Retro/Classic Feed

Nintendo Hoax Pokes Folks

Senator VreenakBe it for attention or kicks, some people love to create fake imagery of supposed video gaming products and "leak" them online as if they were real upcoming items destined for imminent legitimate announcement.  The most recent of these hoaxes involves an alleged buttonless controller for Nintendo's secret NX console.  It's far from the first fake product that someone has cooked up in their spare time.  Peter Paltridge at Platypus Comix takes a look back at three notable Nintendo-related hoaxes including that NX controller and, in the process, sums up the changing nature of these fakes.

You might notice that this hoax had a different tone than the one from eleven years prior -- instead of faking something the audience wanted, they faked something the audience didn't. Reaction from those who believed the controllers were real was overwhelmingly negative. They wanted buttons; they wanted to feel the correct finger placement. No doubt, the fakers preferred that as well. So if they were making up something, why not something they wanted?

The reason is because they were playing to the current expectation. Instead of being hopeful for Nintendo's future, fans are now afraid of what they'll come up with next. They fear that, in a renewed effort to get back the phone-game audience, Nintendo will embrace the gamer-unfriendly business practices of that market, and fall into ruin as a result. The football controller is a representation of that fear. Where people once were seduced by visions of magic head-shaped VR devices that displayed 512,000,000 castles at once, now they're just hoping Mario doesn't crap the bed.

I'm not a fan of hoaxes.  The gaming community is so hungry for information and news outlets are so desperate for traffic that fake images are held up right away to spawn discussion as if the item or game depicted is solid undisputed truth.  These hoaxes waste everyone's time and energy, producing passionate arguments over what ends up being nonsense.  Stop encouraging these things.  Save that enthusiasm to discuss the real news once it's announced.  If the Internet should have taught us anything by now, it's to be skeptical (especially in advance of the upcoming April Fool's Day annual festival of nonsense).

Mega Man 4 Soundtrack Gets Equipped With An Upgrade

Mega Man 4The Nintendo Entertainment System was home to many classic 8-bit soundtracks, but it was Konami's special VRC6 expansion chip that really made the melodies sing.  While never used in games outside of Japan, the custom mapper has found a following in the twenty-first century with fans who are eager to take their favorite NES compositions and rework them to use the VRC6.  Consider RushJet1 and his upgraded soundtracks for Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 3, for instance.  Released over the past few years, I've mentioned them both on PTB before and, at the last release, wished that he'd take on Mega Man 4 as his next project.  Good news, everyone: he has!  A custom VRC6 version of Mega Man 4 music is now available over at Bandcamp as Mega Man 4 Remade.  Get equipped with your favorite headset and give it a listen.  There's some great things happening here and if the Mega Man soundtracks are the songs of your people like they are for me, you won't want to miss this.

(via Protodude's Rockman Corner)

Meeting Of The Mindlinks

MindlinkWhen you think about Atari hardware, you probably think of the iconic Atari 2600 joystick with its little red button.  You likely do not think of the Atari Mindlink which was the company's unreleased attempt at directly controlling video games with the awesome power of your brain.  How could such a thing be possible in 1984?  Gizmodo explains as part of a feature on unreleased gadgets.

Have you ever tried to control a video game... with your mind? That was the idea behind Atari’s Mindlink controller, which was on display at CES in 1984. Atari claimed that the device could pick up electrical impulses from your head. Supposedly all you needed to do was tighten and relax the muscles in your forehead to influence the action on the screen.

Needless to say, mind control controllers weren’t quite ready for primetime in the early 1980s. And despite claims that the Mindlink would be in stores by Fall of 1985, the product was scrapped.

The Mindlink was intended to work with the Atari 2600, 7800, and the company's home computer line, so I have to praise them for planning a peripheral with a wide-reaching audience.  Consider today's add-ons that work with one console alone such as Sony's upcoming PlayStation VR headset exclusively for the PlayStation 4 or Microsoft's various models of Kinect for its Xbox line which are not interchangeable across console models.  At least Nintendo has spanned generations with its GameCube controllers (for GameCube and Wii) and Wii remote (Wii and Wii U).

As for Mindlink's functionality, it was rather limited.  Pong and Breakout were used for demos, although few people were able to get their hands heads on the prototypes.  The initial test units could only control up-down and left-right controls (for which Pong and Breakout are perfect), but lab tests on other games were promising.  Maybe we should be glad that this idea faded away and didn't evolve with gaming hardware over the years.  If basic controls were a challenge, imagine how involved today's version of Minklink technology would be with all of the buttons and control sticks present on a modern controller.  I get a headache just thinking about it.

For a deep dive on the Mindlink, check out the history of the peripheral at The Atari Museum.  They have a fascinating look at how the technology developed, how it overpromised and underdelivered, how it nearly found a second life with the Special Olympics, and why it ended up in the dustbin of history.


Lost Levels Coming To Super Mario Advance 4 For Wii U

Super Mario Advance 4I honestly didn't expect it to happen, but Nintendo is preparing to release Super Mario Advance 4 (the Game Boy Advance version of the Super NES Super Mario All-Stars port of Super Mario Bros. 3 for the Nintendo Entertainment System) for the Wii U with the lost e-Reader levels intact and included.  As you may recall, SMA4 featured support for the failed peripheral that added new levels to the game which included features from past Super Mario games such as Super Mario World's cape and Super Mario Bros. 2's pluckable vegetables.  These levels have been hard to find for years (and weren't exactly easy to play when they were new thanks to the convoluted setup required to scan e-Reader cards into SMA4), but soon you'll be able to experience them for yourself with ease for the reasonable entry fee of a Virtual Console download.  It's coming to Japan for sure, but will other territories see it?  USgamer explains what this means:

But will Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros 3 come to North America with all that e-Reader goodness intact? It seems like a sure bet. Nintendo hasn't failed to release any of the Super Mario Advance games to English-speaking audiences yet, and picking through the North American release specifically to remove e-Reader stuff seems like a costly and effort-filled way to cheese off a fanbase for no discernable reason.

