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More Nintendo Hallmark Ornaments Revealed

Mario and Luigi ornaments

Hallmark is selling a line of Mario, Luigi, and Yoshi ornaments at their stores this year, but at $16 each and with supplies being limited , it may be too much of a challenge for fans to pick them all up.  Luckily, the company has produced two additional Mario and Luigi ornaments at a cheaper price point.  I found these at Target last weekend for $8 each and while the poses are different than the main Hallmark offerings, the paint and sculpt quality is slightly lesser than their $16 brothers.  Still, I bought them because they are Super Mario ornaments and I need to own these kinds of things.  There are also Princess Peach, Toad, Donkey Kong, and Link ornaments from this series out there as well, although I haven't seen them in stores yet.  ThinkGeek is selling them online though.

If you're thinking that the Mario pose if familiar it's because last year ThinkGeek sold a very similar Mario ornament.  The 2016 ThinkGeek model is slightly larger than this new Hallmark model, but they are clearly different ornaments.  Hallmark's design adds some additional details to Mario's overalls, changes the M on his hat, and puts his face more on-model with the modern character design.  See the comparison below.

A tale of two Marios

Obviously for 2018 we need to see Bowser, Wario, and Samus Aran ornaments.  Keep them all coming!  I've wanted more and more Nintendo ornaments for thirty years now so I say bring them all on! I'll figure out a way to afford them all somehow. Say, don't you think this would be a good time to toss a few dollars in the PTB tip jar? No reason...


Fester's Quest Explained Once Again

FqThe Nintendo Entertainment System era gave us plenty of licensed games, and while some made perfect sense (The Simpsons, The Flintstones, and DuckTales are just some of the properties that landed on the 8-bit console), others such as The Addams Family were very unusual picks.  Why would anyone want to publish a game based on a TV series from twenty years prior that, at the time, felt like ancient history?  We've covered some of this before over the years and know that Sunsoft answered the call with Fester's Quest, but now we know more of the story thanks to Stefan Gancer's exhaustive History of Sunsoft series.

Development of the game began at Sunsoft of America in 1989. Richard Robbins had a dream: He wanted to make a game he called Uncle Fester’s Playhouse, somewhat inspired by the contemporary television show Pee-wee’s Playhouse.

Fans have long speculated whether or not the game was an Addams Family game from the start at all. Maybe it was a new Blaster Master game with the license slapped on later. But as we now know, it was meant to be a game about Uncle Fester all along. The game’s short story was written by Robbins, who also co-designed the game. Blaster Master was partly in a diagonal top-down view just like Fester’s Quest. According to Robbins, the two games were developed partly by the same team in Japan. But since the game has no credits at the end, only parts of the team are known today.

Fester's Quest is an old favorite of mine from the 1980s even if its difficulty level is wildly off balance.  This article reiterates how the developers overlooked including a password feature which is why poor Fester returns to the very start of the game after being defeated.  Sunsoft's marketing group leaned into the unfair challenge by promoting the game as the most difficult NES game out there.  All of the Nintendo Power coverage and maps in the world can't make up for that one.


Teach A New Dinosaur Old Tricks In Super Mario Odyssey

Yoshi fallingOne of the advanced tricks a Super Mario World player learns early on is how to dismount from Yoshi in a crucial moment, propelling Mario to safety while the loyal dinosaur plummets to his death.  Now in Super Mario Odyssey, Mario has evolved to not just ride a dinosaur, but become one via his new hat pal Cappy.  To explains for the unfamiliar, Mario can now capture and control creatures he meets on his journey around the world from Goombas to frogs to even large realistically-styled dinosaurs by tossing his magic hat, Cappy, at the helpless target.  He then possesses the target and gains their abilities. 

Over the weekend I took a mighty tyrannosaurus rex for a joyride in the Cascade Kingdom when I landed a little too close to the edge of a cliff and started to fall to my doom.  Suddenly, as an automatic reflex, my old Super Mario World skills raced back to the front of my mind and I performed the 2017 version of the old dismount trick.  Sorry, Rexy.  See you around.

(image via Kenny Valez)


Nintendo GameCube Controller Now Works With Switch

Nintendo GameCube controller adapter for Wii U... and SwitchNintendo released a special adapter during its last console generation that allowed the company's favored GameCube controllers to work with the Wii U for Super Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl players who preferred that controller to continue using it in the latest Smash sequel (seriously, that's the only game the adapter worked with).  Now, unexpectedly and offered without official fanfare, we find out that the adapter works with the Nintendo Switch's latest firmware update and that it works for all games on the platform.  The console registers it as a wired USB controller.  Mike Williams at USgamer explains the caveats.

The Switch support for the GameCube controller extends to all games, you just have to make due without the ZL button. This means you'll be lacking features found in certain games, like Link's shield in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The fact that it works with every game actually makes it better than the original functionality on the Wii U, which only worked with certain titles.

