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Netflix's Castlevania Beats Expectations


I went into the new Castlevania series on Netflix with my doubts, but I came away from the first season impressed and hungry for more.  Warren Ellis and his team have found the right balance between the video game's lore, violence, and tone to produce a series faithful to the games that also manages to humanize Dracula (no pun intended; it's a metaphorical humanization and not literal) and cast some insight on just why Dracula and the Belmonts are locked in an eternal stalemate.  Spoilers ahead!

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Street Fighter II Ride Gets You Into The Game

Street Fighter II RideSure, we've all played our share of Street Fighter II, but how often have you actually gone inside of the game itself?  Let's journey back to the end of the twentieth century and join Ryu, Ken, Guile, and your other favorite World Warriors as you climb aboard the Street Fighter II Ride created by Shadix Media and Showscan as licensed by Capcom.  Depicting the cast of Super Street Fighter II as 3D Virtua Fighter-type models rather than 2D sprites, riders are thrust into the game to take on M. Bison and his Shadowlaw gang before they can escape into the real world.  It's charmingly dated and appropriately cheesy.  Here's what IGN's Douglass Perry had to say about the experience back in July 1999:

For $5 a pop, any joe on the street can take a ride on Street Fighter the Ride. A sit-down simulation style "ride," Street Fighter the Ride was hands-down the worst ride of my life. Abysmal is putting it nice. The whole idea of a Street Fighter ride is, well, ludicrous. Think about it. How are you going to make a ride with fighting characters? It's a flawed idea from the get-go. Lucky for Capcom, it didn't do a thing, except agree to let these other companies make the ride, so most folks can look the other way when it comes to blame.

The ride itself takes place in a futuristic hovercraft that zooms in and out of several dark, nefarious environments, that happen to have floating platforms with Street Fighter characters on them. The ride is all CG rendered, so everything appears in complete 3D.

You'll probably have a difficult time finding one of these motion simulator rides still functioning in good condition, but at least we have a YouTube video of the experience with which to vicariously experience it.  It looks a lot like the kinds of motion rides such as The Simpsons Ride and Transformers that you'll find at Universal Studios theme parks.  Much of the tone seems to be channeling the 1994 Street Fighter film starring Raul Julia and Jean-Claude Van Damme, particularly the bit where Ryu threatens to rip out Bison's heart to which the dictator replies that he doesn't have one.  How Tuesday of him.

Spark Man Remix Rocks Your Sockets

Spark ManCapcom's Mega Man series gets a lot of OverClocked ReMix love, and delightfully it's not all Air Man and Dr. Wily stage remixes.  Today I'd like to bring your attention to a funky jazz remix of Mega Man 3's Spark Man stage by Nostalvania/Markus who brings the funky bass, violin, and organ to the mix along with a variety of fittingly electric instruments with "Rock My Socket".  Come for the bass pounding out the introductory measures of the theme, stay for the organ solo, and linger afterward for the rejected titles for this track including "I'm Live And Alive" and "Ohm My God".

The Time Has Come For Mega Man Pinball

Mega Man PinballI've been asking digital pinball table publishers like Zen Studios to develop a Mega Man pinball table for years now, but I completely missed out on the fact that Capcom authorized such a table in 2004 exclusively for pre-smartphone mobile devices.  Frank Cifaldi dug it up on Twitter yesterday evening and really started me thinking again about how Mega Man needs to star in a pinball table right away.  Can you imagine this little mobile idea blown up large for consoles?  Here's how the Mega Man Knowledge Base wiki describes the game:

The game features three Robot Masters from Mega Man 2 (Air Man, Bubble Man and Quick Man) in pinball stages that are modelled after their stages from the game. Each stage has two screens, the first having a door protected by a Lightning Lord and the second with the boss inside a door that must be hit to be destroyed, and once open the player can hit the boss. After defeating the three bosses Dr. Wily appears, his stage resembling Crash Man's stage.

If digital Mega Man pinball isn't quite enough for you, then check out Kevin Richardson's project to convert a 1979 Flash table from Williams into an actual Mega Man table.  It's slow progress, but surely worth every moment of work.

C'mon, Capcom.  If you can give Mega Man his own soccer game, you can bring him back to pinball for modern consoles.

Power Button - Episode 240: E3 2017 Wrap-Up

Power ButtonAs another E3 draws to a close it's time to review and recap the year's biggest week in gaming.  Join us with annual guest Ross Polly to discuss all the news and excitement including Microsoft's new Xbox One X console; classic Xbox games arriving on Xbox One; Blake's excitement for Crackdown 3, Sony hitting trailers hard with teases for the new Uncharted, Spider-Man, and Days Gone; Ubisoft's ambitious Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle and Assassin's Creed: Origins; and Nintendo's big showcase featuring Super Mario Odyssey, Metroid Prime 4, Metroid: Samus Returns, Yoshi, Kirby, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions, and much more.  We have a supersized two and a half hour episode for you, so settle in and prepare for some 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 238: Gothams And Guardians: The Telltale Discussion

Power ButtonTelltale Games is having a prolific period lately with last year's Batman: The Telltale Series and this year's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series.  On this week's podcast episode, Blake Grundman and I are picking up where we left off from Episode 212 in which we covered the first Batman episode by finishing off our discussion of the series.  We also talk a bit about Telltale in general including their history and their aging game engine.  That leads us into talking about the first episode of the new Guardians series.  As you can imagine, there's a spoiler warning for all of this, so consider yourself warned!  Join us for ninety minutes of conversation.   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.

