Mini-Review: New Super Mario Bros. Wii

New Super Mario Bros. Wii

This article was originally published at Kombo.com on November 24, 2009.

When Bowser Jr. and the Koopalings spring a booby-trapped birthday cake on Princess Peach, Mario, Luigi, and two mushroom retainer Toads chase their escaping airship across the Mushroom Kingdom through a healthy dose of traditional side-scrolling platforming action for up to four players in New Super Mario Bros. Wii for the Nintendo Wii. Expect to make full use of Mario's signature power-ups such as the Super Mushroom and Fire Flower along with new aids like the Ice Flower that freezes enemies in throwable ice blocks, the Penguin Suit that combines the power of the Ice Flower with enhanced mobility in the water and on frozen ground, and the Propeller Suit that allows for a quick on-demand flight through an adventure suited for mushroom power pros and cautious casual gamers alike.

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PlayStation 4 Pro Is Coming Soon

Sony PlayStation 4 Pro

Sony officially announced its Neo upgrade for its flagship PlayStation 4 console today as an actual product you can soon buy rather than a mysterious project currently in development.  Now known as the PlayStation 4 Pro, the upgraded console boasts a faster CPU, expanded hard drive space, an upgraded GPU, 4K and HDR capabilities, and a $399 price tag.  This is exciting news for people with a 4K television and some expendable income to spend this holiday season as the console is due out in November 2016USgamer explains what this all means for you and includes a list of upcoming PS4 games that will look better on a Pro console.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Mass Effect Andromeda were among the games shown for the console, with Andromeda showing an intriguing - but ultimately lightweight - gameplay sequence.

Here are the rest of the games that support the PlayStation 4 Pro:

  • Spider-Man
  • For Honor
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Days Gone
  • Watch Dogs 2
  • Farpoint
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops III
  • FIFA 17
  • Battlefield 1
  • Dishonored 2
  • Final Fantasy XV

Netflix and YouTube apps that support 4K visuals will also be available.  This looks like a solid list and if you're hungry for 4K gaming and are already invested in the PlayStation ecosystem, the upgrade may not be such a bad idea.  On the other hand, people like me who are still holding fast to "only" a regular high definition television that tops out at 1080p will see an even steeper price tag to make this upgrade totally worthwhile.  Sony boasts that on the Pro, "all games will run in 1080p resolution, and some will even run in a higher or more stable framerate" which, to me, sounds like the kind of promises we first heard about the original model of PS4 back in 2013 when it was preparing to launch.

I'd imagine that if and when I get a 4K television, I would be interested in maximizing what it can do and could surely talk myself into a PS4 Pro.  However, as I said this morning about buying a New Nintendo 3DS, I'm not one to toss out a working console so long as there's life left in it.  My PS4 would have to die a horrible death before I'd eagerly replace it when it is already meeting my current needs to my satisfaction.  I know there's a market out there for the Pro, I'm very curious to see just how large it actually is, and I hope that everyone who wants a Pro is able to get one, but I also see more popularity for the also-announced PS4 Slim console that takes everything people already enjoy about the existing PS4 hardware and redesigns it to fit a smaller price at $299.  Sure, an extra one hundred dollars isn't that much of a leap if you're already buying or have bought a 4K television, but if you don't have 4K in your home and don't expect to any time soon, what's the incentive to spend money on extra features you'll primarily never use? The short version of all of this: wait for the reviews before you buy.


So I Bought A New Nintendo 3DS

New Nintendo 3DSAfter several months of debating whether or not to replace my dying Nintendo 3DS battery with a new one or just retire the system and replace it with a New Nintendo 3DS, I finally talked myself into the latter option.  It wasn't too hard of a choice once Nintendo and Target teamed up to sell a non-XL version of the system with Super Mario Maker cover plates and Super Mario 3D Land preinstalled.  That's a bundle I could go for!  I bought it a week ago and have been exploring what the n3DS offers over the original model, and so far I'm impressed.  Any buyer's remorse or lingering hesitation I may have experienced on my way out of the store last week is long gone by now.