I didn't expect Nintendo to do the legwork required to add this content to the game, and while I'd have passed on buying the basic version of SMA4, I will absolutely buy the expanded version with e-Reader content included.  Fans have already recreated this material in Super Mario Maker, but here's a chance to play it as it was meant to be experienced.  Provided, of course, that it comes west.  While it may seem like a slam dunk for Nintendo of America to launch it, David Oxford at Poison Mushroom points out how the company isn't afraid to release lesser versions of games when better versions exist in the vault:

I’m worried that while we may get Super Mario Advance 4 here, we may only end up seeing that third of the total content included. It wouldn’t be the first time Nintendo has held back on such things — the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console, for instance, only features the colorless non-Super Game Boy version of Donkey Kong. And Balloon Kid was only released here in its colorless Game Boy iteration, while Japan was able to enjoy the Game Boy Color version from the previous Japan-only release of Balloon Fight GB. If they won’t release a game about balloons of all things in color, I don’t know what to tell you.

Here's hoping we get the good stuff soon.  I'll keep rebuying these old games provided that they get better and better.

Power Button - Episode 192: The Games Of Star Wars

Power ButtonAs Star Wars: The Force Awakens prepares to launch into theaters this week, we're joined by guest Ryan Olsen to discuss our favorite games from the Star Wars universe.  Super Star Wars, Shadows of the Empire, The Force Unleashed, and Battlefront take the stage among others.  I have a good feeling about this.  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, 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.

Rock Out With Dr. Wily

Capcom's classic series of Mega Man titles has inspired plenty of musicians over the years, but we always hear the same songs from the games remixed over and over.  Yes, the first Dr. Wily stage theme from Mega Man 2 is great stuff, but there's lots of other tracks that deserve some attention.  Consider this medley of Dr. Wily boss themes spanning Mega Man 3, Mega Man 4, and Mega Man 6 from the Rockman 25th Anniversary Rock Arrange Version album.  The word "epic" is thrown around so much on the Internet that it's meaning has been diluted by overuse, but this remix qualifies for a legitimate use of the word.  Featuring an ominous choir, rocking electric guitar, and a hard driving bass line, this track is better than I ever imagined its source material to be.  Crank it up, charge your Mega Buster, and blast some robot chassis!

Power Button - Episode 190: Today's Games Of Yesterday Tomorrow

Power ButtonWhatever happened to the games of yesterday?  And how will they be seen tomorrow?  This week's podcast topic comes to us from Jeff from Texas who wants to know what Blake Grundman and I believe will happen to today's games in the future.  Which of the current titles clogging up retail shelves in great abundance will become the next hard-to-find rare classic?  When will Wii Sports be a sought-after retro title?  Let's fire up the time machine and gaze into our amazing future.  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, 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.

Bubsy Is Back Fur More

BubsyPity the fate of poor Bubsy the Bobcat, seemingly destined to be forever remembered as one of the 16-bit era's Sonic The Hedgehog knock-offs.  After a few lackluster sequels buried the talkative character in gaming purgatory, he's been a punchline in the community for years.  Now there's an effort to redeem Bubsy by bringing him back for modern audiences to enjoy on PC via Steam Greenlight.  Publisher Retroism has apparently acquired the rights to Bubsy and seeks to release the first two games in the series on Steam as the compilation pack Bubsy Two-Fur.

Accolade’s most notorious character had not been seen since an ill-fated venture into 3-D. Out of the blue, he showed up at Retroism’s doorstep, bedraggled and mumbling about being doomed to a legacy of shame and obscurity. But we’ve cleaned him up and given him a new lease on life, a shot at returning to the big time – but he’ll need your support!

Bubsy’s journey to redemption begins with your vote to bring two of his 2-D games to authorized digital download for the first time in the Bubsy Two-Fur on Steam. With your support, Bubsy may finally be able to look himself in the mirror and smile, carry himself with dignity, and perhaps find the strength within to go on new adventures again…

I'm a fan of these two Bubsy games (the first one, Claws Encounters Of The Furred Kind, is the better game, but Bubsy 2 has its charms) and would love to see them back again.  Whether or not the rest of the community agrees with me remains to be seen.  Whaddya say, folks?  Could this be a case of "Local Bobcat Makes Good"? 

Vampire Variations Provide Castlevania Halloween Moment

I've always liked to show you something interesting from the world of Konami's beloved (but lately mistreated) Castlevania franchise on Halloween, and this year is no different.  OverClocked ReMix gives us our moment for 2015 with a trilogy of Castlevania remix albums, one of which just released today.  Vampire Variations volumes 1-3 offer up remixed soundtracks from the original Castlevania, the PC Engine obscurity Rondo of Blood, the Genesis favorite Bloodlines, and the classic Super NES release Super Castlevania IV.  Your Halloween party soundtrack is right here waiting for you.

Power Button - Episode 188: Cavalcade Of Costumes

Power ButtonHappy Halloween!  For this year's special Halloween episode of the Power Button podcast, Blake Grundman and I turn our attention to gaming's best costumes.  So many favorite heroes love to dress up in alternate outfits.  From Super Mario to Street Fighter and beyond, join us for an hour of raiding the wardrobe.  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, 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.