Retro/Classic Feed

Power Button - Episode 243: Betrayal Most Foul

Power ButtonRipped from the headlines!  On this week's episode of Power Button we shine a light on the selfish, shameless, or otherwise misguided behavior of some of video gaming's most reprehensible traitors and colluders.  Join us for an hour of shocking betrayals, plus we're also giving away a free eShop code for the Nintendo Switch version of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Expansion Pass DLC.  Listen to this episode and the send the answer to the contest question to  before the end of the day Monday, July 24, 2017.   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.


Lost Super NES Rayman Prototype Revealed

RaymanWhen it comes to the glory days of the 16-bit console mascots, it's easy to rattle off a list of characters that are not Super Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog.  Invariably I always want to list Rayman in the company of Bubsy and Plok, but then I remember that Rayman never appeared on the Super NES or Sega Genesis.  Instead he was born on the Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and Atari Jaguar.  He just feels like he should have come from the 16-bit era though, and it's probably a lingering half-memory of early Rayman magazine coverage that's responsible for this instinct.  Now thanks to a recently released prototype, we can see Rayman's original Super NES incarnation in action.  I knew I wasn't crazy!  Ethan Gach at Kotaku explains Rayman's unfinished origins:

Information about a long, lost SNES Rayman game first re-surfaced last fall when designer Michel Ancel, the series creator, shared pictures of a ROM for an old prototype build of the game that had been re-discovered by a friend. The first Rayman game ended up metamorphosing and coming to the Atari Jaguar, Sega Saturn, and PS1 instead, with the original SNES vision lost to time. But After 24 years the ROM still worked, and now, thanks to Cornut, what exists of it is even playable.

It’s extremely limited in its scope, including a small environment, the ability to jump, and a few other character animations. “That prototype it is a very early build,” said Cornut. “So the stuff like two-player mode that have been shown in screenshots are not really in this build. Perhaps the ROM contains secrets in which case homebrew hackers will hopefully unearth them soon. “

Seeing Rayman move around in this prototype reminds me of the forgotten SNES/Genesis action platformer B.O.B. in which a space robot traverses dark, tech-inspired levels.  Rayman's design is essentially intact here compared to his final form, although he's not as detailed as he would appear on 32-bit consoles.  Looking at this now, I think of how larger than life arcade characters from games like Street Fighter II were scaled down to fit on lesser hardware such as the Game Boy.  Sure, this is Rayman, but he's smaller and less alive than we're used to seeing him.  From a historical perspective I'm glad that we can experience this prototype, but I think the character benefited more from his actual debut on stronger hardware.


Power Button - Episode 241: Super NES Classic Brings The Super Joy

Power ButtonNintendo is back to raise and dash our hopes with the new Super Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition console featuring twenty-one built-in Super NES games including the previously unreleased Star Fox 2.  On this week's episode of the podcast, Blake Grundman and I dig into the included games to discuss the best of the bunch and then outline the history of Star Fox 2 and why it's so exciting that fans will finally be able to play it. Crank up the volume and PLAY IT LOUD!   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 Unfinished Story Of Star Fox 2

Star Fox 2Nintendo's resurrected Star Fox 2 has become the subject of newfound attention this week thanks to the announcement that the lost game will be included in the Super NES Classic Edition later this year, bringing it out of the vault more than twenty years after development ended.  Fans have been able to sample it for years thanks to a leaked unfinished version of the game that appeared online during the height of excitement for emulating Super NES games in the wild west era of the Internet, but aside from generally knowing that this early version is out there, it's unlikely that most of Star Fox 2's new fans are aware of the long path that the game traveled from Nintendo's vault to the open Internet.  Nobody just shoved a cartridge into a modem and called it a day.  SNES Central takes a look back at how that rogue copy of Star Fox 2 escaped into the wild.

The real blockbuster, which served as the pinnacle of the SNES emulation scene, in my opinion, was the release of the final beta of Star Fox 2 in August 2002 (well documented by d4s in this FAQ, who also had a big hand in the discovery of the ROM image). The first screenshots appeared on the now defunct website, sportkompaktwoche.de. The ROM itself needed several fixes (made by The Dumper) before it could play in emulators, though there were accusations that it was a fake before that happened. The unfixed ROM was leaked by "skyhawk" of the German fan translation site, Alemanic Translations. Apparently skyhawk claimed to have found this game on a prototype cart and dumped it himself, probably leading to the widespread belief this game was found off a prototype cart.

In reality, Star Fox 2 was leaked as a pure assembled binary from a former developer who wanted the game emulated, and the ROM was not in a proper SNES ROM format initially. There was no source code leaked, nor was there ever a prototype or production cart of it. Soon after the leak of Star Fox 2, emulator authors incorporated proper Super FX emulation, allowing the general community to play the game in all its glory.

