Retro/Classic Feed

Super Mario: The Next Generation

Claire

For Thanksgiving this year my girlfriend and I had dinner with her family and, as part of the festivities, I was asked to bring my Super NES Classic console to the house so that her nieces, Talia (age six) and Claire (age three), could try a Super Mario game for the first time.  I took this as an honored responsibility.  When I was first introduced to Super Mario Bros. at the age of six, it was a life-changing event that rippled outward into the rest of my childhood and beyond into my adult years.  I owe my career to an early start with computers and video games, particularly games with Mario and friends.  Who knows what impact Super Mario could have on these children if I introduced the game correctly?  There's no telling what positive impact they could later have on society as a result of it.  I had to get this right.  The future was counting on it.

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Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection Announced

Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection2017 marks the thirtieth anniversary of Capcom's venerable Street Fighter franchise so it's only right that the publisher bundle up the most important games in the series for a new compilation.  Coming to the Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC in May 2018, get ready to revisit the original Street Fighter (not properly seen in many, many years), Street Fighter II, Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, Street Fighter II Turbo, Super Street Fighter II, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter Alpha 2, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Street Fighter III, Street Fighter III: Second Impact, and Street Fighter III: Third Strike.  That's a lot of street fighting!  Street Fighter II Turbo, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter Alpha 3, and Street Fighter III: Third Strike will also include online multiplayer modes, leaderboards, and other fun online stuff.  Here's the announcement trailer.

This is far more a complete package than I'd have expected from Capcom.  It's developed by Digital Eclipse (who brought us the first Mega Man Legacy Collection and The Disney Afternoon Collection) so I'm already comfortable with their track record.  Expect plenty of fun museum inclusions.  Not included are all of the home port off-shoots of these games.  For instance, the Sony PlayStation Portable version of Street Fighter Alpha 3 was entitled Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX and included extra characters not seen in the arcade game, while the Game Boy Advance version was Street Fighter Alpha 3 Upper and featured different bonus characters.  The last special anniversary iteration of Street Fighter II, Hyper Street Fighter II for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, is missing in action, as is the HD incarnation Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.  Will any of that matter?  Probably not!  There's more than enough to play in this compilation, particularly for Switch owners.  Kinda makes that Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers launch window title seem redundant now.


Somebody Set Us Up Even More ROM Hacks

DuckTales 2

Back in August I brought your attention to John's Harris's book about ROM hacks, Somebody Set Us Up The ROM.  How Harris back with the sequel that dives into ingenious hacks from the worlds of Sonic the Hedgehog, The Legend of Zelda, and beyond as part of the Winter Wonderland Game Story Bundle on sale for the next two weeks.  If you missed the first installment, then you can pick it up as well in this bundle.  I had the pleasure of reading a pre-release copy and it's just as interesting and informative as the first volume.  Here's a taste:

It's Ducktales 2! Woo-hoo! Supporting two players simultaneously! Again I say, Woo-hoo!  I can't say that the game works flawlessly. You're going to have to make special allowances for two-player play. Player 2 is, entertainingly, represented by the hero of another Capcom Disney game, Darkwing Duck. His gas gun has been traded for another Pogo Cane (even if it doesn't look like he's pogo-ing). At least it gives the Terror that Flaps in the Night a second opportunity to spread his 8-bit wings.

Yet, there is still something unquestionably fun about this hack! It's just a blast running through the game with Darkwing tagging along, something which never happened in the cartoons. Maybe this is a bit of fan opinion sneaking in? Fun is a very subjective thing, heavily reliant on personal context. At least there's a chance that, for whatever reasons I find it to be fun, you might find it to be fun too. And there are places where it can be helpful to have a Player Two around, specifically during boss fights, where having two attackers participating can make fights easier than they'd be otherwise, provided that both of you are good at dodging attacks, that is.

That's right!  Someone melded Capcom's classic DuckTales sequel and Darkwing Duck for the Nintendo Entertainment System together into one glorious quack pack attack.  There's your real Disney Afternoon collection.  There's also a special section of the book devoted to fan translations of interesting and notable games that never left Japan in their original format such as Wrecking Crew '98 and Seiken Densetsu 3. It's another fascinating read and I recommend it.


Mega Man's Ten Greatest Moments

Mega Man

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


Mega Man

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.

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Power Button - Episode 253: Super NES Classic Plays It Loud

Power ButtonWhile 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.


Get Equipped With Mega Man Orchestral Suite

Mega Man 3Capcom'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.


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.


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.


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.