GamePad from its Wii U package.  Join us for an hour of conversation and predictions.  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.

Donkey Kong Versus Sonic The Hedgehog

Donkey Kong and Diddy KongThinking back on the 16-bit era of video games, the Nintendo versus Sega console wars is usually summed up as "Mario versus Sonic", but there's an alternate view of history that sends Nintendo's famous plumber back to the lineup and pits Sega's speedy mascot against a larger, more physically imposing threat: Donkey Kong.  Over at Poison Mushroom, David Oxford posits that it was the gorilla with the impeccable fashion sense (that tie!) that took down Sonic and friends in the marketplace, not Mario.  How is that possible?  Read on.

There was no dancing around it this time; with the pounding of war drums in the background, Nintendo told SEGA directly: “If it’s a war you want, then it’s a war you’ll get.”

To players, another message was also abundantly clear: “This isn’t your father’s Donkey Kong.” They meant it quite literally, too, as one of the series’ most beloved characters, the sharp-tongued elder Cranky Kong, was revealed to be none other than the original Donkey Kong who had squared off against Mario on a construction site all those years ago. While time had been kind to the plumber protagonist, the same couldn’t quite be said about old Cranky, who lamented the ongoing virtual arms race for bigger and more sophisticated video games.

Representing the younger generation was the new Donkey Kong, the ambiguous relative of the elder DK and possibly the grown-up version of Donkey Kong Junior. As the new game began with a scene of Cranky playing the classic Donkey Kong theme song on an old gramophone atop an updated version of the old construction site, DK soon swung in from above, knocking the older gorilla from his perch and dropping in a big honking boombox with a more upbeat rhythm. “Out with the old, in with the new,” it seemed to say… that is, just before Cranky got the last laugh by chucking a barrel of TNT at his successor.

I never really thought of it this way, but Oxford has a legitimate point.  After Super Mario World, Mario "went on to do other things"; it was years before he returned to its side-scrolling platformer roots on a home console.  While the character appeared in a variety of other titles across multiple genres (Super Mario Kart comes to mind immediately, as does Mario Paint and Yoshi's Cookie).  Donkey Kong and Yoshi carried the Nintendo platformer banner through most of the Super NES's life, but Kong went on to spawn two more SNES sequels where Yoshi's Island remained a one-off.  Kong was at the front of the company's "Play It Loud" marketing campaign and was positioned as one of the console's hottest, must-own titles for years.  Mario and Sonic have an iconic rivalry, but Donkey Kong really was Nintendo's frontman for this era.  By the time Mario became a primary force again in the platformer world, the rules were different, 3D perspectives became king, Super Mario 64 changed everything, and Sonic would never again seem quite so relevant.  Donkey Kong floundered until a rousing return with a revived Donkey Kong Country series in 2010.  Meanwhile, Mario endures.

Beyond Beeps: The Top Five Songs Of Super Mario 3D World

Cat MarioNintendo's Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U boasts an impressive and downright catchy soundtrack that will burrow into your brain and make a comfortable home.  So much of the music that Mario and friends bop around to during their adventure is spectacularly fun, and since many people are missing out on the Wii U experience, I consider it a public service to bring my five favorite selections from the score to your attention for some listening pleasure.  Take a seat, turn up the volume, and grab your favorite catsuit (that last part is optional and you can keep it to yourself if you choose to indulge).  This soundtrack was performed by the Mario 3D World Big Band and composed by Mahito Yokota, Toru Minegishi, Yasuaki Iwata, and Koji Kondo.  The Club Nintendo loyalty program has made a two-disc CD set of this music available in Japan and Australia and I highly recommend picking it up should you have access to it. The music is just that good.

One of the first songs heard when diving into the game is this main theme that makes up much of the soundtrack; different arrangements of it turn up from time to time performed with different instruments, at different tempos, and with different thematic relevance.  This is the primary arrangement with its smooth saxophone and general swinging feel.  It's perfect for climbing a wall or stomping a Goomba.

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