I bought the adapter when it was released even though I didn't really need it.  I was happy using the Wii U GamePad to play Smash, but I had no idea if the adapter would be useful for other things later on and knowing how Nintendo underproduces items, I knew if I didn't buy at launch, I'd likely never have the opportunity again.  I have used the adapter more on my PC for emulation tinkering than I ever have in its official capacity.  Now that it works on the Switch, I suppose I'll play around with it just for the novelty factor unless there's a reason to use it over the stock Switch joy-cons.   If nothing else, it gives me a second controller for local multiplayer.

However, the bigger question here is why has Nintendo taken the time and effort to add this feature into the 4.0.0 firmware?  It's a quick jump to the conclusion that the functionality is there primarily for the assumed imminent announcement that Nintendo is giving Super Smash Bros. for Wii U a Switch deluxe edition release, and while I'd definitely buy that game all over again, if it turns out that it was added as a lark just to please a few customers, I'm fine with that too.


Happy Birthday Wario!

Wario’s Wacky WoriginsI can't believe that I didn't realize that seeing as how it's the twenty-fifth anniversary of the release of Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins for the Nintendo Game Boy, it's also the twenty-fifth anniversary of Wario's first appearance.  Let us commemorate this special occasion with Greg Melo's fun comic looking back at Wario's origins over at the Laser Time Podcast.

Hard to believe it’s been 25 years since our eyes were opened to obey Wario (and that Mario is our enemy). To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins and the debut of its villain Wario, the amazingly-talented Greg Melo has created a comic about Wario’s origins and how the cantankerous Mario clone (we know he’s not a clone, but bear with us for alliterative purposes) has evolved over the years.

It's been too long since Wario set out on his own solo adventure.  Whatever Wario's future holds, let's hope that it includes a new Wario Land adventure.  I'll never destroy Mario, but otherwise I'm always happy to obey Wario.


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.


Nintendo's Wrecking Crew '98 Translated Into English

Wrecking Crew '98It's been a long time since Nintendo has done anything new with its Wrecking Crew property.  There's a Nintendo Switch port of the arcade version, VS. Wrecking Crew, on the way later this year and the original NES version of the game has popped up on the Virtual Console for the Wii, 3DS, & Wii U, but there's a missing piece of the series that has yet to show up outside of Japan in any form.  1998's aptly titled Wrecking Crew '98 updated the formula for the Super NES era, crossing it with the aesthetics and puzzle-type nature of Tetris Attack.  Now the game has been translated into English for the first time by fans, so if you're up for emulating the game, here's your chance to enjoy the full experience.  There's even an updated version of the classic Wrecking Crew included.  Romhacking.net tells you how it's done.

A Mario game, never brought over-seas, exclusive to Japan and without an english translation?!

Yes, for as hard as it is to believe, this obscure Mario title never saw the light of day in any country outside of Japan, thanks to the weird distribution method of kiosks back in ‘98, and thanks due to Nintendo’s International Division shutting down sales of all SNES games in ‘97.

This neat little package includes not only one, but 2 games! That’s right, the original Wrecking Crew for the NES was ported and included alongside its sequel, Wrecking Crew ‘98!

Now you can enjoy the flexibility of having both games in one single ROM, now in full english text thanks to the incredible work of the RomHacking community!

The game is fully playable, from start to finish, without any major hiccup or bug! Finally, a long forgotten game will see the light of day overseas, thanks to hackers doing what Nintendon’t!

I dabbled with the Japanese version over a decade ago, but never really knew what was going on thanks to my Japanese illiteracy.  I'm glad to have a reason to revisit the game and understand it now.  Say, come to think of it, hacking additional games into the Super NES Classic is coming along fairly well.  Perhaps these are two hacks that taste great together.


Free Games Now Available From My Nintendo

Nindie GamesAfter a booming start giving out free Virtual Console games to users who ponied up the points, the My Nintendo loyalty program has received boos and mehs ever since it almost immediately scaled back to offering desktop wallpaper and minor discounts on full prices eShop titles.  Gold and platinum points have been going to waste ever since, but now the program is ready to offer up free games once again.  For a limited time, My Nintendo is offering four indie titles for Wii U or 3DS in exchange for gold points.

  • BIT.TRIP Presents... Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien (Wii U): 90 Gold Points
  • Zen Pinball 3D (Nintendo 3DS): 50 Gold Points
  • Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo (Nintendo 3DS): 60 Gold Points
  • Art of Balance (Wii U): 70 Gold Points

I've already cashed in some points for Zen Pinball 3D.  Now I know these aren't free downloads on the magnitude of Super Mario Bros. 3 or Mega Man 2, but don't look a free game in the mouth here.  If you're a Nintendo fan, chances are you have some points going to waste in your My Nintendo account, so why not partake and try something new?  Step outside your comfort zone and see where it takes you.  You may just have some fun along the 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.