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Star Trek Shooter Elite Force Endures

Star Trek: Elite ForceWhen 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.


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.


Pinball FX3 Goes Back To The Future

Back To The FuturePinball FX3 from Zen Studios launched last week and while I've imported all of my old Zen Pinball 2 tables into the new platform, I've been spending most of my FX3 time with the Back To The Future table out of the Universal Classics Pinball pack of tables.  The team at Zen has given me just about everything I wanted from a BTTF table including multiple time periods.  There are six different versions of this one table available, one for each time period from the film trilogy: 1985, 1955, 2015, Biff Tannen's corrupt 1985A, a revisit of 1955 from the sequel, and 1885.  Soundalikes for Doc Brown and Marty McFly call out memorable lines from the film during play and there are multiple multiballs available if you hit the right targets.  Check out a recent run on the table to see it in action.  I still have a ways to go at improving, but I like to think I'm off to a good start.


Power Button - Episode 248: Manic For Sonic Mania

Power ButtonHave you had a chance to play Sonic Mania yet?  Christian Whitehead and the teams from Sega, Headcannon, and PagodaWest Games have created the best Sonic the Hedgehog game in twenty years and on this week's podcast episode, Blake Grundman and I spend the hour talking about how much we enjoyed it.  From mythology gags to the stellar soundtrack to the purity of speed, we have lots of good things to say.  And speaking of Blake, why not check out his 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.


First Wave Of Marvel Vs Capcom: Infinite DLC Announced

SigmaWith Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite releasing tomorrow, fans are already hungry to learn when they can spend extra money on additional characters, so Capcom has announced the six new fighters headed into the action later in the year as part of the first $30 expansion bundle.  Here they are long with the company and property they represent:

Sigma (Capcom: Mega Man X)

Black Panther (Marvel: Black Panther)

Monster Hunter (Capcom: Monster Hunter)

Winter Solider (Marvel: Captain America),

Black Widow (Marvel: Avengers)

Venom (Marvel: Spider-Man)

I'm interested in these characters, but am not so sure I want to keep spending more money on a fighting game at this point in my life.  I loved what Injustice 2 had to offer earlier in the summer, but just can't talk myself into a $40 pack of additional characters for it when the base game is already loaded with plenty to do.  Street Fighter V, on the other hand, is much too shallow an experience to justify more spending (lacking an Arcade mode still stings; what would I use extra characters for if I bought them?).  MvCI may land right in the middle of that balance, although I have a major soft spot for Sigma and would probably buy just him alone.

I'll have more to say about MvCI in the coming days and weeks as I forgot that I preordered it a few months ago when Amazon was offering it exceptionally cheap for a few hours, and since it shipped this morning, I may as well go for it.  I loved the other MvC titles and am hoping for the best from this one.  It at least has an Arcade mode!


Let's Take A Moment To Appreciate Sonic's Sidekick, Tails

TailsWhen playing Sonic Mania, Sonic and Knuckles tend to steal the spotlight.  Sonic has his trademark speed to blast process through levels, while Knuckles and punch through barricades and climb walls.  Why would anyone want to play as Tails when you could instead go really fast or climb really high?  I've come to have a new appreciation for perennial sidekick Tails as I continue through the game. I've been trying out Time Attack mode with the flying two-tailed fox and am trying to better use his flight and swimming skills.  Yes, he can fly, but his flight skills always felt so limited to me.  I feel like I take flight and quickly bang into a ceiling, rendering the whole experience pointless.  I took him for a spin in Chemical Plant Zone Act 1 on a lark and came away with new respect for his skills.  Being able to fly above hazards like rising water or trap platforms feels like a cheat in a way, but the ability is built into the game, so why not take advantage?  Sure, Tails isn't as fast as Sonic, but playing as him opens up new ways of thinking about level structures.  Give Tails a try.  Maybe you'll make a new friend.


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.