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Nintendo To Discontinue Miiverse

Brawl in the FamilyWe all knew this day was coming once the Nintendo Switch launched like a rocket and left the Wii U behind, but Nintendo has announced that it is discontinuing the Miiverse social network linked up with the Wii U and 3DS.  The company has prepared a list of questions and answers to address the pending shutdown which takes effect November 7, 2017.  The short version of this is that any game that uses Miiverse will error out when attempting to access the service, and while you may think that only impacts posting messages, it also means that games that use the service for content purposes such as Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. will lose secondary features.  I advise you to read the entire announcement, but here's the part about specific games:

Many games use Miiverse as a major game-play feature, including Super Mario Maker for Wii U. What happens to those games when Miiverse shuts down?
- Super Mario Maker (Wii U): Users will still be able to share levels, but will no longer be able to comment on them.
- Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars (Wii U, Nintendo 3DS): While users will still be able to play Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars and complete all 88 levels in the main game, the Community feature will be discontinued, preventing players from sharing levels and receiving additional Stars. As there will be a limit to the number of Stars that can be obtained, not all objects may be unlocked from the Workshop.
- Splatoon (Wii U): Miiverse posts will no longer display in Inkopolis Plaza or the game's stage maps.
- Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS (Wii U, Nintendo 3DS): The Miiverse stage will still be playable, but Miiverse user posts will not display in the background. Players will also be unable to post replays to YouTube/Miiverse, share stages or create tournaments.
- Mario Kart 8 (Wii U): Players will not be able to upload game-play videos to YouTube since they also post to Miiverse at the same time. The tournament function will also not be available.
- Super Mario 3D World (Wii U): In Super Mario 3D World, the Miiverse posts that appear on the course select screen and when selecting courses will disappear. Players will still be able to collect in-game stamps, but not post them to Miiverse.
- Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U): In Xenoblade Chronicles X, the BLADE report feature will no longer be available.

Miiverse buttons will still appear on the Wii U and 3DS.  Games will still tout Miiverse services ("Would you like to post this accomplishment to Miiverse?") and will still attempt to connect to the shuttered service after November 7, but the consoles will return error codes and give up.  While I'm not surprised that Nintendo is ending Miiverse (it never really caught on like the company expected), I'm disappointed that the developers didn't anticipate that the service would one day end and prepare games to fail gracefully.  It's a shame that those soon-to-be-useless Miiverse buttons cannot be removed.  I'd also rather that games did not continue to bug me to post to a dead service.  As for disabling features like Mario Kart 8 tournaments or Tipping Stars unlocks(!), I suppose Nintendo feels it has sold all the copies of those games it is going to sell and has no problems moving on.  I will miss Miiverse primarily because I don't know of any other way to capture screenshots directly from Wii U or 3DS hardware without it.

Game publishers have had issues with this kind of thing for the past few years as services are gradually disabled, leaving dead prompts and useless options on menus.  Remember when Uncharted 3 could post to Facebook?  Going forward, developers and publishers really need to think ahead to a time when their latest and greatest is ready to sunset so that tomorrow's retro gamers are not saddled with broken prompts.

(image via Brawl In The Family)


Power Button - Episode 246: Jump, Jump, Slide, Slide Into Mega Man Legacy Collection 2

Power ButtonCapcom recently sent Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 out into the world for Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, and PC, so with the combined efforts of Mega Man 7, Mega Man 8, Mega Man 9, and Mega Man 10 back on our radar, it's the perfect time to discuss how these games have aged and what we learned while revisiting them.  All of that nostalgia leads us into our secondary topic for the week in which we discuss franchises that have earned the right to come back in similar legacy collections.  From Castlevania to Contra and beyond, we're ready to look forward to the past.   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.


Knuckles Blasts Through Chemical Plant Zone In Sonic Mania

Sonic ManiaSonic Mania has taken over my gaming time lately.  It's the traditional Sonic title I have wanted for years and yet I didn't anticipate how much I would want to replay it.  When I'm not trying to pick up the last of the Chaos Emeralds in Mania Mode, I'm zipping through Time Attack mode to explore levels and improve my skills.  Check out this run through Chemical Plant Zone Act 2 with Knuckles that I'm especially pleased with.  It's not the fastest performance and it's not the most efficient route, but it's so much fun to play that I don't care.  I'm having fun and that's the most important thing.  NEW RECORD!


Gasping For Air In Sonic Mania

Sonic ManiaFans of Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog games know all too well what happens when Sonic is underwater for too long.  The happy, upbeat music of the zone quickly gives way to a pulse-pounding, heart-stopping tune of danger.  The beats quicken, the tempo picks up, and if poor Sonic can't find air before it's over (a mere five-count), there's a momentary beat of silence and then... GLUGGGGGG our hero drowns.  There's a whole generation of gamers out there who feel their anxiety involuntarily spike when they hear that warning song. 

A few days ago I was playing the new Sonic Mania and revisiting the joys of Chemical Plant Zone when I faltered and had to race to the top of the flooded chamber before Sonic's air ran out.  The video below is what happened.  My heart is still racing.


