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The Unfinished Story Of Star Fox 2

Star Fox 2Nintendo's resurrected Star Fox 2 has become the subject of newfound attention this week thanks to the announcement that the lost game will be included in the Super NES Classic Edition later this year, bringing it out of the vault more than twenty years after development ended.  Fans have been able to sample it for years thanks to a leaked unfinished version of the game that appeared online during the height of excitement for emulating Super NES games in the wild west era of the Internet, but aside from generally knowing that this early version is out there, it's unlikely that most of Star Fox 2's new fans are aware of the long path that the game traveled from Nintendo's vault to the open Internet.  Nobody just shoved a cartridge into a modem and called it a day.  SNES Central takes a look back at how that rogue copy of Star Fox 2 escaped into the wild.

The real blockbuster, which served as the pinnacle of the SNES emulation scene, in my opinion, was the release of the final beta of Star Fox 2 in August 2002 (well documented by d4s in this FAQ, who also had a big hand in the discovery of the ROM image). The first screenshots appeared on the now defunct website, sportkompaktwoche.de. The ROM itself needed several fixes (made by The Dumper) before it could play in emulators, though there were accusations that it was a fake before that happened. The unfixed ROM was leaked by "skyhawk" of the German fan translation site, Alemanic Translations. Apparently skyhawk claimed to have found this game on a prototype cart and dumped it himself, probably leading to the widespread belief this game was found off a prototype cart.

In reality, Star Fox 2 was leaked as a pure assembled binary from a former developer who wanted the game emulated, and the ROM was not in a proper SNES ROM format initially. There was no source code leaked, nor was there ever a prototype or production cart of it. Soon after the leak of Star Fox 2, emulator authors incorporated proper Super FX emulation, allowing the general community to play the game in all its glory.

Before fans could play this version of Star Fox 2, it had to be patched and manipulated to make it playable in the emulators of the day.  Fan translation groups reworked the script into English.  Even the lingering debug tools had to be disabled to make the game as much like the presumed finished release as possible.  Even this version isn't truly the final game though, as Retronauts reports that Star Fox 2 designer Dylan Cuthbert has noted that the true mastered version has never leaked.

According to programmer and designer Dylan Cuthbert, a completed build that's never been leaked (and will presumably be the version included with the Super NES Classic Edition) received an extra coat of polish and incorporated a greater deal of randomization to add even more replay value to the experience. The planned multiplayer mode is also hopefully in working order, and maybe they even assigned some greater purpose to the giant coins bearing General Pepper's likeness which you can find hidden around the game.

Officially releasing Star Fox 2 isn't the end of the legend, it's just the next chapter.  The Super NES Classic Edition releases in September 2017.


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".


Nintendo Announces Super NES Classic Edition

Super NES Classic EditionFollowing up on last year's hard-to-find Nintendo Entertainment System mini console, Nintendo has just announced a Super NES counterpart.  The Super Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition is headed to stores in North America on September 29, 2017 with two controller and twenty-one built-in games including the never before released Star Fox 2 for $79.99.  It's probably already sold out.  Anyways, here are the included games according to the press release:

  • Contra III: The Alien Wars™
  • Donkey Kong Country™
  • EarthBound™
  • Final Fantasy III
  • F-ZERO™
  • Kirby™ Super Star
  • Kirby’s Dream Course™
  • The Legend of Zelda™: A Link to the Past™
  • Mega Man® X
  • Secret of Mana
  • Star Fox™
  • Star Fox™ 2
  • Street Fighter® II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
  • Super Castlevania IV™
  • Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts®
  • Super Mario Kart™
  • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars™
  • Super Mario World™
  • Super Metroid™
  • Super Punch-Out!! ™
  • Yoshi’s Island™

You'll have to unlock Star Fox 2, by the way.  They didn't make it too difficult; you'll just need to complete the first level of the original Star Fox.  There are some solid classics on this list that will keep players busy for quite some time, and it's interesting how Nintendo learned from the success of the mini NES last year.  This SNES mini contains fewer games at a higher price, but it also comes with a second controller in the box and the included games are all gold.  No filler here and I see most of what I was hoping to find in this collection.  I look forward to trying to get one of this consoles later in the year, but after the trouble I had last year with the NES model, I'm not expecting to be able to get one.  I hope they manufacture enough of these to meet demand.  They have to know these will be in high demand, right?   