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The Ins And Outs (But Mostly Ins) Of Game Boy Cartridges

TetrisThere's something special about holding a Nintendo Game Boy game pak in your hand.  What felt like large square coasters in my childhood hand now feel like small crackers in my adult hand, but they have and still feel like the sensation of fun about to happen.  What's really inside those cartridges?  What does the fun look like in its purest physical form?  Fyrius is engaged in a photography project that catalogs the interior of popular Game Boy cartridges split open for all to see.  Marvel and gawk at the chips, batteries, and circuit boards that combine to bring us beloved favorites like Tetris, Super Mario Land, and Bionic Commando!  It's portable power in the palm of your hand.

Gameboy cartridges

(via Reddit)


Slim PS4 Reviewed Despite Not Being Announced Yet

Sony-ps4-logoSony was seemingly planning a stealthy "surprise, you can buy it today!" announcement for its upcoming redesigned PlayStation 4, but the new slimmer console has been spotted out in the wild prior to its official announcement.  Despite not officially existing yet according to the company line, the new slim PS4 is coming and Laura Dale at Let's Play Video Games has acquired a unit to review.  The short version is that it's the same PS4 but slightly smaller, quieter, and cooler with minor features added and one feature removed, but there's nothing here that fundamentally changes the PS4 experience.

The PS4 Slim model is, simply put, a smaller PS4. It doesn’t perform any better or worse than the previous model, but does run cooler and quieter. It has a slightly improved controller, but the box itself doesn’t run any better. Don’t expect Xbox One S-style HDR and 4K blue-ray support. This is still a basic PS4 model with no internal upgrades over the previous iteration, and is not the upcoming PS4 Neo. It does not make games run better, or upscale them to 4K.

It's good to see that Sony hasn't fundamentally changed the console in such a way that it renders existing PS4s obsolete (that'll come later with the Neo hardware revision).  The real news tagging along with this review is that Dale had to basically disown possession of the PS4 lest she incur Sony's wrath.  Her review opens with a few paragraphs spelling out that she does not own the PS4, nor does she still have it and that it came from a store manager who broke a street date, but did not steal it.  Moreover, numerous large gaming sites had shown interest in publishing the review, but all of them backed off.  Preemptive intervention from Sony warning those sites not to get on the company's bad side by running a review of a product they didn't want "out there" prior to an official announcement?  Sure seems that way.  Here is where Sony learns the hard lesson that it's not possible to keep a secret in our current age of information and social media.


How Long Does It Take For Zelda To Begin?

The Legend of ZeldaNintendo's beloved The Legend of Zelda series has a knack for roping players into its ever-expanding mythos of faeries, gorons, moblins, and zoras, but it seems that with each new sequel, players are forced to have their hands held for a prolonged period of time before the adventure actually begins.  What once started out as simply "It's dangerous to go alone!  Take this." before tossing Link to the wolves has turned into a tradition of hour-long tutorials and lots of expository dialogue ending with something along the lines of "Would you like me to repeat all of that?  → Yes No"  Matthew Martin over at Cult Of Whatever has crunched the numbers to determine just how long these tutorials have become and which games are the worst offenders.

Whereas the N64 game transitioned you from tutorial to first dungeon very naturally (you get your sword and shield and then enter the Tree, easy-peasy), Wind Waker’s first action sequence takes place, not in a dungeon, but in a forest, as you attempt to rescue Tetra from Ganon’s minions. That action sequence is first teased, when you look through the telescope your sister gets your for your birthday, but even the tease doesn’t come until after seventeen minutes of running around town “learning the basics.” After you know what you have to do (adventure!) you still have to go to the sword master (tutorial!) and “fight him” (that is, you have to learn how to do all the various sword strikes, even if you’ve played the game fifty times before). Once you’ve done that, finally, you can head off on the adventure. It’s fun the first time, but after a few more times it can be very tiring indeed.

