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Street Fighter V Coming To Arcades

Street Fighter VDespite the fact that Capcom's Street Fighter series has made itself at home on consoles and, to a lesser extent, handhelds (the Nintendo 3DS version of Super Street Fighter IV is one of the best fighting games on the platform second only to Super Smash Bros.), the fighting phenomenon feels like it belongs in the arcades.  Born there with the original Street Fighter and of course taking the world by storm with Street Fighter II, the series was producing arcade versions as recently as Street Fighter IV in 2010 despite the arcade scene's demise in many regions.  Poor Street Fighter V — an excellent fighting game bogged down by DLC and microtransaction issues — is the first in the series not to land in the arcades.  At least, until now.  EventHubs reports that the game is finally coming to the arcades although not in a way that you'd expect.

An announcement was made at Toushinsai today, after the tournament festivities was over.  Toushinsai is an arcade-only event, and as such had tournaments in Ultra Street Fighter IV and King of Fighters XIII, which naturally felt a bit out of place since both series have just had new games released this year. Thankfully, both series' developers were at hand to announce that come next year, they can play the newest version, since both of the games are coming to arcades.

Street Fighter V won't quite be getting an arcade version in the traditional sense, but instead will have PC stations placed in arcades that allow arcade players to battle each other through the PC version of Street Fighter V.

It's better than nothing, sure, but I see a useful reason for Street Fighter V to cross over into the arcades besides simply maintaining a presence there.  If the arcade-tweaked PC version includes all DLC and microstransactional content unlocked and available for players to use, then this version could serve as a demo station of sorts for that material.  If I can sample an add-on character in the arcade, I might be more interested in paying to unlock that character at home.  It's an extremely roundabout way of providing a free taste of paid content, but I'd certainly be willing to give it a try.  Of course, assuming that I found a Street Fighter V arcade machine around here.  For now it sounds like these machines are destined only for Japan.

Power Button - Episode 219: An Appointment With Disappointment

Power ButtonNot every video game can be a solid, fun experience that lives up to the pre-release hype.  On this week's episode of Power Button, Blake Grundman and I discuss some of our most glaring gaming disappointments from over the years spanning Mario Is Missing, SimCity (2013), Ren & Stimpy games such as Space Cadet Adventures and Fire Dogs, Destiny, and 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.

The Incompatible Gallery

Donkey Kong CountryChances are that if you're purchasing a game for a particular console, you won't try to jam it into a different console with the expectation that it'll work.  Sometimes backwards compatibility comes into play though, and on occassion you can take a game from an older generation and play it in a newer generation machine.  It doesn't work the other way around.  Nothing good will come of slipping a Wii U disc into a Wii, for instance, nor does playing a PC Engine Super CD game with the wrong system card inserted.  The lines used to be a little blurrier though.  Consider the Game Boy Color, a handheld system that played both classic Game Boy games, fancy Game Boy Color games, and games designed for both pieces of hardware.  It could be confusing to remember which kinds of games worked in which versions of the hardware, so games that only worked on the Color model could be inserted into the original Game Boy despite the fact that those games would not play.  What's a developer to do?  Include an error screen that tells the player to try the game again on a Game Boy Color.  Now there's a full visual catalog of these error screens over at VGMuseum in which you can experience the thrill of incompatibility for yourself for the Game Boy, Neo Geo Pocket, and WonderSwan.  Most of the images are plain text, some include the stylish game logo, and a few go above and beyond with comical little scenes.

Hurricane Break

The Legend of Zelda: Link's AwakeningI'm taking a few days off from, well, just about everything to ride out Hurricane Matthew as it slams into the Florida peninsula starting this evening through tomorrow into Saturday morning.  I live inland so I'm not in the coastal line of fire, but Florida isn't exactly a wide place, so everyone in the state is going to feel the impact.  I expect to lose power this evening and don't know how long it'll be out (Hurricane Charley in 2004 knocked out my power in my old apartment for more than a week), so hopefully I'll be back online before Thunderdome becomes the new law down here.  In the meantime, go play some games and for everyone else caught in Matthew's path, stay safe and good luck to us all.

But before I go, here's a quick story from this evening as the storm closes in and the squalls kick up.  A lot has changed since the Hurricanes Charley/Francis/Jeanne trifecta of 2004. In the years since, my iPhone has become my main piece of tech and I realized about an hour ago that if/when both the power and the cell data signal go out, I won't be able to use the phone to watch the news or listen to updates. I needed my FM radio. Somewhere around here I still have one, but where did I put it? So I started searching the house as best I could without tearing everything apart.

I swear to you, I put my hands on every piece of tech I have ever owned in my life. I found two battery-operated TVs, but they are pre-digital and no longer pick up signals. I found early digital music players with a mighty 64GB of storage, but no FM radio. If I wanted to connect a GPS module to my Handspring Visor and type with the attached keyboard peripheral, I could do that this evening because I found all three items (in separate places as if I had slain Dracula and scattered his dismembered body parts around the land). I found keyboards, mouse, countless wires, a honest to god flatbed scanner, old PC gamepads, a joystick for a Commodore 64, and a voice recorder. Finally, in the last possible box I had to search, I found a tiny digital music player with a built-in FM radio. I'm saved! Once the storm is passed and everything is back to normal, I'm cleaning out my closets.