Before fans could play this version of Star Fox 2, it had to be patched and manipulated to make it playable in the emulators of the day.  Fan translation groups reworked the script into English.  Even the lingering debug tools had to be disabled to make the game as much like the presumed finished release as possible.  Even this version isn't truly the final game though, as Retronauts reports that Star Fox 2 designer Dylan Cuthbert has noted that the true mastered version has never leaked.

According to programmer and designer Dylan Cuthbert, a completed build that's never been leaked (and will presumably be the version included with the Super NES Classic Edition) received an extra coat of polish and incorporated a greater deal of randomization to add even more replay value to the experience. The planned multiplayer mode is also hopefully in working order, and maybe they even assigned some greater purpose to the giant coins bearing General Pepper's likeness which you can find hidden around the game.

Officially releasing Star Fox 2 isn't the end of the legend, it's just the next chapter.  The Super NES Classic Edition releases in September 2017.


Street Fighter II Ride Gets You Into The Game

Street Fighter II RideSure, we've all played our share of Street Fighter II, but how often have you actually gone inside of the game itself?  Let's journey back to the end of the twentieth century and join Ryu, Ken, Guile, and your other favorite World Warriors as you climb aboard the Street Fighter II Ride created by Shadix Media and Showscan as licensed by Capcom.  Depicting the cast of Super Street Fighter II as 3D Virtua Fighter-type models rather than 2D sprites, riders are thrust into the game to take on M. Bison and his Shadowlaw gang before they can escape into the real world.  It's charmingly dated and appropriately cheesy.  Here's what IGN's Douglass Perry had to say about the experience back in July 1999:

For $5 a pop, any joe on the street can take a ride on Street Fighter the Ride. A sit-down simulation style "ride," Street Fighter the Ride was hands-down the worst ride of my life. Abysmal is putting it nice. The whole idea of a Street Fighter ride is, well, ludicrous. Think about it. How are you going to make a ride with fighting characters? It's a flawed idea from the get-go. Lucky for Capcom, it didn't do a thing, except agree to let these other companies make the ride, so most folks can look the other way when it comes to blame.

The ride itself takes place in a futuristic hovercraft that zooms in and out of several dark, nefarious environments, that happen to have floating platforms with Street Fighter characters on them. The ride is all CG rendered, so everything appears in complete 3D.

You'll probably have a difficult time finding one of these motion simulator rides still functioning in good condition, but at least we have a YouTube video of the experience with which to vicariously experience it.  It looks a lot like the kinds of motion rides such as The Simpsons Ride and Transformers that you'll find at Universal Studios theme parks.  Much of the tone seems to be channeling the 1994 Street Fighter film starring Raul Julia and Jean-Claude Van Damme, particularly the bit where Ryu threatens to rip out Bison's heart to which the dictator replies that he doesn't have one.  How Tuesday of him.


Spark Man Remix Rocks Your Sockets

Spark ManCapcom's Mega Man series gets a lot of OverClocked ReMix love, and delightfully it's not all Air Man and Dr. Wily stage remixes.  Today I'd like to bring your attention to a funky jazz remix of Mega Man 3's Spark Man stage by Nostalvania/Markus who brings the funky bass, violin, and organ to the mix along with a variety of fittingly electric instruments with "Rock My Socket".  Come for the bass pounding out the introductory measures of the theme, stay for the organ solo, and linger afterward for the rejected titles for this track including "I'm Live And Alive" and "Ohm My God".


Nintendo Announces Super NES Classic Edition

Super NES Classic EditionFollowing up on last year's hard-to-find Nintendo Entertainment System mini console, Nintendo has just announced a Super NES counterpart.  The Super Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition is headed to stores in North America on September 29, 2017 with two controller and twenty-one built-in games including the never before released Star Fox 2 for $79.99.  It's probably already sold out.  Anyways, here are the included games according to the press release:

  • Contra III: The Alien Wars™
  • Donkey Kong Country™
  • EarthBound™
  • Final Fantasy III
  • F-ZERO™
  • Kirby™ Super Star
  • Kirby’s Dream Course™
  • The Legend of Zelda™: A Link to the Past™
  • Mega Man® X
  • Secret of Mana
  • Star Fox™
  • Star Fox™ 2
  • Street Fighter® II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
  • Super Castlevania IV™
  • Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts®
  • Super Mario Kart™
  • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars™
  • Super Mario World™
  • Super Metroid™
  • Super Punch-Out!! ™
  • Yoshi’s Island™

You'll have to unlock Star Fox 2, by the way.  They didn't make it too difficult; you'll just need to complete the first level of the original Star Fox.  There are some solid classics on this list that will keep players busy for quite some time, and it's interesting how Nintendo learned from the success of the mini NES last year.  This SNES mini contains fewer games at a higher price, but it also comes with a second controller in the box and the included games are all gold.  No filler here and I see most of what I was hoping to find in this collection.  I look forward to trying to get one of this consoles later in the year, but after the trouble I had last year with the NES model, I'm not expecting to be able to get one.  I hope they manufacture enough of these to meet demand.  They have to know these will be in high demand, right?   