I don't mind going alone, but just let me go!  These increasingly long tutorials are part of the reason why the Zelda games are starting to fall off of my radar.  I want to play them, but I also know that I don't want to sit through a long learning experience to teach me that rupees are worth money and that it's possible to throw pots.  I've known these series conventions for thirty years!  There really should be a way for seasoned players to bypass all of the instruction or, better yet, shape the experience so that all of the up-front training isn't necessary.

I've bought the modern remakes of Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess intent on replaying them all, but whenever I look at the cartridge or disc, I think of that seemingly endless exposition and put it back on the shelf.  I don't have hours upon hours at a time to dedicate to these games anymore.  Often I am looking for a quick hit of action which is why when I get the itch to replay a Zelda game, I turn to the original Nintendo Entertainment System titles or the Game Boy titles which kick Link off on a journey basically right away.  I'm so glad that the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild promises to follow in those old structural footsteps.  I want to swing swords at monsters, not herd goats or go fishing right at the start.

Would you like me to repeat all of that?

→ Yes
     No


Power Button - Episode 213: Blake Buys A Wii U

Power ButtonAfter years of swearing up and down that he would never ever buy a Nintendo Wii U, Blake Grundman went and bought a Wii U.  On this week's episode of Power Button we discuss what convinced Blake to pick up the console, which games he's enjoyed so far, and I recommend more games that he needs to play.  It's an all-star tribute to owning a Wii U!   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, 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.


Mario And Sonic At The Rio 2016 Olympic Games Refreshes Classic Mario Music

Mario And Sonic At The Rio 2016 Olympic GamesWhile the Mario and Sonic crossover titles featuring the Olympic Games don't attract much interest from the gaming community for their casual, sporty nature exclusive to Nintendo platforms, we can always count on them for a fresh collection of remixes and rearrangements of classic music from the Super Mario series.  The Rio 2016 sequel is no different as it includes fresh takes on memorable tunes from Super Mario Galaxy, Donkey Kong Country, New Super Mario Bros, Super Mario 3D World, and many more.  Check out some of my favorites as we head into the weekend and browse the entire soundtrack on this YouTube playlist for so much more.

 

 

 


Power Button - Episode 212: Shake Hands With Danger In Episode 1 Of Batman: The Telltale Series

Power ButtonTelltale Games has brought its talent from Tales From The Borderlands and The Walking Dead to Gotham City with the recently released first episode of Batman: The Telltale Series.  This first installment, "Realm of Shadows" is the focus of this week's new episode of the Power Button podcast in which Blake Grundman and I discuss the events of the game, our favorite moments, trying to live up to the characterizations of our respective favorite Batman incarnations, why shaking hands with a notorious mobster at a party is a bad idea, how playing as Bruce Wayne is remarkably different than playing as the Dark Knight, and so much more.  We spoil "Realm of Shadows" quite thoroughly, so if you haven't played the game and want to keep up, be sure to watch my playthrough of the game.  Oddly enough, Blake and I each chose different paths through the game, so between the two of us, we have a fairly complete view of the entire picture.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, 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.


Mini-Review: Batman: Arkham Asylum

Batman: Arkham Asylum

This article was originally published at Kombo.com on September 9, 2009.

When the Joker goes on a rampage in Gotham City, Batman intervenes and apprehends him. After delivering him back to Arkham Asylum, the clown prince of crime escapes custody and flees, forcing Batman to intervene yet again. This is no escape attempt, however. The Joker is putting his latest mad plan into action this night, and the other residents of Arkham - Harley Quinn, Scarecrow, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, and a few others lurking in the shadows - are eager to take a swing at the Dark Knight. As Batman, players must not only use his formidable combat skills to bring down Joker and his henchgoons, but also his sleuthing skills to save the Arkham staff from Joker's mad plot.

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