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Power Button - Episode 224: Hilarity Ensues

Power ButtonVideo games are often held up for their action sequences, set pieces, and visuals, but how often do you hear someone remark about hilarious writing?  On this week's episode of Power Button, Blake Grundman and I spend an hour and a half discussing our favorite funny games.  From Portal 2 to Saints Row IV to Maniac Mansion and beyond, we have some hilarious moments to share.  Before that happens, however, Blake takes us on a sidequest with Pokémon.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, 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. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.


Dr. Wily: Portrait Of A Madman

Dr. WilyI know that hindsight is 20/20 and all, but when I see the gradual mental decline of Mega Man villain Dr. Albert Wily laid out in image after image, I think we should all have realized early on that the erratic scientist was not to be trusted and was very likely become a larger threat to us all.  Just because a man can create Robot Masters does not mean that he's well-balanced.  Take a look at this series of official Capcom character artwork that spans the classic Mega Man series from Mega Man (1987) through Mega Man 8 (1996) and you'll see his physical behavior and manner of dress start to show signs of the troubled soul within.  We really should have found help for him sooner beyond sending Mega Man in to clean up the mess again and again.

Continue reading "Dr. Wily: Portrait Of A Madman" »


The Fall And Rise Of Sonic The Hedgehog

Sonic the HedgehogSega's Sonic the Hedgehog has suffered through some rough times for most of his existence.  While enjoying success on the Sega Genesis and Game Gear, the franchise began a downward slide during the Dreamcast era after rushing to meet deadlines and staff attrition caught up with the company behind it.  Game Informer's Brian Shea chronicles all the ways that Sonic went wrong from the canceled Saturn-exclusive Sonic X-Treme to Sonic Adventure 2 being developed by a staff of just eleven people to unrelenting holiday shopping dates to get 2006's disappointing Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 out the door on time.

Despite this fragmentation and turnover, Iizuka asserts that the real problem with Sonic 2006 was the deadlines. "We missed out on that really important time to polish and tune and manipulate the map and make sure that the world really felt good and the gameplay felt good," he says. "Because it didn't have that, it didn't turn out as good as the development team wanted."

The lack of polish is evident. Sonic 2006 is full of visual and audio glitches, environmental clipping, and imprecise gameplay. The title has become synonymous with the struggles the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise had faced in recent years. Sonic 2006 was meant to be a return to the series' roots, but it ended up damning the franchise in the eyes of many. The series had taken obvious turns away from what made it great in the first place.

It sounds like Sega may have finally learned a lesson after years of middling sequels.  The company delayed its latest Sonic Boom title for a year to allow the developers time to turn it into a polished product, and the upcoming Sonic Mania finally reaches back to the Genesis-era design that made the franchise popular in the first place.  Instead of hearing "oh, we'll fix it next time" from a Sonic Team spokesperson and then nothing happens to follow up on that halfhearted enthusiasm, we're actually seeing some behavioral changes behind the scenes with the delays and design decisions and even choice of staffing.  Let's hope that Sega finally has this whole Sonic the Hedgehog thing figured out.


PTB Tip Jar Now Available

LuigiOver the past few months, several of you out there asked if there was any way for generous folks to kick a few dollars into a tip jar to help keep Press The Buttons running.  I'd always said no because I didn't want to charge you for content or lock any of it away behind a paywall.  Ultimately, PTB is my fun hobby job that I pursue in my spare time.  For years I ran banner advertisements on PTB to help pay the bills around here, but as the online advertising market turned more and more towards annoyance and malware, I dropped the banners, depriving the site of its key source of income.  I figure if the ads are so irritating that even I want to block them on my own site, there's no way I could or would expect any of you out there to deal with them either.  People keep asking about the tip jar though, so who am I to keep turning down the idea?  I've set up a PTB tip jar through PayPal at https://paypal.me/pressthebuttons where, if you like, you can send me a few dollars to help cover my efforts here.  Thank you all so much for your continued support of Press The Buttons through reading, commenting, sharing links, and now the tip jar.  I have the best audience on the Internet and it's because of all of you that doing this work is so much fun and fulfilling.


Power Button - Episode 222: Mike Haggar For President

Power ButtonAs Election Day 2016 looms in the United States it's as good a time as any for us to take an episode of Power Button and discuss our favorite gaming political leaders.  From Final Fight's Mike Haggar to Saints Row IV's President boss to Princess Peach of the Mushroom Kingdom and beyond, we speak truth to power.  As a fun sidequest, we also take a little time to fill the US Cabinet with our favorite gaming characters who are best qualified for the job.  Who will be appointed as Secretary of Education?  Listen and find out, then go vote, Americans!   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, 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. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.


OverClocked ReMix Hands Out Candy Corn

Candy CornFamed video game music remix community OverClocked ReMix has released a new album just in time for, er, next Halloween at this point in the form of Candy Corn, a collection of remixes sourced from Castlevania sequels such as Portrait of Ruin and Symphony of the Night, Chrono Trigger, and Pokémon Red as created by YoshiBlade.  It's more than just music though.  There's a spooky throughline happening here.

So this project is the progeny of those anthology-style movies and TV shows, a la Tales from the Crypt, Creepshow, Tales from the Darkside. In that vein, every track I consider a story leading into the next one, with the radio-style dramas serving as the reset button, the point of mental collection, then starting a new section.

It's a free download and an enjoyable listen, so why not rush the Halloween season for 2017 and check it out?


Power Button - Episode 221: My Pet Monster

Power ButtonVideo games and monsters go hand in hand, so on this Halloween episode of the Power Button podcast, Blake Grundman and I spend an our discussing some of our favorite video game monsters.  From Gergoth to gremlins and beyond, we're going to scare the hell out of you.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, 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.


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.