With 2017 coming to an end in just a few weeks, Blake Grundman and I are preparing our traditional year-end podcast episodes and we want you to be a part of them. As usual we are going to record an episode focusing on the big gaming news of the year and then another episode in which we name our Game Of The Year picks. Get involved! Call the podcast voicemail hotline at (720) 722-2781 and leave a message discussing either of these topics and you may just hear your call on the show. You can also reach out via the comments section below, through Twitter at @ThePowerButton, or send an e-mail to with your thoughts. Help us close out the year and recap the highs and lows of 2017 in gaming.
This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of the original Mega Man for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and so on this special occasion it's only right to take a look back at the ten greatest moments in the franchise's history. From the initial burst of releases in the early days of the series to its 16-bit and 32-bit reinventions to its unfortunate lull in the 2000s and then back in action with new sequels and compilations, there are many moments from which to choose and so many games to replay. While time does not permit spotlighting all of the best moments, there are some that demand attention. Read on for everlasting peace!
10: Mega Man - Versus Yellow Devil
While later games in the series would refine what became a familiar formula, the original 1987 Mega Man game established the basic framework of what a Mega Man game would be, and while the game threw plenty of (sometimes unfair) challenges at players, those challenges were largely built around stage design or dealing with enemies roughly the same size as Mega Man himself or smaller. That's why it's such a surprising shock when, in the first Dr. Wily stage, Mega Man enters what appears to be an empty boss arena (a gateless one, in fact; a first for the game). As new intense music starts to play, a stream of flying fragments zip into the dead-end room one by one, catching players off guard, inflicting damage, and quickly forming the monstrous Yellow Devil (aka Rock Monster). Today we know that a single bolt of the Thunder Beam and the game's infamous pause glitch will take out the Yellow Devil in seconds, but encountering this boss for the first time without warning or foreknowledge is a moment of breathtaking panic.
While the Nintendo Switch is stealing the show in fandom circles, let us not overlook the Super NES Classic (assuming you can find one). On this week's podcast episode, Blake Grundman and I discuss whether or not it's just like old times playing our favorite games from two decades ago, if Star Fox 2 holds up to the legend behind it, and cover what's going on in hacking circles as some players are cramming additional games into the console. Join us for an hour of 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.
Even the most polished game can hide a variety of odd glitches and quirks under the surface. Over at Gamasutra, Brandon Sheffield has compiled an entertaining list of all of the outside-the-box ways that developers have solved their glitch issues. Super Time Force is prepared for your madness, an undisclosed multiplatform racing game performs better with a frame rate counter, and Mega Man has to scream at you in silence before his game can begin. Here's Keith Kaisershot from Digital Eclipse explaining that last one:
When working on Mega Man Legacy Collection for 3DS, I encountered a sound bug I couldn’t track down. Basically, the first sound would either get garbled or not play properly, no matter what sound it was.
Basically-- 9 out of 10 times when you launched the game, the stinger sound that accompanies the Digital Eclipse [developer of the collection] logo would glitch in some way-- it'd stutter or just not play at all. This was the first sound you’d hear in the game, and I discovered it always affected the very first sound played-- subsequent sounds were fine.
When loading the game before playing that first stinger, play a second of silence. And that shipped.
I love stories like this. Sometimes a project comes down to the wire, there's an outstanding issue that just can't be properly solved in the time allotted, so something has to give and creative hacks and kludges can achieve the same basic end goal as a time-consuming code teardown. I wonder what kind of quick fixes are hiding under the surface of my favorite games. If you can't get enough of this stuff either, there's a discussion happening at MetaFilter that lists more examples.
As Thanksgiving approaches it's only right that we spend an episode of the podcast discussing all of the things that Blake Grundman and I are thankful for as filtered through a gaming lens. Join us as we kick off the holiday season in style with some sentimental thoughts. 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. Next Week: We kick the tires on Nintendo's Super NES Classic and discuss whether or not it's worth the trouble of tracking one down.
The New Donk City festival sequence in Nintendo's recent Super Mario Odyssey is the signature scene of the game, so it's only right that it be immortalized as artwork. This new piece by Mikaël "Orioto" Aguirre entitled "New Donk Festival" combines the classic elements from Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros. with the festive elements from Odyssey such as Pauline's billboards and Mario's white wedding suit. Add in some fireworks and spectators on high towers off in the distance and all that is missing is the "Jump Up, Super Star" song. For more on Super Mario Odyssey, check out Episode 251 of the Power Button podcast.