Power Button - Episode 218: Experience Gaps

Power ButtonWith so many video games out there and more releasing all the time, it's to be expected that nobody can play them all.  We all miss out on titles, sometimes with regret.  On this week's new episode of Power Button, Blake Grundman and I discuss the games that we've always wanted to play, but for one reason for another just never have.  Join us as we have not played games such as Metal Gear Solid, Kingdom Hearts, Mother 3, and Actraiser.  Maybe we'll get around to them some day.   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.

Power Button - Episode 217: Let's Go To Virtual Reality (Plus: Blake Meets PlayStation VR)

Power ButtonThe virtual reality revolution is on!  At least, that's what the marketing departments at HTC, Samsung, Oculus, and Sony tell us.  On this week's episode of the Power Button podcast, Blake Grundman and I discuss our journeys into the world of VR as I play around with a Samsung Gear VR and Blake travels to the world of VR to take a PlayStation VR unit for a test drive with early press access to third-party VR experiences.  Pinball, space travel, haunted houses, and fighter jets: VR has it all!   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.

Akuma Challenges You To Read His Violent Backstory

AkumaCapcom's Street Fighter franchise boasts many larger than life characters each capable of crippling you at a moment's notice, but one of the most powerful, more dangerous, and most mysterious combatants is Akuma.  First appearing as a secret character in Super Street Fighter II Turbo where, under certain difficult circumstances, he interrupted the climactic final battle against M. Bison, he's gone on to become one of the faces of the Street Fighter brand.  Den of Geek chronicles his history across video games, movies, anime, comics, crossover appearances in other games, and much more.

Akuma is the younger brother of Gouken. Together, they studied Ansatsuken (“Assassin’s Fist”) under their master Goutetsu. Akuma, obsessed with becoming the strongest, believed that the dark side of the martial art style is where it’s at and let the killing intent consume him. He mastered the Raging Demon (also known as “Shun Goku Satsu”), a Penance Stare-like fatal attack that does more damage depending on the sins of the victim, and used it on both his teacher and brother. Now Akuma hides in the shadows, hoping to find the one worthy opponent that he can fight to the death. He’s powered by his own negative emotions, and it's physically transformed him into a demon.

I remember first reading about Akuma in an issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly right about the time that SSF2T was hitting arcades, but I knew I would never be able to face him there.  He remained a secret character locked away behind complex requirements for most of his early appearances, and it wasn't until the original release of Street Fighter IV that I finally was skilled enough to unlock him on a regular basis.  While other Street Fighter warriors have complex reasons for why they fight, Akuma's is refreshingly simple.  After all, anyone who is known for a special attack called Instant Hell Murder probably has his priorities straight.

Reading the Den of Geek article, I was surprised at just how many guest appearances Akuma has racked up over the years.  Making him appear as a technologically augmented Cyber Akuma in Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter should feel like Capcom descending into self-parody, but it works.  I want to see him appear in Street Fighter V, but for now he's only slated to play a large part in the upcoming Tekken 7 where instead of being a guest character for the sake of just being a guest, trailers imply he's a major part of the storyline.  That's a pretty good character arc for a character originally created to keep up with Mortal Kombat which gained extra popularity and mystique during its rivalry with Street Fighter II thanks to the hidden ninja Reptile. 

The Rise And Fall Of Sega's Vectorman

Vectorman 2The one thing I always think of first when I recall the Nintendo versus Sega console wars of the 1990s is that whatever one company did first, the other would follow up with their own version soon after.  Nintendo Super Scope?  Sega Menacer.  Super FX chip in StarfoxSVP chip in Virtua Racing.  Pre-rendered graphical style for Donkey Kong Country?  Pre-rendered graphical style for Vectorman.  While Donkey Kong Country went on to spawn two direct sequels during the 16-bit era, a Game Boy side series, and so much more over the years up through Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for the Wii U in 2014, Sega's answer to the gorilla in the room went on to star in a single sequel in the Genesis era and then a couple of aborted relaunches.  Hardcore Gaming 101 has the story of Vectorman's rise and fall.

What Vectorman lacks in consistent difficulty and compact level design, it more than makes up for in its presentation, which is where all of BlueSky Studios' offerings shine the brightest. Proclaiming that the SNES is graphically superior to the Genesis may be a tired cliché nowadays, but it's an undeniable fact that most titles of the time looked better on Nintendo's 16-bit console than they did on the competition and that Donkey Kong Country deserves praise for stuffing all of its then-high-tech graphics and timeless soundtrack in a single 32-meg cartridge with no special chips inside despite its bland gameplay (which the sequels greatly improved upon). In comparison, Sega's console had a much paltrier VDP/PPU and less access to large ROM sizes, but its lightning-fast and easy-to-program-for Motorola 68000 processor could easily trump Nintendo's choice of CPU (the unique, yet terribly slow Ricoh 5A22) in every aspect imaginable if in the hands of a talented programmer, and this is what makes Vectorman's unique graphical style look good up to this day.

