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Power Button - Episode 274: A Tribute To Developers (Part 1)

Power ButtonWe've talked a lot about our favorite video games over the years, but on this week's episode of the Power Button podcast we're talking about some of our favorite video game developers.  Insomniac Games, PagodaWest Games, Naughty Dog, Nintendo's litany of internal studios and partnerships, 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.


Power Button - Episode 272: A Farewale To Telltale

Power ButtonAs we spent the week watching Telltale Games crumble into mismanaged dust, it's only right to take an hour to reminisce about the best of times and the worst of times regarding the beloved developer of adventure games.  Sam & Max, Back To The Future, The Walking Dead, Tales From The Borderlands, Game of Thrones, Puzzle Agent, Law & Order, and beyond fill the conversation as we sent the studio off in style.  Special thanks to all of the developers formerly of Telltale who worked so hard to bring us these memories.  You all deserve better than to be unceremoniously dismissed without warning and we know you'll land in better places soon.   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 271: Big Williams/Zen Pinball News Plus The Last Round Of Updated Re-Releases

Power ButtonWe're wrapping up our mini-series episodes of video games that changed when they were re-released with discussions on games such as Donkey Kong Country 3, Half-Life, and the Xbox Duke controller, but before we dig into that we have a dive into the big news that Zen Studios has acquired the licenses for the Williams and Bally pinball tables.  Spend an hour with us 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.


Williams Pinball Tables Coming To Pinball FX3

Williams on Pinball FX3

Back in June the warning went out from Farsight Studios that their digital pinball platform, Pinball Arcade, would lose all classic pinball tables under the Williams and Bally family at the end of that month, so anyone looking to buy beloved tables such as Theater of Magic, Twilight Zone, Taxi, or any of the others today on the Pinball Arcade platform are out of luck.  On the other hand, things are looking up on the Pinball FX3 platform from Zen Studios as it's been announced that Zen has acquired the license for the Williams and Bally tables.

Marking Zen's first foray into offering tables based on real physical titles rather than original digital creations, the company plans to launch table packs for the Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Mac soon and has already made four tables available on Steam as part of a free beta test.  Fish Tales, Junk Yard, Medieval Madness, and The Getaway: High Speed II are up first with four more tables to follow before the end of the year.  Zen has prepared a full FAQ regarding then new tables.  Here's a piece of it:

Has there been any change to the physics for the Williams tables, or are they in line with Zen’s current physics offerings?

We have invested a lot of time and energy adjusting the physics simulation for the Williams tables, so they play true to form – it feels like real pinball. Early feedback suggests physics are spot on; however, we certainly welcome your own feedback as well. We think the ball moves and handles extremely accurately to the real thing, including accurate ball spin and “tricks” as well.

Will this game be very simulation heavy, or will there be options to have something like in Zen, where you can have score numbers popping up, etc.?

All Williams tables can be played with or without normal Pinball FX3 extras, such as score pops and in-game notification, allowing the table to be played in its purest form.

This is a huge deal and I'm extremely excited to see what Zen can do with these tables.  I own all of the tables currently available on the PS4 versions of Pinball FX3 and Pinball Arcade, and while the latter offers a lot of value, the former has the better overall experience.  Bringing great tables like Fish Tales and, hopefully, some personal licensed favorites like Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Addams Family into the FX3 experience with tournaments, bonus modes, and replay-enhancing challenges is a wonderful match.  We'll have more on this news in the upcoming Episode 271 of the Power Button podcast.


Power Button - Episode 270: Another Round Of Updated Re-Releases

Power ButtonPicking up from where we left off last time, Blake Grundman and I resume our discussion of video games that are enhanced or otherwise altered when they are re-released.  We discuss more of Mega Man X Legacy Collection and its X Challenge mode plus dip into older titles such as Ratchet & Clank Collection, Donkey Kong Land 3, GoldenEye 007 Reloaded, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX, and more.  Also, we briefly discuss my new house and the story of the clothes dryer.  It'll all make sense in the end.   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.


Xbox All Access Offers All-Inclusive Gaming For Monthly Fee

Microsoft Xbox One XMicrosoft fired the latest shot in the console wars today with the launch of its Xbox All Access program that bundles together a Xbox One S or Xbox One X console along with Xbox Live and Xbox Game Pass payable by a monthly fee if one signs up for a two-year contract and opens a line of credit through Microsoft's financing partner.  Kyle Orland at ArsTechnica sums up the deal:

[S]ubscribers commit to spending $22 a month for an Xbox One S or $35 for a 1TB Xbox One X console over two years. That subscription provides immediate access to the hardware, which subscribers can keep after the subscription ends, as well as Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Games Pass, which normally cost about $15/month combined on their own.

Subscribers will have to sign up for a Dell Preferred Account at a physical Microsoft Store location to take advantage of the offer, which is listed as "for a limited time only."  Subscribers who cancel before the two year period is up will have to pay the remainder of their balance.