Capcom's Mega Man series of video games brought us some of the very best music of the Nintendo Entertainment System era, so it's not a surprise that it lives on today through remixes and arrangements. Consider this 2016 performance of themes from Mega Man, Mega Man 2, and Mega Man 3 from the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. It's part of a greater concert entitled Score which also includes music from the usual suspects like Super Mario and The Legend Zelda as well as Assassin's Creed IV, Bloodborne, Journey, Skyrim, and The Last of Us. It's all deserving of a place on your playlist, but the Mega Man suite is my absolute favorite because of the inclusion of Top Man, Spark Man, and Dr. Wily boss themes. Everyone always wants to hear themes from Mega Man 2 which, don't get me wrong, are timeless, but the music from Mega Man 3 has always resonated more with me. Now, in this suite, there's something for us all.
Nintendo's Super Mario Odyssey for the Switch has taken Blake Grundman and I by storm, consuming our gaming time with a vengeance as we collect as many Power Moons as humanly possible. On this week's podcast episode we dive into Mario's globe-trotting adventure and discuss what we love so much about it. Spoiler alert! We discuss the end of the game and beyond. 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. Next Week: We're celebrating Thanksgiving by discussing what we're thankful for this year in gaming.
When it comes to video games based on the long-running Star Trek franchise, results mostly span from terrible to just mildly good, but there is one Star Trek game that has stood the test of time and manages to be not just a great Star Trek game, but a great game overall. 2000's Star Trek: Elite Force casts players as Ensign Munro (male or female version available) aboard the lost Starship Voyager during Star Trek: Voyager's sixth season. Developed by Raven Software and published by Activision, this first-person shooter combines familiar shooter conventions of the day with plenty of Star Trek scenery and flavoring. The cast of the TV show even reprise their roles. Over at TrekNews, Kyle Hadyniak looks back on why Elite Force endures all these years (and Trek relaunches) later.
“We needed schematics and layouts for Voyager so we could accurately create our game levels,” said [game directory Brian] Pelletier. “On one of the trips to Paramount Studios, I met with legendary Star Trek visual designer Rick Sternbach, who had done many technical manual books showcasing layouts from many Starfleet ships. I was hoping to get some Voyager deck layouts from him but he didn’t have any. He said he designs areas of the ship for only what the show needs per the scripts. A great consolation for working with Rick was that he helped us develop Voyager deck layouts specifically for the game.”
For all intents and purposes, Pelletier and his team set out to create a virtual Voyager, and that’s indeed what they did. In between away missions, players have the ability to roam many areas the ship. Want to visit engineering and walk around the warp core? Just go to deck 11. Want to view the Delta Flyer in Voyager’s shuttle bay? Help yourself (although you might want to ask Tom Paris first). In fact, as an expansion for the game after its release, Raven Software released “Virtual Voyager,” a sub-game that takes place shortly before the game’s final mission. In this mode, players can access Voyager deck-by-deck, taking their time to explore the Intrepid-class starship. The attention to detail is outstanding, as you can see in this walkthrough video. Obviously, using both old and new set designs paid off, in that the two blend seamlessly together to create one huge explorable ship. Of course, not every room is available to tour, but this is still the most accurate representation of a ship in a Star Trek game, and a large part of why Elite Force is so immersive.
I was going through my college-era first-person shooter PC game phase when Elite Force was released, spending an evening or two a week playing Quake III Arena with coworkers over dial-up. I was all-in for Elite Force when I saw it at an Electronics Boutique along with the expansion pack. I spent a lot of time roaming Voyager and exploring the ship, treating it like it was all hub level without any actual missions. The highlight of the game has to be the opening story arc in which Voyager invades a Borg ship. After watching the Collective in action on television for years, I had a chance to face them myself without risking assimilation.
I can't imagine how the game would run on modern versions of Windows, but I'm tempted to install it on my PC and see what happens (there are also Mac and Sony PlayStation 2 ports out there). For as much as I've enjoyed the recent Star Trek films and Star Trek: Discovery, the twenty-fourth century era of Star Trek is the Star Trek that I grew up with and it would be nice to revisit it. Elite Force was followed by a sequel in 2003, Elite Force II, set following the events of Star Trek: Nemesis and set aboard the Starship Enterprise-E, but I never got around to that one. Maybe I should look it up.
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.
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...