By the way, do you know Vectorman's dirty little secret?  It doesn't use vector graphics at all.  That doesn't stop it from looking impressive on Sega's 16-bit hardware though.  It was the unique visuals that first drew me into wanting to play the game.  When I was in high school in the mid-to-late 1990s, a friend had the game and we spent too many weekend afternoons trying to clear the second level.  We were absolutely terrible at it; poor Vectorman may as well as been a magnet for incoming enemy fire.

Continue reading "The Rise And Fall Of Sega's Vectorman" »

Be Ready To Believe The Inside Story Of Ghostbusters: The Video Game


Long-time readers of my work may remember I once wrote for a now-defunct video game news and reviews outlet called Kombo, and when I learned that developer Terminal Reality was working on a new Ghostbusters game featuring most all of the cast of the original films, I pushed hard to convince the staff that we needed to cover this game with all the resources we could muster.  That led to a great working relationship with Terminal Reality's Environmental Lead / Senior FX Artist Glenn Gamble who became a good friend of the Kombo Breaker podcast, who over the course of several episodes told us lots of inside dirt and fascinating secrets and stories about the development process.  It broke my heart that we weren't able to get the Internet at large to care about the coverage, and while I've read retrospectives about the game over the years, I've never seen anyone reproduce the stories we had on Kombo all those years ago.  Now with a resurgence in Ghostbusters interest thanks to the new Paul Feig-helmed film due out soon, people are starting to wonder about the 2009 game and how it all came to be.  Matt Paprocki has written a brilliantly detailed look at the game's history from initial idea to finished product that corroborates much of what I was told both on and off the record back in 2009.  This is excellent work and digs deep.  For instance, here's a bit on the difficulty of working with actor Bill Murray who reprised the role of Peter Venkman for the game:

There was a problem: for reasons known only to Bill Murray himself, Murray had planned only to do some of his lines to get started, and to return later to do the rest. “He thought he would give us lines to get started,” said Melchior—but development time was short at this point. “Well, the game ships in June [2009], so, no.”

Melchior recalled the stressful days that followed. “We went through as many lines as we could on Saturday, took a lot of breaks. We kept him engaged because he likes baseball, I like baseball. Every time there was a dead period where it looked like it was going south, I just started talking about baseball. He recorded [a] few lines but delivered them well then said we were going to do the rest tomorrow because we had two days. There was a sleepless night between me and the associate producer Ben Borth in New York because there was a chance he was not going to show up for day two. True to his word, he showed up.”

The problem was Murray never finished. How many lines Murray completed is unclear—Melchior claims it was half of his scripted 750-800 lines, while Haworth hesitated to give a number. Regardless, Murray’s work was done. He wasn’t coming back. “I’m not going to judge the way he works because it’s how he probably works on everything,” said Melchior.

If you're hungry for more Ghostbusters game stories, then you'll be happy to know that I've republished most of my old Kombo coverage here on PTB over the years along with some new material that was exclusive to this site because, well, to be honest I think I made my Kombo co-workers sick of the topic and they were tired of indulging my interest.  There was just so much to tell!  Settle in and consume as much as you like.  Covering the development of this game was the absolute highlight of my years with Kombo. 

Continue reading "Be Ready To Believe The Inside Story Of Ghostbusters: The Video Game" »

Assassin's Creed Comes Home For The Holidays As A Hallmark Ornament

Assassin's Creed Hallmark ornamentWhen I was growing up and the holidays set in, my family would decorate our house with all kinds of creative decorations and ornaments, and I always looked forward to going to Hallmark with my mother to pick out our new ornament for the season.  The Star Trek collection caught my eye quickly in the 1990s when the company began making Next Generation ornaments such as the Enterprise-D and Captain Picard, but being a video game player, I wanted official ornaments of Mario, Mega Man, and Link.  Games were still "just a kids thing" at that time though, and it wasn't until just recently that game publishers realized they could license their IP on a decorative scale.  Last year GameStop offered a collection of officially licensed Super Mario Maker ornaments, for instance, and I've seen some Super Mario Galaxy and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword ornaments as well, but they're standard spherical bulbs with existing stock character artwork on them.  That's a step in the right direction, but I know everyone involved can do better.  Ubisoft is taking that leap this year with most detailed video game character ornament yet.  Hallmark is poised to sell an Assassin's Creed ornament featuring everyone's favorite Renaissance assassin, Ezio Auditore.

You better watch your back with this ornament! Ezio Auditore da Firenze from the video game series Assassin's Creed will make a brave and mighty statement hanging on your tree.

Ezio will sell for $15.95 when he releases in November 2016.  Somewhere along the way I became a pop culture ornament collector, and Ezio will join my other ornaments based on Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, and, of course, a whole lot of Star Trek.  I hope that if Ezio sells well we will see many more video game ornaments in the years to come.  There are plenty of other Assassin's Creed characters to feature, of course, but let's see some Katamari Damacy ornaments with the Prince of All Cosmos, Ratchet and Clank characters to hang from the tree, and I'm going to need more shelf space and more disposable income if Capcom ever comes up with ornaments of the classic Robot Masters from the world of Mega Man.