Retro/Classic Feed

Power Button - Episode 235: Scalper's Paradise

Power ButtonWe gather here today to bid farewell to the Classic NES console, a Nintendo nostalgia item too beautiful for this world and gone far too soon.  As we say our goodbyes, we also dip back into history to discuss some of the most expensive and rarest video games spanning from the Atari 2600 era through the 8-bit and 16-bit eras.  Best and worst alike, some of these older games fetch absurdly high prices, and we explore some of our favorites.   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.


Classic Super NES Rumored To Start Production

Super NESThe online community is absolutely buzzing today about Eurogamer's report that Nintendo plans to sell a Classic Super NES later this year that follows the plug-and-play model used by the discontinued Classic NES featuring built-in games as a one-and-done purchase.  Let's hope the company takes the apparently unanticipated demand for classic Nintendo games sold in bulk at a reasonable price into account when they set up manufacturing targets this time.  Here's Tom Phillips with the news:

The SNES mini (or, to continue Nintendo's official branding, likely the Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Nintendo Entertainment System) is currently scheduled to launch in time for Christmas this year. Development of the device is already under way, our sources have indicated.

Nintendo's plans for SNES mini are also a major reason why last year's NES mini did not see a reprieve from discontinuation, Eurogamer understands, despite the latter's continued popularity and sell-out status.

Of course everyone has their wish list of games to be included in the Classic SNES, and I'm no exception.  Here's my list of twenty-five games that I'd like to see in the console.  I'm limiting myself to reasonable selections based on the Classic NES's library licensees (so Capcom, Square-Enix, and Konami are in, but no Aero the Acro-bat from Sunsoft or Plok from Tradewest), but I'm not accounting for the technology licensing issues that have kept classics like Yoshi's Island and Star Fox off of the Virtual Console services because, let's face it, not including those games would leave a noticeable hole in the library.

  • Chrono Trigger
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • Donkey Kong Country 2
  • Donkey Kong Country 3
  • EarthBound
  • F-Zero
  • Final Fight
  • Final Fantasy III (VI)
  • Kirby's Dream Course
  • Kirby's Dream Land 3
  • Kirby Super Star
  • Mega Man 7
  • Mega Man X
  • Pilotwings
  • Star Fox
  • Street Fighter II Turbo
  • Super Castlevania IV
  • Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Super Punch-Out!!
  • Super Mario RPG
  • Super Mario World
  • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
  • Super Metroid
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

How about you?  Which games do you want to see in a Classic SNES?


Face The Wrath Of... Metal Beak?

The Disney Afternoon CollectionIt's such a minor error in the grand scheme of things, but one thing that grinds my gears in when support material for video games, movies, television, etc. fail to properly identify key characters.  While I'm impressed with Capcom's recently released The Disney Afternoon Collection, I involuntarily blurted out "Are you kidding me?" when I saw that Darkwing Duck's villainous nemesis Steelbeak, top agent of the Fiendish Organization for World Larceny, has been misidentified as "Metal Beak" in the Darkwing Duck music player.  I look forward to taking down Metal Beak along with the rest of Darkwing's rogues gallery including Megawatt, Jester Jack, Leafroot, and Liquidog.


What Is The Mysterious Secret Behind The Classic NES?

NES Classic EditionThe demand for more Classic NES units is real, but as would-be owners of the little nostalgia boxes found late last week when Nintendo announced that it was discontinuing production of the already hard-to-find console, the reasons behind Nintendo's decisions remain a secret to everybody.  Why would the company kill off what was poised to be a runaway success had it only manufactured enough units to meet demand?  There as been lots of speculation in the media as to why Nintendo is moving away from the console; I've heard everything from "Nintendo wants to sell you a Switch instead" to "Nintendo is angry about how easy it is to hack the console and install hundreds of pirated games" to "Shigeru Miyamoto must personally bless each unit as it rolls off the assembly line and he just doesn't have the time for that", but perhaps there's a technical reason behind it all.  What, if any, is the mysterious secret of the Classic NES's technology and how does it impact production?  There's an interesting discussion happening at MetaFilter that focuses on the nature of the hardware inside the cute little console and why it may never have been intended to be an ongoing product.