Bring Metal Man To Your Desktop

Metal Man Room by Orioto

I am in ongoing awe over Mikaël "Orioto" Aguirre and his video game art.  Suitable for framing, it has been a mainstay of my desktop for years.  One of his latest creations showcases Mega Man and Metal Man locked in combat from Capcom's beloved Mega Man 2.  The detailed background sparks the imagination and brings some color to your display, so it's just the thing you need to start the week.

It Belongs In A Museum!

Mega Man for four hundred damned dollarsWe were on the road again this past weekend and, while wandering a mall, my girlfriend and I came across another local used video game store.  This one was smaller than last week's find, but it was stuffed with cartridges and discs spanning the late 1970s to present.  It didn't take long for my attention to drift to the lit glass case at the front of the store which contained boxed copies of Super NES games and loose Nintendo 64 and Virtual Boy cartridges, but what really leapt out at me were the price tags.  I'm accustomed to seeing high prices for the Super NES games of my youth, but this place wanted $400 for Mega Man 7 which is, last I checked, available for $8 on Nintendo's Virtual Console service across three different consoles.  Now yes, that is like comparing dollars to downloads, but c'mon — four hundred damned dollars for Mega Man 7?  Seriously?

I had to ask, so I dug down deep and channeled my late father who had a habit of asking shopkeepers if they were serious about this kind of thing.  "I have to ask," I said to the clerk, "Do people actually pay this kind of price for Mega Man 7?"

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Support Your Local Game Shops

Ice LuigiMy girlfriend and I like to take trips around the state on weekends.  One of our favorite places to go is the touristy shopping areas of Orlando like Disney Springs, Universal Citywalk, and the Artegon Marketplace.  Unfortunately, on our last trip out there this past weekend, we discovered that Artegon has been shuttered, and while the big movie theater remains, the fun little local shops inside are long gone including our favorite small used video game shop.  This was a problem because my girlfriend had brought a stack of some used Sony PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Wii games with us to trade in.  Purchased from a variety of GameStop locations over the years, the pile of Harry Potter, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and assorted anime-of-the-week games from the past decade were just taking up space on her shelf, and as the used game lifecycle tells us, that meant it was time for them to go.  We had planned to trade them in at Artegon, but with it no longer an option, what's a couple with a handful of nearly worthless games to do?  Take them to GameStop and trade them back for less than a pittance?  After all, a good local game shop is hard to find and nobody likes to feed the beast more than one absolutely must.

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Now You Can Play The Unreleased Primal Rage 2

Primal Rage 2Back in the 1990s glory days of Mortal Kombat and its many imitators (I'm looking at you, Tattoo Assassins), Atari Games took a run at the fighting game crown with Primal Rage, an arcade game in which players battled not as ninjas, damned souls, or gods, but as mighty dinosaurs.  With Jurassic Park still wildly popular, this combination proved to be... eh, not a runaway hit per se, but surely one of the better remembered Kombat klones, and even then mostly just for the novelty of mixing dinosaurs with a fighting game.  Primal Rage made the rounds on the home consoles and computers of the day and sparked a little marketing empire of its own with comics and toys.  It's only natural that a sequel would follow, and while Primal Rage 2 was in development for a short while with a targeted release date of 1996, it was canceled before completion and quietly buried.  Only one playable arcade cabinet has surfaced in recent years, but now thanks to a custom version of the popular arcade emulator MAME, it's possible to bring Primal Rage 2 home.  Here's Hardcore Gaming 101 to explain how the sequel changed the formula and why that likely contributed to its demise.

The game was left unfinished, and was presumed lost. While the ROMs would eventually surface, no version of MAME put the game into a playable state. Some time later, an actual cabinet would eventually surface at Chicago's Galloping Ghost Arcade, letting people experience the game for the first time. For those of us who weren't local or lacked airfare, however, we had to make do with Youtube videos filmed by camcorder. Until recently, that is, when Gruntzilla94, someone who had been researching the game heavily, made a special version of MAME capable of fully running this mysterious game.

Since the game was never finished, any real faults of the game should be given with that in mind. While there's plenty of glitches, unfinished animations, and things that are straight up broken, it should be assumed that all of these would have been fixed for release. Even if the game had come out, it's likely there would have been further revisions, much like the original Rage. Still, considering its early state, it's fairly playable, if not particularly amazing. Given the vast strides fighting games had made since 1994, PR2 had a lot more to go up against, and it can't really compete.

For a game built around brawling dinosaurs, Primal Rage 2 commits the greatest sin it possibly can: it sidelines the brawling dinosaurs.  The game's lore outlines that humans have begun to rise up and worship dinosaurs as gods, so in the sequel the dinosaurs choose humans to wage their wars for them.  If I wanted to brawl as a human, there were plenty of other, better games I could choose.  The whole point of Primal Rage is to see dinosaurs rip each other apart, and without the dinosaurs, the whole endeavor is revealed as the hollow experience it really is.  Presumably Atari realized this too late in the development process to change course, and as the Kombat craze started to wane, the company likely just pulled the plug and walked away.  A few toys and even a novel based on the expanded lore of Primal Rage 2 made it out to stores anyway, although today the whole franchise is, pardon the pun, extinct.