Retro/Classic Feed

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.


Nintendo's Wrecking Crew '98 Translated Into English

Wrecking Crew '98It's been a long time since Nintendo has done anything new with its Wrecking Crew property.  There's a Nintendo Switch port of the arcade version, VS. Wrecking Crew, on the way later this year and the original NES version of the game has popped up on the Virtual Console for the Wii, 3DS, & Wii U, but there's a missing piece of the series that has yet to show up outside of Japan in any form.  1998's aptly titled Wrecking Crew '98 updated the formula for the Super NES era, crossing it with the aesthetics and puzzle-type nature of Tetris Attack.  Now the game has been translated into English for the first time by fans, so if you're up for emulating the game, here's your chance to enjoy the full experience.  There's even an updated version of the classic Wrecking Crew included.  Romhacking.net tells you how it's done.

A Mario game, never brought over-seas, exclusive to Japan and without an english translation?!

Yes, for as hard as it is to believe, this obscure Mario title never saw the light of day in any country outside of Japan, thanks to the weird distribution method of kiosks back in ‘98, and thanks due to Nintendo’s International Division shutting down sales of all SNES games in ‘97.

This neat little package includes not only one, but 2 games! That’s right, the original Wrecking Crew for the NES was ported and included alongside its sequel, Wrecking Crew ‘98!

Now you can enjoy the flexibility of having both games in one single ROM, now in full english text thanks to the incredible work of the RomHacking community!

The game is fully playable, from start to finish, without any major hiccup or bug! Finally, a long forgotten game will see the light of day overseas, thanks to hackers doing what Nintendon’t!

I dabbled with the Japanese version over a decade ago, but never really knew what was going on thanks to my Japanese illiteracy.  I'm glad to have a reason to revisit the game and understand it now.  Say, come to think of it, hacking additional games into the Super NES Classic is coming along fairly well.  Perhaps these are two hacks that taste great together.


Go Back In Time With Sonic CD For Nintendo DS

Sonic-cd-usaSega has made a good practice of bringing its classic Sonic the Hedgehog titles for the Genesis to as many platforms as possible over the past decade, and while you can play the prime Sonic trilogy (& Knuckles) on the Nintendo DS, there's a piece of key Sonic history missing from that platform.  The premiere Sega CD title Sonic CD could've ended up on the DS as part of a project from Simon Thomley, and if that name sounds familiar it's because he went on to bigger things with the recently released Sonic Mania.  Back in 2009, Thomley was contracted to work on a pitch to Sega regarding Sonic CD for DS, and though the project never materialized in any official capacity, the DS proof of concept is out there and freely downloadable from Thomley's company, Headcannon.  Want to play a piece of the Sonic port that never was?  Thomley explains:

Primarily, I was to dissect and explain the Palmtree Panic Zone boss, which is pretty complex in design by comparison to how effortlessly it can be beaten, so that he could reproduce it flawlessly. During this time, I personally reconstructed the boss myself using my existing port of Sonic 1 to GBA/DS to make certain that I was understanding it correctly. At the same time, I also had a personal interest in Sonic CD's Special Stage, which I had also been dissecting, and continued my work with it in order to both provide assistence (though not direct) with Christian's Sonic CD build, and to attempt my own with the DS.

As both projects continued, I saw merit in the idea of pitching the concurrent development of a DS version of the game, which would require such a low-level remake as mine due to the fact that the DS wasn't powerful enough to support a scripting-based game engine like Retro Engine. Given that, I set out to make a complete POC, which was taken pretty much to completion.

Unfortunately, once Christian's version was formally accepted and he was under contract, I would no longer be able to associate with the project and was therefore without a means to get the concept off the ground. I had no other contacts, and with this being Christian's first project with the company, he understandably couldn't take the sort of risk that would have been involved in attempting to take care of it himself.

You can run this software on a real Nintendo DS using a flash cart or in a DS emulator.  Be sure to read and follow the instructions.  Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles are all playable in Palmtree Panic Zone Acts 1-3 (in all three time periods) which is especially interesting since Knuckles did not make the playable cut in the eventual conversion of Sonic CD that was released in 2011 for other platforms.  I love to see developers release their cutting room floor scraps for fans to explore and wish more would do it, although I understand why they don't.  This is just one of several similar projects that Thomley has released and I encourage you to check them all out.


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.


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.


Catch The Mania With A Sonic Medley

Sonic the HedgehogThe new Sonic Mania is stirring up lots of nostalgia for the original Sonic the Hedgehog games from the Sega Genesis era, and what better way to celebrate those timeless classics than with a Video Game Live performance off the group's Level 2 album of the credits theme from the original Sonic the Hedgehog?  The credits theme is a medley of songs from each zone of the game, turning this track into a tour through Green Hill Zone, Star Light Zone, Marble Zone, and beyond.  Looks like Video Games Live got them all.