I do these kinds of systems for a living and I'm boggled as well. It all smells of a quickie design - these parts are literally off a shelf in Shenzen. Do you really need four A7 cores plus a GPU plus a multitasking O/S to emulate a 6502 and a small amount of custom sprite + sound hardware? - JoeZydeco

"There had been some speculation on Reddit that it was a run of near-obsolete hardware proposed by one of their partners. Some teardown (I can't find a source now) found out that it was shipping with already EOL'ed components that weren't available for back-order from the fabs."

Definitely a strong theory - certainly there are lots of low to mid-range chipsets floating around these days that have more than enough horsepower to run old NES games.  This teardown says: Allwinner R16 (4x Cortex A7, Mali400MP2 GPU) Definitely a contender for getting cleared out.  And the board is like four chips and is the plainest looking thing I've ever seen.

It's possible that they got a bunch of CPUs at a good price but it wasn't ANY number of CPUs at that price.  Maybe Allwinner had some yield problems and all the chips in the Classic have a bad core in them which would make them hard to sell but Nintendo got them for a song and they're fine for emulators. - GuyZero

Thanks for finding that teardown, GuyZero. Knowing it's an Allwinner chip doesn't exactly confirm the theory that the CPU was a rare thing going completely obsolete. I mean, there are loads of A7/Mali parts that could have been substituted in place with a board respin. Unless that killed the profit margin on the product. - JoeZydeco

There's lots more at the discussion page.  It's an interesting idea that the Classic NES is running on substandard parts that Nintendo was able to gobble up cheaply for this little quick side project where any imperfections they may have does not matter, and if those cheap parts are now used up, naturally there won't be any more new units produced that can be sold for the attractive $60 price point.  It's certainly just as plausible as the other conspiracy theories floating around.  I never saw a Classic NES for sale in a store around my area, nor could I ever find one in stock online.  Short of amazing luck or the result of the blood oath, it looks like I'm going to miss out on owning one.  Join us on the next new episode of the Power Button podcast, Episode 235, for more on the end of the Classic NES and rare video games.


The Japanese Cultural Significance Of Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros.Much of the lore and visual design out of Super Mario Bros. seems like it was developed during a fever dream or drug trip: a turtle king kidnaps a mushroom princess, leading to a heroic plumber to save the day by jumping on and throwing throwing fireballs at turtles, mushrooms, squid, and beetles.  It's easy to mark this all down as "Games: weird, am I right?", but over at Reddit in the Ask Historians section, the question about whether or not any of the elements from Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2 have any Japanese cultural significance.  The answers provide some interesting information that while seemingly common knowledge to the long-time gaming community is written from a more academic stance than your average list of "didja know?" gaming factoids.  Best of all, it cites sources.

Super Mario Bros. features surly traitor-mushrooms, green and blue turtles, black turtles that can't be hurt by fire, hammer-throwing turtles and giant, spiky dinosaur turtles, along with red-and-orange mushrooms that make you grow, green-and-yellow mushrooms that give you a chance to recover from failure and bouncing stars that make you impervious to damage.

SMB2 has a pink, cross-dressing lizard that spits eggs, and is arguably even weirder than SMB1.

How much of these were riffs on Japanese legends (or perhaps something more contemporary?) and how much was just weird videogame stuff?

The answers touch on Mario's Jumpman origins, Bowser's original ox-like design, the ever-assumed link between Super Mushrooms and psychedelic drugs, how level design trains players, the ever-present tale behind the Lost Levels, and other interesting background elements.  It's definitely worth a read even if you know all of this stuff already.


Capcom Relaunching Beloved NES Disney Afternoon Classics

032253078a3e2237563d6a5e9fdb14b0Capcom had a knack for turning the cartoons of the Disney Afternoon into fun video games for the Nintendo Entertainment System back in the 1990s, and while the company did revive DuckTales for a modern high definition remake a few years ago, this time it's bringing back the original 8-bit versions of games like Darkwing Duck, DuckTales and its sequel, Tale Spin, and Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers and its sequel in their classic pixel glory for the Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, and PC along with some extra modes and bonus features.  It's developed by the team that worked on the Mega Man Legacy Collection, Digital Eclipse.  Capcom Unity has the details.