Nintendo Badge Arcade Ends Its Broadcast Day

Nintendo Badge ArcadeThe daily updates of new badges and fun commentary from the Arcade Bunny at the Nintendo Badge Arcade for the Nintendo 3DS have ended with the service signing off from new updates in North America yesterday.  This follows similar finales in other regions around the world.  While the arcade will still be available, new badges will no longer be added and will instead rotate out some of the more than eight thousand existing badges.  Playing at the arcade will still cost money, but the service will offer two free plays per day starting late next week.  Over at USgamer, Caty McCarthy says farewell to the arcade.

The Nintendo Badge Arcade was an odd thing when it burst onto the scene around the same time that the New 3DS did in late 2015, with its customizable faceplates and all. It was the peak of "customize everything" Nintendo—the badges were both a joyful celebration of neglected IPs (Rhythm Heaven, Tomodachi Life) just as much as it showed off the familiar ones (Mario, Pokémon). Badges were digital trinkets implemented to spice up a 3DS' home screen, whether with obtrusive clutter or careful implementation. Some even replaced icons that already resided there, like a necessary settings icon, now made cute and functional.

I was a fan of the arcade and played it several times per week especially when free plays were offered.  I often told my podcast pal Blake Grundman to never give it any money to encourage the continued rise of free-to-play services in the Nintendo ecosystem, but I'm guilty of tossing a few dollars at the Arcade Bunny over the years to try and get that one badge or two that I really absolutely had to have. 

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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.


Nintendo Is Committed To Amiibo

Samus Aran amiiboWhile the toys-to-life market is shrinking after the withdrawal of Disney Infinity from the business, Nintendo continues to support its successful amiibo line with over a dozen new figurines announced at E3 2017 based around Mario, Peach, and Bowser in wedding attire from Super Mario Odyssey; the four champions from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild; assorted Links from other Zelda games; Goomba and Koopa Troopa from the world of Super Mario Bros.; Samus Aran and a metroid from Metroid: Samus Returns; new Fire Emblem entries; and more.  It's an impressive product range that offers at least one thing for just about everyone.

I love amiibo.  Despite only planning to buy three or four of them when the product line first launched, I now have over a dozen.  I've taken them out of the packaging and use most of them.  Amiibo like Mario and Bowser are frequently used in games like Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, but some of the figurines like Waluigi and Pac-Man I only bought as desk decorations.  Basically, my amiibo collection is a land of contrasts.  Each time I tell myself I'm done with purchasing amiibo, Nintendo goes and announces something like a metroid amiibo that has an actual squishy membrane.  How can I not want that as a long-time fan of the little lifesuckers?  Then there's the iconic and beloved Goomba and Koopa Troopa to which I've decided that my glow in the dark Boo amiibo needs friends.  I'm not at the level of fans who want to own each and every amiibo and hang the boxes on the wall in a showcase, but I can understand how some people get to that point.  These little figurines are just so neat.  So, in the end, I'm glad that Nintendo is committed to amiibo because goodness knows I am too. 


Metroid: Samus Returns Gives MercurySteam A Shot At Redemption

Metroid: Samus Returns

Nintendo surprised every today during the company's E3 2017 showcase by announcing two new Metroid games.  Metroid Prime 4 for the Nintendo Switch was revealed with a logo and a statement that the game is in development, while the Treehouse Live broadcast spent nearly an hour discussing Metroid: Samus Returns for the Nintendo 3DS which is an updated remake of 1991's Metroid II: Return of Samus from the Game Boy era.  Not since the coming of Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion fifteen years ago have Samus Aran fans had so much Metroid on the way.  Here's the bullet points from Samus Returns:

  • This intense, side-scrolling action platformer has been completely remade with engaging and immersive 3D visuals and a rich, atmospheric color palette.
  • Classic Metroid II: Return of Samus gameplay is joined by a wealth of new content, including a set of brand new abilities that utilizes a mysterious energy resource called “Aeion,” a powerful melee counterattack, and 360-degree Free Aim Mode. 
  • There are plenty of secrets to find—and if you uncover enough of them, you may even start to unravel the mystery of Planet SR388’s past. 
  • Two new amiibo™ figures*—Samus Aran and Metroid—will be released as a set alongside the game. This game is also compatible with the Zero Suit Samus and Samus amiibo from the Super Smash Bros. series. Functionality details will be revealed at a later date. 
  • While supplies last, fans will be able to purchase a special edition of the game, which includes a physical copy of the game, a sound-selection CD featuring 25 tracks from across the Metroid franchise, and a reversible title-sheet insert for the game case. 

