Retro/Classic Feed

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.


Power Button - Episode 244: Underrated All-Stars

Power ButtonFor every Call of Duty or Super Mario powerhouse that fills up best-of lists and tops sales charts, there are dozens of other games that have plenty of potential to be all-time greats, but you never hear about them.  They fall into the memory hole or are used as target practice by aspiring Internet idiots picking at low fruit based on reputation alone.  We say it's not fair that fun games are passed over, so on this week's podcast we're dusting off some of our favorite underrated games of the past thirty years.  From Spec-Ops: The Line to Yo Noid! to The Godfather to, yes, my beloved Aero the Acro-bat, we have a list of titles you need to explore.   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.


Sonic X-Treme Radio Revealed

Sonic radioThe legendary lost status of Sonic X-Treme for the Sega Saturn is a well-tread item of Internet lore.  I'm sure you know the story: Sega's big 1996 holiday release for the Saturn is canceled after internal struggles between the development team and the publisher, leaving a high profile hole in the console's library.  While the game never released, some tie-in merchandise did.  We covered the retitled X-treme animated Christmas special, Sonic Christmas Blast (previously titled A Sonic X-Treme Christmas), once before on PTB, and now we have photos of an AM/FM radio branded with the X-treme name.  You see, kids, FM radio was... oh, never mind.  Take a look.

TIL Sega began producing promotional items for the canceled Saturn game Sonic X-Treme

I searched around for other merchandise meant to help promote Sonic X-Treme and wound up at an old Angelfire page that, in addition to the radio, lists a cassette player and ice cream.  How did this X-treme stuff make it out the door if the game never did?  What was the point of promoting a dead release?  Tgunter at Reddit sums it up:

The logo matches the one used in early promotion for the game, and the copyright date on the back says 1997, while Sonic X-treme was originally slated for Christmas 1996, but delayed multiple times before being canceled. So everything points to this being a tie-in.  Manufacturing takes time to line up. It makes perfect sense that merchandise got made for Sonic X-treme, considering it was supposed to be a big release.

Makes sense to me.  I'll allow it.  It's always interesting to see the range of products used to promote other products.  Did Sonic need a radio or a cassette player that had nothing in common with the game other than the logo on the box?  Of course not, but it helped keep the game in the collective consciousness of children and gave cheap radios and other such things a level of appeal.  I ate a lot of tasteless fruit snacks as a kid just because Mario was on the box.  Hell, we're talking about this radio right now because it says Sonic X-Treme on the package.  This licensing strategy must work.


The Wonderful World Of ROM Hacks

Somebody Set Us Up The ROMSince the heady days of the original NESticle emulator for DOS, video game fans have been hacking games such as Super Mario Bros. and Mega Man 2 to change level layouts and alter graphics.  What began as crude and tasteless shock value hacks (naked Mario, racist Mario, etc.) eventually grew into worthwhile creations that turn familiar classics into entirely new games.  John Harris has written a new e-book, Somebody Set Us Up The ROM, that chronicles some of the best hacks that the Internet has to offer.  Part One focuses mainly on games from the worlds of Super Mario and Metroid, while the upcoming Part Two aims at Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man.  It's available exclusively in the Summer Smash Game Bundle.  Here's a note from the curator, Simon Carless:

Some people think, with some justification, that romhacks are mostly about seeing how many dongs someone can fit into a single game. But the best ones are far from that. Sometimes they add major features to beloved games to make them playable for a new generation. Sometimes they greatly improve game graphics, or present new worlds to explore. Sometimes they correct terrible design decisions. And sometimes they translate game into other languages, allowing them to be read and appreciated by new audiences.

This book is a collection of good romhacks, small and large, simple and incredible. And without a single dong to be found.

I had the opportunity to read a pre-release copy of this book and I am impressed by the depth of exploration.  Harris dives into interesting ideas such as adding a day/night cycle to Super Mario Bros. 3, integrating an auto-mapping system into the original Metroid, changing the villagers in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest into truthful helpers instead of lying bastards, and so much more.  This is an interesting read that will give you plenty of new twists on old favorites to try.  I eagerly await Part Two.


So You Want To Play Super Mario Bros. 3

Super Mario Bros. 3So you've decided to play Nintendo's 1990 classic Super Mario Bros. 3.  Excellent choice!  It's not as easy as it seems though.  There are several versions of the game available and each one has its own quirks that can diminish the experience.  There's the original Nintendo Entertainment System release, of course, but perhaps you prefer the 1993 Super NES upgrade?  Even those versions have been iterated upon over the years thanks to the Virtual Console, but they have unique advantages and drawbacks of their own.  How can you possible hope to decide?  You'd have to be a wizard to figure it out.  Jeremy Parish at Retronauts lays it all out so you can pick the SMB3 version that's right for you.

Super Mario Bros. 3 originally showed up on NES in 1990, and that version has been reproduced most frequently in the years since. Currently Nintendo makes the game available on three different platforms, with one kind of outlier. This is the "true" version of the game, so it's the one purists will want, but unfortunately has made it difficult to buy a proper, satisfying conversion of the game.

The article goes on to discuss the Super NES, Game Boy Advance, Wii, Wii U, and 3DS versions of the game.  Some look better than others and a few look worse than you'd expect.  You may be surprised to learn what the best overall version of the game is these days.  I know I was, but it makes perfect sense.  What's better than the Super Mario Bros. 3 we all know and love with extra levels added to it?


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.