The Time Has Come For Mega Man Pinball

Mega Man PinballI've been asking digital pinball table publishers like Zen Studios to develop a Mega Man pinball table for years now, but I completely missed out on the fact that Capcom authorized such a table in 2004 exclusively for pre-smartphone mobile devices.  Frank Cifaldi dug it up on Twitter yesterday evening and really started me thinking again about how Mega Man needs to star in a pinball table right away.  Can you imagine this little mobile idea blown up large for consoles?  Here's how the Mega Man Knowledge Base wiki describes the game:

The game features three Robot Masters from Mega Man 2 (Air Man, Bubble Man and Quick Man) in pinball stages that are modelled after their stages from the game. Each stage has two screens, the first having a door protected by a Lightning Lord and the second with the boss inside a door that must be hit to be destroyed, and once open the player can hit the boss. After defeating the three bosses Dr. Wily appears, his stage resembling Crash Man's stage.

If digital Mega Man pinball isn't quite enough for you, then check out Kevin Richardson's project to convert a 1979 Flash table from Williams into an actual Mega Man table.  It's slow progress, but surely worth every moment of work.

C'mon, Capcom.  If you can give Mega Man his own soccer game, you can bring him back to pinball for modern consoles.


Classic Xbox Games Coming To Xbox One

XboxAching for something to play on your Microsoft Xbox One and feel like reaching into the past?  Grab your old original Xbox games and prepare to party like its 2001 all over again because Microsoft has announced that its extended the Xbox One's backward compatibility past the Xbox 360 into the realm of the original Xbox console.  Jeremy Parrish at Retronauts points out how big a deal this is from the game preservation perspective.

Xbox 360 backwards compatibility has often been a selling point for the machine in the past, often with the arrival of something legendary that’s not easily played elsewhere such as Red Dead Redemption, and Microsoft’s learned friendliness towards backwards compatibility is in direct contrast to Sony — who have not really cared about it much since taking PS2 compatibility out of the PS3, and are instead content to offer a limited range of older games through their PlayStation Now streaming service…still, highlighting the OG Xbox for backwards compatibility now is a surprise, considering there’s games on there that are now old enough to take their GCSE exams.

Peripheral manufacturer Hyperkin is even getting in on this action by offering a resurrected original model Xbox controller for the Xbox One.  Backward compatibility is, despite what executives at Sony would insist, an important part of a console's backbone.  Yes, we're all spending more and more money on the latest and greatest new releases, but sometimes you want to revisit an old favorite without having to dig out dusty cables and searching for lost memory cards.  Microsoft is playing catch-up this generation, and offering easy, affordable access to those original Xbox games is something that its chief competitor just isn't interested in doing.  Keep pushing this angle, Microsoft.  A rising tide lifts all boats.  Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge is the first classic Xbox game to be playable on the X1 later this year with more to follow. 


Banjo-Kazooie In The Mushroom Kingdom

Banjo-KazooieIf you consider how Nintendo characters tend to hop around each others' worlds, it makes sense how Rare's Banjo-Kazooie exists in the same world as Nintendo's Super Mario Bros.  Banjo appeared in the Nintendo 64 version of Diddy Kong Racing (back when the two companies were best of business buddies) who, of course, co-starred with Donkey Kong Country's Diddy Kong.  Kong co-starred with Donkey Kong in DKC, and he bumps into Mario all of the time in the Mario vs Donkey Kong series which, and you know where I'm going with this, stars Mario himself.  This transitive property gets us to a place where Banjo and Kazooie may have visited Princess Peach's castle at some point in time, and thanks to ROM hacking, we get to see that encounter.  Luke Ford is working to transplant Super Mario 64's levels into Banjo-Kazooie.  The hack doesn't seem to be publicly available and this video is from 2016, but it delighted me so much that I had to share it.  It's strange to see the bear and bird duo wandering around Whomp's Fortress and the castle gardens, but they're an interesting fit and I would be interested in playing through the entire game with them just for the novelty factor.