Developer MercurySteam is behind this one and you may remember them from Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and its 3DS spinoff, Mirror of Fate.  I wasn't happy with any of their Castlevania work, but Mirror of Fate was very much in the Metroid/Castlevania: Symphony of the Night style, so they have the skills to pull this off.  They are talented people, but they seem to have a bad habit of letting their games wander away down the path without proper guidance and oversight.  Each of their Castlevania titles started strong and then ended up in the weeds, becoming long slogs where the immediate goal was easily forgotten.  Nintendo is surely keeping them close to help move Metroid in the right direction. 

Continue reading "Metroid: Samus Returns Gives MercurySteam A Shot At Redemption" »


Banjo-Kazooie In The Mushroom Kingdom

Banjo-KazooieIf you consider how Nintendo characters tend to hop around each others' worlds, it makes sense how Rare's Banjo-Kazooie exists in the same world as Nintendo's Super Mario Bros.  Banjo appeared in the Nintendo 64 version of Diddy Kong Racing (back when the two companies were best of business buddies) who, of course, co-starred with Donkey Kong Country's Diddy Kong.  Kong co-starred with Donkey Kong in DKC, and he bumps into Mario all of the time in the Mario vs Donkey Kong series which, and you know where I'm going with this, stars Mario himself.  This transitive property gets us to a place where Banjo and Kazooie may have visited Princess Peach's castle at some point in time, and thanks to ROM hacking, we get to see that encounter.  Luke Ford is working to transplant Super Mario 64's levels into Banjo-Kazooie.  The hack doesn't seem to be publicly available and this video is from 2016, but it delighted me so much that I had to share it.  It's strange to see the bear and bird duo wandering around Whomp's Fortress and the castle gardens, but they're an interesting fit and I would be interested in playing through the entire game with them just for the novelty factor. 


8-Bit Darkwing Duck On Patrol

Darkwing Duck

He is the terror that flaps in the night!  He is the Perler bead sculpture that I bought at Megacon a few weeks ago!  He is Darkwing Duck as seen in Capcom's Nintendo Entertainment System game of the same name which was recently re-released as part of The Disney Afternoon Collection for modern consoles and PC.  I came across the Perly Pixels Perler bead art shop while I was roaming the dealer tables and this Darkwing sculpture caught my eye immediately.  In fact, artist Luis had the whole Capcom Disney set there including characters from Rescue Rangers and Talespin, but I knew I had to have Darkwing.  He's remarkably well crafted from his 8-bit sprite and the first aid box base is modeled after the health pick-ups in the game.  It's very well done and I'm happy to share it with you all here.


Nintendo Switch Online Comes Into Focus

Nintendo Switch OnlineLate last week Nintendo announced a little more about its paid online service for the Switch console which will be conveniently called Nintendo Switch Online.  We knew a little about it prior to this announcement, but only in abstact: it will cost money, it's coming "later", and some form of classic Nintendo games will be included with the subscription and will be adapted to allow online play.  Now we know more.  Check out Nintendo's site to learn all about it.  Here's the high points:

  • You’ll be able to play compatible co-op and competitive games online by signing in with your Nintendo Account. Online play will be free for Nintendo Account holders until our paid online service launches in 2018.
  • Our new dedicated smart device app will connect to Nintendo Switch and let you invite friends to play online, set play appointments, and chat with friends during online matches in compatible games─all from your smart device.
  • Subscribers will get to download a compilation of classic titles with added online play, such as Super Mario Bros. 3, Balloon Fight and Dr. Mario.

All of this will set you back twenty dollars a year (slightly more if you pay month to month).  There's already lots of criticism about this announcement.  On the one side, you have complaints about being charged any amount of money while online play has been free on the Wii, Wii U, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo 3DS; dissatisfaction at Nintendo relying on a smartphone app for in-game chat while the competition can do it in-console; and of course the lackluster launch titles like Balloon Fight.  On the other side, what do you expect for $20 while the competition charges $60 for their services?  Like everything else Nintendo does in the online space, it's best to keep your expectations low and see what the company actually manages to produce.  I'm not clamoring to play Balloon Fight in single-player mode let alone online, but at least we can all be glad that Urban Champion isn't on the list. 

The fact of the matter is that Nintendo is rising back to the top of its game and leaving the free offers and generous discounts of the Wii U era behind.  The company can't keep Switches on store shelves.  They do not need to be charitable or offer enticing deals to sell units anymore.  I enjoyed the "please buy this, we're begging you!" phase of Nintendo history too when the company gave away a free game for buying Mario Kart 8 and gave back a percentage of each Wii U eShop purchase in store credit, but those days are over.  Even the fun freebies of Club Nintendo have given way to the lackluster loyalty program My Nintendo.  Nintendo leadership has changed and the company is ready to be profitable again, and those profits?  They come from us.