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Power Button - Episode 257: 2017's Biggest News Revisited

Power ButtonWe always take a look back at the previous year and close the books on it each January, so this week's Power Button podcast episode sees Blake Grundman and I joined by Ross Polly, our Special E3 Correspondent live from the Los Angeles Convention Center loading dock (we really should let him come home one of these days).  The three of us spend a supersized show talking about the big gaming news from 2017 including the rise of the Nintendo Switch, the end of the Nintendo Wii U, Microsoft Xbox One trying to change its image with more 4K & less Kinect, the continued rise of eSports in surprising places, loot box controversies, and much more.   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. Next Week: We wrap up 2017 with our annual Game Of The Year episode.


Power Button - Episode 256: Failure To Relaunch (Part 1)

Power ButtonI was overjoyed when Accolade returned from the grave in 2017 and announced a revival of everyone's favorite chatty bobcat, Bubsy.  Starring in the sequel/reboot Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back for the Sony PlayStation 4 and PC, Bubsy's big revival stumbled out of the gate which brought to mind other moribund franchises that came back and then left again just as quickly.  On this week's Power Button episode, Blake Grundman and I discuss the new Bubsy which leads us into some of our favorite and reviled video game reboots. Also, it's last call as our annual News of the Year and Game of the Year episodes are coming up and we want you to get in on the fun!   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.


Power Button - Episode 254: Dumb Moments In PR History

Power ButtonHuman meat.  Balloons.  Armed robbers.  Animal sacrifice.  Brass knuckles.  Sure, these sound like ingredients for an unforgettable weekend, but they're also tools of the trade for video game public relations firms for use in advertising campaigns.  On this week's episode of the Power Button podcast, Blake Grundman and I look at some of the dumbest, most irresponsible (and in some cases illegal!) moments in game advertising and promotions.  From Homefront to Mass Effect 3 to Resident Evil 5 and beyond, we have a list of astoundingly bizarre and dangerous campaigns that will boggle your brain. Also, our annual News of the Year and Game of the Year episodes are coming up and we want you to get in on the fun!   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. Next Week: It's a cavalcade of Capcom as we celebrate announcements regarding Mega Man 11 and Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection.


Somebody Set Us Up Even More ROM Hacks

DuckTales 2

Back in August I brought your attention to John's Harris's book about ROM hacks, Somebody Set Us Up The ROM.  How Harris back with the sequel that dives into ingenious hacks from the worlds of Sonic the Hedgehog, The Legend of Zelda, and beyond as part of the Winter Wonderland Game Story Bundle on sale for the next two weeks.  If you missed the first installment, then you can pick it up as well in this bundle.  I had the pleasure of reading a pre-release copy and it's just as interesting and informative as the first volume.  Here's a taste:

It's Ducktales 2! Woo-hoo! Supporting two players simultaneously! Again I say, Woo-hoo!  I can't say that the game works flawlessly. You're going to have to make special allowances for two-player play. Player 2 is, entertainingly, represented by the hero of another Capcom Disney game, Darkwing Duck. His gas gun has been traded for another Pogo Cane (even if it doesn't look like he's pogo-ing). At least it gives the Terror that Flaps in the Night a second opportunity to spread his 8-bit wings.

Yet, there is still something unquestionably fun about this hack! It's just a blast running through the game with Darkwing tagging along, something which never happened in the cartoons. Maybe this is a bit of fan opinion sneaking in? Fun is a very subjective thing, heavily reliant on personal context. At least there's a chance that, for whatever reasons I find it to be fun, you might find it to be fun too. And there are places where it can be helpful to have a Player Two around, specifically during boss fights, where having two attackers participating can make fights easier than they'd be otherwise, provided that both of you are good at dodging attacks, that is.

That's right!  Someone melded Capcom's classic DuckTales sequel and Darkwing Duck for the Nintendo Entertainment System together into one glorious quack pack attack.  There's your real Disney Afternoon collection.  There's also a special section of the book devoted to fan translations of interesting and notable games that never left Japan in their original format such as Wrecking Crew '98 and Seiken Densetsu 3. It's another fascinating read and I recommend it.


Mega Man's Ten Greatest Moments

Mega Man

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of the original Mega Man for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and so on this special occasion it's only right to take a look back at the ten greatest moments in the franchise's history. From the initial burst of releases in the early days of the series to its 16-bit and 32-bit reinventions to its unfortunate lull in the 2000s and then back in action with new sequels and compilations, there are many moments from which to choose and so many games to replay. While time does not permit spotlighting all of the best moments, there are some that demand attention.  Read on for everlasting peace!

10: Mega Man - Versus Yellow Devil


Mega Man

While later games in the series would refine what became a familiar formula, the original 1987 Mega Man game established the basic framework of what a Mega Man game would be, and while the game threw plenty of (sometimes unfair) challenges at players, those challenges were largely built around stage design or dealing with enemies roughly the same size as Mega Man himself or smaller.  That's why it's such a surprising shock when, in the first Dr. Wily stage, Mega Man enters what appears to be an empty boss arena (a gateless one, in fact; a first for the game).  As new intense music starts to play, a stream of flying fragments zip into the dead-end room one by one, catching players off guard, inflicting damage, and quickly forming the monstrous Yellow Devil (aka Rock Monster).  Today we know that a single bolt of the Thunder Beam and the game's infamous pause glitch will take out the Yellow Devil in seconds, but encountering this boss for the first time without warning or foreknowledge is a moment of breathtaking panic.