This could be a good deal for prospective Xbox One owners who can't handle the large upfront cost of buying a console outright, but can handle the monthly fee.  It even seems that taking the Xbox One S deal ends up costing about 20% less for everything through this service plan.  Read the fine print though; any unpaid balance left on your account after the two years are up is subject to interest rates of up to nearly 30%.  Like most credit opportunities, this is only a worthwhile deal if you can pay it off on time and then walk away clear.  The two year term also lines up with the expected release date for the next generation of Xbox, so this is a great way for the company to expand its current generation market and prime those customers for the next big console.  I expect Microsoft will do decent business with this option.


Metal Sonic Gets An Upgrade

Sonic Mania PlusI absolutely loved Sonic Mania when it released last year and played as much of it as I possibly could, so when the Plus add-on released last month, I eagerly bought it and dived back in for more fun.  The two new playable characters and Encore Mode are great, but so far my favorite upgraded part of the game has to be the Stardust Speedway Act 2 boss fight against Metal Sonic which has been made easier while also becoming much more awesome.  Where the original boss battle ended in a one-on-one fight with plain Metal Sonic, the new update gives him the Phantom Ruby to become a massive, foreboding battle robot.  My compliments to everyone involved with overhauling this part of the game.  Consider me impressed and delighted!


Assassin's Holiday

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed stumbled into becoming an annual franchise after it found great success in the Ezio years and kept up that yearly release momentum until it became clear that by rushing the games to meet holiday shopping season deadlines, each game was becoming worse than the last.  Rather than kill their golden goose with great greed, the company backed off of the accelerator and allowed the series to release whenever the next entry has successfully baked in the oven long enough.  That's a lot of mixing of metaphors to say that Assassin's Creed is finding its footing again and can take a year off when needed.  Over at USgamer, Mike Williams looks through Ubisoft's development portfolio and speculates which teams are working on the next Assassin's Creed games and when we may possibly see them.

Assassin's Creed games tend to get three-and-a-half to four years in development. In my mental picture, I actually expected Assassin's Creed Odyssey to be released in 2019, not this year. Odyssey's development is led by Ubisoft Quebec, with some of the same leads as 2015's Assassin's Creed Syndicate. Scott Phillips is the director and Thierry Dansereau is the art director on both games. There have been some shifts in the team: Syndicate world director Jonathan Dumont is now the creative director of Odyssey, Syndicate creative director Marc-Alexis Côté is now the senior producer on Odyssey, Syndicate assistant narrative design director Mel MacCoubrey is now narrative design director for Odyssey.

I am perfectly happy to let Assassin's Creed rest from time to time.  Have you played one of these games lately?  They're huge!  And getting bigger all the time!  And they're better than they have been in years now that they have more time to complete development.  After ho-humming my way through most of Assassin's Creed III and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, and then ending up frustrated by the broken nature of Assassin's Creed Unity, I was unexpectedly surprised by how much fun I had playing Assassin's Creed Syndicate.  I finished every objective on that game's map plus the DLC, and you know how packed the maps of Assassin's Creed can be.  I wondered if that was a strange on-off occurrence but then turned around and completed as much as I possibly could do in Assassin's Creed Origins over a six-month span.  I'm still working on the DLC for that one, so much so that I don't really need a new game in the series right now.  I would have been fine if the upcoming Assassin's Creed Odyssey had held out until 2019, and I probably won't get around to picking it up until next year anyways (I came into both Syndicate and Origins months after they released as well).  It's great to have Assassin's Creed back in top form.  It's truly become worth the wait.


Power Button - Episode 269: Remonikered Mavericks And Other Updated Re-releases

Power ButtonCapcom has taken a bold step in its re-release of Mega Man X5 as part of the Mega Man X Legacy Collection by relocalizing the game to change the names of the Mavericks from the out-of-place monikers such as Duff McWhalen and The Skiver to the more proper Tidal Whale and Spiral Pegasus.  It's certainly not the first time a beloved game has been tinkered with for a re-release, and on this episode of Power Button we spend an hour discussing other games that have changed over the years across iterations.  Donkey Kong, Halo Anniversary Collection, Super Mario 64 DS,,Tomb Raider Anniversary, The Secret of Monkey Island, and more round out the 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.


Power Button - Episode 266: E3 2018 Wrap-Up

Power ButtonAs we do each E3 we have brought in our special E3 correspondent Ross Polly live from the loading dock of the Los Angeles Convention Center for an exclusive discussion about the happenings and events of the week that was in big gaming news and press conferences.  Join us for a super-sized two hour episode of the Power Button podcast in which we run down the highs and lows of the Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Ubisoft, Bethesda, Square-Enix, Sony, and Nintendo press conferences and digital showcases for conversation about games such as Anthem, Halo Infinite, Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Fallout 76, Just Cause 4, The Last of Us Part II, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate plus so 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.