Power Button - Episode 245: Off The Ramp With Mel Kirk And Pinball FX3

Power ButtonWe're very excited here at Power Button about the upcoming Pinball FX3 from Zen Studios.  The latest (and possibly final) pinball platform for modern hardware, the new title carries over many of our favorite tables from the Zen Pinball 2 / Pinball FX2 era and will launch with new licensed tables from the Universal vault of beloved properties.  New original tables from Zen are also due out before the end of the year.  It's an exciting time for pinball fans, so it's also a perfect time for us to invite Zen's VP of Publishing, Mel Kirk, back on the show to discuss the new features in FX3, what we can expect from the new tables, when we will get to play FX3 for ourselves, and how the last generation platform of ZP2/FX2 has been sunsetted.  Join us for an hour of conversation that will answer all of your burning pinball questions (seriously; we collected questions from the Twitter crowd and answered all of them).  Want to know about Nintendo Switch availability?  Game of Thrones tables?  Support for PSVR?  We cover it all.   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 244: Underrated All-Stars

Power ButtonFor every Call of Duty or Super Mario powerhouse that fills up best-of lists and tops sales charts, there are dozens of other games that have plenty of potential to be all-time greats, but you never hear about them.  They fall into the memory hole or are used as target practice by aspiring Internet idiots picking at low fruit based on reputation alone.  We say it's not fair that fun games are passed over, so on this week's podcast we're dusting off some of our favorite underrated games of the past thirty years.  From Spec-Ops: The Line to Yo Noid! to The Godfather to, yes, my beloved Aero the Acro-bat, we have a list of titles you need to explore.   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.


The Wonderful World Of ROM Hacks

Somebody Set Us Up The ROMSince the heady days of the original NESticle emulator for DOS, video game fans have been hacking games such as Super Mario Bros. and Mega Man 2 to change level layouts and alter graphics.  What began as crude and tasteless shock value hacks (naked Mario, racist Mario, etc.) eventually grew into worthwhile creations that turn familiar classics into entirely new games.  John Harris has written a new e-book, Somebody Set Us Up The ROM, that chronicles some of the best hacks that the Internet has to offer.  Part One focuses mainly on games from the worlds of Super Mario and Metroid, while the upcoming Part Two aims at Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man.  It's available exclusively in the Summer Smash Game Bundle.  Here's a note from the curator, Simon Carless:

Some people think, with some justification, that romhacks are mostly about seeing how many dongs someone can fit into a single game. But the best ones are far from that. Sometimes they add major features to beloved games to make them playable for a new generation. Sometimes they greatly improve game graphics, or present new worlds to explore. Sometimes they correct terrible design decisions. And sometimes they translate game into other languages, allowing them to be read and appreciated by new audiences.

This book is a collection of good romhacks, small and large, simple and incredible. And without a single dong to be found.

I had the opportunity to read a pre-release copy of this book and I am impressed by the depth of exploration.  Harris dives into interesting ideas such as adding a day/night cycle to Super Mario Bros. 3, integrating an auto-mapping system into the original Metroid, changing the villagers in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest into truthful helpers instead of lying bastards, and so much more.  This is an interesting read that will give you plenty of new twists on old favorites to try.  I eagerly await Part Two.


So You Want To Play Super Mario Bros. 3

Super Mario Bros. 3So you've decided to play Nintendo's 1990 classic Super Mario Bros. 3.  Excellent choice!  It's not as easy as it seems though.  There are several versions of the game available and each one has its own quirks that can diminish the experience.  There's the original Nintendo Entertainment System release, of course, but perhaps you prefer the 1993 Super NES upgrade?  Even those versions have been iterated upon over the years thanks to the Virtual Console, but they have unique advantages and drawbacks of their own.  How can you possible hope to decide?  You'd have to be a wizard to figure it out.  Jeremy Parish at Retronauts lays it all out so you can pick the SMB3 version that's right for you.

Super Mario Bros. 3 originally showed up on NES in 1990, and that version has been reproduced most frequently in the years since. Currently Nintendo makes the game available on three different platforms, with one kind of outlier. This is the "true" version of the game, so it's the one purists will want, but unfortunately has made it difficult to buy a proper, satisfying conversion of the game.

The article goes on to discuss the Super NES, Game Boy Advance, Wii, Wii U, and 3DS versions of the game.  Some look better than others and a few look worse than you'd expect.  You may be surprised to learn what the best overall version of the game is these days.  I know I was, but it makes perfect sense.  What's better than the Super Mario Bros. 3 we all know and love with extra levels added to it?


Mini-Review: Infinite Minigolf

Infinite Minigolf

Well known for its digital pinball tables, Zen Studios is revisiting another of its key releases with the release of Infinite Minigolf for the Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, VR platforms, and PC.  Following on from 2010's PS3-exclusive Planet Minigolf, this updated take on the concept brings the course creation tools that helped make Planet stand out to a wider audience in a fun mix of the creativity tools of Sony's LittleBigPlanet and the trick shots found in Nintendo's Kirby's Dream Course

Continue reading "Mini-Review: Infinite Minigolf" »


Power Time Podcast: Nintendo Q&A with Matthew Green – Summer of Streaming

Power Time PodcastI'm making a guest appearance on Tom Tate's Power Time Podcast this week to talk about Nintendo memories and writing articles for Press The Buttons.

In this interview with Matthew Green we talk about an incredible NES origin story, writing about video games, early impressions on the Switch, a deep-dive on an unassuming Acro-Bat, and much more.

The episode runs thirty-three minutes and was a lot of fun to record.  I love talking about Nintendo and I love talking about myself, so what's not to enjoy?  Thanks to Tom for inviting me on the show.