Continue reading "Mega Man's Ten Greatest Moments" »


Dirty Coding Tricks Fix Glitches

Mega Man Legacy CollectionEven the most polished game can hide a variety of odd glitches and quirks under the surface.  Over at Gamasutra, Brandon Sheffield has compiled an entertaining list of all of the outside-the-box ways that developers have solved their glitch issues.  Super Time Force is prepared for your madness, an undisclosed multiplatform racing game performs better with a frame rate counter, and Mega Man has to scream at you in silence before his game can begin.  Here's Keith Kaisershot from Digital Eclipse explaining that last one:

When working on Mega Man Legacy Collection for 3DS, I encountered a sound bug I couldn’t track down. Basically, the first sound would either get garbled or not play properly, no matter what sound it was. 

Basically-- 9 out of 10 times when you launched the game, the stinger sound that accompanies the Digital Eclipse [developer of the collection] logo would glitch in some way-- it'd stutter or just not play at all. This was the first sound you’d hear in the game, and I discovered it always affected the very first sound played-- subsequent sounds were fine.

When loading the game before playing that first stinger, play a second of silence. And that shipped.

I love stories like this.  Sometimes a project comes down to the wire, there's an outstanding issue that just can't be properly solved in the time allotted, so something has to give and creative hacks and kludges can achieve the same basic end goal as a time-consuming code teardown.  I wonder what kind of quick fixes are hiding under the surface of my favorite games.  If you can't get enough of this stuff either, there's a discussion happening at MetaFilter that lists more examples.


Power Button - Episode 252: Thanksgaming

Power ButtonAs Thanksgiving approaches it's only right that we spend an episode of the podcast discussing all of the things that Blake Grundman and I are thankful for as filtered through a gaming lens.  Join us as we kick off the holiday season in style with some sentimental thoughts.   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. Next Week: We kick the tires on Nintendo's Super NES Classic and discuss whether or not it's worth the trouble of tracking one down.


Power Button - Episode 250: A Dish Of Gaming Comfort Food

Power ButtonIn times of trouble and strife it's nice to be able to reach for that special video game that is always there for you to help cheer you up and take your mind off of your problems.  On this, our two hundred and fiftieth episode of the Power Button podcast, Blake Grundman and I discuss the games that have been there for us when we're down.  All of our favorites are here from The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening getting me through a prolonged winter storm power outage to Blake and his father competing at Zen Pinball.  We have over an hour of clicks n' bloops for the soul (is that pun too labored?).  Also, it's the final week to help support Blake in his Extra Life charity campaign, so you'd best get involved with that.   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.


Power Button - Episode 249: Great Minds Think Alike

Power ButtonSometimes, through no fault of their own, rival video game developers independently stumble into the same idea.  On this week's episode of Power Button, we look back at games that competed based on similar concepts: Infamous versus Prototype, Split/Second versus Blur, and so on.   We also look at smash hit games like Street Fighter II and Super Mario Kart and inspired a glut of also-ran imitations.  It's an hour of great minds thinking alike or following the leader.  By the way, why not check out Blake's Extra Life charity goal and see if you can help him out?   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.


Let's Try To Buy A SNES Classic From Amazon

Amazon Treasure TruckI was fortunate enough to be awake during the four minute window that Amazon.com offered preorders of Nintendo's Super NES Classic mini console somewhere around 4:30am back in August, so I felt confident that I would be happily playing Star Fox 2 and all of my other favorite 16-bit games come release day last week, but then Amazon let me down when they seemingly diverted their preorder allotment stock to their roaming Treasure Trucks.  There's still no estimated shipping date for my preordered console, but those folks who tracked down a Treasure Truck were able to score, right?  Let's go to Platypus Comix's Peter Paltridge who braved the Treasure Truck scheme to try and give Amazon money in exchange for a console and see how well that worked out for him.

The Amazon Treasure Truck was exactly the kind of truck you would expect an SNES Classic to come from. It was a giant, glowing, blaring, gaudy carnival attraction, flashing with lights on every corner. A circular LED display in the center cycled through bright images of the SNES while dual speakers blared out classic Nintendo tunes. As if to say "too much is never enough," a bubble machine sat below the van, blowing out a stream of perpetual bubbles that constantly filled the area.

I approached what looked like a sales counter and casually said to the lady behind it, "They're probably sold out, right?" She said back "No, they aren't!" and pointed to the large table covered by a canopy on the far end. It was covered with glossy bags sporting the Treasure Truck logo, each neatly filled with one SNES Classic machine. There had to be over two dozen!

"I'LL TAKE ONE!"
"Do you have the Amazon app?"
"No, but I brought money--"
"You need the Amazon App to buy a Super Nintendo Classic."

"I can only buy it here with the app?"
"That is correct. But I'll show you where to download it. Do you have your phone?"

"....No."

Amazon made him jump through additional hoops and then, in a frustratingly nightmarish Catch-22 situation, left him starring at consoles on the truck that they would not sell him.  Amazon disappointed a lot of people with their handling of Super NES Classic sales.  I don't know what went wrong or why the company made it so difficult to buy this item from them, but I hope that they get their act together soon and start shipping out consoles to people who ordered them.  To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, Amazon knows how to take the preorders, they just don’t know how to fulfill the preorders and that’s really the most important part of the preorder, the fulfilling. Anybody can just take them.