REWIND! So it’s probably been a while since you’ve played these games, or maybe it’s your first time diving into them. Either way, some of those jumps and surprise enemy attacks can really throw a wrench into an otherwise perfect run. Enter the Rewind feature: just hold down a button, go back in time, and rewrite history by nailing those sick pogo tricks and crate throws.

TIME ATTACK! Race against the clock and use the online leaderboards to compare your best times with other players across the web. Note you cannot use the Rewind feature here, so make sure you practice beforehand!

BOSS RUSH! Just looking for a quick way to challenge your reflexes? Good news: we have some pretty intense boss battles waiting for you. Just like in Time Attack mode, it’s a true test of your skills, so no help from the Rewind feature here either.

But wait, there’s more! On top of these retro classic games and the new game modes, we also dug really deep and found tons of awesome material from when the original games were still being made back in the 80s and 90s! We’ve got concept art, sketches, music, and other fun extras.

Anything that brings Darkwing Duck back for another round is incredibly appreciated.  These were all great games in their prime and they still hold up today.  The original DuckTales is an outright classic, DuckTales 2 and Rescue Rangers 2 were hard to find even when they were new, and Darkwing Duck is basically a Mega Man game thanks to its shared development lineage.  The Rescue Rangers games even include the original co-op two-player modes.  There should be something here for everyone.  The Disney Afternoon Collection releases digitally on April 18, 2017 for $19.99.  Surprisingly, there are no plans for a release on any Nintendo platform at this time.


Meet Bobson Dugnutt And The Other Players Of Fighting Baseball

Bobson DugnuttThe 16-bit glory days offered many sports titles from the world of baseball, some of which licensed the names of actual Major League Baseball players to add realism and authenticity to the experience.   1994's MLBPA Baseball from Electronic Arts, for instance, uses the names of players based on the 1993 season's major league players.  The game's Japanese version, released in 1995 as Fighting Baseball for the Super Famicom, is not one of those games.  You see, the team behind Fighting Baseball did not have any arrangements with the Major League Baseball Players Association or Major League Baseball or pretty much anyone related to baseball at all and had to come up with their own original player names, but it would seem that staff wasn't up to speed on what makes an North American name a proper name and not nonsense that almost sounds like it could be a proper North American name if only you turned it sideways.  And that's how we end up with hilarious names like Bobson Dugnutt taking the field.  Enjoy this little slice of absurdism.


Power Button - Episode 231: No Sir, I Don't Like It

Power ButtonFor as much as we love video games, admittedly there are some very famous and popular franchises that, for one reason or another, just do not appeal to me or Blake Grundman.  On this week's episode of the Power Button podcast, we shine a light on our antipathy for games like Final Fantasy, Tekken, Metal Gear Solid, and Resident Evil.  We want to like them, but they just make it so difficult for us!  Find out why in an hour of conversation.   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.


The Bomberman Recap

BombermanIn advance of Bomberman's glorious return to the console world stage later this week in Super Bomberman R for the Nintendo Switch, it's worthwhile to review the bomber king's mighty legacy across the console, handheld, and mobile gaming spaces.  Chris Scullion at Tired Old Hack looks back at Bomberman's many appearances and variations over the years from his early days in Dynablaster to becoming one of the gaming heroes to appear on a high definition television to the rise of sidekick Pommy to the unfortunate misstep that was Act Zero and beyond.  I hope that Super Bomberman R lives up to expectations.  I would love to be able to introduce my girlfriend to the wonders of the traditional Bomberman style of co-op play.  The franchise has been gone for so long and flown under the radar so low that she's never played one.  I really want to fix that!


Blue Bomber Music Break With Knight Man And Mega Man 10

Wp_02_1600x1200You all should know by now how much I love the talented artists at OverClocked ReMix.  Their remixes and rearrangements of classic video game music make up the bulk of my playlist these days, but I'm always looking to add more music to my archive.  The latest addition is a rocking remix that intertwines music from Mega Man 10's Dr. Wily stages with the Knight Man stage theme from Mega Man 6, and the resulting combination sounds like it would be perfectly at home in one of the early Mega Man X game.  Check out "Chivalrous Medicinal Murder" from Liam Charalambous if you day needs a little energy kick.